21. Expectations of Wilderness
Before coming to Canada, I envisioned it as a great wild north. I pictured long meanderings on dusty roads where not another human face would be seen for miles. I hoped there would be bears and wolves walking conveniently along those roads at a perfect distance for zoom lens portraits. I fancied countless beautiful places where I'd be able to simply pull the Jeep over, pitch a tent and make an evening meal because I wanted to call that patch of dirt home for tonight. But I've found none of those things.
The truth is, the real wilderness is far north of the places our journey has taken us. It's accurate to say that Canada is large and mostly sparsely populated. But not these parts. Vancouver Island is beautiful and ecologically fascinating, no doubt. But it's mostly private land held by homeowners and logging companies. The timber industry is what brought western civilization to the area, and that legacy remains.
Coming from the United States, especially the western ones, I've grown quite fond of the whole National Forest idea. I'm a connoisseur of public land and I believed I'd be able to frolic freely in some sort of Canadian equivalent. But to find our camping, we've had to turn to private campgrounds, Provincial and National Parks. We've paid nightly fees to access the beauty and especially in the National Parks, the crowds have been staggering.
But the scenery has been astounding, and the experiences have been special even so! We asked locals about their favorite spots routinely, and nobody has avoided sharing. We sought out a secluded spot aptly named Secret Beach and while the confusing journey to get there had me picturing scenes from The Hills Have Eyes, I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. The beach was literally paved with the jagged shells of live oysters! That's something I couldn't have dreamed up, coming from the mountains of Colorado. And Chloe saw her first bear last week, so that's been checked off the list.
So I guess what I'm saying is that any beef I have with this trip has been a matter of expectations, not false advertisement. And I think life is like that in a lot of ways: finding peace can be achieved by altering our assumptions in a time of turmoil. Often that's the most accessible approach into life's vast wilderness.
Here is a short video I cut of some of the coolest things my cameras saw on our 3 week journey through Vancouver Island. When I watch these clips, I remember how tricky it was to get to some of these places and how many u-turns we had to execute en route. And the images hold so much more beauty because of these winding journeys.