Tuesday, July 02, 2013

What happens in Ukee...stays in Ukee.

Or, more likely...shows up on the scale on Weigh-in Wednesday.  But, let's not talk shop just yet, let's talk a weekend away in the rugged beauty that is the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Thank you Times Colonist Health Challenge for the prize package including a 2 night stay at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort & Spa in Ucluelet. 

May was a tricky month for me...it was the month after the wrap up of the Times Colonist Health Challenge, it was my birthday month (and I'm holding onto 37 FOREVER!), my best friend Zeebee from Winnipeg came for a visit, and things started to get a bit squirrely after I had that appointment with the bariatric surgeon...so even if a weekend of relaxation wasn't what my body needed, it was certainly good for my brain.

As I've said before, it's a little bit daunting to go out into the real world of restaurant food and beer on tap without my trusty Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre membership and my personal ninja.  Also, I have a pretty strict schedule of eating that revolves around my workouts...so how will I fare with less exercise and no set itinerary?  I would find out soon enough.  In the past, while being on some sort of diet, I have always thrown caution to the wind and drank and eaten anything and everything I wanted, because it's okay to indulge when you're on holiday, right?  Well, this time I went prepared.  As an ex-Girl Guide, I packed our vintage blue Coleman cooler with everything that we normally eat on a weekend.  There were veggies and fruits, proteins, ingredients for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, for the next 4 days...no bannock though, it wasn't Camp Jubilee!  Fortified after a quick trip to Discovery Coffee, we were on our way up-Island!

Past Duncan and Ladysmith, Nanaimo and Parksville there lies a little piece of British Columbia that figures into the childhood of so many people, myself included...COOMBS! No trip up-Island is complete without a stop at Goats on Roof; there, I usually purchase a weird collection of food stuffs, home décor, art supplies, and wigs.  This time, we took home some avocado and coconut oils, Cajun blackening spice, Muffaletta vegetable tapenade, hot sauce, and ginger marmalade for my mom and dad.  The selection of Japanese pottery wasn't as varied as I remembered, and I already had too many wigs...so no mise-en-scène for me this time.  And after a torrential downpour, we were off...without coffees because there was no skim milk at the Coombs Café!
Side note:  Port Alberni Starbucks, you have nothing on Discovery...not only did I burn my tongue on you, but you didn't taste as good as I thought you would...then I stopped using the straw and you tasted much better.  Haha...

Before the drive across to Ukee, I had to have a little convo with my dear husband the driver.  He promised to go the speed limit, unlike last time when Del and I were threatening to jump out of the moving vehicle and walk the rest of the way.  Luckily, we didn't have to drive light speed to catch the sunset or worry about sheet rain.  All in all, it was a very pleasant experience, one I hope to repeat more than once every couple of years!

We got into Ucluelet early in the afternoon, and before we headed to the resort, the first thing Stéphane picked up was some "Reign In Blonde" and "Tuff Session Ale" from Tofino Brewing Company.  I don't know why I grabbed a cinnamon whisky, but I did...old habits die hard (don't worry, I still haven't cracked open the bottle yet).  Then off to the resort to check in and get the weekend started!

Now, Stéphane and I have been known to enjoy a good boutique hotel like Loft 523 in New Orleans or the Opus Hotel in Vancouver, and the Black Rock did not disappoint!  The design was functional with flair, the colour palette was neutral which showcased the scenery outside.  Not that we spent much time in the bathroom, but it was amazing with a heated slate floor, soaker tub, large walk-in shower with pebbles on the ground to massage your tootsies, and regular or rain shower options.  The rest of the suite was just as comfortable...both the living room and the bedroom came equipped with flat screen televisions and the patio outside ran the length of both.  The kitchen had a 2 burner range, a microwave/convection oven, refrigerator, and a good amount of dishes and pots and pans - I didn't even need to bring the salt and pepper, it was provided!  

After the impromptu photo session of the new digs, we cracked open the beer and wine and had ourselves a patio party complete with music and wardrobe changes before heading down to the lounge for some sushi, and much to my trainer's chagrin...more alcohol.  Being a control freak, I had already planned on getting the sushi platter for the both of us...Stéphane often has to go along for the ride because of my dietary restrictions and/or bossiness!  Ha!  We arrived at Float in our new togs, and settled into a posh paradise of modern furniture and an unbelievable view, topped off by an acoustic set by our friend Lola Parks (who knew a crony from Smith's Pub would be in town to serenade us while we supped on raw fish and rice?)  おいしいですね。  How do you top that off?  Well, I'll tell you...have your neighbour (from Victoria) stop by with 4 of her awesome friends.  I had no idea the Island was so small.  We chatted surfing, UNESCO, make-up, Ucluelet, music, archaeology, and autre chose until the wee hours.  Perfection!

