Troy Hightower

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A Vancouver Island Getaway

Imagine this: a ‘v’ shaped slip of gun-metal blue water, backed by a tapering spit of land fletched in feathery green firs and cedars, with a little jagged rocky shoreline, farther behind that in the mists the craggy snow-capped peaks of Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Between you and this view is a grassy stretch sloping to underbrush of wild rose, mahonia and big-leaf maple which tumbles to the beach, framed on either side by towering shaggy-trunked yellow cedars, and Sitka spruce with bark like the top of a Dutch-crunch bun. An old ship lists on a sandbar mid-channel, small fishing boats float by silently in the distance throwing a long white wake, Canadian geese honk as they bring their vee formation in to land and paddle into the wide shale beach below.

A nicely renovated 30’s cottage provides the amenities to enjoy this view—well designed open kitchen, small stone wood-burning fireplace, deck with hot tub and gas grill, all comfortably furnished. Read a book—look up at the view. Play chess—look up at the view. Catch up on the local newspaper—look up at the view. Check your email (if you must—there’s wireless high-speed)—look up at the view. Or just get lost in that mesmerizing vista. Walk down the 30 or so rickety steps through the undergrowth to the shore, and walk the gravel-shell beach and commune with the geese. (Beware the tides here—they vary 12 feet, and are fast).

The town of Sooke Harbor has two nice markets to provide meat, and Joe’s Crab Shack fish for that grill, or if you want to eat out, a good burger place, the Fish Shack with crackling halibut and chips, haute cuisine at the Sooke Harbor Hotel, and a lovely Viennese bakery for breakfast—on Saturday mornings, there is a fabulous fruit-filled raisin bread, by reservation only. E-Fish-Ent Fish Company across the Sooke River Bridge provides smoked wild salmon. Take a drive up Vancouver Island and inland. Walk on the beach, or out Wiffen spit into Sooke Basin. Rent a kayak to explore the Sooke River or a boat to tool around the basin. Or just sit and look at that view.

Perfect for a 3-4 day getaway, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC is an hour and 45 minute flight from SFO, and Sooke Harbor is a 45-minute drive from the airport (or an hour on wonderfully scenic back roads). Justly famed Butchart Gardens is on the way to or from, and should not be missed. Harbor Hideaway Cottage sits above the shore’s edge of Sooke Basin at Sooke Harbor—private, quiet, serene—with view.

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