Coast Roadtrip: First look at Vancouver Island

Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was meditative to stare into the water.
Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was meditative to stare into the water.

I was having a leisurely morning, checking this and that on the WiFi, including the ferry schedules from Port Angeles. My neighbor back home had given me a bit of a pre-warning about wait times for the ferries and I was trying to plan ahead. At 9:00 am, I decided to reserve a spot for the Jeep, and discovered that the 2:00pm trip was already sold out. I called transit authority and spoke with a man who suggested a show up “a little early” and try to get on the boat via standby.

“How much is ‘a little early?'” I asked.

“If you aren’t here by 11:00, you probably won’t get on,” he answered.

Since we were an hour’s drive away, that meant we had to get crack-a-lackin’! I called Mads and debriefed. I jumped in the shower, and soon we were on the road. The drive from Forks, Washington to Port Angeles was deeply forested at first, like much of what we had seen yesterday. Then we came into high mountain peaks surrounding deep sparkling lakes, and the speed limit dropped to 35. It was gorgeous, but I was nervous. Particularly when driving 35 mph. Showing up for a 2pm ferry by 11am was going to take up a huge portion of our day. And then… what if we didn’t get on the boat? Then what?

We found the ferry line without any effort at all, and presented passports, paid, and were in line by 10:45. We were #5 on standby. The woman who let us in explained painstakingly: there were no spots left. We could pay the $80 for a one-way trip, but no guarantee. If we didn’t get a place, we could take a refund or the next trip at 8:30 the next day.

Before we left the car, we called up Port Townsend, and reserved a spot there on the 3:30 ferry, so if we couldn’t make the Port Angeles one, we had a back-up plan. At about 11:30 we left the Jeep and walked into town. And ate, Finally! Starving at that point.

We wandered around town and were thanking the gods for the warmth and sunshine. The temp was around 50 degrees, but it was NOT RAINING! This was cause for big smiles.

…and we got on the boat! There was room enough for at least 8 standby vehicles, so #5 in line made it! We high-fived and did a facebook check-in. The trip was 90 minutes’ straight shot to Victoria, British Columbia. We got through customs without a hiccup, found parking directly in front of the BC Museum downtown, and we went in to ask questions. Betty, the sweetest woman, gave us all the info she could, which included easy directions to The Butchart Gardens.

Off we went! Within twenty minutes of arriving in a new country, we were zooming along the Pat Bay Highway, bumper to bumper with all those British Columbia license plates.

Butchart Gardens was closed. What?! Winter hours. Bewildered, we asked a gardener for a recommendation of a place to stay, and ended up at the BEST place: The Waddling Dog. The price is fabulous. The character is undeniable. The Happy Hour was all one could ask for, and hockey was on (complete with a flashing red light when a goal was made by the home team. The same red light that flashes at a real hockey game!). It may not have been the most eventful day, but it was an excellent one nonetheless.

View of Port Angeles from a high point we found after breakfast/lunch.
View of Port Angeles from a high point we found after breakfast/lunch.
There were entertaining displays inside the ferry building, such as this crab display.
There were entertaining displays inside the ferry building, such as this crab display.
On the ferry, we felt a few raindrops, but for the most part stayed ahead of the poor weather.
On the ferry, we felt a few raindrops, but for the most part stayed ahead of the poor weather.
I loved this brass bell on deck.
I loved this brass bell on deck.
It was a little chilly, but I don't understand why there were hardly any folks on deck. This huge ferry was packed with cars and people, but most stayed indoors.
It was a little chilly, but I don’t understand why there were hardly any folks on deck. This huge ferry was packed with cars and people, but most stayed indoors.
We looked back to get this shot of our ferry, as we left it.
We looked back to get this shot of our ferry, as we left it.
The bay at Victoria included this wonderful taxi.
The bay at Victoria included this wonderful taxi.
Victoria is a lovely European-looking city.
Victoria is a lovely European-looking city.
This totem pole is in front of the museum. I am pretty sure this is Tlingit Indian design.
This totem pole is in front of the museum. This is Coast Salish Indian design.
Yay Canadians! One more reason to love you.
Display in the ferry building: Yay Canadians! Maintaining the rum ration: another reason to love you.
"So sorry. We close at 4pm in March. Please come another day." (Dearest readers, please cross your fingers for us that it will not be pouring in the morning when we try again.)
“So sorry. We close at 4pm in March. Please come another day.” (Dearest readers, please cross your fingers for us that it will not be pouring in the morning when we try again.)
We stayed at The Waddling Dog, and were greeted - I kid you not - by an easy going basset hound, who howled a greeting at us until his mistress showed up from the back.
We stayed at The Waddling Dog, and were greeted – I kid you not – by a basset hound, who howled a greeting at us until his mistress showed up from the back.
This place holds too many delights, like cast iron weiner dogs in all the fan vents.
This place holds too many delights, like cast iron weiner dogs in all the fan vents.
"A continental breakfast will be served in the library," we were told.
“A continental breakfast will be served in the library,” we were told.

21 thoughts on “Coast Roadtrip: First look at Vancouver Island

  1. The Waddling Dog 😀 There is the British connection right there! Good fortune rides with you – isn’t that the best way to travel. Butchart Gardens seems to be a lovely place from other posts I’ve read, I hope you have a good day and get to see the sights.

    1. I hope you will be able to do all you want to do on your winter trip too. We are flexible, though, so a morning visit is fine. It’s only that we wanted to take advantage of yesterday’s lovely weather, and I was fantasizing about sunset shots.

  2. OMG! I’d like to be there! It’s not rare Victoria looks as an European city, remember French people were in East Canada and British the other coast. I haven’t been there but I know Canada has espectacular landscapes… lucky of you being so near!

    1. Today we will be able to explore the city better, and from what I saw yesterday, it is a very lovely place. M and I decided that Vancouver Island is a liveable place, and I imagine moving here would be an easy transition, if that would ever happen.

    1. I know! Those moose never made a peep! I think they were actually helping us get to the Waddling Dog, though. If we had known the gardens were closed, we would not have made the trip all the way out here from the city.

  3. Been on that ferry several times. The last time was going to and from our kayaking trip last summer. And you started in Forks, home of the Twilight saga. I really like Vancouver Island and Victoria. And I might add, Butchart Gardens. Have a great time. –Curt

    1. Right?! The Heart crab is like a cross between a spider and a blackberry bush. The crab behind it is like the Abrams Tank of crabs. You’d need dynamite and a jackhammer to get to the meat on that guy.

  4. I missed this one. Some other blogging friends were just there not long ago. They stopped at Butchart but missed the Butterfly garden. I’d spend days at either one. I forget if you got to the gardens. I’m glad you didn’t have to make the hour drive to Port Townsend although it is a quaint little town. My sister lived there last year. My daughter wants to go to Victoria and I so want to take her. Maybe we will make it this summer. Now that I know where to stay. 🙂 I would kill for that library. Well maybe not but I really love it.

    1. The Waddling Dog is highly recommended! And the price was reasonable, it was quiet, the hound dog howled hello, and the breakfast was freshly cooked and delicious.

      I did not get a chance to see the Butterfly Garden, though we did pass right next to it. I’ll go again another day. Hopefully there will be less rain next time.

      1. I looked it up last night and told my son he could have my house, I was moving to the Waddling Dog. We just have to find a time when my daughter gets enough time off to make it a worthwhile trip. Thanks so much for the recommendation. A good place to stay was my biggest hurdle. Have a grand weekend.

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