The forecast called for a full week of sunshine. It was also the first week I was scheduled to work five days which meant no all-day bike rides or campfires.
Last Monday, in the morning, a building in the proximity of my workplace was set ablaze. I wasn’t scheduled to work, but Yann was. I was able to pinpoint his location as the smoke that was billowing from downtown was visible from our apartment.
There was no way the bike shop was going to remain open while 30+ firefighters were hosing down a vacant hotel and the adjoining former strip bar, so Yann and everybody else was sent home after an hour.
We had no choice but to absorb some vitamin D alongside a lone wilted Brussel sprout at the local beach.
On Tuesday the firefighters were still dumping buckets of water on the smouldering rubble. The bikes that were awaiting repair were going to have to wait, but for how much longer? Were the customers going to be compensated for the delay? More importantly, would we receive compensation for our loss of wage?
For us, cycling is free and so is hiking. Stone skipping is another free option, if we were into that. One activity we definitely didn’t want to do was go to the beach and wait for seagulls to regurgitate in our mouths. All this mock vacationing was making us hungry, and we had no money to spend on food.
On Wednesday, we learned that we’d still get paid for all the scheduled shifts! We could eat, drink, and be merry.
Camping on Salt Spring Island had been on my mind since moving to Victoria, but without two consecutive shared days off with Yann, it looked as if it’d be a while before this happened. This could’ve been the perfect opportunity to spend a few nights in a tent except the bike shop closure was determined day-to-day.
The ride is 37km to the ferry terminal, 37km back, and a few extra kilometres within the island. Why not just go for the day? On Friday morning, I persuaded Yann to inhale his coffee so that we’d have a chance of catching the 11am sailing.
Ticket sales for walk-on passengers end ten minutes before the scheduled sailing. We found ourselves in downtown Sidney with 25 minutes to go. We could still make it, I thought. The next time I checked my phone, we had just 8 minutes.
“Eight minutes!” I shouted to Yann.
Yann started slowing down, “Forget it, we’ll catch the 1pm.”
Thus began our sprint. We spent nearly six months off our bikes, so to call it a sprint is an overstatement.
It was just enough to make it on the 11am sailing.
I have a gift for being right on time, to a Swiss precision. After nearly three years, how does Yann not see this?
So, we’re on this boat floating from one island to a smaller, even prettier island.
I won’t attempt to describe the beauty of Ruckle Provincial Park with words. Its staggering beauty will require you to sit down as shown by Yann here:
Ruckle Provincial Park can also be appreciated from upside-down as demonstrated again by Yann here:
The bike shop was closed again on Saturday which meant we could’ve spent the night in Ruckle Park. Instead, we headed west to the start of the JDF.
Years ago, when I first lived in Victoria, I worked in a thrift shop. When a shirt with a patch on the pocket that had the acronym JDF embroidered along the bottom came in, a colleague quipped, “…Jewish Defense Fund?”
He wasn’t serious, but I haven’t been able to read the acronym and not think this ever since.
So, that’s where Yann and I hiked on Saturday: The Jewish Defense Fund Trail aka the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
2km into the trail, we reached a place called Mystic Beach.
It’s one of the many pretty pockets of beach along the Juan de Fuca Trail. The drawback of this place is the number of humans that dot the sand. Here, it appears as if Yann is doing a romantic photo shoot for a couple.
Another thing to note in this photo is Yann’s choice of footwear. The plan may have been to do a short, easy hike but that’s never happened in the history of Yann and Laura hikes.
I am a woman of sensible footwear choices.
I was walking in front of Yann when I misstepped in the deepest part of the mud.
Yann knew he didn’t need to wear his hiking boots as long as he could use his girlfriend as his personal mud probe. It’s alright: I’m happy to guide him around the coast I know best.
On a sad note, all this was accomplished because a 100-year-old building burnt down. One person was killed in the fire.
We spent our surprise vacation well, but I would never wish for this to happen again.