*Originally written in January before my latest health shenanigans sidelined my adventures*
I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but I promised myself I’d go out and do something. One of the reasons I’m doing this thing, writing these words, is to get my behind out of my comfy bubble. The last few years shrunk my world— thanks global pandoodle and useless immune systems— and I’ve become incredibly sedentary.
It’s been necessary, but it’s also been a real mindf**k (gotta keep it clean). I need…Nay, my soul craves more out of life hence: The Challenge. Despite myself, I will go out, explore, take a few pictures, and tell you about it because why not. Will you be interested? Meh, I can’t answer that but let’s have some fun.
Fun. That’s the optimal word. It’s also not something I wanna do right now. I want to sulk, cry, and maybe scream into a pillow. It’s been one of those days, weeks, multiple weeks…Sigh.
Oo, look at that. There’s not a cloud in the sky. There’s a giant ball of fire floating in the atmosphere. How pretty is that? Today would be a great day to participate in my self-inflicted quest for a healthier life.
Damn it. Son of a…Grr.
In the spirit of complete honesty- because why the hell not- I was tempted to ignore the clear blue sky, the slightly above-seasonal temperatures, and storybook beauty. Seriously, the real world cannot look this stunning. I can’t believe what my eyes are showing me.
Should I ignore the intrusive thoughts? Hmm.
The thing is, I’ve been experiencing a nasty chronic pain flair-up, and my resiliency has worn thin. Usually, I suck it up and carry on. I push myself to go a little bit further, but I’ve reached my limit. It’s getting to me, and I’m feeling well and truly sorry for myself. The mere thought of putting on clothes is almost too much. Go outside and have an adventure?
Excuse me, I may need a private moment to use some naughty no-no words. Is this a pity party for one, or can anyone join in?
Oh, but the sun’s shining and the air is crisp and clean. There’s a gentle breeze that beckons and begs. Come outside. Come and play. A few minutes wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Hurt? Yes, but it could be worth it. It’s the good kinda pain? Uh…
Hear me out, sometimes resting and giving in to the pain is necessary and inevitable. Chronic pain sucks. Chronic pain is awful. There’s no way around that, but there’s a strong mind-body connection. When we take care of the mind, it can help heal the body. At the very least, nurturing the mind during these flair-ups helps restore some of the dwindling resilience.
So off I go in a slightly desperate attempt to restore the reservoir and enjoy the absolute stunner of a day. Pain be damned, I will be happy for at least one hour. Let’s do this! Said with hesitant to mild enthusiasm. Again, I’m not expecting much, but it sure beats sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.
I’ve said it before—I’ll probably say it a hundred times— there are two environments that, despite natural tendencies, make me happy. The first is a forest with tall trees and the distant rustling of wildlife. The other is any body of water. Lake, river, and trickling creeks are brilliant. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the rolling waves of the ocean.
Salty air, incredibly loud seagulls, waves hitting the shore, and the smell of drying seaweed. Nothing else relaxes tense muscles faster. It’s an instant exhale. I don’t care what mood I’m in when I set out; I know the second I walk out onto the White Rock Pier, I will sigh, and a slow smile will spread across my face.
Here we go, deep breath in and, yep, it’s like an instant dose of serotonin is being infused into my body. Do I feel better? No, not really, but I feel a hundred times happier.
White Rock is a beach resort town in the southwest corner of Vancouver. It’s about five minutes away from the Canada/USA border. It sits on the unceded, traditional territories of the Semiahmoo First Nation and the wider territory of the Coast Salish Peoples.
It was named after— and this will be no surprise— a giant white rock sitting on the shores of the Semiahmoo Bay. The story of the Great White Rock and the Semiahmoo First Nation is epic and romantic. Oo, I love a good tale.
Long ago, a Sea God ruled over the Gulf of Georgia and the Cowichan people (on Vancouver Island). The Sea God had a handsome son that lived near Sydney (British Columbia, Canada).
