Well, the die is cast: my “temporary” summer stay at my sweetie’s place on Gabriola Island (a 20-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo) has become my permanent residence, as of a couple of weeks ago, when i made the decision not to return to Tofino in September.
My reasons are many, but here’s the main one: After a year and a half doing the long-distance relationship, with Leah driving up to Tuff or me bussing down to Gabe every couple of weeks, it was time to get together and stay together. The regular change of scenery was stimulating, i’ll admit, but the travel was wearing. I don’t know how couples can do it long-term.
What strikes me these days, as i get to know Gabriola and Gabriolans, are the similarities and contrasts between the two communities: both tourist destinations, each remote in its own way, both with problematic housing, many part-time residents, a lively cultural community, and fierce residential pride. The comparison makes for interesting study — more on that in coming blog posts, perhaps. But for now, here’s one i felt compelled to look into:
Average temperature in the two spots is almost identical: Gabriola at 9.6 °C and Tofino at 9.4 °C (data from climate-data.org). Month by month, though, there’s a difference:
Surprisingly, Gabe has the cooler winter, by a couple of degrees — the influence, i’m guessing, of cold outflow from the Interior. I hear it also has quite a bit more snow, which i have yet to experience. But the Gabriola summers are definitely warmer, and that makes me happy. I’ve craved more heat — Port Alberni-level heat — ever since i moved from Vancouver to Ucluelet in 1999. This summer on Gabe, i finally got those high-20s, even low-30s days. (But no more than than, please!)
The big weather difference is the obvious one: rain! Tofino’s annual average annual rainfall is 3160 mm (over 10 feet), versus Gabriola’s 1070 mm (3.5 feet) — two-thirds less. I do admit to enjoying the big winter storms on the outer coast (and dreading the long summer droughts), but i’ve got to say i won’t miss the rain, simply from a biking/hiking/sunshine point of view.
Regarding sunshine, this site says Nanaimo has 1940 hours a year of bright sunshine, and Tofino has 1668. Though they have almost the same number of days with some sun (295 vs 273), 41% of daylight hours in Nanaimo have bright sunshine, versus 35% in Tofino. (That probably doesn’t account for the “Fogust” phenomenon, either.)
I do miss Tofino — friends, beaches, java joints, townsfolk and all — but i am enjoying the change in weather. More on other changes … later.