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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Victoria by Smoke

Updated: May 21, 2023


BC staycation, that is.

But right about now... I'll take anything.

In a normal and perfect world, I am supposed to be boarding a flight to Havana, Cuba on the 22nd... but as that is no longer a viable option, I will now journey north to the Rain Capital of Canada. Along the way, I will take in the sights of Beautiful British Columbia. My little red racer and myself will set about undertaking the open road for the next 2 weeks...

Seems like an ideal local get-a-way... and it most definitely is... or should be...

ONLY three things might prevent me from experiencing the beauty and allure of BC to the max...


2. Rain.

3, Smoke.

All valid. All annoying.

My original intention was to get up this morning around 5am and catch the first ferry to Victoria.

This plan failed somewhat miserably.

Looking back, I fail to see my reasoning in attempting to achieve this, because... honestly, what would I do there at such a ungodly hour?

Arriving in Swartz Bay at 8:30am... tired...

What to do?

Eat breakfast? A lovely stroll down a deserted beach? A nice walk through the wo0ds admiring the Cheewak giants? Meandor my way through the picturesque streets of some random little quaint seaside villages?

All compelling options... IF our entire province wasn't completely covered in a thick smoke duvet.

So instead of waking early to begin my staycation, I chose to stay in bed a few hours longer. In fact, I was so tired that I probably could have stayed in bed until 1, but "you're wasting your holiday" was nagging at me.

It wasn't just a matter of rising and heading out... I was still attempting to finish laundry, organize myself, pack and clean my house. The clean house was important. I never like to come back to a mess. Also, my aunt agreed to water my plants in my absence, so I didn't want her to feel any obligation to clean up after her 47 year old niece.

Ah. The shame.

I finally headed out in to the smoke around 9am... with high hopes of catching the 11am ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. In true Joanna form, I took a few wrong turns and got stuck behind some slow drivers and massive trucks. I finally settled myself on not making the 11am and was disappointed to discover that I might be stuck enduring another 2 hours in a ferry lineup.

What is it with me and ferries?

How can I manage to catch flights and buses and cabs with such stealth and ease... but a floating barge presents difficulty of such gigantic porportions?

I was cursing myself for sleeping in.

Lazy bones.

Much to my delight, I made it. 7 minutes to spare. I made the 11am ferry.

Damn. I'm good.

Not always, of course.

I would love to speak highly of this awe-inspiring ferry ride... the landscape, the ocean views... but I cannot. I was aboard a ghost ship... sailing in to the fog, never to be seen again.


White walls in every direction.


I went upstairs briefly, but trying to position myself in a seat that was physically distanced from all others and trying to be cogniscent of not intruding on any space that was sanctioned off... was taxing.

Mask on... abiding by the rules... and, of course, listening to the announcement of the rules & regulations every 15 minutes... This finally wore on me and I ventured back down to my car to pass out. Literally.

I'm not a fan of 2020.

These past couple weeks have been onerous and my body was demanding sleep. All day I was plagued with exhaustion.



I made it in to Swartz Bay by about 12:30. Dawn was working until mid-afternoon- so I decided to explore an area of the Island that I was unfamiliar with and have some lunch at the same time. I'm actually quite unfamiliar with the entire island... if we're being honest.

I found Blue's Bayou Cafe... a little taste of New Orleans, situated right on the scenic waterfront of Brentwood Bay. With a seat out on the patio, I ordered a much needed glass of wine and a Whistling Dixie wrap. It was lime infused chicken tenders, mango chutney cream cheese, red onions, banana peppers, sprouts and lettuce wrapped in a flour tortilla. Delicious... although I picked most of the chicken out.

Damn filler.

To be honest, I thought it was deep fried chicken tenders, and I seem to have an usually bizarre hankering for deep fried food right now. Slightly disappointed for my craving not obviously available in my menu choice... but pleased for my it's impact on my stomach size.

From there, I made my way to Dawn & Ron's, where we caught up on each other's lives and tried to enjoy the foggy/smoke Victoria view that their patio normally offered.

Eager to get out an explore some of what the city had to offer, and get in some much needed exercise, we did a walk from Selkirk to Spinnakers, Canada’s oldest Gastropub. We managed to make it to the pub just in time to escape the downpour.

Of course it rains on my vacation... amidst the smoke.

It would be strange if it didn't.

Ron and I ordered two flights, consisting of a variety of different brews that Spinnakers had to offer.

My choice were as follows:

Nut Brown Ale - A smooth and mild easy to drink amber ale.

Red Fife Hefeweizen - A classic German style and a highly drinkable turbid ale that is light and refreshing. Best enjoyed on the patio.

Cranberry Berlinnerweiss - A tart wheat ale, low in alcohol percent made with BC cranberries. Clean and bright and leaves a smile on your face.

Raspberry Lager - A clean and delicious lager with a hint of raspberries.

I like how they throw the word 'clean' in where applicable... an appealing trait of 2020. Fitting.

Ron ordered a bunch of hoppy beers that made my face distort in a horrendous manner.

I feel the same way about hoppy beers that I do about 2o20 right now.

The highlight of the adventure though, was the Cider Float. Dry Apple cider served with 2 scoops of strawberry sorbet. We got one to share, but both Dawn and I agreed it was our favourite of them all.

Paradise in a glass... with an alcohol content.

From now on, I will insist that I always get sorbet with my cider.

On the way back home, we pick up my niece Taryn to come for dinner and it was fabulous to see her. Drank wine, ate corn, salmon and rice...

It's like the love of food mixed with the love of family... all in one room... on holidays.

No obligations except to keep eating and filling up your glass.

Is there anything better?

As I mentioned earlier, I was exhausted... passed out almost immediately after she left.

This smoke is killing me.


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