Sunday, August 15, 2010

First campground

The hum of a Macintosh starting up seems grossly out of place in Goldstream Provincial Park campground, just north of Victoria, B.C., an area we called home for 15 years. Even though we come to Victoria regularly from Pender Island to shop for various things, we had to look on Google Maps to find our way here.
The northwestern portion of Greater Victoria, the city of Langford, has done nothing but expand in the six years since we moved off Island, and the amount of asphalt has matched that growth. There’s a new way to reach the park, at least new to us. It was reassuring to find Ma Miller’s Pub, a familiar landmark, just before the campground gates.
Sitting here, surrounded by enormous cedars by most standards — maybe three feet in diameter — it’s hard to fathom how loggers think of them as small, and aim for higher prey. It makes you understand the occasional person you meet who was actually born on this coast, since most of us come from away, who says, “I’ve been East. Went to Calgary once.” Why leave, when this is home?
We leave, partly because we know some of what is out there. A Canada that is vastly different from one region to another, but beautiful nonetheless, constantly amazing us with how beauty can materialize in so many forms. And counting on the promise of more beautiful places we have not yet seen and know nothing about.
But still it is difficult to leave here. As the ferry pulled away from the Otter Bay dock on Pender Island on Friday, we watched wistfully. It’s a beautiful time of the year on the island, with endless sunny days for months even on this “Wet” Coast. It was difficult trying to picture our potential return in December, with rain likely pelting down from a dark grey sky. But even then, with the endless hues of blue and grey produced by the ocean, mountains, sky and island, we know it will be a welcome sight to us.
Goldstream on a record-hot July day is a haven just on the edge of the concrete jungle. Drive five minutes and the pavement radiates the heat as you run whatever errands are left for a camping trip. Our daughter and son-in-law were tickled to leave their fourth-floor apartment, with one wall of glass facing a blazing sunset, to come sit in the heavy shade of the park and barbecue some dinner. Even a few mosquitoes, unusual for this coast but a result of a late, wet spring, couldn’t drive us inside.
It’s a quiet beginning to what we expect to be a life-changing journey, even though we’re uncertain what those changes will be. In the years since we purchased our Burro, we have camped in the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, consciously avoiding the summer crush of families and campers. Goldstream is a pleasant surprise with its plethora of tents, and quiet families with well-behaved children glorying in time spent with mom and dad’s undivided attention. Watching those girls scrape through a box of sidewalk chalk announcing one’s birthday party, or a father close by as his very young son wheeled that first two-wheeler along the roadway, brings back a million camping memories for us. For our daughter last night, it was the distinctive flap of flip flops — musn’t call them thongs these days as even that has change — slapping along pavement on running feet that brought back memories. “Don’t fall,” she said, no doubt still aware of the feel of scraping skin on asphalt.
It seems a laptop does not belong here, even though during a park warden’s taking of a survey, we expressed a need for WiFi. A five-minute drive this morning put us in an Internet cafe in downtown Langford, with free WiFi.

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