For anyone driving to Vancouver Island during the summer months, navigating the inevitable BC Ferries gauntlet of vacationing tourista RV’s, transport trucks and wave after wave of passenger cars, can be a litmus test of planning and patience, especially with kids in tow. If I had a dollar for every time that I have pulled up to the ticket booth and was told I had a 1-2 sailing wait and instantly wished I had been savvy enough to make a reservation (a mere $15 additional cost), I would have enough money to buy this. Really, how busy can it be on a Monday morning? Well, how busy is Les Faux Bourgeois on a Friday night?
Pretty damn busy. But all things considered, we are spoiled rotten here in the land of milk and honey. Consider this: BC Ferries is the largest passenger ferry service in North America and the 2nd largest ferry service in the entire world and with the extensive terminal upgrades at Horseshoe Bay and the addition of 3 brand new Winter Olympic branded Super Class C vessels (the largest double-ended ferries in the world), the experience has never been better. One just has to go south and ride one of Washington State’s aging ferries to realize this. So until the fixed link idea ever becomes a financially and environmentally viable option, I consider riding the ferry a integral blue-chip BC experience that is the envy of most of the world.This trip, set up by the Comox Valley Economic Development group, had us staying at Smith Lake Farm, a beautiful family estate on a 90+ acre parcel of land in Merville at the northern end of the Comox Valley, 20 minutes north of downtown Courtenay. The farm, recently purchased by a young couple happily displaced from the constant hustle of the big city were working hard to get the land back into shape for planting. While we were there, we watched them laying down a new drainage system for the main field and had interesting discussions about the viability of growing beer hops, once a thriving industy in BC.
The 2 bedroom guest lodging, complete with full kitchen, sits above a large woodworking shop that overlooks a small and picturesque lake stocked with trout and populated by many frogs.^ Here is Roxy the dog having a staring contest with one of the many amphibians hanging out amongst the lilly pads. ^ Smith Lake Farm is home to an array of animals, including a half dozen Highland cattle which are grown and raised for meat.Without a doubt, the best reason for staying on a farm is the food. And not just the eating and preparing of it, but the learning and reconnecting back with the many skills and hard work that goes into its production. An education that, after reading Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, has in my mind become more important than ever.^ Fresh eggs, still warm from the nest were had each morning along with a selection of ripe fruits, vegetables, and herbs pulled directly from the garden.After a long day of travel, we settled in for a nice home cooked meal and were content to allow ourselves to slowly align with the very comfortable rural rhythm that had me imagining what it would be like to actually live and work on a farm. I smiled at the thought and the sky rewarded us with one of most brilliant sunsets I have seen in a very long time.
Next up: A Visit to the Comox Valley Pt 2 ~ Local Eating and Drinking