On the shores lived a tribe of Cowichans. The Chief had a beautiful daughter that every man tried to woo, but she wasn’t having it. Nope, none of them caught her eye. One day, the Princess was washing off in the water. The son of the Sea God surfaced close by, and the two fell madly in love.
The son took the Princess to his father for his blessing, but the Sea God was furious. Mortals and Gods can’t marry. It’s just not done. The two lovers went to the surface hoping to get the Chief’s blessing, but he agreed with the Sea God. Mortals and Gods can’t get married.
In front of his fathers’ mansion stood a tremendous stone totem with the history of the ocean. Determined to marry his love, the young man raised one of the giant stones above his head and said, “Where ever this falls, we will make our home and our tribe.” He hurled the rock sixty miles away to the mainland, and before it landed, the young man and his princess flew off. It landed on the shores of what we now call White Rock, and the Semiahmoo Tribe was born.
Read the full story: https://www.surreyhistory.ca/legund.html
Or it’s a 486-ton granite rock that broke off a passing glacier thousands of years ago and beached on the shore. It turned white thanks to the birds and their business. That’s a lot less interesting, isn’t it?
Nah, give me a good story anyday.
Today, the rock is regularly painted white, but it still serves as a marker on the shore. If you visit, you’re required to take a picture with it. It’s the rules. I didn’t just make that up on the spot. Nope, it’s a thing, honest. Cross my toes and everything.
The other big attraction is the White Rock Pier. It’s Canada’s longest pier stretching 470 metres long. Originally built in 1914, it’s weathered the decades and become a local landmark. I don’t think there’s anything more iconically White Rock than sitting on the pier, eating fish and chips while being stalked by unnaturally large seagulls.
It’s become such a mainstay that hearts were shattered when it was horrifically damaged in a massive storm in 2018. The city held its breath as we waited to hear if it could be saved. Thanks to the hard work of many skilled people, the pier reopened in time for summer. Seriously, the grief was very real after the storm and so was the relief.
I can’t remember the last time I walked down the pier. Years have passed, but each step feels so familiar. It’s like going home after a long absence. It feels a little strange but also comforting. It’s a bit challenging to navigate today, the wooden planks are a bit uneven, and it jars my aching joints, but each step is worth it.
Sure, it hurts, but not in a way that matters. The sun’s glimmering off the still water. A toddler giggles as they bounce on their dad’s shoulders. Fishermen are trying their luck, and the birds are stealing their spoils. Couples walk hand in hand. Friends laugh as they lean on the railing and snap a picture.
I make it to the end of the pier and lean against the railing. I snap a few pictures and enjoy the break. I look back at the gleaming Great White Rock standing guard. Centuries old but still standing true. Hello, old friend.
A lot might change, but some things remain constant.
Another sigh, a smile, and a quick good morning to a fisherman who’s off to try their luck elsewhere. This is as good as it gets. Even on a chronic pain day where self-pity is a tempting companion, this is a moment of happiness. Some days these small moments make a huge difference.
White Rock At A Glance:
- Plenty of paid parking with wheelchair accessibility.
- Lot’s of stairs in certain parts.
- There are ramps up to the sea wall, but they aren’t always clearly marked. I struggled to find one, and walked quite a bit looking.
- The sea wall is a flat surface, but the path narrows. It might make maneuvering a mobility aid challenging. Most people, however, gave me room to walk with my stick.
- The pier is made from old wood with some gaps between each board. It’s a bit uneven, and my stick got stuck a few times.
- Talked to one person who was using a wheelchair and they said the pier was a bit bumpy but manageable.
- You do have to cross train tracks so the surface at the crossing is a bit uneven.
- Walking to Great White Rock, there’s a variety of surfaces. Paved sidewalk, grass, dirt path, and small rocks.
- White Rock is built on the side of a steep hill so you might have traverse inclines depending on where you want to go.
- A lot of places to sit and enjoy the scenery on the sea wall and the pier.
- Public bathrooms are available with disability access.
- If you’re hungry, there’s a row of restaurants and take-out places across the street.
- Dogs are allowed on the sea wall but not the pier
Safe travels, friends
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