California king...get one...best sleep ever.  Usually, I attempt to relegate Stéphane to the furthest corner of the mattress, but this time my starfish sleeping pattern did not disturb.  I like to think it's because of my significant weight loss, but I have a feeling that it may have been the sheer size of that bed.  A mere 5 or 6 hours after schlepping our weary selves to bed after hijinks and hilarity in the lounge, we awoke to waves crashing and birds chirping.  Decided to take it slow and cook some breakkie in the pad.  Some lovely omelettes later, we were anxious to try out the fancy bathroom!  Nothing quite like testing out a rain shower with a shower cap on...glorious nonetheless.  After primping and preening, we left Ukee for Tofino to meet up with the one and only Vicky Voodoo and her lover boy.

Directions have never been Stéffi's forté, thankfully the road to Tofino is straight.  However, it was me who got confused when I attempted to give directions to my chauffeur.  Thankfully we met up with our friends and then headed to SOBO for lunch - famed for it's smoked fish chowder.  Both Julian and I ordered oysters because that's what you do when there are oysters on the menu, Stéffi got the infamous soup, and Voodoo got something served in tortillas.  Julio also ordered a bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeno...because again, it's what you do if it's on the menu.  Lovely little lunch with lots of laughs and topped off with a gigantic chocolate 'n' hazelnut cookie that I may have had to steal a munch of...oh, glorious cookie.  I'm not even a sweets person, but that cookie was amazeballs.

So what do you do in Tofino after eating bivalves and hazelnuts?  Why you go surf and vintage shopping of course!  Tofino shopping is hilarious, you can get a brand-new crocheted bikini top for top dollar at a surf shop, or get a hand-made, gently-used, crocheted bikini top for a nickle at a second hand place.  Either way, I think you shouldn't get one...for the record.  Perhaps it's because I am not a surfer girl or hippie, or maybe because I like to think I have a sense of style...but I managed to leave Tofino with just a fabulous foamy hat.  Who am I?  Someone who can't stop making gang signs in photographs.  That's who.

So at this point in the trip, I had not yet exercised...but my eating had been spot on...and my drinking..well, let's not talk about yesterday, but I resisted the urge to have a beer with lunch!  Healthy breakfast Saturday morning, fabulous Saturday oysters lunch (wee bit of a cookie at the end, not the end of the world), afternoon walks through town, with some shopping thrown in, and now what?  Well, as I had invited Voodoo and Julio to dinner at the resort, it was back to Ukee with us.  Tacos con carne on the menu at Casa Spitfyre!  Yum.  Of course, when I make tacos, there are whole-wheat tortillas involved, extra lean ground beef goes in the pot, hot salsa, fat-free sour cream, avocados, iceberg lettuce, fresh cilantro, squeeze of lime juice, maybe a squirt of hot sauce...but no cheese in sight.  Usually people don't notice.  As I also distract them with a beautiful salad to go with and appetisers of wise crackers and antipasto.  And, of course there was wine and beer, what?  I'm on vacation!  Victoria and Julian are always entertaining...we can talk for hours and hours and frequently do.  Voodoo even brought over a belated birthday prezzie to go with the book she gave me at lunch...it wasn't a crocheted bikini top *insert disappointment here* it was a set of creepy 50s or 60s porcelain kitties!  Fabulous!

Sunday - Day 3 - Still no "official" exercise.  I'm starting to feel like I'm cheating on my ninja.  So, I will make up for my non-gymminess by trekking along a trail, the Wild Pacific Trail to be precise.  Voodoo works in the bush, Julian is a kite surfer guy, and then there's me and Stéffi who are experts at stationary cardio equipment.  Haha...this should be interesting.  Holy scenery, Batman!  The entire trail is unbelievable...chock-a-block full of tree-mendous greenery, rocky beaches, crashing waves, bald eagles...ah-mazing.  Here, a picture is worth a 1000 words.  So enjoy:
Skunk cabbage!

Apparently, there used to be a boardwalk

This is what I have missed being sedentary for so long, NATURE!

That French Canadian dude, and me.  Dude.

Creepy trees

Vicky Voodoo and Julio

Hi, gorgeous

End of May sunshiny goodness

Did Tim Burton put this here?

There is another shot of Julian mooning the live-cam.  I left that out.

Lighthouse lady

King of the castle

I guess it gets windy here

Tree swing!

