The west coast had been pounded with rain such that the Fraser River was flooding and its long line of brown outflow could be seen far out against the blue green ocean.
Our GPS guided us directly to Nanoose Bay and then down side roads where deer didn't even bother to look up as they munched on people's lawns and gardens. We found Carey, a friend of Jan's from high school, and her spouse Annabel's house at the end of a lane surrounded by forest and fronted by ocean.
A brief nature walk to a local lake
was a good excuse to build up an appetite for food and drink on the back deck.
The deck sits above the tree top level of the huge firs and cedars which climb the steep slope from the shore. I felt my ADHD kick in as my concentration went from fine wine, to elegant cheeses, to massive trees, to the ocean, to passing vessels, and to the conversation that I was trying to follow.
Supper was prepared by Annabel who used to cook for Fettucine's, an Italian restaurant of note back when it was on Bank Street in Ottawa. Tonight, a masterfully barbecued flank steak with pepper corn sauce paired well with the right wines, was complemented by potatoes and brightly coloured snap beans, whole carrots, and tomatoes. This led way to succulent desserts
of strawberry rhubarb pie with whipped cream along with (why have to choose?) profiteroles and ice cream.
The coastal air was fresh and cool as we settled into bed with Diva, their cat. It's her bed.
She was there first and had no problem with sleeping between us.
West Coast people seem to know when to get up as opposed to Ontario people who generally set their alarms for sometime in the late middle of the night. So after a none too early start to the day we found ourselves out on the deck with one of Annabel's fresh made lattes and a couple of swiped sections from Carey's Globe and Mail. Now a vacation for me usually involves a " news fast". Normally I am as much an information junkie as the rest of us especially if it involves stock prices, but when on holidays the last thing I need to either start my morning or end my day is reading about the world's terrors and tragedies knowing full well that I can do little to directly affect them. This fast, this deliberate attempt at not knowing, has become part of any vacation travel. Still, my hand had, by reflex action, snared the Business section.
We basically sat around the deck with our mouths open like baby robins waiting to be fed until Annabel presented us with breakfast. I've eaten a lot of eggs over my life time but Annabel's version of scrambled eggs means that the whole notion needs renamed. I might over time be able to get the recipe from her but I will need her to do the cooking. They are that good.
The phone rang, a friend was asking for a bit of dog sitting so Annabel who also had had a dog grooming business a few years back, went and picked up a french poodle named Rosie. We now had their own dog Dorey, plus Rosie.
It was time for some serious walkies.
First we had to tie our shoes. Carey gave us a new "how to" that I still employ. Most of us start with a little right over left and snug it down - kept that. Then we make a bow and hold it with our left hand. Keep that too. Now we go over top and through the loop that you just created. Buzzzt wrong! Try going UNDER the bow and through the loop. Why? Because if you do this properly the bow should lay perfectly at ninety degrees to your foot and apparently/theoretically be less likely to come undone than the normal bow that after a few steps often ends up parallel to your shoes. The first few days I found it difficult to make this work. Now this version is the automatic one. You have officially been challenged. Give it a go.
At the first stop, Rathtrevor Beach, Carey and Annabel kept the dogs on the extensive boardwalk while Jan and I ran around the huge beach with our arms spread out like we were in some kind of cosmetic or deodorant commercial.
We discovered some sort of algae or kelp that shone like sheets of gold in the sun and watched an eagle as it investigated a diminishing tide pool.
As it had been way too many moments since breakfast we redivided the crew into two cars and headed off in search of lunch. I got to go with Annabel and Rosie. Annabel has the coolest Mini Cooper ever. Amongst other after market features is a Mini Mouse doll stuffed into the coffee mug holder. De rigueur I`m told. Annabel knew how to drive it and I knew how to hang on.
The Black Goose started out in 1921 as a building designed by one of Canada's great architects, Samuel Maclure.
The fact that on a sunny day it happens to overlook Rathtrevor Beach was also not lost on us. It is a self described English/Scottish pub-styled restaurant and has the menu to match. We sat outside on well cared for picnic style tables and ordered both the English and Scottish Ploughman's lunch along with a pheasant and pistachio pate. The other real find of the Black Goose, Annabel had been holding out on me until the drink order.
They have Innis and Gunn on draft! Two pints please!
Finally there was some looking around in shops and at The Old School House Art Gallery that Carey's parents had helped to foster in Qualicum Beach. All this of course was just a ruse to fill in time to the next meal.
One of the real pleasures of cigar smoking is being able to share some quiet time puffing along with someone who knows and appreciates cigars as much or more than you do. Annabel went out of her way to share with me her collection of cigar bands and some of the stories that went with them. She also managed to reference the magazine Cigar Aficionado a few times in the process.
I was impressed, but then she had to choose. I displayed a number of offerings. She went for a Cuban made Montecristo platinum1999 series. Good pick. I settled on a the classic Cuban made Montecristo No4.
We sat out on the deck watching the cruise ships go by as the sky darkened. An espresso was followed by a fine bourbon with just a touch of water. The smoke and the conversation drifted quietly in the night air. Pure "deckadence."