Published: June 15th 2011July 28th 2010
Vancouver Island is beautiful, especially once you start moving away from the strait and venture closer towards the coast of the Pacific. Wild berries, eagles, seals, crashing ocean waves, water worn pebbles, the sound of gulls riding a current and the fresh scent of fir and pine. Magnificent! It's as if all the quintessence of the northwest has somehow been condensed and put on display for all to see and experience in one spot - which really, if you think about it, is what transforms a location into a locale, particularly one visitors might desire to visit.
The lure of such imagined Northwestiness was too strong to resist, especially for two Northwesterners, and even when our actual experiences failed to align with our anticipated ones, the lovely thing about memory is that you can conveniently neglect to recall such discordant events and instead wax nostalgic about all that did
live up to the hype. It's authenticity in the making.
Our departure from Victoria was short-lived, as we realized nearly an hour into the drive we had accidentally left with the B&B key from the night before. But half a day of back-tracking later we were finally clear of all
Sunset from Point-no-Point
Overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca
last remaining evidences of city life. Our cabin was tucked away behind some bushes and trees off the main-highway, but despite this proximity it was deceptively remote as we would later learn. It took a while for us to wind-down and become unplugged, and settle into a life without electronics while simultaneously not being occupied with daily chores. It's that initial stir-crazy boredom you hate to acknowledge because you always yearn to have "time to do nothing" and then once it finally arrives you think "Okay, now what do I do?" No television, no radio, no internet and also no need to set up the tent and build a fire.
We settled on a bottle of island gown wine and an evening watching the sun set over the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the jetted tub on a balcony. And then later taught ourselves to play a version (our
version, for sure) of cribbage with what to us seemed like antique directions in British English. No way of knowing if what we played even remotely approximates the actual rules, but it passed the time.
The remainder of the time was spent listening to the crashing waves, scanning
the tree-tops for eagles soaring overhead (which we saw!) and following the movements of fishing boats and seagulls in the waters beyond.
On the follow day we decided to explore the area a bit more and drove up the West Coast Rd looking for something to eat. Apart from some (really disappointing, given the location and season) smoked salmon we bought at a grocery store back in Sooke, we didn't really plan ahead in terms of edibles. And it just goes to show that sometimes the best things are discovered by accident. The only place we saw to eat as a little converted trailer across from the ocean in Jordan River, with a sandwich-board sign out front offering fish & chips and a couple picnic tables in a gravel lot. Unassuming to say the least, but turns out after the fact that Shakey's is a local (and regional) favorite. We had battered and fried salmon and halibut and it was oh so delicious. Besides there is that certain something that comes from eating seafood with the salty sea-breeze and sunscreen scent that a restaurant just can't compete with. And for dessert? Wild berries growing along the embankments of the
Early Morning Light
You can see the Olympic Mountain peaks of the USA in the distance
road. Ah! Perfection.
Later we also 'discovered' a trail to a 'secret' beach (and by this I mean it was otherwise unmarked) and had the entire place to ourselves for a while, up until our car parked on the side of the road gave-away the trailhead (at least I'm assuming that's what happened) and a few other folks started wandering down our way. Of course the western side of the island doesn't have sand, but rather beaches of rough pebbles worn away from waves and water, dotted with large drift-wood timbers from the forests that abut the shoreline. And quite a bit of wind. We hunkered down for a while behind some large logs and played "Try to hit that rock with another rock" for a while before returning.
Without the distractions of work and the rigor of camping, we were finally able (or forced - depending on how you view it) to really focus on our conversational skills. They have, we must both admit, gotten quite a bit out of shape. But that's the beauty of these little escapes; if you just keep plugging along with the daily grind without every stopping to reevaluate, you'll never know
Our cabin was one of the ones on the far right (which you can't hardly see in this picture but no matter) - pretty isolated!
what needs to be worked upon.
There are more photos below