There is an under-appreciated beauty in the various ways that water manifests itself in the maritime temperate climate of the west coasts of Washington and Vancouver Island. Sky and sea. Salt and mud and river and mist. The relentless rain. Many people on vacation seek the sun. We embraced the water.
We headed west out of Victoria during rush hour and arrived in Sooke. The hotel was painted white and set up with balconies and lounge chairs and planted palms. It had an air of wanting to be a hotel on a different kind of island. It was pounding rain. Looking out at the marina made me feel at home and in the morning I went downstairs to take pictures.
We continued west along the coast. The wild coast, as it's called. The landscape became more and more like the Pacific beaches of Washington--La Push, or Second Beach--and less like the bluffs and inlets common to the Strait, even though we never got west of Port Renfrew, which is roughly due north of Neah Bay.
There was surf, and people surfing, in kayaks and on boards.
We parked at a trailhead and walked through the rainy forest to China Beach.
Looking back at the forest from the shore, the greens were varied and intense and shone with water. Lichen and moss hung from the trees.
And then we arrived at the end of the highway, at a strange deep rectangular bay, called Port San Juan. The Gordon and San Juan rivers flow down to the Strait here, and the land in between is (still) Indian land. There is a campground. It is remarkable in that there has been very little attempt to improve anything. Nobody else was there. I was transfixed.
We left the coast and headed inland through the forest on a windy road. The forest had been logged in many places, of course, and there were signs warning of logging trucks every few kilometers and many gated, rough roads leading up into the hills.
There were also creeks and canyons and one lane bridges crossing them. I exclaimed with delight at the rushing water, and my companion indulged me by stopping the car and keeping watch for cars so I could take pictures. The rain got on my lens and gave my photos a soft edge to them.
Our destination was a logging town at the southeastern edge of Cowichan Lake called Lake Cowichan. We stayed on the river. You can guess what the river was called. It was wide and slow, with swimming docks in the middle and misty hills nearby.
We ate breakfast at Tim Horton's with the locals. I complained about the coffee, of course. I walked to the grocery store in the rain for snacks and we tried to find some curling on TV. On the last morning, the sun came out and we walked around town a little bit. We talked to a man who had a small aviary in his back yard. His once feral cat seemed more interested in us than in the birds.
The river was there in the middle of it all, along with a memorial park for fallen loggers and a sign commemorating Lake Cowichan's Japanese sister city. I don't remember its name.
Sunday afternoon we drove back to Victoria along the Saanich Inlet and the canyons in Goldstream park. It was cloudy but dry.