Where did I leave off? Oh, yes, we were in Tofino. After my last post we returned to the other end of the peninsula and settled in for the night. It rained a little during the night and we were looking forward to finding some sun. I found a place called Salt Spring Island in the guidebook and told Monica that I’d be interested in checking it out. It seemed quaint and artsy. We managed to find the ferry to the island only to find it packed. We were informed that the island was having its annual fall festival and that everyone was going over. And there was a Saturday market as well. The ferry was only 20 minutes long. The sun had come out and it felt warmer so we decided to wing it and go to the island in spite of the crowds. We knew of 2 campgrounds on the island so we thought we’d investigate them. We pulled into the little village of Ganges where we caught the last of the Market. It really was nice: food, artisans and such. We were regretting that we hadn’t made it earlier. We went to check out the campsite and found it to be all but empty. We had the entire tent area located in a wide open meadow. We had our selection of sites so we pitched the tent centrally, close to the bathrooms and the outdoor shower. The outdoor shower felt great since the last camp didn’t have showers and we were both feeling a bit grungy. We had dinner back in town at a place called the Treehouse. Food costs a fortune in B.C. Later we returned to the darkened campground and saw our tent with a truck parked in front. “Who’s by our tent?” I asked.
“I’ve no idea,” Monica said.
“I think they’re IN our tent. I see a light!”
We slowed down the car and tried to see what was going on.
Then, Monica said, “Wait, there’s our tent! Someone else is camping here too, but it looks identical to ours.”
Then, of course, we felt like total morons because we figured these poor people in their tent were wondering who was stalking them. They never came out of their tent, not that we blame them.
Eventually, we settled into our tent, but heard a party going on in one of the houses up on the hill above the campground. At first it seemed mild, but then in got louder and more boisterous. I was tired enough that I fell asleep anyway.
In the middle of the night I heard Monica say, “They’re shooting guns.”
I still am not sure how I slept through gunfire, but she insisted. “They’re shooting at deer.” We had seen 3 deer near our tent when we first arrived back to our campsite. “I heard them yelling, ‘Take your f*$#’in’ shot!'” she told me. Then she says, “I’m going to move the car in front of the tent. We’re sitting ducks here. They probably don’t even know we’re here!”
“You’re not moving my car in front of the tent,” I stammered, trying to make sense of what was happening. “It’s a Saturn; not an armored car.” I got up out of the tent and said, “Get up. We’re moving the tent.”
She wanted to stick to her solution. I forced her out of bed, plucked all the bedding out, tossed the airmattress on top of the car and had her help me move the tent. So, there we were, in the middle of the night, bickering about where to move the tent and her bickering at me that we shouldn’t move the tent…blah blah blah. We moved it behind the showers (as if that was more secure) and I moved the car, mattress aloft, into the new space. First we stalk the poor neighbors and then we run around the meadow with our erected tent, yelling at one another. The gunfire didn’t seem to faze them. I never saw the even peer out of their tent. Of course, the gunfire stopped. I never heard it. Then it started to rain and by the next morning the other campers were long gone.
On Sunday we opted to go expore the Fall Festival. It rained most of the day, but we enjoyed it nevertheless. Afterward, the town pretty much closed up and we ended up sitting in a pub until about 10pm, eating soup and nursing a beer. We chatted with a couple of guys from Victoria. As we drove past a lighted motel to head back to our ‘shelter’ in the cold rain I said to Monica, “I bet those people in their warm rooms don’t have to move their beds in the middle of the night to keep from being shot at.”
Early Monday morning we caught the ferry back to Vancouver Island so we could catch a ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. When we reached Victoria at 11:00 they told us that all the ferries were booked. They told us that there “might be a chance we could be the last car on at 3pm” but they couldn’t guarantee it. The next bet was 7pm and that wasn’t looking good either. We could have, conceivably, waited around Victoria until the next day. “Isn’t there any other way to the mainland?” I asked.
“Well, you could go to and cross into Vancouver from Swartz Bay.” Which meant we’d travelled down the coast for nothing and would have to backtrack, and drive an additional 250 miles to get home. Monica was NOT pleased. I turned the car around and said, “OK, that’s what we’ll do.”
I wasn’t willing to ‘take a chance’ as Monica was proposing. “We could sit here until tomorrow.”
“They think they can get us on at 7pm.” She insisted.
I quit listening and kept driving. I’d wanted to see Vancouver anyway.
They BC Ferries were so booked that they added an unscheduled 12 noon sailing, which we managed to get on. It was a beautiful, sunny trip 90 minutes winding through the islands. By 2pm we were in town and had located a hotel. The innkeeper, a flamboyant Malaysian fellow took pity on us because we told him we’d been camping in the rain. The whole ordeal sounded horrible to him so he gave us a room with our own toilet. That was the big upgrade. Otherwise, we’d have a shared toilet on the other end of the hallway. We had a nice walk along Stanley Park and then found a restaurant called The Banana Leaf where we had a really great meal. Monica had a shrimp and mango dish and I had a noodle dish with beef and shrimp.
We both really liked Vancouver, but were amazed at the number of high rise apartments there were. It looked like Hong Kong. One of the locals said, “Yeah, we call it HongCouver” I’d like to spend some more time in that city and explore a little more, but our time was running out as Monica was scheduled to work in a couple of days.
The next morning we left and drove to Seattle. Ironically enough Kate had just returned from her month-long Africa trip the night before. Monica called her and we ended up meeting her for coffee and heard all about the trip. I got to meet her friend, Melissa, who also went to Africa with Kate and the others. They were beat, but held up for a while and we took them for dinner. They are still acclimating to American food again and they lead us to a nice seafood restaurant along the bay facing the Space Needle.
After we left them to go recuperate, we headed to Portland where we stayed with our friend, Susan. It was a short, but nice visit and we are always glad to have their hospitality. She got up early yesterday morning and went to work while Monica and I headed to town and spent half the day perusing Powell’s Books. Powell’s is a bookstore of 4 stories a city block long. You could spend days in there and it is a bibliophile’s dream. We just part ways at the door and say, “See you back here in two hours.” It’s dangerous. You can just meander up and down stairs in the various color-coded rooms. We never see much more of Portland because of Powell’s.
So, now we’re home. I picked up the dogs. The cats didn’t destroy too much of the house. I hung the tent out to dry and unpacked the armored car. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind….