Driving Vancouver Island’s Eastern Coast


The comfort in exploring an island by car comes in knowing one cannot too easily get lost, and that if it happens, by all means keep driving and you’ll soon become un-lost again.

I meandered north along the eastern edge of Vancouver Island, departing from Nanaimo, and found myself facing sheets of rain. The forecast had predicted the weather, which ranged from drizzle to downpour, but after a few years of living in Southern California I’d forgotten how quickly one can become rain-drenched if not prepared. Upon re-learning this lesson I know once again it is two seconds less than the time it takes to run from parking space to coffee shop door.

Following a coffee break, my second stop was a beach with a name I can’t remember. I’d left the main drag after spotting a sign for an artist co-op. Given my habit of buying local art (and used books) wherever I go, I was drawn to the turnoff with the thoughtless reaction of lake trout to corn. Not finding the co-op and later wondering how anyone in rural Canada finds anything given that there are more signs to watch for deer than to know where turn, the car and I wandered a bit until we ended up at a lonely, rocky beach.


The coastline here was gray and there is no better word to describe it though it could be more impressively emphasized. Gray rocks. Gray water. Gray sky. Raindrops coming down that reflected and amplified these tones to create one gloomy, wet world – save for a beachfront stump with a half-ladder nailed to one side. The ladder used to covered in paint – its top step blue, the one below that red – but the Murky Dismals in this area has stripped away any vibrancy.


Even still, it was beautiful. Being from Seattle these are weather conditions that, awful as they are, feel like home. I wonder about enjoying gray, gloomy weather on the basis of it feeling familiar is similar to people in bad relationships who seem to enjoy the dull, sometimes imperceptible pain of emotional abuse and neglect. I’ve known many women who do this to themselves, and on occasion men, usually in their younger years as the general idea is to grow into healthy relationship patterns upon reaching adulthood, a stage of life that happens perhaps a half-dozen years or so after the government says it does.

With a lot of time in the car to think and listen to French radio if I pleased, and sometimes I did, I ended up at Campbell River. Just prior to that, the sun languidly worked its way back into view.



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