Surf’s Up and Sea Lion Lunch

Surfing at Long Beach, Tofino

We woke up to a crow informing the campground that it was a lovely day and we shouldn’t miss a moment of it. The crow was correct; it was a beautiful morning. Crows are smart like that. I got the fire going and the coffee on. There are priorities when camping.

The kids got up a while later, the smell of bacon rousting them from their sleep. After breakfast, we tidied up our campsite, rinsed our dishes (bears love to clean dishes), and piled into the Minivan of Adventure. Today was “Surfing Day,” and we didn’t want to miss a second of it.

We drove back towards Tofino and were excited to see surf shops everywhere. We could rent boards and get lessons easily, so we pulled in and made the arrangements. We’d meet our surf instructor in Parking Lot A in 30 minutes, and they’d take us out to the “beginner” waves.

We had no idea what to expect. When we pulled in the night before, it was misty, raining, and getting dark, and we couldn’t see much of “Long Beach.” As agreed, we met the surf instructor in the parking lot, grabbed our surfboards, and followed her out to the beach.

The gorgeous sand beach stretched as far as the eye could see. A sand beach in Canada?!? Waves crashed to the shore, surfers dotted the horizon, and families sculpted sandcastles and made driftwood castles.

Surf’s up

We had our surf lesson and then were left to our own devices. We needed to return the surfboards to their station in the parking lot when we were done — anytime before sunset. We spent the morning surfing, swimming, skimboarding and making sandcastles on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.

Later that day, after dropping off our surfboards, we ventured into Tofino proper for lunch. Tofino was a lot like Banff. It was touristy and polished and not really what we were looking for, so we headed back to Ucluelet.

In Ucluelet, we discovered a small (but mighty) aquarium and a dock full of sea lions. As we were walking, we noticed a commercial fishing boat moored close by, so we stopped for a closer look.

A giant seagull was floating a few feet off the ship’s stern, maybe waiting for a treat from one of the deckhands. Just as I was pointing it out to the kids and making a funny seagull voice, the water beneath it exploded.

From out of nowhere, a sea lion grabbed the seagull in its mouth, shaking it violently and smashing it into the water repeatedly until it was an unrecognizable red pulp. It took about 5 seconds of pure violence before the sea lion disappeared below the surface with its lunch. Feathers gently floated down onto a small slick of blood.

The boys just stared slack-jawed out into the water and said, “cooooooool.” Kids.

Just then, the fishing boat captain came by to say hello. I can’t remember his name, but his boat was originally from Newfoundland, and they’d been out fishing for the last six months. He hadn’t seen his kids in that long and relished the opportunity to show the boys around his ship. The kids got the full tour, including seeing their catch below — an entire ship filled with salmon and cod on its way to be processed here in Ucluelet.

We meandered around Ucluelet and eventually found our way back to our campsite just in time to make campfire hotdogs and talk about our day. Eventually, we’d find our way home, but for now, we’d hang out on the Pacific Rim and enjoy every minute and every adventure.

A moment of zen at Long Beach, Tofino — welcome to Canada

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Michael Dean Dargie

Michael Dean Dargie

I do cool and weird shit with cool and weird people. Dad, biker, writer, speaker, artist, adventurer, doer of things, teacher of stuff. MichaelDargie.com