I had just finished school and decided it was time to move on from my retail job all at the same time. I sometimes look back on both of these ending as a rather unfortunate state of affairs and generally regard them as poor decision making on my part. However the past has past and will remain in that state and I must always remember that remembered time is vastly different from actual time. Hence the common action of looking at the past with rose coloured glasses. It was luck, coincidence, and a touch of planning that resulted in Erin getting back from her two month trek across Central America and as luck would have its she didn’t start her new job for another few weeks. She has always been the type to plan ahead that way, I on the other hand had no real plan for employment, again… kind of regard that as a poor decision on my part. We decided that this was about the best chance we were going to get to go on a trip together for a very long time so it was settled and done. We would drive my recently acquired truck, full of gear, to the west coast and enjoy ourselves.
We set out early in the morning and thoroughly enjoyed our scenic drive. We spent the first night in Banff. I had awoke to find that when I had done an oil change on my truck before the trip I hadn’t quite tightened my drain plug on enough. As beautiful of a town as Banff is, it is amazingly difficult to find a wrench in that town. We eventually found a hardware store and I climbed under and snugged things up so we could resume our trip. Along the way we made a brief stop at the Revelstoke Railway Museum, which I highly recommend.
We arrived in Vancouver, this had been my first time visiting, and my ever so handy GPS device led us to our hotel via Hastings road, the poorest postal code in the country. Sadly in reflection of my character I was nervous that our hotel was in the area, in hind sight I worry that being afraid of the down trodden makes me a part of the problem. Luckily for my nervous and poor character, our hotel was a touch outside of the area. We promptly checked in and I did my best to park in the unfortunately congested city, I was then showed where the hotels rear parking lot was. We promptly checked into our wildly inexpensive hotel, did our best to ignore the smell and went to bed. I should clarify that the hotel wasn’t that bad, it was just a budget hotel, with a kitchenette, that smelled kind of like someone else’s cooking.
The next day we opted to take the local transportation rather than have me attempt to drive. Our travels found us at a place that I was excited to see and had only hear rumor of for many years: The Museum of Anthropology. It was everything I ever thought it would be. We then took in the city for a few more days including a delightful visit to an old friend of ours who had recently taken a job promotion which required him to relocate to a rather suave apartment in downtown Vancouver, I got the impression it wasn’t exactly against his will that he moved there.
It was during the next day that Erin began to notice the big city life was starting to take its toll on me. I firmly believe that people should not be crowded in as close as they tend to be in cities and I find it makes me a bit edgy and claustrophobic. Erin, light of my life that she is, came up with an award winning idea, we should make use of the “just in case” camping gear crammed into the vehicle. So we pulled up stakes and caught a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
We spent our first night, on the island, in a very quaint house that had been converted into hostel it was homey and cozy my only complaint would be that the bed was barely a twin size and creaked at an unreasonable volume every time I would move and calling me a fidgety sleeper is certainly an understatement.
After checking in we set off to make our travel plans. We began where many adventures begin, at the local sporting goods store. It was actually the local branch of the store I had just ceased to be an employee of. Naturally I enquired if my employee discount was still valid, it was not. I then proceeded to pick the brain of the local fishing counter gents as I had recently purchased a fly rod and was itching to try it out. One of them jumped at the chance to help us and immediately named off several useful flies by name, as well as a few useful lures for the small spin caster rod I was going to buy for Erin. To his expert knowledge I replied with a blank stare, I had never heard of these hooks before. Bless him and his patience he walked me around the store showing me what I needed, Erin and I then asked about good local camping spots and it was decided we should go to Cowichan River to camp.
After another long night of me attempting not to move and create a bed creek that sounded like cats fighting over a coyote call, we set off to our campsite. Again the drive was wonderful and scenic and naturally I got a little lost trying to find it. We eventually found it and set up our tent. We then set off to the edge of the river and began casting our new gear. My casting skill was certainly… lacking. After standing in the icy water and not catching much I considered the possibility the spot was not the best for fishing.
