First off – it’s “Mussel”, not “Muscle”.
I’ve been to enough seaside towns to know what ‘Muscle Beach’ is like. This ain’t it.
Danielle and I bought our first ‘serious’ trailer in 2010 – a beautiful Bigfoot 5th wheel. Built in 1990, it was a fairly rare gem with a wrap around bench in the back surrounded with windows to gaze out of while you ate your meal. Although we spent most of our time outside, we had the option of staying inside with a furnace, hot water, kitchen, oven, bathroom, shower and bed on those rainy days, or late nights when we wanted to listen to tunes, drink scotch and eat chocolate. We had had a Trillium Trailer before that which was a glorified bed on wheels. We had it all fixed up with stereo, laminate flooring – it was beautiful, but we still had to live outside. It was also only 13 feet including the hitch, but the Bigfoot! It was a whopping 20 feet with queen size bed! Man it was cool. We had it also decked with bottom up, top down blinds, vinyl flooring and a killer stereo. The problem was we didn’t have a truck. So for the summer we driveway camped. Fall came, we bought a truck and it was time to take it for a test drive.
We did Rathtrevor Campground in Parksville, them Elk Falls in Campbell River, just to make sure everything worked and that we could suitably bother our neighbours with our music – and we did. It had tandem axels (two axels) which meant it handled better on the road and even better off road. Time to explore….
done some research online and had heard of this remote wilderness campground outside of Ucuelet on the west coast that we wanted to check out. We had spent a fair amount of time in Tofino and Ucuelet over the years and were basically tired of the abundance of tourists and the ‘parking lot’ camping that was available, so this wilderness camping thing sounded cool. Off we go. I had towed trailers, but never a 5th wheel, let alone 20’ of trailer on a highway like #4. If you haven’t, you have no idea. It’s a great road – ups and downs, curvy, 18% hills, rock cliffs, you name it. Make it to the end of the highway, left towards Ucuelet, left at Port Albion, left onto the logging road, and then…..? turn here? How about here? Geez, the road is getting narrow – a glorified donkey path. If this isn’t it, wtf? It goes on and on, pot holes that you can see from space. It’s only 8 km, but a half hour, 45 minutes goes by and then…. holy shit! A campground, with a beach, looking at the Broken Islands, it takes our breath away.
We pull up to a cabin that we can see is sort of an office, nobody around. A big, golden, barking dog comes flying out at us, but I can tell from the wagging tail that he’s cool, so out I get. I see camping slots in front of the beach (not very private, but I can’t stop looking out at the water), a work yard behind the cabin with trucks, camper and a life size carved bear with a bloody, torn leg hanging out of its mouth (nice!), of course it isn’t real, but a real reminder of the Wild side of the West Coast. Out from the cabin came Curtis and Lori. We talk about the restaurant, camping, Comox, how they ended up here, tides, whales, moons, Nelson (the dog), Diesel (the cat) and everything, for over an hour. What wonderful people!
Finally, it’s time to set up camp. Looking at the waterfront slots, I’m not inspired, but they mention all the other sites, waterfront and other, that are past these sites around the corner. Lori recommended #43, so we took it. Private waterfront with views of the bay and the islands, it’s awesome. We went back and talked for another half hour and Curtis gave us wood for a fire – beautiful dry fir from the property. We had a fire, drank some wine and crashed listening to the waves. We woke up to eagles chirping away and realized we were home and we might not camp anywhere else, ever.
We stayed 5 days that time. We were stressed from work and had a hard time sitting still. Cruising the beach, driving into Tofino, Ucuelet, four wheel driving to Virgin Falls, but we would always return to collapse into our camping chairs, have a fire and visit with Lori and Curtis.. It was September and cool, so we had these raging fires, the stereo going and star gazed. It’s funny, but after being here for 5 years and becoming one of the regulars caught up in the Mussel Beach Vortex, we see newbies come in and take off everyday to explore other areas, just like we did until we became seasoned, and realized why leave?Three years ago, Lori and Curtis introduced ‘Seasonal Lots’. These are lots you can rent for the whole season, we dove in. Lot number 42 was our choice – further down the road, very quiet, private and just a beauty. We stayed there for 1 season and enjoyed the times we sat there watching whales in the bay, sea lions, bears on the beach, how fantastic.
Somedays, we don’t leave out campsite now. We have coffee, gaze out over the water, read, gaze out, eat, plan lunch, gaze out, talk to other regulars, and so on. We paddle. Epic paddles. We launch from our site (not always easy depending on tides) and head out to the Broken Group, Forbes Island, Chrow Island, or just play about in the rock channels the follow the coast towards Ucuelet. We get kinda spoiled. But as the summer goes on we realize what a gem we’ve found. This is home for us and we’ll do our damnest to spend as much time here as we can from now on. Next year life will be a bit different I think. We’ll dive in with both feet…. stay tuned!