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Friday, 16 September 2016

Going to Victoria

It is 05:30 and Shelagh is wide awake with a head full of things to accomplish before we head out at 07:00 for the Tsawwassen ferry to Victoria. 15 minutes later I crawl out of bed and get into the routine of making a strong cup of coffee and reading the news. The car had been loaded up the night before and all that remained to be done was to organize the cooler. We brought four prepared dinners from our freezer for the first few days, so there is no rush to go shopping for stuff right away. We still managed to forget to include all the vegetables in the fridge, so Liam will scoop those while on one of his regular check-up visits to the house. We left the house at 07:00 on the dot!

Getting loaded

Along the drive to the ferry terminal are electronic signs showing the ships and their departure times as well as how full they are. Our planned sailing was for 08:00 and the sign showed us that there were no waits and that the boat was 21% full, no worries! We paid our kings ransom ($88.20) for the tickets and waited for our turn to board, everything went smoothly and we were soon enjoying the views from our comfy chairs on board. The crossing typically takes about one hour and forty minutes. Shelagh had made some snacks of hard boiled eggs and granola bars for us to munch during the crossing. There is a snack bar and a full blown restaurant on board as well. Along the way there are many sights to admire and my favourite is Active Pass, where two ferries meet in opposite directions in a narrow pass between Maine and Galiano islands. The ship's whistle blows loud to warn smaller boats that there is little room for error and to keep well clear.

In Active Pass

With ten minutes left 'till arrival the PA system announced that we were to return to our vehicles for disembarking. And that was it, we are officially "Islanders" for the next two weeks. Being in no hurry to get to Goldstream park where we will camp for four nights we decided to cruise through Victoria and see a bit of the city. Just following the traffic we managed to see a bit of downtown, the Empress Hotel, the Parliament Buildings and Beacon Hill park. We stopped in Beacon Hill park where a ton of dogs were running around off leash and having a blast, and chatted with a fellow who moved to Victoria many years ago from Toronto, and he highly recommends the city. Our plan is to see the south end of the "Island", then up a bit around Parksville and finally Courtenay and Comox.

Beacon Hill park coastline

At about 11:30 we headed for the park and were told to just find a vacant site and set-up. The ranger would stop by some time later to book us in and sell us firewood. We found a suitable spot, nice and large for the tent and our camping chairs and within half an hour we were home sweet home. Lunch was easy, canned veggie soup with Wasa crackers and cheddar cheese. We made plans for the afternoon...

Because the weather was nice, and there was a threat of rain for Tuesday we decided to go to Sooke and check out some condo buildings on the waterfront that had peaked our interest while checking the app. The waterfront location of the condos is quite good but the building is old and tired and too close to the highway. Sooke is located on Juan de Fuca straight and has magnificent views of the water, but the town itself was disappointing. It all looked just too tired and in need of a good clean-up. Also prices at the local grocery store seemed a bit inflated.

Just before Sooke we noticed a sign pointing to Pothole Regional park and we decided to take a look. It is owned and operated by the local First Nations band and has awesome swimming holes in the Sooke river and a campground. We asked for permission to check out the campground and our request was happily granted, we toured the place and came to the conclusion that it is a great place for young people who like to party. The surrounding scenery is awesome.

In the area is a ruin that was once a business venture to become a lodge on the river. The plans got caught up in red tape and eventually the dream became a nightmare. All that remains are the foundations and the chimney stack. The site looks sad and I hope that someday some entrepreneur will take it on and make it work.

Sooke got removed from the list of possible places to retire to on the Island. The afternoon now well spent, we went back to our home in Goldstream park and relaxed a while before getting dinner started. The park ranger should drop by soon with firewood...

Then it started to trickle with rain. We were in a spot not suitable for putting up a tarp, so our individual umbrellas came out to keep us sheltered from the rain. The umbrellas are great, but can only handle so much... Meanwhile I started our dinner prep, my not yet world famous bacon and cheese hamburgers. Light rain came down while I worked the grill but it did not seem too bad. Shelagh remained safely under her umbrella, her turn would come when the dishes needed doing, one of us washes while the other dries. Soon the park ranger would be here with some firewood for us... We ate our delicious burgers under our umbrellas. Some red wine calmed the nerves as it became a bit chilly. Then I put some water on to boil for the dishes. The dishes done 20 minutes later we huddled under our umbrellas waiting for the park ranger and finally at around 20:00 I got into the car to go looking for this person. Just a few campsites down the hill she was chatting with another camper. I guess everybody wants to chat about the weather and what not. She soon arrived at our site and we paid for one night and three bundles of very wet firewood. We did our best to get the stuff lit but we were not very successful and called it a night at 20:45. It rained all night and that gets into your bones. But we were warm and dry and although I did not sleep much, Shelagh slept well. We got up well rested and ready for a new day...

Soaked in Sooke



  1. We were at Sooke and Pothole way back in October of 1992! That's the last time we were on Vancouver Island!

  2. What a great read! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice trip! Camping is such fun!

  4. To bad about the rain on your campsite, but at least you are well rested and ready to explore some more.

  5. Gosh I hope the weather improves. Not fun tenting in the damp. This will give you an idea of what living on the wet coast would be like. Drink lots of wine.

  6. Enjoy the visit to the Island! Unfortunately we are getting some rainy weather right now but hopefully you will get some sunny days. When you come to Comox and Courtenay just know Thriftys is expensive, Quality foods moderately, we have an excellent Superstore and an organic store downtown courtenay called Edible Island if you have special meal requirements they also cater to that too. I love where we live, we have zero regrets. Plus there are still thousands of flowers planted in the towns of Comox and Courtenay every year and they are still going strong.