- Created: Friday, 12 October 2007 14:40
- Written by colin newell
In Canada we celebrate a very special holiday about a month before our sisters and brothers to the South of the border. Thanksgiving is historically about harvest and, well, Canadian farmers are harvesting their bounty earlier in the Fall. Having grown up on a small farm, I always feel a special something extra this time of year.
And 2007 is no different. If anything, each passing year gives me more to be thankful about.
A year has passed and everyone in my circle, young and old, are in good shape - no health issues to speak of really.
For us, Thanksgiving is not generally a traditional celebration - you know, Turkey, baskets of boiled vegetables and pumpkin pie... It is some of this. And it is not one specific day where everyone gathers around the table to raise their glasses and forks. Truth be told, our days of family gatherings are spread out throughout the year in the form of mini-celebrations. Thanksgiving day, itself, is often spent locked down with our respective significant others... doing the things we love to do.
In the case of my wife and I - Well we love to head out on the road for a short (or long) jaunt to the West Coast.
"You are on the West Coast are you not Colin?"
Well. Yes we are... but not quite. I am talking about the Pacific Ocean - and although I can look out my window and see the Juan de Fuca strait and the Olympic Peninsula, it is not quite the Pacific Ocean. Close... but not quite.
My wife and I are both West Coast people. We were married in Tofino over ten years ago. And to Tofino we return to on a regular basis. At last count, it was about 20 visits or more. No big deal really considering that Tofino is only about a 5 hour drive away - presuming we stop for an hour and eat something.
Our base camp in Tofino is the Middle Beach Lodge. We have tried one or two other places up there but we always return to the MBL. While in Tofino, we have a trio of nice restaurants that we make sure we get to
- The Rain Coast Cafe. Fresh West Coast ingredients with an Asian and Middle-Eastern twists. Very subtle. Very delicious.
- The Schooner Restaurant. West Coast marine classics prepared perfectly. They have a new upscale upstairs room that we will definitely be checking out next time.
- The Shelter Restaurant. All local ingredients. All West Coast cuisine with little twists.
The coffee scene in Tofino is managing to hold its own now - it was only a few years ago that if you were in Tofino you would be hard pressed to find a decent espresso - and the places that claimed to serve good espresso were fibbing! My how things have changed.
This Thanksgiving we opted for a quick trip to our 2nd favorite spot - Point no Point, ever so slightly south of Jordan River (which is South of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island). Point no Point is as much destination as it is journey - and what I mean by that is: It is a place to go to... to get away from everything - even the place you are at!
Point no Point is actually little more than a series of cabins out on the West Coast road - most of which are very private with outdoor hot-tubs that practically hang cliff-side into the Pacific Ocean.
Now that's what I am talking about.
So, if you are thinking about communing with a loved one - this is the place for it. You could quite literally check in for 3 days and see no one til you check out. It is that private. Uhm. Not that our readers will love it that much. Point no Point is very popular with the locals and generally books up months in advance. Some regulars have been coming here for over 20 years. I hope to become one of these people: My wife and I, soaking our cares away while staring at the stars - our worries slipping away with the wisps of steam from the tub.
Of course you cannot live in a hot-tub the whole time. There are trails and local attractions to keep one busy for days... busy doing little, if anything... if you want.
Conveniently, the area around the Point no Point resort has one nice restaurant - and it's at the Point no Point resort. So. You do not have to go far. For those seeking serious isolation, all of the Point no Point cabins have full kitchens (some of them bigger than the one I have at home!) and you can do all your gourmet in.
Back to the restaurant for a moment - if you like your seafood, lamb or prime rib treated with a very West Coast interpretation, that this is the table for you. The staff at the resort are young, very informed and very professional - just attentive enough... so you can stay inside your private escape bubble if you are so inclined.
Coffee and espresso is not an option out here. I bring a Baratza Virtuoso grinder, Aeropress coffee maker and whatever fresh bean I can put my hands on. Not surprising, coffee in any form tastes better when brewed here.
And if you absolutely must have that last great espresso on the road out to the West Coast... Well, there is always the Stick in the Mud cafe in Sooke Village. The Stick has risen to star status in mere months and it is no surprise. Piloted by skilled barista, David Evans, the Stick is the place in Sooke to have the best specialty coffee experience possible.
While I was at the Stick recently, a gentleman walked up to me, smiling, and said: "Hey. You are Colin from that Coffee website! I just wanted to thank-you for the website... and ask a couple of questions."
And chat we did. And then my wife and I returned to the quiet solitude of our drinks. Like a mini-Thanksgiving in reverse, thanks and best wishes appear at the oddest times.
Another unexpected surprise out on the West Coast road is the Tugwell Creek Honey farm and Meadery. We have passed this place a dozen times and for the life of me I do not know why we have not stopped sooner. So what is Mead, you ask? Mead is produced from fermented honey. Is this stuff tasty? Yes, it is! The Tugwell Honey farm has a tasting room that is very much like a wine tasting room. Nothing to be scared of here - stick your neck in if they are open and check it out. Or visit the website and learn more. We picked up a bottle and several jars of honey - you know, for one of those mini-celebrations we seem to hold from time to time. To give thanks. At random times for random things.
And I like to try and give thanks every day... for the things that we often take for granted.
Each and every day, for instance. Well, it only comes once and you might as well make the most of it. And although not everyone has that special someone in their life to share stuff with - I am blessed in that regard - It is important to make the best of it...
and give thanks... however you can.
And when ever you can
Colin Newell lives, works and plays in Victoria B.C. Canada on the West coast of North America - for that he is eternally grateful!