Vanscendence

This is Part 2 of a longer story. For Part 1, click here.

So I'd passed out in my van around 2:30 or so on that old tidal flat. Morning came pretty damn early I can tell you.

Looking east, 5:15 am. Tide was still pretty close to the van. Roll over and snooze some more. 

Looking east, 5:15 am. Tide was still pretty close to the van. Roll over and snooze some more. 

 I awoke to a dog jumping up into the back of the van as the gates were still open. The thing nearly jumped on the bed with me. Now I know how that Heron must have felt! I think my reaction was a little more zen than his, though it might have just been the prervious night's whisky. The sun was barely over the horizon and I figured it couldn’t have been 7 am yet. It wasn't. The tidal flat turned out to be a pretty popular spot for locals to come walk their pooches. The owner was this really nice guy named Bob— he’d lived on the island for about 15 years, and was thrilled about the fact I’d parked my van on the flat and slept there. He kept going on about how it was such a beautiful spot to wake up! I couldn’t have agreed with him more. If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have walked the shore with him, but I’d only gone to bed a few hours prior, so I snoozed in the low angle sunlight for another hour or two.

Sleepy time in Cascadia

Sleepy time in Cascadia

I finally got up and made some coffee and breakfast over a small fire while I waited for Chloe to get to the beach on her bike. She was biking in from the farm she’s been working at in Duncan on Vancouver Island and had left at 5 that morning. By the time she got to my beach, she’d already biked about 30 km of gnarly, hilly roads on two separate islands, taken a ferry, and gone swimming in an island lake! All I’d done is talk to a few locals, lounge in the morning sun, read my book, and play my mandolin.

There was a little fire beneath the logs I used to prop up the old pot, promise.

There was a little fire beneath the logs I used to prop up the old pot, promise.

We continued lounging a bit in the morning sun and caught up— I hadn’t seen her since we went to Tofino a few weeks prior. She’s such an interesting girl living her life in a very interesting way. I’m going to do a piece on her soon. 

Nearly got stuck in that mushy tidal flat. Three quarters of a ton of old metal and rubber ain't the most nimble.

Nearly got stuck in that mushy tidal flat. Three quarters of a ton of old metal and rubber ain't the most nimble.

Anyways, we loaded her bike into the van and drove into Ganges, the small island’s main town. It had a hell of a farmers market, and a hell of a lot of hippies. I even saw the ones I’d met on the ferry. There was some sort of hippy convention happening on the Salt Spring. I’m down with hippy-ness, but not that down with the “bummy” nature some hippies adopt. It’s their choice and all and I respect that, but all I’m saying is that I’d never want to do that myself. Even though I’d just slept in my van on a tidal flat.
 

Stopped for a little sesh at the Ganges Skatepark. Decent little surfy section with a boob on the right hand of the spine that was pretty fun!

Stopped for a little sesh at the Ganges Skatepark. Decent little surfy section with a boob on the right hand of the spine that was pretty fun!

We met a pretty interesting guy who hand knit these super funky merino wool hats. Again total hippy business— he even made them in the shape of those “conductor” hats that train engineers wear in old movies. They were pretty pricey, but with the amount of time it took him to make them, he would have been making less than ten bucks an hour. The things some people choose to do with their lives. He was passionate though, and was a real salesman, flirting with the older ladies and putting his hats on their heads, telling them how good they looked. He was right- they were actually pretty handsome hats. I’m no hippy though, and I didn’t want to spend the money. 

I didn’t want to hijack the entire bike trip Chloe had in mind— even though she was pretty grateful for the van and all after legging it up all those huge hills— plus biking is just a different pace from auto touring, so we hopped on our bikes and tried to find this beach called Beddis. 

Jealous as all get out of her gears here... 

Jealous as all get out of her gears here... 

I was on my fixie, which since coming to the west coast, has really taught me that different gears can be highly useful. You can’t just live your life in one gear all the time, otherwise you’ll find yourself halfway up a long mountain road, the top nowhere in sight, wishing you could just gear down a little and make things easier for yourself. When you’re stuck in too difficult a gear, you can’t even take the time to admire the damn scenery. But, it’s still better than being in the right gear heading in the wrong direction. What happens then is you finally stop and find yourself somewhere you really don’t want to be, wondering how the hell you got there. Anyways, I just hopped off the bike and checked out an awesome old airstream camper parked with a view over the Trincomali Channel and Galiano Island. Sailboats moved all keeled over in focused serenity, their bright spinnakers vibrant against the deep blue straight far below. They were pretty damn cheerful. I’ll get on one of those sailboats this summer. I’ll write about it too! 

Is this what urbanites call trailer trash?

Is this what urbanites call trailer trash?

By the time we’d found and returned from old Beddis, Chloe and I were pretty spent. We were both starting to get colds too, and our previous short nights hadn’t helped. We decided to find a spot on the sunset side of the island and just lounge there for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We ended up at the end of Arbutus road at the very northern tip of the island.

Hey princess

Hey princess

The shoreline was made up of all these striking, angled slabs of rock, and there wasn’t a chance I’d take my old van down there. It was late afternoon by then, and the rocks we lay on were just radiating heat as the water lapped at our feet. We snoozed, letting the sun flush our faces, warm our cores and massage our tired limbs. When I woke up, I finished Catcher In The Rye- evidently it’s been influencing my writing. I’m lucky that I’ll never be as cynnical as old Holden. I suppose it’s hard to be cynical when you’re basking in the late afternoon sun on the shore of a cozy island tucked away in the Southern Gulf with a great new friend. Blessed, more like it. 

Blanket power

Blanket power

After the sun dips behind the mountains is my favourite part of the sunset. The light isn’t blinding you off the water, and the colours all start to appear. Everything just kind of slows down. It’s like being able to find the right gear. You’re invited into that moment, and encouraged to quiet all the other noise. These are the times that old Holden Caulfield needs- the times when all the “fuck you’s” written all over school walls, and museum signs and gravestones stop shouting at you. The times when all the phonies don’t bother you. The times when you can transcend all the shit that you hate, make peace with it all. And you’ve gotta savour those moments, if not live for them. You really do. 

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We built a little fire and cooked up some rice, sauteed some onions and beans, and tossed some salsa in there for good measure. We toasted corn tortillas over the coals, then put it all together with some cheese, cilantro, lime, and pepper. Glamorous camping. Glamping. The moon began to peek over the trees, full as can be. The fuller the moon, the later it rises. Moonstruck, the whole shore was bathed in that ghostly, almost otherworldly light. It was so bright you could make shadow puppets on the ground. When the moon is like that, it’s surreal, almost like being on another planet. It’s because you’re seeing the world that you know, your normal, but it’s not quite normal. It’s the same, but it’s not. Things that are like  normal, but just a little different always freak us out. We don’t know how to make sense of it. The problem is we almost always react negatively. Humans have a bad habit of doing that. Anyways I sure as hell wasn’t reacting negatively to the moonlight, even if someone might call it creepy. It was stunning. The temperature had dropped. I breathed in the cool ocean air and turned back to the fire.