We were both in a slight state of shock as we drove onto the Nanaimo ferry Friday night at 8.25pm. Just two hours earlier Christian had returned home from work finding all three of us sleeping. We had all fallen asleep at nap-time, but just didn't wake up at our usual time as we were all jet-lagged after returning from visiting family in Europe just two days earlier. I was especially tired as I had made a trip to Seattle the previous night to pick up a used cargo bike (yes, we are now a two cargo bike family). Christian woke us up wondering what the plan was. As per usually we had not managed to book a ferry despite knowing that we needed to travel to the island on a long weekend, so our original plan was to aim for the first ferry Saturday morning. However, with a four hour nap it was clear that the kids would not be going the bed anytime soon, so we quickly decided to leave as soon as possible. I had by some miracle managed to pack during the day, so we quickly packed the car, made some dinner and drove to Horseshoe Bay. We were pretty stoked about making it onto the 10.40pm ferry, so you can imagine our shock as we drove straight through the ferry terminal and basically straight on to the ferry at 8.25pm. The ferry wasn't even full. Now we just had to hope that my jet-lagged, pregnancy brain had remembered everything we needed (and wanted) for 5 days of beach camping.
We had a relatively short night on the side of the highway by the Big Cedar trailhead. Kids were up early, so we decided to go check out the big cedar (it was big), before driving the rest of the way to Tofino. In Tofino we stocked up on a few last items before heading out towards Vargas Island in our hired boat with Pascale and her two four-year old kids. Christian decided to paddle out to the beach, since conditions were good. After a 20 min boat ride we arrived at a quiet beach in a calm bay. It looked perfect. The rest of the day was spend exploring the beach, setting up camp and relaxing in the sun. Later our boat came back with Adam, Tracy and their one year old daughter, and shortly after Christian arrived. In the early evening Jeff arrived by kayak with his 11 year old son.
The following day we went on an impromptu explore to a nearby beach with a small surf. We didn't quite have enough transportation vessels for everyone, so Christian shuttled the double kayak. On one of the rounds it had N and I in the front, the twins in the middle and Christian in the back. It was a full boat. The kids had a blast playing in the surf, running on the seemingly endless beach and soaking in the small, warm tidal pools on the beach. We spend most of the day there before heading back. Escaping the small surf with the double kayak was a little tricky and we ended up with a wave entering the boat. It especially got N in the front. She cried a bit, but quickly declared herself to be okay.
Back at our beach the last family arrived; Jen and Jon with their two kids aged 3 and 6. With the group now complete we decided that it was time for a campfire. I made some danish snobrød for the occasion (bread twisted onto a stick and then roasted over the fire). Getting the kids to bed proved challanging again. The downside of a sandy beach is that sand end up everywhere, so kids need to be washed in the ocean before bedtime. This was never a popular activity, but at least our system improved as the days went on.
On Monday we all hiked to another amazing beach. This beach was more exposed and had a pretty reasonable sized surf. Some of the adults had paddled the single kayak, the play kayak and one of our paddle boards over to the beach, so Christian was entertained most of the day by trying to surf the waves in the kayak. Adam and Tracy took turns trying out the waves on their paddle board. The kids were busy exploring a cool rock labyrint, playing with the kelp and sand dollars, exploring sand dunes, and playing in the water. We had a picnic lunch, and the three youngest took a nap, before it was time to head back to camp.
We had another campfire that evening. It turned out that I had been hit by pregnancy/jetlag brain during packing, and had forgotten towels, toothpaste, a number of other small items, but most importantly I had miscounted our food days and we were one short. Jon and Jen had bought us an extra mountain house meal and we managed to fry up some more snobrød. It was quite the industrial snobrød line-up we had going on. It ended up being a pretty good dinner.
A five day beach holiday is not our usual holiday. Christian and I generally prefer more physical activity and ideally also a bit of suffering, but it was a really lovely trip. It was a great way for the kids to reconnect with dad after being away from him for two weeks. It was a great way for us to recover from our jetlag. And it was great for me to just relax while the kids did whatever they wanted, although it did take them a little while to figure out that there were no agenda. The first couple of days they asked several times when we were going to start hiking. I guess the beach camping was foreign to them too. I am pretty sure the west coast is going to become a annual or at least semi-annual tradition.