Thanks, already did :-D
After our little hiking adventure we drove into town to get some lunch at Ukee Dogs!  So, here's the deal with eating right and exercising...you can't have the mac 'n' cheese dog like you used to, but you can make your husband get it because YUM!  Doesn't that sound glorious?  Or rather, doesn't that sound like something that you may have really enjoyed back when you didn't mind wearing a hotdog around your waist?  I had a veggie chili dog hold the cheese on whole wheat - it was lovely.  I even ordered a water to go with...change is good.  If I told you how much pop I used to drink, it would disgust you...in fact, when I think of how much money we spent on pop daily (yes, daily) we could probably make our way back to New Orleans.

From Ukee dogs to the Rip Curl Pro Tofino!  Excited to see the surfing.  Apparently Saturday had absolutely zero waves, so we hoped Sunday would not disappoint.  I had never been to a surfing competition, so had no idea what to expect.  What we found as we meandered down to Cox Beach was a whole bunch of people standing near kiosks for various organisations, vendors, and snack shacks, a giant 2 level driftwood announcer's booth that was broadcasting the play by play...and a bunch of people right at the edge & in  the surf...some of them in wetsuits with tripods and very fancy cameras.  Stéphane and I found the Surfrider Foundation set-up and said hi to our neighbour, Jill.  We then ventured out into the surf...but not really...we just went out to watch what was going on.
Julian was interested in setting up his sail...as in kite sail...as in kite surfing, whatever, I have no idea what I'm talking about obviously.  He turned left...we kept right.  He set up his sail by inflating it and a bunch of other things that I don't remember.  We walked the beach some and then met up with him again later.  It was a great day, made especially fun when I recognised Pamela Anderson at the event, and we hung out when the prizes were being given out.  Her son won the U16, well done Dylan Lee!  But, I digress...there was this guy called Julio who was trying to fly a kite but couldn't because he forgot his harness.  Sad face.  Victoria came and picked us up and we all headed back to the Black Rock.  It was the end of the Voodoos' day, but only half way through the Spitfyres'.  We said bye and then bunkered down in our room before venturing into Ukee again for the best darn BBQ I have had since St. Louis!

Barbecue in Ucluelet?  Why yes, and yummy, yummy, yummy BBQ at that.  Recommended by other neighbours that enjoy the good things in life...we headed to Hank's for pulled pork (Stéphane ordered that) and the brisket (that's what I got).  OMG.  I can't tell you how gorgeous this food was...holy moley.  Now, I won't lie, we may have had a few beers before heading out to get dinner.  So when the brisket came with potato salad, baked beans, and fry bread...I didn't even hesitate...I ate them...and they were delicious!  Good thing we don't go out to eat all that much...haha...because I lose a bit of control when I'm at a restaurant.  I suppose I could have ordered something different on the side, but I didn't...and it was amazing, and a treat, and I was on vacation...and possibly slightly drunk.  Those are my excuses.  Don't judge me.

Got back to the resort just in time to catch the last episode of GAME OF THRONES.  And, oh my gods...what was that all about?  I can't say anything because I don't want to give away anything to anyone, but I shouldn't have watched that!  Traumatised and confused was I!  Where are they going to go from there?

Next morning we got up late, had breakfast, checked out (please don't make me leave this glorious place!) and headed to Long Beach.  No, not to reenact Twilight at Incinerator Rock, but to hang out with a really very curious and friendly raven.  We did some beachcombing, checked out some tidal pools, overturned some rocks, took a few pictures, and breathed in the salty and sandy Pacific air.  No matter how many times I go to that beach, it always amazes me.
After a couple hours walking and talking on the beach, we hopped in the Fit (How appropriate is that?  Our car is named after what I'm trying to achieve!) and headed towards Tofino to get a coffee and lunch at that little weird collection of shops half way to town.  Café latte from Tofitian and a taco at Tacofino...seared tuna tatakitaco!?  Yes please!  So that makes up for drinking beer and eating potato salad and baked beans last night, right?  I fear the answer is no.  But, at least I did some beach trekking Monday morning because it's a 5 hour drive back to Victoria.  Which is incidentally what we embarked on shortly after finishing our snacks and 'spresso.

Drive back to town was great, and luckily our beachcombing did not result in operation return barnacles to water at Cattle Point ASAP as they are still alive, my mistake, and also I hope we don't screw up this here ecosystem.  This time all of the barnacles were former barnacles, ex-barnacles, shells essentially...which is kinda too bad, because I'm looking for an excuse to go back to Ukee and Tofino.

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