Thinking About Love on Vancouver Island (World)

“Hiro’s in heaven. The Abigail, Bear Mountain, and the Wickaninnish all provided us with great rooms, views, extremely comfortable beds, room service that made breakfast intimate, and spa treatments that made her very happy. So when the wife’s happy, you’re happy, right? Gotta be. She’s not massaging my feet, she’s getting massaged. She’s not cooking our meals, she’s being served. She’s not driving, I’m her chauffeur.  She’s got a new ring on her finger and is thinking about our last day in Vancouver, where she can shop. On the island, she’s content to walk in the woods, along the beach, find shells, draw in the sand with a piece of driftwood, and soak in the large tubs these places have installed.

“After we left the west coast we traveled back to the east coast of the island, where we gave up our rental Budget car in Campbell River and got a speedboat out to the Sonora Resort. Took us 75 minutes up river going very fast to get there—so talk about being out of the way. But this was the place I kept hearing about: ‘Got to go to check out the spa treatments at the Sonora.’ So I looked into it. This very wealthy fellow named Tong Louie, who started the London Drug Stores and the London Air Services, died in 1998 and his son Brandt took over. Louie is a fishing enthusiast who likes to live large, and he bought out the previous Sonora owners in 2002 and transformed the place. Built new buildings, put in a huge bubble tent over a tennis court, had spa facilities built, put in a fly-fishing pond (with its own eagle living in a tree overhead), two computerized golf tents where you can choose a course to play and whack a ball into a projected screen, foosball and shuffle board games, a small theatre off the main dining area where you can select from over a hundred  DVD’s, and a Japanese garden. He’s got plenty of boats to take guests out fishing. He’s got float planes and a helicopter that can fly you from Vancouver or Seattle right onto the property (not cheap, these flights, but hell, what’s money for?). And he’s brought in a great chef to feed you well, along with a decadent dessert chef who will make you want to use the spa to massage the extra calories away. There’s a small swimming pool, a mineral pool, and a Jacuzzi just outside the men’s and women’s lockers. And a refrigerator in each room stocked with every fine brand of liquor, as well as a well-stocked bar and gift shop in the dining area. And once you pay for your room, the rest is included: the stocked bar, the room bar, the meals. Kind of like Club Med. And it’s the same price if you go alone or bring a spouse, so might as well bring your spouse. You go fish and golf, while she plays tennis and enjoys the spa (again, not cheap, but for under $500 you can get four treatments—a facial, a deep massage, a manicure, a pedicure). If it doesn’t rain (and it does rain) then there’s plenty to do. If it rains, so what—do it anyway.”

“So did you fish?”

“No, Hiromi isn’t crazy about fishing, and I wanted to share this experience with her. So we didn’t do the boat thing, though the dozen guys who were there all did. And we didn’t fly out to golf, though another half dozen guys did that. We did play the simulated golf. And walked to the trout-stocked pond to look at the eagle and some deer that liked to jump around and eat apples from a nearby tree. We played tennis. But mostly we enjoyed the spa. Had facials side-by-side. I’m not one for facials, but hell, I’m always up for something new. Had some good massages. Just a full afternoon of being pampered. Then soaking in the outdoor waters. Taking in some steam and dry saunas. Watching the clouds come down to the water and fog in the place. It really is romantic, the way the sky changes. And again, a great view from our room. And all that wine and liquor just saying, ‘Drink me.’

“You almost make me wish I was married.”

“You shouldn’t wish, you should just find a woman and fly her out to Vancouver Island. Marry her at the Abigail. Treat her to some great resorts. Lay next to her as you both get massaged. What’s the big deal? You’ll gain a life partner.”

“Maybe you should find one for me, I don’t seem to have much luck in that department. Your trip has exhausted me. You finished?”

“Almost. We had to fly home from Vancouver, so I figured we should spend at least one night in that great city. We helicoptered there in fifty minutes, grabbed a taxi to the Wedgewood Hotel in the center of the city, and had just enough time to walk across the Cambie Bridge to eat at our favorite restaurant in the world: Tojo’s.”

“Didn’t you write about that place the last time you went to Vancouver?”

“Yes, I did. And I would have liked to eat at the Wedgewood’s Bacchus restaurant because I’ve head only good things about it—like it was given a Gold award for Best Bar/Lounge, and for Best Formal French food in all of Vancouver. But when you only have one night, one meal, and your wife is Japanese, and you love Japanese food….then it’s got to be Tojo’s. He’s been there since 1972. I asked him why he doesn’t come to L.A., serve the movie stars. He said that they all come to him. And he just won’t leave Vancouver, the tourist board has begged him not to he said. He’s like a Canadian national treasure.”

“What makes his sushi better than other sushi?”

“It’s got to be his ability to pick the best fish. He just knows. And the way he cuts it, the way he presents it…it all just tastes better when it’s from his hand. And when you’re at the sushi bar you don’t even ask for anything, you just tell him, ‘Tojo, make us happy.’ And he does.”

“So you made Hiromi happy.”

“Did I ever. The next morning we went to the Vancouver Art Museum, one of my favorite museums because it’s small enough to get around without exhausting yourself; and it always has such interesting exhibits. Last time it was Rodin. This time is was two centuries of Haida First American art. Fabulous stuff. Made Hiromi want to look at First American jewelry, so we found a fine arts gallery in Yale Town called Coastal Peoples and in the window was this white and gold ring, with an eagle carved around the band. She put it on, it fit her wedding finger perfectly, keeping the small band I gave her in place. She had to have it. And for $750 I figured it was worth it. The final touch. A ring on the first night. A ring on the last. A marriage forever.”

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