Summer is almost gone, in our world. Astronomically, we have at least another month. Realistically, two weeks. If we are lucky, an “Indian Summer” in October for three or four weeks before the clouds close in permanently and the rains wash all the remnants of sunlight away.

A week ago, I was in “Beautiful British Columbia” — on Vancouver Island, enjoying the company of friends and my mother for a few days. Unfortunately, pictures that I took were few and didn’t really show much. But here is a quick travel itinerary!

We left on Thursday, spent the first night in Victoria at the James Bay Inn (one of our favorites) and then wended our way northward via Brentwood Bay (ferry to Mill Bay, thus circumventing the Malahat in one direction) to Duncan for lunch, then on up to Courtenay where we stayed at the Best Western on Cliffe Avenue for three nights. I like vacations where I don’t have to pack and move every single day!

Our friend Anne hosted a lovely gathering of six friends (and two spouses) — four of us had already met, two of us made the trip from a distance just to hang out together for a couple days. We talked about the things we enjoy, did a few activities that are very “local” and ate a LOT of wonderful food, mostly produced by Anne.

FOOD

Friday: pasta and “red sauce” (our family’s term for marinara); Saturday: Sandwiches for lunch, baked (on a grill) Coho and salad; Sunday “leftovers” (and you know leftover Coho is even better!) and then supper at an amazing restaurant called “Atlas” on 6th street in Courtenay.

PLACES

Anne’s home (of course) – a lovely cottage with a great garden, and her husband’s current major project, a barge!

Trent River (fossil hunting location) — a deep deep ravine, with a trickle of a river, but evidence of torrents at other times of the year. And fossils, of course! Ammonites, little clams, shrimp, plants and assorted other aquatic things.

Courtenay — the lovely old downtown core is picturesque and easy to navigate. Over the river and down in the valley, if you turn left and go up the valley there are farms (and on Saturdays a farmer’s market and demonstration garden!), but you have to go through the blight of strip malls, malls and assorted auto dealerships to get there. Otherwise, it is a pretty typical mill town/light industrial working-class community.

Comox — I didn’t make it there this trip, but from last time, it is the wealthier older cousin of Courtenay. Fancier houses, up-scale stores and galleries, a few deliberately touristy attractions. It is also a port for a ferry to the mainland.

Duncan — Mother and I visited here both going and coming. We went into the nice local museum in the old train station (you need to get off the main highway (19) and go a few blocks west) on Thursday, visited Galloglass books on Monday (well worth a visit, a great used book store with a knowledgeable and kind owner), and Sunflower Cafe both days, where the owners are also kind, hospitable and bent over backwards to make sure I had yummy food to eat.

Victoria — what can I say? I have been there so many times I know instinctively which streets to take to get from one point to another, the best parking spots for our favorite shops, and how long to plan to get from point A to point B. Murchies tea (and Munro books) on the same block of Government Street; Siam Thai restaurant on Fort Street; The Irish Linen Store and Roger’s Chocolates one block down and across the street from Murchies… and the Button and Needlework store on Trounce Alley. Among others. We visited with a friend there on Thursday afternoon, and enjoyed good food at the Thai restaurant both ways, hitting our favorite stores once this visit.

Brentwood Bay — a small community on the Saanich peninsula, anchors one end of the ferry route. At the waiting point for the ferry (which runs approximately every 50 minutes) there is a little park opposite an old-fashioned general store. If you want to take the ferry, best to plan to get there half an hour earlier than the ferry you want (this helps you not be at the back of the line and gives a time buffer in case you run into traffic). The general store has coffee, knick-knacks, a few souvenirs and the very important T-shirt collection!

ACTIVITIES

Friday: traveling to, and visiting while we made supper; Saturday: a bit of visiting in the morning (Mother and I went to the museum in town on 4th street) lunch together, some went for a walk, some of us “hung out” and went to get a few groceries then supper together with hours of conversation; Sunday, Mother and I tried to get to the top of the local ski mountain, but the fog was SO THICK partway up (about 20 feet of visibility and getting thicker) that I decided to be smart instead of brave and turned around, then fossil hunting (three others and me) or visiting the most amazing Filberg gardens in nearby Comox (the rest), then supper together at the restaurant…

and then we all went our separate ways.

Mother and I enjoyed our traveling, but making the trip from Courtenay to Olympia in one day on Monday was a bit much. We were both quite tired out! I would recommend taking the ferry into Washington and then snagging a hotel room for one extra night and a quick trip home the next morning.

Since we got home, life has slowly resumed a new normal, with garden chores, cooking, cleaning (well, not much of that!), and regular work and job searching starting to intrude on leisure. Sadly, yesterday (Friday) Matthew’s turtle died. It is somehow considerably more lonely and quiet in the house without that corner of the usually closed bedroom filled. We will miss our reptilian friend.