Did I mention that Mrs. Curl is a fantastic baker?
Not only did she invite us into her house, but she even greeted us with a wonderful breakfast before we had to run off to a day excursion with the ocean and my long-lost cousin Paul.
By the way, this is their kitchen view every morning (sans deer).
Off we went to find Port Renfrew.
On the way, I decided to use my Force-tracking abilities and ignore the fact that we had pretty much no signal for 95% of the trek to find the Pacific Ocean.
It started pretty good. We drove by many beautiful locations and picturesque shorelines aplenty.
The view was immaculate, the most rising off the water, kissing the trees and the mountains. Even if I wasn’t driving and could take pictures, I’m sure my phone camera wouldn’t even start to capture the depth.
Making a judgement call, I pulled off the highway and went to a boat launch, hidden by the hills and trees, we happened in a very expensive looking marina resort. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t do for our toe dip. However, while we were stopped, we met some unexpected guests.
A couple frolicking sea lions, playing around the boats. Kathy insisted they are sea otters, but she is wrong.
We hopped back on the highway and travelled for an endless time and finally made it to Port Renfrew in need of gas. Not desperate, but I was a little anxious.
What we found was a government dock and a tavern with some very expensive looking cottages.
And no cell service, no gas, and no true beach. This was disappointing.
We turned back, to where I thought I had seen a sign for gas, and we were all in need of a potty break.
We came to a makeshift road that was a steep drop into a valley that held some potential for beach.
Unfortunately, we came to another boat launch, truck/marine filling station, a couple ports-potties and a hipster hot dog truck that was vastly overpriced. There was about 40 vehicles here (and only about 5 people?), but no beach or acceptable Pacific toe-dipping to be had.
This was getting ugly. I was 0-fer-2
However, I did see a bald eagle swoop overhead just metres from the van. I didn’t have my camera ready, but it was pretty awesome.
So, we backtracked a bit and I found a thoroughly hidden info centre. Eureka!
It was closed. On a Wednesday.
Fortunately, there was a map that was very misleading, but sent us off to a potentially perfect spot. The one I had thought I was going to in the first place.
We ventured upon a busy trailhead, with loads of cars and amazing views of trees. All signs pointed to paths that would lead us to a beach or a bay within a kilometer or two. Yay!
We started a great trek down a large path, into the deep dense Van Isle wilderness. The scores of people, the laid path and signs meant this was it!
After ambling down and seeing the sweaty looks of desperation on the faces of the people climbing back up, Kathy was getting anxious. This is not an asthmatics favourite activity for some reason.
Anyway, we reached a landing and a pathway that took us into the wilderness, and the forest that would be a LARPers wet dream. Tangled roots and trees, whipping ferns, dense underbrush, and native bonsei trees.
In the distance, we could hear the ocean lapping at the rocks. I was ecstatic.
Then I could see the dense mist, the trees were dripping on us. However, there didn’t seem to be a clear path to the water, and this was a heck of a hike to find a beach.
With no cell service, I was getting a little ansty, and we were encroaching on our window to meet with Paul.
After about 90 minutes of walking, and brief conversations with other people asking desperately where we were, we happened upon an opening that lead to a beach.
As we walked into the clearing, it was obvious that this was another failure. 0-fer-3.
It was low tide, and the rocks and seaweed made it treacherous. Too treacherous without any view because of the dense fog.
We did find some mussels though. Like a boatload of mussels.
Should’ve taken them all and sold them on the side of the highway to get back at the Pacific Ocean for being so douchey.
Now, we had the prospect of climbing back up, and trying to get a hold of Paul, while making it back in time for supper.
We did find some interesting wildlife on the way back.
A gross banana slug. This thing was about the size of my thumb. Ew.
I wanted to burn this millipede with fire, but there is probably a fire ban in effect. Ew x2.
After nearly dying from exercise, we headed back to the Curl household where Ainsley had inspired the supper menu.
Melissa is also the master of themed meals.
Amazingly yummy, and desert was tasty to boot.
After our long day, we went to the newly established community YMCA which featured a hot tub, therapy pool, lane lap pool, wave pool and lazy river. Talk about fun!
On our way home through the winding wilderness roads, we spotted several deer grazing on the lawns of the neighbours. Tiny little things they were.
In the morning, we were again greeted by Melissa and her baking.
French toast. My fave.
We said our goodbyes to our friends and gracious hosts, and we were off to finally meet cousin Paul all the way up in Duncan.
So far, we had plastered over 6000kms on our poor Sylvia.
Amazing views driving up the mountain.
We landed in Duncan and met Paul and his better half, Nicole.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When they pulled up in their lifted pick up, and got out of the van, after 30 years of limited contact, Paul is an intimidating presence.
But with a great big hug, it was proof that my family is always family. Paul is a brilliant, intellectual-type and the lovely Nicole as well. They took us in, and made us feel more than welcome. You couldn’t ask for more. This trip was full of love so far!
We visited a quaint little marine town called Cow Bay, and had lunch at a friendly fish and chip-esque diner called the Rock Cod Cafe.
There we made our official dip into the Pacific Ocean.
And the mission was officially complete thanks to Paul and Nicole!
Afterwards, we made the trek back to Paul’s property and we set up camp for the night in his driveway.
Afterwards, we walked down the path behind his house and ended up in the Cowichan River, where Hunter decided to have a seat.
In all fairness it was slippery and slimey, but soooo clean.
In the evening, we hung out with Paul, had a BBQ while catching up, rounded the night up watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
We crawled into our tent, with the fly removed and watched the stars to fall asleep.
I saw a shooting star, and knew it would be a good night.
Until the air mattress completely emptied. It was a rough sleep on the hard ground. Kathy ended up in the van, and I was too lazy to get up.
- God I hope the air mattress isn’t toast. We have dollar store pool blow-ups as back up.
- My cousins and friends all rule.
- Van Isle is amazing and beautiful, and the people are stoners. Like seriously. I can’t make this stuff up. Everywhere we went, it was surreal.
- We did it. We finally did it.