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The Sunshine Coast


Sechelt, BC

I left Harrison Hot Springs with a sense of reluctant foreboding. I couldn't escape the uneasy feeling I had found Paradise just a little too soon. Uncrowded, peaceful, convenient, with a sculpture contest, plenty of good restaurants, a hot pool, and a lake long enough to seem like a sea. What else was I looking for?

Hard to say. Certainly not beauty, which was here in abundance. When I arrived, around noon, I had every intention of moving on to a park, but as the afternoon quietly wore on I realized I was already parked in the perfect spot: right in front of the public pool, a block from the beach. So I just stayed there. There was very little traffic. Around 8 pm I joined a few others on the scattered benches round the beach, watching the sunset. Though we backed up to a city street, the lake reached out and wrapped us in peace. Nothing spectacular, the islands just got dimmer and dimmer till they merged with the blackness of the lake.

Come morning I walked across the street to have breakfast and read the papers. This place is nothing if not convenient. I took another turn through the sand sculptures. The doubles competition was in full swing, and the singles were staking off areas a little further down the beach. They have 25 hours total to complete their project, using only water and the sand they dig up on the spot. There are entries from all over, including New Jersey and several from Texas. Finland sent 3 entries. My favorite was the huge Pterosaur emerging from the sand, half whole and half old bones, as though an archeological dig had come alive.

Finally I ran out of excuses, and left. The trip back through Vancouver was effortless, an exercise in cruise control, and I got on the ferry to Langdale around 1 pm. I picked up all the info I needed for the trip to Prince Rupert. The ferry trip over the bay to Langdale gave me a tiny taste of what I imagine the Inside Passage will be like. In a word, spectacular. Hope this weather holds.

I set out to find a seaside park. First stop was Robert's Creek Provincial Park, a pretty place in a deep-shadowed, murky, enchanted forest, tree-addled sort of way. I came to see the sea, though, so I moved on. When I came to the city of Sechelt, a "Paddler's Paradise" as the brochure on the ferry put it, I followed the signs to Porpoise Bay PP. It is one of a dozen surrounding Sechelt Inlet, and they combine to make a sort of kayaker's highway, with stops only 2-3 hours paddling time apart. Sort of like Flathead Lake was supposed to be.

I spent the afternoon on the beach, watching for the purported porpoises, but to no avail. Perhaps the boats and float planes made it too noisy, so after supper I tried again. There were only a couple of other people there to watch the stars come out. In the distance the lights of the city of Sechelt began to dribble down and lengthen into the still water like melted wax. A three quarter moon trailed a reflection across the middle of the inlet so bright and solid you'd think you could walk on it. The muted honking of geese came drifting out of darkness.

"Ah," I thought, "this is it."

And then, suddenly, almost in answer to the thought, an enormous rumbling and clatter began, about half-way back toward town, sounding something like a slow motion train wreck, or perhaps one of those endless bowlegged coal trains, clackety-clatter, spilling its load on bad track.

"What on earth is that infernal racket?" I asked somebody walking by.

"O, that's the night shift at the gravel pit. They got the rock crusher goin'."

Rock Crusher? Gravel Pit? This wasn't in the brochure!

I tried to ignore it, put it in the background, concentrate on water, moon and stars. Hah.

Did you ever, in the wee hours of the morning, try NOT to hear a dripping faucet? The effort only makes your hearing razor sharp. I began to make out the distant beep, beep, beep of earth moving equipment, backing up. Then a siren wailed in town.

My God. I might as well be in downtown Vancouver. Or Houston. That deep night, which had surrounded me, shrank and flattened, became a mere picture, apart.

It's now 11 o'clock. For some reason they've turned it off just now. But I'm going to bed with earplugs anyway, just in case they have a change of heart.

As that Great Philosopher once said, between beaus: "Tomorrow is another day."


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