Flying to British Columbia was a strike mission born from a sudden and urgent necessity to escape our own worlds that were beginning to consume us. We were so comfortable in our monotonous routine that we could crack and scream at any moment from the lack of chaos. So we called up our friend Julianna, a musician born and raised in British Columbia. When she invited us to surf, hike, and camp on the oasis that is Vancouver Island, it felt like salvation—an offer too good to refuse. We tracked down some boards and camping gear and departed on the first flights that we could find. The place we found ourselves landing in was raw and real with dense and dark forests lining the cold Pacific. A place engulfed in mist with rays of sun peaking through to illuminate the entire coastline and somehow set it ablaze with light. Geographically close to us in California—but soulfully—in another world entirely.
Here’s what we had: 4 girls, 1 guitar, 2 skateboards, 4 gallon jugs of water, 2 pelican cases filled with camera equipment, surfboards, hiking gear, camping equipment, and fishing poles. Here’s what we didn’t have: A plan. Seemed like the right ingredients for an adventure to us.
We piled into a vintage Pontiac from the 60s, slammed the doors shut, and began traversing the dynamic coastline of British Columbia. As we began following our map, we decided to track down a boat to fish for the first night’s dinner. We drove until we found ourselves in a quaint oceanside town. We sought refuge on a dock to rest and dip our feet in the cool water and regroup. Julianna brought out her guitar and we swayed to the sound of music as we peered at the maps in front of us with furrowed brows. That’s when we heard someone leaning over the bow of a sailboat yell over to us, “HEY! If you girls want to take my boat out for a ride you are welcome to. I just filled her up.” It felt kismet. We had asked, and the universe had answered. We meandered over to the dock and met the man, his name was Henry. He guided us over to a small orange speedboat and gestured for us to climb aboard. Now I know what you’re thinking, who does that? Who climbs on a strangers boat with all of their gear and ride off into the sunset without first making sure they aren’t an ax-murderer? We chalked it up to gut feeling. Something we were trained by our mothers to trust since we were kids.
We couldn’t remember the last time a stranger had offered so much of what little they had in exchange for only memories and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Henry was unlike most people, that's for sure. He had a genuine softness in his eyes and a voice that sounded like home. We asked him why he would offer his boat to a group of strangers. He said, “Seemed to me like you ladies were looking for something—I thought maybe I could help you find it.” We couldn’t remember the last time a stranger had offered so much of what they had in exchange for only memories and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
We began to cut through the water, laughing with excitement. The farther away from civilization we got, the more we reveled in the coastline. Henry began telling us about his best friend, Maya, that had just purchased her own Oyster farm not too far from where we were. We decided to meander there, dock, and check it out. The girls jumped off of the boat and lassoed the ropes to the dock with sheer elegance. We walked around, collecting shells and looking at the freshly caught oysters and clams. Maya told us to hold out our hands and she deposited huge clumps of clams into them saying, “For your campfire tonight, should cook up nicely.” We didn’t have a bag to toss them in so we piled them in a safe corner of the boat. We spent all morning on the water with Henry. He told us about his life, how he lived on his sailboat and worked at the local seafood restaurant nearby. How he made frequent trips to Maya’s Oyster farm where they’d drink beers as the sun went down on the emerald green water. How he pulled on his running shoes every morning at dawn and ran for miles until he couldn’t any longer. He lived a simple life, and in this way to us, he seemed to be the richest man we’d met in a long time. We stopped subscribing long ago to the notion that the amount of money in our bank account was indicative of wealth. True wealth to us felt like something far more substantial. It’s the relationships you have, the contentment you feel, the strength in your legs, and the sharpness of your mind. We waved goodbye to Henry from the shore of the dock, with hearts swollen full of admiration and hope to run into each other again one day.
At the car we came back to reality, dumping the fresh clams into one of our empty camera bags. With surfboards under arms, and a gallon of water clipped to each of our bags, we began our next adventure — a 45 minute descent to an undisclosed surf break that we had heard offered pristine coastline and an empty lineup. The trail hadn’t been maintained in decades, it had many muddy drop offs and chunks of it missing completely, so when we stepped foot on the sandy shore we felt utterly victorious. Luckily for us, the sun didn’t set here until 10PM, so with plenty of light in the sky we surfed with not a soul in the lineup for miles.
Once we managed to peel the thick, wet neoprene off of our bodies we began to cook dinner for the night. When the girls were done gutting and cleaning the fish, we stuck wood into the filets and set them up over the fire to cook for dinner. Thanks to our new friends Henry and Maya, we chucked the clams on some rocks in the fire to cook too. As we ate our fish with our hands, like corn on the cob, we looked around and saw miles fade into the distance on either side of us. No one in the world knew we were here, and no one ever would. We inhaled the aloneness and embraced the feeling. That cool air and those dark trees and that aloneness saved us. Every time we get sucked into our 9 to 5 jobs we feel like maybe we are losing ourselves bit by bit. The second we step feet to earth we are tethered again, thrown back into ourselves. We are renewed, so that we can survive until the next spontaneous adventure that will light our souls back on fire.
Once the last embers of our fire had turned from orange to gray, and light in the sky had been replaced with darkness, we began to pack out. It took us over an hour, climbing over rocks to escape the rising tide to find the trail that had brought us down and climb our way back to the car. We were panting and covered in mud when we emerged from the dark forest close to midnight. None of us had ever done anything like that. We all let out a few hysterical laughs that we had made it out alive. The air was still and quiet, it seemed everyone on the island was asleep but us. We looked around at each other and thought—Where to next?