It was then agreed that we should drive off to the nearby lake to try out our recently purchased inflatable kayak. Again I managed to get us frustratingly lost but Erin with her perseverance and patience, the kind required to date a man like me, got us to location. We unloaded all the fishing gear that was on top of the rolled up kayak and began attempting to build and inflate it. It is worth mentioning that it did not come with instructions and those things are surprisingly complex. After a lot of time confused we noticed a few rather large cuts along the side that prevented inflation, I presume a packing error in the plant. So with sadness in our hearts we packed it back into the truck and drove to the camp site for dinner, liquor, and roasted marshmallows. Which are pretty much all anyone needs at the end of a difficult day.
After dinner I excused myself to the washroom on the other side of the camp site. On the way back I sparked up a conversation with two of the campground’s staff members who were cleaning up debris on another campsite. I have a habit of talking to strangers, but don’t worry, I developed this habit as an adult. As with most of my conversations it eventually led around to my love of fishing and eventually me asking them if they had any suggestions for where I should fish. They told me of a great spot within 50 yards of where I had been fishing before. The catch is that those 50 yards were composed of a rather cold, deep, and fast running river. Lucky for me they gave me directions to the spot that involved a bridge.
Late that night I awoke from a dead sleep and shot up in my sleeping bag to ask Erin if she had put her fishing rod back in the truck after we had failed to construct the kayak. We then promptly searched the truck and found it was not there. I could picture it in my head clearly. We…ok I… had left it leaning gently against a short wooden post at the lake, I blame our grief over the premature death of our kayak for our forgetful behavior.
The next morning we drove to the lake to retrieve our lost fishing rod, of course it was nowhere to be found. Some lucky individual had just found themselves a beautiful fishing rod with less than half a dozen casts on it, my only hopes are that they needed it and made good use of it.
We then drove to the trailhead of our fishing spot. I packed the essentials in my big orange backpack: camera, fly rod, fly reel, flies, chest waders, snacks, water, and beer… Erin also made sure I brought sunscreen. We then set off on our voyage through the pines. It was a beautiful mossy path filled with thick trunked trees.
We found the fishing spot, a little gravel island with rushing water on one side and a nearly stagnant, deep, crystal clear pool on the other. We walked atop mossy logs and muddy ledges to get around to a fallen tree that led us to the island our own little piece of paradise. Erin promptly lied down a towel and relaxed in the sun while I did my best to cast my fly rod. It wasn’t pretty but the hook was landing away from me and some days that is all it takes to feel good. Erin took a brief break from relaxing to put on my oversized waders and try her hand at fly fishing. Her first casts were certainly better than my first casts, but in the end she decided to just lay back and soak up some sun. Most of the morning went on like this occasionally interrupted by a sip of beer, or our staring at a nearby family of otters.
No fish were caught until later in the day when I opted to remove the waiters and stand on the far side of the 20 meter island away from Erin. She was fast asleep camera in her hands when I watched my fly sink into a deep pocket of water and my rod bounced excitedly at the tip. I began pulling in line and almost died of laughter when I pulled out a fish the size of my index finger. I called to my companion to come get a picture, but between the water flowing and her snoring I doubted she could hear me. I began walking towards her barefoot on the gravel. I quickly realized that at that pace both, the fish and I would expire before I got to her. So I released my miniature catch without ever having photo evidence of it. I resumed casting optimistically in the same location and sure enough my rod bounced with excitement again and I pulled out an absolute monster this one was nearly the size of my middle finger. In my laughing shame I carefully placed the fish in the water and slowly walked back to Erin with the awkward hilarious mosey that only walking barefoot on gravel can provide. I told my recently awakened partner all about the pair of monster fish I had caught. We then decided that we best start heading back to camp and start to prepare for the long drive home the next day. The drive home was just as wonderful and scenic but that being said I still opted to let Erin drive while I slept. It was a wonderful trip and I would do it again any day but it was certainly nice to be home.
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