When I told my friend Jon that my plans for camping this long weekend seemed to be falling through, he saved the day and invited me and my eager-to-go-camping friends to head over to the island and join him and some of his friends for the weekend. Score! This long weekend wasn't gonna be a bust after all!
So off we headed - my friends Trudy, Laurie, and I - braving the ferries of insanity, and arrived in Victoria around 10am on Saturday. We headed downtown for some sightseeing, ridiculously overpriced sandwiches, a free concert on the lawn of the Legislative buildings, wandering around in the beautiful Beacon Hill Park (which would have been made more complete with a stop off to pet some baby goats at the petting zoo... but not for three bucks! Baby goats should be FREE to pet, darnit! Aw well, you can't have everything, I suppose!) and some time goofing around with slurpies and cameras on Mount Douglas, high above the city.
After a day of chillaxing in the crazy hot weather (uh, mental note: wear SUNSCREEN. My nose and forehead look rather reptilian right now. "Hello, I'm Hillary, and my NOSE IS FLAKING OFF." Cuuuute.), Jon picked up his friends Reg and Faa from the ferry and we set off for the beach. Two cars and a set of walkie talkies between us made for an amusing drive, even though we DID forget all the fruit and veggies we had JUST BOUGHT in Jon's fridge. D'OH
A short walk down a forested path led us to a long stretch of rocky beach strewn with logs pounded smooth by the sea and sparsely dotted with tents and campfires. We walked down the beach far enough to be away from other people and set up camp, clearing away the large rocks to make a somewhat flat place for our tents and gathering driftwood for the spectacular campfire that would burn for three days straight.
I woke up early-ish the next morning and headed out to sit by the water for a while. It was a sunny morning, though the wind was still cool. It was so, so refreshing to just sit, listening to the waves rolling the stones back and forth underneath them, and to look out across the water to the mountains on the other side. I cracked my Bible open to the Psalms and reminded myself of God's presence and God's character.
___let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
___and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
___the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
___and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
___and his hands formed the dry land...
As most people were still not up, I decided to go for a walk to the waterfalls back down the beach a ways. I'd seen pictures before, but in the morning sun, they were spectacular. They weren't very high, but the greenery of the forest behind them against the grey-black stones of the beach and blue sky, and the sunlight catching the mist as the water fell to the ground... it took my breath away. I only wish the photos I took could do it justice.
Once everyone got up, we had breakfast and set out to do some serious playing. We (and by "we" I mean "the others") built a wall to protect the fire from the wind. We contemplated why a lone carpenter ant would continue to try to walk INTO the fire (perhaps the same reason a monkey would eat a screw?). And then we set up our kites. Loop-de-loops, dive-bombs, kite crashes, and bull kelp for tails kept us amused for quite some time.
We went into town for lunch and then headed up to Sooke Potholes - a park that follows a river along narrow, rushing channels and large, calm pools. We saw a deer, flocks of tiny blue butterflies (flocks? What do you call a group of butterflies???), and I even caught a frog - but not before the poor froggie tried numerous times to kamikaze suicide jump out of my grasp! Sorry little froggie!!!! We sunned ourselves on the rocks and participated in some general tomfoolery which may or may not have included splashing people with freezing cold river water and poking each other with sticks. The hike was beautiful, but I think the most interesting part of the afternoon was heading up to the site of what was to become the Deer Trail Resort.
Twenty years ago or so, a developer decided he wanted to build a resort way up the canyon and high above the river. Construction began, but the area just wasn't suited to that kind of construction and the developer went bankrupt, leaving a half-completed chateau high up in the hills. The spectacular stone chimneys and fireplaces are still there, as are stairs, arches and walls of what would have been a beautiful structure. The large wooden beams have since rotted away or been taken out, but the stone remains. The whole site looks like the ruins of a castle!
Of course there are danger signs all around and it's fenced off with barbed wire... but that didn't exactly stop us, especially considering there's one section of fence you can just walk around, follow a trail along the back of the site, and voila! You're inside! What's life without a little bit of adventure, anyway? Ummm... I mean... we were TOTALLY SAFE and obeyed ALL SIGNS. Yup. Uh-huh. That's what we did...
Part two to follow. Full photo set here.