A Camping Journal

Every summer I go with a group of friends to the northern portion of Pacific Rim National Park, a vast stretch of sandy beaches on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where I live. Getting there is an adventure in itself; the road grows narrower and windier the farther it gets from the more populous east coast. If you drove straight through and did not stop, it would take 5 hours. But there is so much to see on the way, it would be a shame to travel that way!

This year I decided to keep a drawing journal of the trip. Inspired by Lucy Bellwood (who has a blog right here on WordPress!) and her beautiful little comics journal of her trip to the Grand Canyon (you can see it here, but not in the wonderfully tactile original like I did when I met her at VanCaf), I determined to capture the spirit of my trip in drawings. I decided that I would keep them quick, loose and whimsical to reflect the vacation mood I wanted to capture.

We got a late start, as I had just flown in from Whitehorse the night before, and still had to finish packing! We didn't have time to stop a lot (I, as the only driver, didn't want to do that last descent to the coast in the dark!) but we made time for a farm market, the Goats on the Roof market at Coombes (really! there are goat on the roof!), and a quick stop in Port Alberni for gas before heading off into the Trackless Wilderness.

We got a late start, as I had just flown in from Whitehorse the night before, and still had to finish packing! We didn’t have time to stop a lot (I, as the only driver, didn’t want to do that last descent to the coast in the dark!) but we made time for a farm market, the Goats on the Roof market at Coombes (really! there are goat on the roof!), and a quick stop in Port Alberni for gas before heading off into the Trackless Wilderness.

Usually I arrive at the beach with a basketful of art supplies, intending to paint seascapes, and usually manage a couple of little watercolours, but what I mostly end up doing is lying on the beach dozing, taking long walks along the water’s edge, playing with photography, and reading several books. Oh, and eating. Our camping group is into serious camp cooking.

So this year I went minimalist. I took a small pouch with pens, waterbrushes, and pencils; a moleskine watercolour journal; my tiniest watercolour box; and a small box of cleverly double-ended coloured pencils, half one colour and half the other. Thus equipped, I set out to do at least one drawing a day to document the high points. And I did! Mostly I only was able to get some pencil sketches in, and ink them later, (still working on some of them!) but I drew something every day. And I’m going to share it with you over the next few days, along with some of my photos to help tell the story!

For now, I’ll finish up with the drawing I made of our camp setup, and proof that there really are Goats on the Roof at Coombs!

We were going to be there for 12 days, so we made ourselves at home! It rains a lot, but no worries, because our camp organizer, Mike, is a wizard with tarps, and keeps the whole campsite dry with an elaborate system of overlapping tarps and carefully planned out rope tensions.

We were going to be there for 12 days, so we made ourselves at home! It rains a lot, but no worries, because our camp organizer, Mike, is a wizard with tarps, and keeps the whole campsite dry with an elaborate system of overlapping tarps and carefully planned out rope tensions.

At Goats on the Roof (yes, that's really the name), you can buy all kinds of exotic foods, local produce, imported toys, house stuff, and more. I got a kite to play with on the beach. And ice cream. They're famous for their ice cream stand. This was the original attraction at Coombs, which used to be a sleepy little wide spot in the road, but has now become a rather large gathering of eclectic shops, galleries, and restaurants.

At Coombs Old Country Market (everyone calls it Goats on the Roof), you can buy all kinds of exotic foods, local produce, imported toys, house stuff, and more. I got a stunt kite to play with on the beach. Oh, and ice cream. Mmmm. They’re famous for their ice cream stand. This was the original attraction at Coombs, which used to be a sleepy little wide spot in the road, but has now become a rather large gathering of eclectic shops, galleries, and restaurants.

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