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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

In to the Soup

Updated: May 21, 2023

After a delicious family dinner of bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes and greek salad on the patio, and copious amounts of red wine, we all finally settled in to slumber. I was preparing to leave Victoria the next day... and Dawn had agreed to accompany me.

I did warn her that my adventures frequently turn sideways. I mean this in the most literal and metaphorical way.

Road trips? I hit almost every red light, take wrong turns, hit dead ends ... and usually manage to find myself in the most bizarre situations along the way.

True story.

She had some free time and was up for the challenge.

We left Victoria.

Not that we would actually know for certain if we were leaving Victoria. Presently, one cannot see more than 20 feet in front of own eyes,

Rather than say that we 'left' Victoria... I prefer to say that we went in to the soup.

It is soup.

We are cloaked in clam chowder.

Every direction. Everywhere you look. A blanket of smoke has engulfed our beloved province. I have even heard tale that it's even made its way to Europe.

Thick. Soup. Smoke.

Our destination for the day was Port Renfrew... and whatever we could see/not see along the way and beyond.

A few times, Dawn made suggestion of one or two possible hikes with, what she described as, 'stunning views.'

Stunning view, my ass.

I would cast a disbelieving glance her way and then we would both have a good laugh.


Views were not destined to play a part of this epic journey. Stunning or not.

There were no oceanic views. No vivid aquatic colour. No scenic mountains in the landscape. No boats sailing by or clouds rolling in.

Here I am, roaming the coastal brilliance that is Vancouver Island - one of Canada true gems. From rugged shorelines to forested peaks, I make my way up to the rain capital of Canada... in a haze of smoke. I sure know how to pick a holiday.

My theme song for the next couple of weeks is "Smoke on the Water."

To be fair though, we did do a couple walks which got the blood pumping.

Whiffen Spit.

We stopped here to drink our morning coffee and share an Eggamgig from The Stick in the Mud in Sooke. After breakfast, we wandered out in to the spit, going as far as the driftwood fort.

Sheringham Point Lighthouse.

Built in 1912, there is a 500m decline to one of the oldest lighthouses in the area. It was a bit of a jaunt to get down but well worth the trek. It was actually quite a dramatic site to see - this impressive & dominant structure, amidst the backdrop of the fog & smoke that clothed the shoreline boulders.

*To be honest, we were actually looking for the place that sold Sheringham Gin when we stumbled upon this nautical treasure...

Sandcut Beach.

A shorter walk through the rain forest on a boardwalk trail and down a set of stairs to this beautiful, long cobble shore beach.

Dawn failed to inform me of a waterfall that was to be found on this beach. The intent of this trip was to see as many waterfalls as I could. So far... I have failed miserable. I may need to change the name of the blog.

Blame Dawn.

I'm sure all of these places were lovely... on any other given day.


Today. White smoke.

We stopped in to the pub at Port Renfrew for some delicious red coconut curry sauce mussels and then moved on up a fairly good logging road in search of Avatar Grove and Canada's Gnarliest Tree.

Both were found, with the directional assistance of old plywood boards and blue spray paint. We were going to venture further up the logging road to visit the Lonesome Doug - Canada's 2nd largest Douglas fir- but the conditions seemed to worsen the further up we went. Sporting new tires and me, not really loaded full of tire-changing-ability confidence, I opted to turn us around. Too bad, as there was apparently a waterfall further up the road from the Doug that we also missed. Waterfalls are not seeming to be in my cards.

Avatar Grove & Canada's Gnarliest Tree.

Like the movie... but not like the movie? I didn't really get it because I've never seen the movie. If there are similarities, I am oblivious.

I didn't even know what the word, 'avatar' meant...

A handy Google search provided me the following information;

Avatar derives from a Sanskrit word meaning "descent," and when it first appeared in English in the late 18th century, it referred to the descent of a deity to the earth—typically, the incarnation in earthly form of Vishnu or another Hindu deity.

“Avatar Grove” is a popular nickname for the Pacheedaht name of “T’l’oqwxwat” and is in the unceded territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation. It was protected by the BC government in 2012 after an intense two-year public awareness campaign.


Still confused... but I was more than willing to hit the trail and experience this protected deity first hand!

