Monday, July 28, 2008

New Yorkers in the Wild

For me, the truest escape from the pressures of everyday life can often be found when I am the farthest removed from my everyday experience. And the watery wild of Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island is about as different from New York City as you can get. There is only one road that leads there. It winds through miles of mountains and woods, past pristine lakes and ancient growth forests. Even at peak season, there are few other cars on the road.

I actually got out of the car and stood in the middle of the road to photograph this scene. I took my time. Nobody was around to care.

In order to maximize our wilderness experience, we planned a day of kayaking in Toquart Bay (accompanied by a trained professional, naturally). The places we paddled were completely inaccessible except by water, untouched by roads, barely marred by a human footprint.

From the seats of our kayaks gliding through that wilderness we saw black bears coming down to the shore to fish, seals and sea lions frolicking in warm pools in the afternoon sun, and majestic bald eagles guarding their aeries. We saw the mountains, still snow-capped in July, and the Pacific Ocean stretching far as the eye could see. And we heard the absolute silence, broken only by the dipping of our paddles in the water. (And we thought to ourselves..."Why do we live in New York City when there is all this?")

Ash must have been quite inspired by all the wilderness and bears and whatnot because some basic human survival instinct seemed to take hold when we returned to land and he insisted that we must cook our dinner ourselves over a fire out on the beach. Being a city girl, I was somewhat hesitant, but I deferred to his boyhood Scout training and agreed to give it a shot. We picked up vegetables and a few basic tools, gathered together some driftwood and kindling, and set out for a beautiful beach (where, fortunately, fires were permitted by the Parks Department).

And would you believe? We had one of the best meals I've enjoyed in a long time. Fire-roasted corn, baked potatoes, buttery vegetables, and soup to wash it all down. And, to top off a perfect evening, toasted marshmallows. All cooked over a fire! Can you imagine? Just like people did it in olden times! I ended the evening feeling that, if push came to shove, these two New Yorkers could definitely survive in the wilderness, and eat well too!

As long as there is a supermarket nearby. And marshmallows of course.

Our evenings outdoors by the fire (because a person can't stop with just one evening of toasted marshmallows) inspired some interesting photography experiments too. This photo below was taken in the backyard of our bed and breakfast, where I opened up the shutter for a long exposure while Ash rustled the burning embers sending sparks flying into the night.

Yes, it was about as far from life in New York as I could get, and a perfect holiday.


Ashkon said...

So, where to next?

amy said...

gosh, what an amazing vacation! it looks so beautiful, i am glad you guys had a good time!

kadria said...

you're killin' me! these photos are so gorgeous and evoke nostalgia for my homeland (yes, i'm somewhat patriotic!). seriously. can't wait to visit my beloved west coast again! thanks for sharing and inspiring.

Angie said...

Wow, it looks beautiful there! Sounds like a lovely time :-)

springtreeroad said...

looks like fun!

roasted corn = yum!

Angry Asian said...

i love love love the first pic, in the middle of the road and you can see the road going on into the woods.
your vacation sounds amazing, i am so jealous of your fire cooked meal.
what kind of camera do you use?

bee said...

what a breathtaking place. i've added it to my list. beautiful pics.

Chessa said...

oh...these are amazing. I feel like I'm there...sitting on that canoe/kayak boat thing (can you tell I'm not the "outdoorsy type") on that lake. I really love it. The air seems so crisp. I really love these. I'm glad you had a great vacation!

limonana said...

oh wow. again you've inspired me...really, i can't believe i live on that island & don't appreciate marshmallows & corn on the fire! i should i should!

Robin said...

It's so nice to get away, isn't it?
That scenery looks beautiful. And food cooked over a fire is the best.
It's funny that I am actually going to New York for my vacation next week! I don't think much relaxation is going to occur!

alexandra said...

i LOVE the flying embers photo! so beautiful!
it looks like you had fun.

Sabrina said...

This really does sound and look divine. Though I just returned from vacation, I'm thinking (or more accurately dreaming) I should set off again, perhaps toward the forest this time.

Meals prepared and eaten out of doors are magical...somehow adding up to more than the sum of its parts.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. It really was incredible. And it's true that fire-cooking adds something more than flavor to food (the fun factor, I'm guessing).