The Part of the Trip in Which We Start to Get Totally and Justifiably Silly
(*NOTE: This the second in a multi-part series chronicling the extreme, sustainable, yumm-osity of Canada’s Pacific Rim. MyWholeDeal.com was generously hosted by Tourism Tofino to attend Grazing in Gardens, the main event of the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, and to experience what Tofino, BC, has to offer a clean-eating traveler. Special thanks to Kirsten Soder and the friendly folks of Tofino, BC)
Touring Tofino, Day 2. Dateline: Saturday, June 2, 2012 Time: 8:58am
Despite my best intentions, my subconscience stepped up to the plate and fortified my body with a little extra sleep to get me through the most momentous of days. Knowing full well that restraint was not going to be my mantra, I decided to keep up the “I’m Such a Healthy Person” ruse…for the morning, at least.
So, you know how, on TV, people just love running on the beach? Well, I’ve lived on the coast my entire life, plus I’m one of those weird people that truly, completely and actually enjoys running, but for some reason I’ve never taken it to the beach.
Turns out MacKenzie Beach isn’t a long beach, like, say Long Beach, but more of a shortish beach, like, say, well, MacKenzie Beach. Long story short, I ran out of beach pretty darn fast, which didn’t really bother me because running on squishy sand isn’t as romantic as it looks, especially if you don’t have anyone to run towards in slow motion. So, I cut up through the Crystal Cove Beach Resort–which boasts rental cabins, RV parking, a playground and the most darling man-made river you ever did see, and I hit the mean streets of Tofino.
Now, I don’t have what you might call a “sense of direction” per se, so I was pleased to see a bunch of other like-minded individuals wearing stretchy pants much like my own when I emerged onto the main drag (aka the highway). There was also a paved running/biking/in-line skating (don’t in-line skate) pathway that was highway adjacent and just primed to be trod upon. Keeping the creepieness to an absolute minimum, I fell in behind my comrades in what could only be described as the best direction to go in. Or was it? To my utter dismay, an even bigger group of joggers was fast approaching from the opposite direction. Always quick on my feet, just as the groups converged, I faked an unruly shoelace and joined the bigger flock once the coast was clear. Yes! This was the way to go! Or was it?
Suddenly I was struck with a panic that rattled my very core. What if we were headed out of town? What if this was some sort of (very fit) Pacific Rim cult that combed the streets of Tofino, scooping up unsuspecting, jogging tourists, luring them to a make-shift commune and forcing them to craft pucca shell necklaces to sell to the less athletic tourists? “No, way, not me!” I shouted at the baffled-looking louts and promptly pivoted, dashing to freedom in my original, less culty direction. For about 100 metres or so, when I hit The Tofitian and realised that, if I wanted to run towards civilisation and be protected from cults (which I totally did), I needed to go the other way.
Familiarity was what I craved, so I ran back to Shelter Restaurant and gave this bear a high-five. We both needed the positivity.
Once the bear and I had made our peace, I set off for pseudo-home, feeling much more worldly and less directionally challenged. But, when I reached Ocean Village, I was greeted with a piece of my emotional journey laying in wait for me:
Needless to say, I became a little weepy at this point and spilled the whole sordid tale of my run to my husband, gulping down delightful mouthfuls of perfectly and sustainably brewed Americano–with my choice of soy or almond milk!–while we held hands and strolled the beach. We looked infinitely more romantic than I had, stumbling frantic and alone, just precious moments earlier, but there was no time for extended hand-holdery! We were fast nearing the hour to Graze in the Gardens. For this, my friends, was the 10th Annual Tofino Food and Wine Festival!
As the tickets suggest, Grazing in the Gardens was not just a clever play on words–this thing was actually happening in actual, botanical gardens! The Tofino Botanical Gardens are “ twelve acres of gardens, forest, and shoreline that explore the relationship between culture and nature.” And they sure are perdy. A maze of art and agriculture, it is easy to lose yourself in the natural beauty of this temperate rainforest reserve. Especially after you’ve had a few.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly faces and the equivalent of an adult trick-or-treat bag: a commemorative wine glass that was to become a fifth limb for the next 14 hours or so, in my case. That blurry wine glass up there became my best friend (and kinda blurry in real-life too, as the day wore on). Basically, the gardens were outfitted with dozens of awesome little stations at which you were expected to smile, make at least a minor attempt at small talk and then present your receptacles to be filled with treats and complement away. With over 70 food, wine, cider and beer participants (all from BC!), you better believe it was a taste adventure to be reckoned with.
To be absolutely frank, this was an experience like no other I have had before. Everyone was jovial, indulgent and happy to be taking part and, eventually, everyone turned into my Mother at about 8:37pm on any holiday: still super excited that you are around, but with a little more to say about every little thing. And I love that!
By the end of the afternoon, fancy ladies on fancy shoes were just a smidgeon less sure-footed, but everyone was still smiling, gullets filled to the brim with some of the most exquisite cuisine and libations our beautiful province has to offer. If you appreciate what it means to be sustainable as a human, a province or even just a region on this planet, I urge you to check into the Tofino Food and Wine Festival next year, because they know what is up with eating local and they are ninja-like in feeding it to you in its most tantalizing incarnation.
After sampling the fruits of our province, it was time to overstay our welcome and sneak a few “off-the-record” sips. Then it was time to wobble back to our cabin by the sea for a hand crafted meal made just for me!
Tune in tomorrow for tales of Red Can Gourmet and Vegan debaucher-ay (Whatever, it totally rhymes when I type it like that!)