In the morning, Mackenzie gifted us with a hand drawn treasure map of the island, his favorite beaches, waterfalls and campsites marked in black ink. After an impromptu clothing swap, we made plans to meet again, then waved goodbye as Mackenzie’s bus disappeared around a bend in the road.The road to Tofino was a windy highway with stunning views of the island’s snow-tipped, forested mountains and shining lakes. We passed through a few small, tidy towns sprinkled with chain stores and unfamiliar gas stations. Bafflingly, the price of gas was displayed in liters, with the decimal point shifted two points to the left, so that the price of gas appeared to be in the range of $114.9.
We reached Tofino in the late afternoon, pulling into Bella Pacifica campground not long before sunset. The cheery young staff sent us off to find the “Hobbit Hole,” a tucked-away beachfront campsite in a gnarled grove of redwoods and covered in vines and foliage, where a family of hobbits or Wendy’s Lost Boys could believably live amongst the tree boughs and burls. A short semi-trail led down to the beach, which was a wide, flat swathe of hard-packed sand bordered by small rocky headlands, tree-spotted and licked by tiny ripples and a billowing onshore wind. Not far offshore, rocky islets sprinkled with tall trees were visible. The landscape and flat ocean created the illusion that this was a lakeside campground, with only the much higher high tide line, and rocks covered in barnacles, muscles and anemones to reveal our Pacific location.The nightly race to set up our tents was taken to the next level this time, with beers shotgunned to start, tent pole sabotage and victory dances. After setting up the rest of our camp, including the hammock and twinkly lights, we enjoyed fireside tacos and sipped “cheap” expensive Canadian beer.Bella Pacifica campground was a haven for the young, fun and surf-stoked crowd. Within an hour of our arrival, we had made new friends around the campground and met campers from all across Canada.
Some old friends were arriving in Tofino that night for the Rip Curl Pro. We invited them over to the Hobbit Hole for beers and s'mores, and excitedly shared stories of our adventures on the road while they filled us in on the action-packed days ahead and their favorite Tofino activities.It was hard to believe we had reached our destination. The route to Tofino was filled with memories of smoky campfires in campsites we had loved, delicious camp dinners, the tantalizing search for surfable waves and oodles of fun times on the road in Lady Liberty.Of course, along with the highlights, we couldn’t forget the long hours on the road, the chilly nights, dirty clothes, cold showers, roadside pee breaks and the grind of setting up and breaking down camp every day, plus the hours spent huddled in coffee shops along the way as we updated the Girl Bus Vibes blog and kept up on other responsibilities to the wider world.Life on the road is a shifting tapestry of fleeting moments that are both beautiful and tempered by reality. Each time we pick up a camera to document these moments, we chose what to include in the frame, just as what’s included in these blog posts is unavoidably an unconscious selective process sifted from our memories. Ultimately, the reality of adventure is both greater and less perfect than what we remember.