We planned to take the ferry from Vesuvius Bay to Crofton, then cut across the island to Port Renfrew. We were told that the roads were rough but tolerable, and were advised to get a 'better map' than the rudimentary one in our tourist guide. We did, and were suddenly presented with a plethora of choices for routes overland, all of which appeared to be of identical quality. So we made what seemed a logical choice: we picked the most direct route, which happened to follow a river valley rather than wending its way through hill and dale.
The fact that the road was called the “Old Port Renfrew Road” also seemed to imply that it would eventually get us to Port Renfrew. You'd think.
It all went well until we passed the Provincial Park. Up to that point, the road was unpaved but perfectly serviceable. After that, things degraded. It got narrower. The gravel got coarser. Culvert repair operations meant that we had to gingerly traverse patches filled with big, sharp rocks that threatened to disembowel our rental PT Cruiser. We started passing open metal gates which seemed to indicate that either the area flooded regularly or that we were on private property.
About 2/3 of the way across, an hour since our last sight of pavement, we came upon a gate that was closed.
It was a beautiful spot, teetering halfway up the San Juan River valley. But there was nowhere to go and nothing for it. So we back-tracked the entire way, and three hours later arrived at our destination via the coastal route (or as the locals like to call it, “Sooke way”).
Tired, hungry, almost out of gas, we were desperate for any sign of civilization, but our first impression of Port Renfrew was hardly favourable. Still, we found gas (at the usurious rate of $1.58 at the marina), and after asking the locals were directed towards a place called “The Coastal Kitchen” for lunch.
It was like an oasis. Spacious, funky decor, and a menu full of seafood and pestos and focacia sandwiches with sweet potato fries - huge, delicious. Nummm. And then it was on to the beach and, at last, the open ocean. For the first time in my life, I stepped into the Pacific. And then stepped out again because it was really rather cold.
On the way back, we found the real overland route which had apparently been recently paved. After spending half a day getting there, it took all of an hour and a half to get back to the ferry.
Monday we travelled to Vancouver for the ritual 'Fleecing of the Tourists', but I'll save that story for another day.
Today is our last day.
A Few Things I've Learned in BC
2)What a “through fare” ticket is and why I would want one.
3)If you don't like the weather, drive for ten minutes and it will be different.
4) Not all “roads” marked on a map are actually roads in the traditional sense of being able to take you from one place to another.
5)Appreciate the journey, because sometimes that's all you get.
6)Food tastes better when you know its story.
7)When you are on an island, local is the default.