Growing up in the prairies in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan I dreamed of big waves and surf boards when in front of me was wheat fields and yellow canola. I fell in love with the waves and the ocean breeze when my mom introduced me to a movie called Gidget from the late ’50s, about a girl who surfed the waves when all the other girls were ‘man’ hunting and sun bathing. I was hooked. Unfortunately I would have to wait a long time before I would get to experience the surf. I had my first surf experience 7 years ago in Porto, Portugal after competing in the University 7s World Rugby Championships. It was love at first sight and since then I worked hard to create more opportunities to get back to the waves. I surfed with my husband in Bali and have ventured to Tofino and Ucluelet on multiple occasions.
Then I had a 3 year hiatus. 2 kids later, a husband who was working on a PhD and I was wondering when I would meet the waves again. Then we bought Dusty our VW van. Dusty screamed adventure!! My husband and I decided that we had waited long enough and it was time to pack up the kids for a surf vacation. We decided our 2 week vacation was happening now and that we would head to the West Coast to surf on Vancouver Island. Our vacation was amazing and I am so surprised that I managed to surf every day and on two of these days I even managed to sneak in two surf sessions.
Our first surf day was a bit of an adventure. We hiked down a trail through the rainforest from the Greenpoint campground to the beach. I would not normally describe a trail like this as long or steep but carrying a 1 year old in my ergo carrier, a surf board and a beach bag made it seem a bit challenging. Add in a two and a half year old, wetsuits, boogie board, snacks, waterbottles and the trail at times felt grueling. However, once we arrived at the beach it was absolutely gorgeous not to mention there was only a handful of people walking the coastline making it seem like a private oasis.
On the way down the 1 year old fell asleep in the carrier so my husband snuck in the first surf session. I miss the days when we got to surf together especially since we fell in love while doing activities together. He happily put on the wetsuit and grabbed the surfboard. Our 2 ½ year old saw him gearing up and immediately wanted to put her wetsuit on and try boogie boarding. I love that she just wants to be like mom and dad. I geared her up in her wetsuit and she sprinted toward the ocean boogie board in hand. I chased her down with her little sister sleeping on my back to have a talk about water safety. I told her the waves are fun but really strong and she could not go out as far as her dad. Also one of us needed to be really close to her to keep her safe. I love her eager and independent spirit but she is going to have to wait a few years before crushing the big waves.
I took her out with my 1 year old on my back sleeping. The ice cold water hit my feet and within seconds I was screaming ‘owe owe’ as my feet felt like pins and needles. My 1 year old woke up to my screaming and was ready to go. I decided it was time to put my booties and wetsuit on so I could handle the chilly water. Luckily a good friend of ours had come along to the beach and thankfully was able to watch our 1 year old while I took my oldest boogie boarding. I gave her 3 tips. 1. Lie on your tummy. 2. Hold onto the side. 3. Keep your head up.
The first small wave came and she caught the wave perfectly and rode it to shore. She was immediately hooked. It was perfect. She continued to board for about 20 minutes enjoying every second before I took her out of the water to play in the sand. A few times she had a complete wipe out and her head submerged under the water. She came up shocked from the cold and we talked about how she had a ‘BIG WIPE OUT’. She cried saying ‘I want to do it again’ and so off she was back on her board like a true lover of the ocean.
After an hour playing in the water and sand with the girls it was my time to surf. Since I had not really surfed in 3 years I spent a few months before surfing preparing for this moment. Post two babies it was important that I regained my fitness so I could enjoy the time I would have surfing. I had prepped by doing pop ups during my work outs and lots of push ups so that I could stand the amount of paddling that is needed to catch some good waves. I was happy the working out had paid off. Riding the waves and enjoying the surf was just as I had remembered. Completely and totally rad.
All our days were similar to this day. We switched things up by driving to a beach spot that was more accessible with all of our kid gear since the hill was challenging. It was a busier beach but still just as fun and since we were both surfing on our own in the waves it was nice to have other surfers nearby. On our trip we did have tantrums and the kids did cry at times. I mean they are 1 years old and two and half. All tantrums aside we had the best week on the west coast. The girls enjoyed the beach, the water and the waves, we enjoyed playing with the girls and enjoying some solo time surfing.