Opening weekend in Desolation Sound

The Horseshoe Bay ferry lineup is a massive snake of cars in the obscenely early darkness of morning, but I somehow navigate the congestion and make my reservation within minutes of it vaporizing. Occupants of cars surround me, nervously drumming their steering wheels, adding up the hours in their head if they miss the ferry, knowing that life is just better on the other side of the water, as least for the long weekend.

Call it a ritual. It's opening weekend of the family cabin. That means it's time to stuff the car with way too many bags of chips and a few cans of soup, warm sweaters and old jeans, beer and propane. Then it's the -ahem- completely law-abiding drive to the ferry terminal, adhering to all posted speeds. After the first of two ferry crossings, its the long and winding trek up the stomach-churning Sunshine Coast Highway to the end of the road and beyond: Desolation Sound, BC.

Opening weekend occupies the idle moments of my winter months, as I daydream of summer adventures in the West Coast wilderness. I also spend too much time worrying and hoping that the little wooden cabin, which has sat perched on the rocks like a kelp crab for over 30 years, has managed to survive another winter.

When I was a kid, opening weekend meant begrudgingly crawling into the backseat of my parents' compact car and, not even halfway there, puking everywhere. The weather always felt way too cold and damp to be going away for the weekend. These days, I'm grown and my parents are older, which means I do the opening weekend trek on my own, to make sure that everything is in relatively easy and working order before my folks and family members arrive later in the season.

Big Buck$, our ironically-named lovable junker of a boat, is backed slowly into the green salt water at the government wharf at the end of the road. The battery charger has been on it overnight, so the 90 horsepower outboard motor roars to life like an angry bear being booted early out of hibernation. I crack open my ritualistic first beer of the season and steer the bow of Big Buck$ into the open water.

The cabin finally comes into view. It's at the very least, from a distance, still standing. The clouds rip open and rain comes down in sheets, but it's ok: I’m back, and it's invigorating. My nostrils fill with the rush of the rain, the ocean, the moss and seaweed along the shoreline. I leave the supplies undercover on the boat, unloading it later once the squall passes. The cabin looks pretty good from down on the rocks, nothing out of place from weather, animal, or human. Stepping through the creaky front door, the familiar musty cedar interior takes me back through decades of memories. All seems well for another season.

In 30 years from now, when I'm too old for opening weekend, maybe it will be my son that will make the trek in my place (no pressure, Josh!), and enjoy the same sense of freedom, anticipation, first beer, and his own set of memories of the cabin on the rocks in Desolation Sound.

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