We’ve just had lunch in Comox – a quaint, mostly retirement community, judging by the services that line the main street. Mary’s, a small cafe with gluten-free options, is where we met up with Pippa for our last day of exploration on the island.
The plan from here is to head north. I tag along with Pippa and Sammy (her dog) and Ric follows behind in the pickup. The day is overcast but no rain yet.
Oyster Bay is the first stop. We park and follow the short path to the water’s edge. A few mergansers float at the water’s edge, and a number of gulls squawk in the distance. These two have found the best perches and are in no hurry to give them up. We take some pictures and deterred by the chilly wind, decide to keep going up the coast to Campbell River.
There are actually two rivers in Campbell River – the one bearing the name of the town, and the Quisnam River. We stop at the Campbell River for some photos and then drive on to the Quisnam where Pippa and I decide to walk the trails for a bit. The trilliums and fawn lilies are in full bloom and she wants to show me. The woods are also full of birch trees, which remind me of childhood and my father’s garden – a favourite.
Ric has stayed back in the truck and when we return, he is napping, so we carry on along the trails on the other side of the road. This is Pippa’s neighbourhood, and Sammy proudly shows off his comfort with the area.
There is something so soothing about the sound of a river’s flow. I love this place.
We stop by Pippa’s house for a tour of the gardens. Her property – nearly an acre, is surrounded by tall trees, and sloping grounds. There is a pond on one side of the property, and a roadway on the other, so she has wonderful privacy. Benches are set at strategic points offering a number of places to sip tea and enjoy the beauty, but today is too cold, so we decide to get tea at a cafe back in town.
Part of Campbell River’s waterfront has been strategically maintained for public use – no development on the water side. Along the paved path sits a shack on a concrete slab – Fogg Dukkers.
“It’s a little rough inside,” Pippa warns. “If it’s too much we can bring out drinks back to the truck.”
It is rough, but it’s a classic. A barn-like door opens into the large, open area. A wood stove pumps heat from one corner while locals sit around in plastic lawn chairs. Signs with funny sayings line the walls, and in a back room a young woman, Katie, waits to take our orders. Surprisingly, they have a wide range of offerings. I opt for a mint tea while Pippa orders Americano, and Ric a dark roast.
“In nice weather,” Pippa explains, “people come here with their dogs and sit outside. They usually have a fire going and sometimes there will be a jam session.”
Outside, there are more plastic chairs, some tables and picnic benches.
We linger over our drinks, chatting about everything, none of us wanting this day to end. When the rain comes, it’s a reminder that we have a fair distance to travel home.
We say our goodbyes.
I am beyond tired, and hungry again. Ric knows of a place in Nanoose Bay where we can have a decent meal. I try to sleep but the day is still very much alive in my mind. Besides, there are so many emotions flooding me right now.
I could see myself living on the island, and yet, I am feeling the tug of home. If only I could transport my family here with me.
The highway has come to a halt just at our dinner turn-off. There must be an accident ahead.
In the restaurant, I overhear the waitress telling another table that there has been a fatal crash. The delay could be hours. So we take our time, lingering over tea and coffee after our meals, and striking up conversation with the woman at the next table – also waiting out the traffic situation. Apparently there is only one road running between here and Nanaimo.
Finally, google shows the route is moving again, and we head home. It’s been an exceptionally good, and long, day.
Tomorrow we pack up.