Posted by: Kiersten | February 27, 2010

Big Things

Our three-day business planning class in Port Alberni was exhausting, but ultimately rewarding.  As down as we felt on Wednesday, we were quite optimistic by Friday when we’d finally won over our teacher and the bones had been laid out for out new business plan.

This business plan is like Frankenstein’s monster.  What we have now is the grizzly remains of our original draft, a corpse hacked up into bits and sewn back together.  We’ve put a leg where the arm used to be and we’ve added three ears, four eyes and six fingers to each hand, because business plans are all about redundancies.  You have to assume that whoever reads your plan is not going to actually read it, but rip it apart, toss it in the air and then glance at the pages that fall face up in front of him.

When we weren’t tearing out hair out, we were eating oysters.  I tried oysters for the very first time.  They were pretty good, though I suspect they’re not as fresh as they could be.  I tried calamari for the first time too.  I finally got past my aversion to tentacles… or the little ones at least.  The calamari was really good, but as I type this I remember that Donna once gave me some fried spicy squid that her husband made and it was especially yummy.

Kat & I are official sea food snobs.  I just don’t think I can enjoy sea food that wasn’t caught less than 24 hours before it got to my plate.  Port is technically a coastal town, but sadly, thanks to the paper mill, there is very little sea life in their actual port — and I suspect you wouldn’t want to eat anything you caught there anyway.  So Port has become a coastal town that has to ship in it’s fish for it’s restaurants.  I guess that’s why there are so many steak houses.

Port Alberni is growing on me, though.  The people are very friendly.  The town reminds me of North Bay in the 90s when I was growing up, with it’s charming but slightly run down buildings, the Zellers that used to be a Towers, the Chinese and Japanese restaurants as the only ethnic variation on the pub/steakhouse/fast food restaurants.  Like North Bay, Port is such a pretty town.  Such gorgeous mountains!  Such a charming harbour!  Oh I wish Port would just realize it’s no longer an industry town.  The huge paper mill employs a scant 400 people of the population of 18,000.  That’s about 2%.  That’s pathetic.  The mill is on it’s way out anyway.  It pollutes the air and the ocean and it’s horrible for tourism, which I’m certain employes more than 2% of the town.

You know those million or so tourists that visit Tofino & Ukee every year?  Well most of them drive through Port to get here.  Port Alberni is so close to becoming a great tourist destination… but as long as that mill is still there, it’s selling itself short.  Oh well, maybe we’ll get a nice tsunami in that’ll wipe the sucker out.

Speaking of tsunamis, we had our first Tsunami Warning today.  An 8.8 earthquake hit Chile earlier today, creating a risk for some strong currents and sudden flooding on the lower beaches.  The warnings were sounding off every 30 minutes on the radio, and advisories were posted all over town:

I scared my mother a bit when I told her about the warning.  “Oh my God!” she exclaimed.  “Just when we’re getting more and more earth quakes, my daughter has to move to the coast!  And not just any coast, the WEST coast – the tsunami coast – the DEATH COAST!” 

Okay she didn’t call it “the Death Coast” but she was thinkin’ it.  Mom, you’ll be happy to know I was not among the 50 or so residents and tourists who actually headed out to the beach to meet the tsunami!  Surfers ignored RCMP warnings and plunged in anyway, people took their kids right to the tide line – some idiots even climbed up on to the rocks to watch the waves.  Darwinism in action.  These are the same people who send their kids over to pet the wild black bear.  You just have to shake your head.

Of course I couldn’t just stay inside when there was a tsunami warning.  I took the dogs for a walk to check out the harbour.  I stayed on high ground and watched the crazy currents tear up the surface of the water:

You’d think the harbour was a river with all that movement.  It was pretty cool.

The crab apple tree outside our door is blooming:

But in the mountains, it’s still winter:

I took this picture when I pulled over to pee.  It was nice to visit the snow.  I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to shiver.  Next time I’ll try to remember to take a pee break BEFORE we reach the coldest leg of the journey. 

We also stopped at a trail marked “Giant Cedar Loop”.  The path followed Kennedy River and took us through a section of forest that had been razed almost entirely by logging operations in the past 20 years.  It turns out that the “Giant Cedar” was singular.  Just one tree.  One tree.  Survived.

The lonely giant.  The solitary veteran, a General surrounded by a field of green recruits who grow on the remains of the logger’s leavings. 

I don’t know why the loggers left just this one tree.  It is the saddest tree I have ever, ever felt. 

This is why some people are called “tree huggers”.  These are the people who don’t just see complete and unnecessary destruction, they feel it, take on this sense of heaviness.  They understand that nature mourns it’s losses too.  The Giant Cedar still mourns his brothers and sisters.  He will never again stand among trees his own size.  He was never meant to stand alone. 

It really makes you want to hug something.



  1. The Death Coast! I like that.
    I’m glad you didn’t have any significat tsunami problems. I forget to come by and check your blog sometimes, so please let us know when your business is up and running.

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