Report from the road #3 – O Canada!

From 8/16 to 8/28 my mom joined me from South Carolina for a Vancouver Island exploration and I fell head over heels in love with the island.   So beautiful and wild the people were wonderfully outgoing and friendly.

On 8/16 I picked up my mom from the Seattle airport.  She had flown from South Carolina to join me for a trip to Vancouver Island.

We spent the first 2 nights up in Skagit Valley, at an airbnb on Samish Island.   We poked around Edison, hit the Bow Farmers market, took Roo for a walk at Samish flats, checked out the Braezelle Center and their small aquarium.

On day 3 we caught the ferry from Anacortes to Sidney, BC.   It’s a beautiful, scenic ride, winding through the San Juan Islands.

Qualicum Beach, about 2 hours north of Victoria on the east coast was our first stop for 3 nights.   The town was charming, small and quaint and quiet.  A lovely walk on the water front was the perfect place to watch the sunset. We caught a sand sculpting competion in Parksville,  ate a ton of cheese at BoMe Market and hiked to Illusion Lakes where Roo enjoyed some swimming time.

Illusion Lakes - Qualicum Beach area

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Yes, that’s Neil Young sculpted in sand! Keep on rocking in the free world!

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While staying in Qualicum Beach, we day tripped to Tofino, a popular surf town on the West Coast of the island.  To get there you take a windy, scenic highway up and over the mountains that bisect Vancouver Island, passing thru towering forests and by clear lakes and rivers. In Tofino we enjoyed lunch at the recommended Sea Monster noodle bar and then after poking around the town a bit we plopped ourselves down at Chesterman beach for a couple of hours of relaxing on the beach and surfer watching.

On the return drive, we stopped in Port Alberni where we saw our second bear of the day, and enjoyed good beer at the newly established Twin Cities Brewery.

On our last morning in the Qualicum Beach area, we started the day with a hike through Cathedral Grove and then watched the eclipse from the patio of the Old Country Market in Coombs, famous for their goats on the roof of the market.  We then proceeded to make our way South to Sooke Harbor, stopping at wineries in the Cowichan Valley along the way.

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We spent 2 nights in Sooke at Gordon’s Farm Bed and Breakfast which was a funky and fun BnB.  4 goats,  30+ chickens, Nelly the dog, a cat and  our hosts, Diane and Mike, made up the farm.  Jimmy the Nigerian dwarf goat  (aka the free range goat) thoroughly entertained us as he proved to be quite the escape artist and kept wriggling his way out of goat pen to roam the property, and seemed especially interested in tagging along after the cat.  The view from the BnB was spectacular, looking across the Straight of Juan de Fuca at the Olympic Peninsula.

For our last day in the Sooke area, we day tripped up to Port Renfrew and sampled some beers at their brew pub, stopping on the way to and from for more beach walks and romps with Roo.

From Sooke we headed to Victoria for 4 nights.  Victoria was a pleasant surprise.  I expected it to be very touristy but I found the city to be really charming.

Butchart Gardens was AMAZING.  I went in with pretty low expectations.  Someone had described it to me as the Disney Land of gardens so I was expecting a bunch of crappy topiaries and beds of petunias.   I could not have been more surprised and delighted.  I LOVE it when something exceeds expectations and Butchart Garden did 100 times over.

It was quite a treat to have my aunt, Barbara, join us in Victoria.  The sisters ouldn’t help themselves and jumped on the carousel for a quick spin at the garden.

We enjoyed a formal tea service in the grand house at Butchart and all total spent more than 6 hours strolling around the grounds.

Abkhazia Gardens was another amazing garden treat that we enjoyed in Victoria.  Large Garry Oaks, arborized Rhododendron that were 70+ years old anchored the garden.  This garden was truly a gardener’s garden and labor of love.

We took one of Victoria’s adorable little water taxis to Point Ellice House, an amazingly well preserved step back in time to the step back in time to the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.

A walk around Beacon Hill Park, cocktails at the Empress Hotel, and a splurge dinner at Nourish Kitchen and Cafe rounded out our time in Victoria.

Our return ferry ride  to the States was equally as beautiful as the first leg.  We spent one last night in the Skagit Valley in the adorable town of La Connor and had a fabulous last dinner at the Chuckanut Manor.   From our table we could see that we have our own version of the Lochness Monster in the waters just at the south end of Chuckanut Drive,   called Sammy (a nod to Samish Island).

I dropped my mom at the Seattle airport on 8/28 and went immediately to the garage with Greta as she developed an enormous appetite for coolant during her Canada trip.

The trip just whetted my appetite for what the west cost of Canada has to offer and I cannot wait to get back to Vancouver Island for further exploring.   On the list of 2018!

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