When work doesn’t interfere.

Yann and I took a trip out of town last Tuesday. On the ride back, I received this text message:

Screen cap of text reads: This is a message from the Government of Canada. All travelers returning to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days by law. Once you arrive at your final destination back in Canada, travel directly home - do not make stops. If you're experiencing sore throat, cough, or fever, report to a CBSA officer or contact public health officals. Need credible information on COVID-19? Get the latest at bit.ly/3ahXXQO. This message is then repeated in French.

Fuck that. We hadn’t visited another country: we’d just returned from another planet.

Yann's silhouette perched on top of rocks. A wave crashes nearby. The channel down the middle is a tidepool.rash

We had spent the day at Botanical Beach (Pacheedaht First Nations territory), about 20km away from the US, divided by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. For some reason, there are no Canadian cell towers in the Port Renfrew area, so our phone goes on roaming, siphoning service from our modernized American neighbours across the strait. Hopefully, they aren’t as good at transmitting Covid-19.

Yann and I timed our visit so that we’d arrive at low tide, which was around 4:30pm. One of the things that makes this place so great is how it’s less busy than the other sections of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, likely because it’s not as accessible. It’s not a place parents want to bring their kids unless they wish for their kids to be adopted by the sea.

The waves were massive that day: the biggest I’d ever seen them. At one point, despite having come during low tide, we found that we couldn’t continue walking along the intertidal zone and ended up scrambling up sandstone to get onto the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

BeachBotanical4

This is the same trail Zoeé and I were supposed to hike next month. I had booked time off work for this hike; instead, Yann and I will be coming to the mainland so that I can get a haircut that doesn’t cost $200, get tattooed (which will cost more than $200), and do assorted stuff that won’t bore Yann.

Anyway, what kind of person drives out all the way to Port Renfrew, hikes through the JDF trail carrying a pack of beer to chug in the woods, and then leaves the cans in a pile?

?!

Not us, but because we anticipated finding litter along the way, we had brought a plastic bag along to collect other people’s trash; however, our bag wasn’t large enough. Ugh, we had driven two hours to get away from humanity, yet were confronted by evidence that humanity continues to shit all over Mother Nature.

We saw and smelled decapitated sea lion ashore in Botany Bay. This was actually the first thing I took a photo of upon arriving in Port Renfrew, but I’ll spare you guys the visual. We also spotted two seals a-swimming, eagles a-soaring, and a mink a-scurrying with a crustacean snack in its jaws. Was it a mink? I think so… the bastard was nimble.

Evidence:

An out-of-focus photo of a wet mink on its rear legs, about to climb over a boulder.

And now for some photos without blurry critters:

Choppy waters surrounded by rocks.

The back of my braided bleach-blonde hair as I look at the waves. The Olympic mountains are visible on the horizon.

The shale shoreline of Botany Bay. A lush green forest with a crown of poofy white clouds is visible on the right.

Tragically, it may be a while before Yann and I can come back here, and it may be a while before I’m able to resume my Monday and Thursday posting schedule. Did anyone notice that I hadn’t been posting as frequently? Work has been draining to the point that I’ve gone to bed while it was still light out more than once.

We’re required to wear a mask during opening hours, which is a precautionary measure that I’m happy to follow, but it has made it difficult to breathe normally. We’re not hydrating as often as usual, especially in the bike shop where our hands are often covered by grease-smeared gloves, preventing us from fiddling with our masks for the sake of accessing liquids.

Yann and I may not be returning to Port Renfrew anytime soon because it’s unlikely we’ll have a day off together for a while. For some warped reason, the company has bestowed the task of scheduling upon someone at the company’s headquarters. So far, this has resulted in me being scheduled for NINE DAYS OF WORK IN A ROW. Also, I STILL DO NOT HAVE MY SCHEDULE FOR NEXT WEEK.

HULK SMASH.

The folks at the company headquarters have been making all sorts of exceptions, stating that “these are extraordinary times”.

Yup. And we’re all extraordinarily exhausted.

A gray cat presses his face into the sofa cushion.

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