Long Beach vacation day 7

Friday October 16, 2009.

Today was going-home day.

It seems there was a mild storm last night; I was awakened several times by the noise of the wind-driven rain beating on the roof, and on the highway I passed a couple of cleanup crews dealing with fallen trees and road floods due to blocked drainage pipes.

Went back to The Schooner for breakfast (not bad, but the portions were small for the price). Also went back to The Common Loaf to get some snacks for the road, and was shocked to find an item they called “No-Bake Cookie” that is almost identical with my family dessert recipe we call “Fudgies”. I got one for comparison – yup, perhaps a little sweeter but the same stuff. Now I need to ask my parents about the origin of the recipe.

Made a brief stop at Long Beach again to get a last whiff of sea air, then hit the road.

The road between the coast and Port Alberni is a bit dangerous. I wouldn’t say it’s as twisty or scary as that infamous stretch near Golden, but it does twist up and down as well as left to right, making visibility very poor. The twistiness goes on for a much greater distance as well, and there is one point where the road really narrows – sheer drop on one side with only a small guard wall, and sheer cliff upwards on the other side, with the rock face actually intruding onto the road a bit. If you’re careless you could scrape off your passenger-side mirror on the rocks without leaving your lane. Also with the heavy rains last night there were waterfalls falling right into the road. I like it.

Stopped at Cathedral Grove on the way back – see my 365 entry for today for the best picture I got there. Also stopped at Qualicum Falls, but it wasn’t all that impressive.

The meat of the day was stopping at Coombs – the place everyone knows as “goats on the roof” because there are goats on the roof of one of the tourist traps there. This place and I have history. (So, it emerged at breakfast last Sunday, does Jean-Luc, but a different kind of history).


So, way back when I was in my early teens and we had just moved to the farm in Manitoba, my mother had a friend in the homeschooling community we’ll call L. L., her husband and kids lived near Winnipeg and we visited them several times. At some point L divorced that man and married another, and moved out to a piece of land right near Coombs. L. had recently started a home business making and selling rubber stamps, and was going to set up a booth near the tourist trap above to sell them. It wasn’t in the goat building (right) but beside it – I can’t recall if it was in the area immedately left and behind the goat place in the above picture, or the one half a block down. They were building an outdoor mini-mall in a fake western town style and that’s where this booth was going to be. That particular structure is gone now but has been replaced with another pretty much the same by the looks of it.

Anyway, L. needed help manning the booth and invited my mother to come out and do it part-time for pay, room provided in a trailer on-site. For reasons I don’t entirely recall we went along with the idea. It didn’t pan out. After a month we left, and that kind of killed the friendship between my mother and L. (Small world department though – I recently found one of L.’s kids working at the same place I do.)

I remember that month being one of extreme deprivation; the only thing I had been able to bring with me was my recently completed collection of New Mutants back-issues (re-read many times), and it was just about impossible to wring any money for the local arcade since funds were extremely tight. I did though, and spent every moment I could playing Trojan and Bad Dudes. Sometimes we went to visit L. at her place and I got to play Pitfall II on their VCS or look at their largely useless Coleco Adam (it had Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, but that’s not much of a game compared to Pitfall). Yeah, I did a lot of playing Pitfall II – great game.

So that’s my history with Coombs. A month of boredom and tension over quarters, punctuated by the occasional burst of gaming.

The goat building at the time was pretending to be a vendor of local arts and crafts, but was mostly filled with fake imported arts and crafts. Today they seem to have given up pretending – half the store is still imported crap, and the rest is now a food market. Otherwise it’s quite similar to before. Also the trailer we were staying in is now gone; it was in bad shape at the time anyway.

Proceeded to Nanaimo to catch the ferry home. Because of the way I (and, it turns out, a co-worker) got burned by the ferry service this week, last night I had made reservations for the 7pm boat so I’d be able to take my time arriving and maybe look around a bit in Nanaimo. As it turned out, I arrived in time for the 5pm boat and decided to take it. Uneventful cruise (though a bit chilly and very, very windy out on deck) and then a short drive and I was home. Vacation ENDS!

I had a good time. It was nice to get some solitude and break the chains of routine and city life for a while, but at the same time I realized there is something to be said for traveling with company; some of the excitement of travel only emerges if you share it at the time.

Today’s GPS track:

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