In fact, I was quite looking forward to figuring out what Avatar meant for myself.

Dawn and I wandered the trail that wound its way through this old lush growth and we were both mesmerized by the grandiosity of these dominant trees, the superiority of their existence and the pure power that breathes through this forest.

This forest demands respect.

The trek up to the Gnarly Tree was more of an uphill combination of man-made staircase, boulders and roots - but it brought you right up to the base of this impressive tree.

Dawn was set on getting in as many steps as possible, due to the fact that she had missed her early morning brisk walk.

After a long day of exploring, it was finally time to make our way to Chemanius... and my 'soon-to-be favourite new vacation accommodation'...

Castle Cove Inn.

For the past month, most of you have heard me brag about my upcoming accommodations on the Island. No doubt, I have inundated you with Google image photos of Castle Cove, a charming little castle-looking inn, situated right beside the ocean.


I opted for two nights in this quaint little utopia, because obviously it was just too perfect to warrant spending only one night.

Turns out that one night would have sufficed.

Also turns out that I shouldn't brag.

The owner met us at the door and immediately insisted that I pay. Odd... in all of my travels, I have always been expected to provide a credit card authorization and some identification.

Nope. Pay up front.

He probably didn't want me to see the room before I handed over my VISA.

It was a dump.

Maybe dump is a bit harsh. Maybe n0t.

The first thing we did when we walked through he door was burst in to hysterical laughter.

No f'ing way...

The place was like a basement hovel, second-hand, creepy castle-theme party room that had been neglected for 35 years. The furniture, linen, appliances, carpet, decorations, wallpaper... and everything else I failed to mention... had been purchased sometime in the late 70's/early 80's.

The first whiff that hit you was mothballs, dust and damp.

Damp is the worst smell, because it seeps in to everything and refuses to leave. The damp had seeped in to the carpet, the wallpaper... but worst of all - the bed, the pillows and the linen.

The bed was 'moist'...

There is no other way to describe the experience.

It was like sleeping in a damp diaper.

I have always been an advocate for flat pillows - and I can't sleep with fluffy. The pillows provided were flat... and hard. They would have been lethal weapons in a pillow fight. I took the cover off of one to examine it's antiquity and...

... let's just say, 'not new'....

Hardly a redeeming quality of a $150 room by the sea.

I can hear Master of the House ringing in my ears...

"... rooking the guests and cooking the books..."

There was a full bar unit as soon as you walked in the door, with the mirrored shelving and 1980's kitchen bar stools to boot. A jacuzzi was visible through some glass doors, but unaccessible. The bathroom was wallpapered with busy birds and branches set against a burgundy background.

There were no complimentary shampoos or conditioners or soap.

BUT... there was a used soap bar and a bottle of Herbal Essence shampoo sitting on then counter.

We arrived as the roofers were doing their last couple of hours up above, discarding used shingles down beside our dirty bay windows.

I finally could not handle the excessive noise anymore. Dawn and I were trying to enjoy an afternoon glass of wine on the decrepit patio, while admiring the smokey views & tranquility of the ocean.

I went up to complain to the owner.

He told me that the roofers were working hard to get finished before the predicted rain rolled in. I told him that I fully understood that... but it would have been nice to have let your guests know prior to arrival.

He assured me that he did let his guests know.

"But... I'm one of your guests... and you didn't let me know?"

That was too awkward for him to handle, and he backed away from me quite quickly. His English was horrible, so I was left confused as to whether he was lying, embarrassed or completely unempathetic to my plight.

This was not a gent of good intent... at all.

I contemplated complaining that the dampness made me sick, in order to get a refund for the second night. I changed my mind almost immediatley.

2020 is hardly the time to fabricate illness.

Imagine the repercussions.

Although it has loads of potential, they have already failed at paying much needed attention to the smaller details. Weeding the front entrance tiles, wiping the coffee stains from the white table, dusting, clearing cobwebs, straightening pictures on the wall, cleaning the inside of the microwave...

It is a place one might come to get murdered.

Money Pit.

The Shining.

Oh well... I guess we are going to get murdered here.

There's rain in the forecast anyway, so probably a good time to be taken out.

Super exhausted and heading to bed.

Oh - and back to our hikes and exploration.

How many steps did we do?



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