Hot Springs Cove

Some days are just the right amount of perfect.

I spent last week in Tofino with my sister, brother-in-law and my niece and nephew (16 and 17 yrs old). On Tuesday, we embarked on an excursion to Hot Springs Cove, located 26 nautical miles up the coast from Tofino, British Columbia in Maquinna Provincial Park. Located at the mouth of a narrow peninsula, the springs are perched right at the water’s edge overlooking the open ocean, and are accessible only by boat or plane.

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We opted to take a 20 minute float plane for the trip up to the springs and then the hour and a half covered boat on the way back for the chance of seeing whales on the return.

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The float plane ride was great. The day was sunny and clear with medium winds so the views were spectacular and the landing only a bit bumpy.


Once we got to the dock, reaching the hot springs required a 2 km hike along a boardwalk through old growth forest.   The boards had various names engraved into them, I’m assuming as a thank you for donations. There were ship names and drawings, milestones of school outings, couples names and even one “Patricia Richardson, will you marry me?” (no word on the answer).

The springs are located in a rocky cove, requiring some scrambling down through the rocks to access the pools. But, once you get there, they are lovely and warm (if somewhat crowded in late July). The springs have a water flow of 5 to 8 litres per second. The hot spring is a result of surface water flowing through a “fault” to a depth of about 5 kilometres. The water is geothermically heated to a temperature of at least 109 degrees C before pressure forces the water back to the surface and discharges through fractured rock at a temperature of about 50 degrees C. (kudos to my sister for some of the shots of the hot springs, she scrambled up some rocks to get better shots!)

We lounged in the pools, had a snack and then hiked our way back to the dock in time for a drink at the on-dock cafe only to discover that our covered boat had broken down and so the excursion company (the wonderful Jamie’s Whaling Station) had arranged for us to join one of the zodiac whale watching boats for the trip back to Tofino. Which was a much more fun way to travel than a covered boat! Although, I have no idea where they scrounged up survival suits for us!

On the way back to Tofino, we rode the waves and got sprayed by the sea, saw several bald eagles and then cruised by a bunch of sea otters, floating on their backs with their hands and feet out of the water to keep warm.  And then, we had the amazing experience of watching a mother gray whale and her calf feeding.

Gray whales migrate between feeding and breeding grounds yearly and reach a length of 14.9 meters, a weight of 36 tonnes and live between 55 and 70 years. They are also really hard to photograph! Hard to see, and then they slide under the water before you can aim and click.

We ended the trip salt-encrusted from the zodiac ride, hungry for dinner, and contented from a rather perfect day.

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Seven Month Stretch

The other day a friend asked me how my word of the year – stretch – is going.  I hadn’t really given it much thought but we’re mid-year already so time for a mid-year stretch check-in.

In January, I described stretch as expanding my body and my spirit together in partnership to explore the potential of my life. To physically stretch my muscles to allow for free movement.To stop berating my body for the things I can’t get it to do and celebrate the things we can do together.

IMG_1273I think that halfway through the year, I might be halfway towards this goal. While I certainly hope to stretch more physically, I feel like I have stopped letting the “not good enough” voice in my head dictate my decisions. Whether that meant saying “yes” when I want to say “no” or saying “no” when my heart whispers “yes!”.

February included taking the beginner glass blowing class again. I took it in 2014 but never really found any partners to practice with.  This time, I reached out more, asking people to share practice time with me, and saying yes to strangers who were looking for practice partners.

It’s a bit like being the new kid at school. Finding new friends to sit with in the cafeteria or play with at recess. Except that you’re the kid that is still learning to hit a baseball instead of the kid who hits home runs.  In glass blowing, when your goblet or bowl or plate or whatever goes wrong, you turn it into a paperweight. Let’s just say I have a lot of paperweights, if anyone wants one!!

In March, I said “no” to an opportunity to step up into a leadership role in my spiritual community.  An opportunity that was fifteen years in the making. Thing is, I knew it wasn’t my path and I knew that meant it was time to head out, maybe on my own, to follow my heart and be true to my values.  And while one long-term friendship didn’t survive the change, the rest not only survived but are thriving as I am more excited and energized about the future. And here is where I could go into a long sappy paragraph about gratitude and blessings. Instead, I’ll just say that every day I feel so lucky to have the wonderful friends that I do have. Hashtag blessed.

In April, I stretched my concept of myself as an artist when I said “yes” when asked to submit a piece of glass art into the Studio’s silent auction fundraiser. I know it sounds silly but I never would have thought to volunteer given all the amazing artists at the Studio. I designed and created a necklace called Skye Dreaming, inspired by the colours and experience of hiking in Scotland last summer. I loved the design and creation process and am proud of my piece and my page in the catalog.

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In May, I left the slow stretch of change behind and leapt into an opportunity to buy a new home in a neighbourhood where I have long dreamed of being able to live. January’s experience of being present at the death of a dear friend who was only forty-eight made me realize that it is foolish to put off the things that are important to some imaginary future date. That date may not happen and so you’re just wasting time.

So, in a short 48 hours, I bought a new condo. And then, within a week  I had sold my home of the last ten years.  Now I’m in limbo til August when I move. I keep joking that it’s a bit like living with someone who you’ve broken up with.  I sort of emotionally detached from my home through the process of selling it. Massive de-cluttering and de-personalizing including painting over my vibrant colours with plain white. And I lie in bed dreaming of the new place; decorating it in my head and imagining myself in the space.

But I’m still awkwardly living with the old place, trying not to get attached to it again even though all the things that bugged me about it (that awful tile in the bathroom, the damn toilet that won’t stop dripping) don’t bother me so much any more since I know it’s all temporary.

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Me, trying unsuccessfully to not get attached to my rooftop patio and hammock.

One of the best things about the new place is that I am within 5 km of my work. Which means that in the second part of this year, I can focus more on the physical stretching of my body as well as the emotional stretching.  Being within biking or walking distance of work will mean less commuting by car – hopefully none! My aim is to walk home from work several days a week and then maybe start biking again.

I hadn’t given much thought to how much I’ve stretched so far this year until I was asked. I knew that ending the war with my body had brought a new found peace and self-acceptance. By not blaming my body for my problems (after all, thin means happy, right?!) I am now focusing on the things that actually make me happy.

It’s a stretch but I think it’s working!