Saturday, April 3, 2010

What to Do in Tofino When It Rains

Living here, I am very tolerant of the rain. You have to be; it is a rainforest afterall and wouldn't be nearly as lush as it is without it. Still, somedays it can feel like too much. Like right now when I'd really like to be out in the garden dealing with something other than mud. But, I shall have to be patient. I am feeling a little sorry for any shell-shocked visitors who might have found their way to Tofino and the west coast this weekend (and who possibly might have had to drive through a snowstorm on the pass to get here). I'm assuming they are hardy sorts who knew that the weather could be a bit cool and wet (or a lot cool and wetter) and who enjoy books and board games and afternoon naps. Still, you might need a few ideas, especially if you have children, so here you go:

1. Buy or borrow good rain gear and get outside for awhile. People pay good money to come here to storm watch, so it can be fun to get out in the weather for a bit if you're fairly well covered and have a nice warm room to go back to. And by good rain gear, I mean a heavy duty jacket and pants. No ponchos, no garbage bags, no ski jackets. Rain gear. Venturing out will be invigorating and you will be perfectly entitled to feel virtuous as you snooze by the fire for the rest of the day.

2. Go into the forest. If it is too stormy on the beach or the tide is too high, try a walk through the forest. Those old growth trees make a damn good umbrella. It can be, ironically, quite a bit drier inside the rainforest — or at least it will take you a bit longer to get soaked. The Rainforest Trails in the national park, about half way between Tofino and Ucluelet, are a good bet.

3. Visit the aquarium in Ucluelet. No, really. You should go. It is a small, but wonderful place with excellent naturalists on hand to explain what you're seeing. Everything is at eye-level and perfect for families. None of the wiz-bang of bit city aquariums, but I'll bet you'll see and learn more.

4. Visit the Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino. My children have grown up here and both always asked to go into this gallery whenever we walked by. It is a quiet, calm space and worth a wander through. It seems perfect for families in a way — there is room to move without fragile art to knock over if you (or your child) zigs instead of zags. The children can loll around in the central "fire pit" while you look at the art.

5. Have a bowl of soup. I don't think I've ever had a bad bowl of soup or chowder in this town. Bring a newspaper and finish with a cup of tea and you that can stretch that out for a few hours. (Okay, if you don't have children.)

6. Check out the bulletin boards. We love our bulletin boards on the west coast. The board at the Common Loaf could take an hour or more to wade through. You'll get an interesting take on the town, that's for sure! If there's a local event going on, it will be posted on a board somewhere. And while you're at it, pick up a copy of Tofino Time or The Westerly News. If there is something go on in town, it will be in one or both of these papers.

7. Go surfing. Weather permitting (based on your skill level of course) you may as well go surfing in the rain. You're going to get wet anyway.

8. Go to the Hot Springs (sea conditions permitting). I never understood why people wanted to sit in hot pools of water on hot days. Hot Springs in the rain is the best. Snow is even better.

9. Curl up and read. Forget a book? We have three bookstores out here. (They're all independents, too. Yeah.) In Tofino, there is Mermaid Tales and Wildside Booksellers and in Ucluelet there is Wild Heather Books. Both communities have public libraries as well.

10. If you are so inclined, take in a yoga class. There are several fabulous instructors in town and all classes are held at the Coastal Bliss Studio. (Or, if you'd like someone else to help you relax, there are several day spas in town as well.)

[Addendum. Another one! How could I forget Tofino's climbing gym, The Alternative. It's a great place to spend a few hours and they are wonderful to children.]

I still lament the loss of the bowling alley and Smiley's in Ucluelet. When we were all going squirrelly when the kids were little that was our stormy day default outing — bundle up in rain gear and go for a hike followed up by chips, hot chocolate and a round of bowling at the alley. Please someone buy this place and get the alley back up and running!

What do you do on a rainy day?

Oh the irony. This is what started to happen when I was composing this post. Yes, that's hail. (Sorry, it was early so the photo isn't the best quality.)

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