Although it’s taken me weeks to finish writing about this trip, our time in Victoria went by far too quickly.
I mentioned in my previous post that we only managed half of our planned activities each day, mostly thanks to the reality of toddlers: leaving the house takes much longer than you can imagine. Our first full day in Victoria saw us loading up the car just before noon, so it’s no wonder we made just one stop. Fortunately it turned out to be the most beautiful, relaxing, and memorable part of our trip…
Less than thirty minutes drive from our rental home, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site was the highlight of our trip, far exceeding expectations. I jotted down this particular park as an optional visit, something relatively close to downtown Victoria that we could visit before driving further north to famous Butchart Gardens.
We enjoyed the landscape so much, between the old military buildings and the breathtaking lighthouse, that we stayed until closing time. A film crew was working that day, blocking off areas of the park from time to time, so entry fees were waived, and tourists were few, perhaps because it was a Tuesday.
Kasper fell asleep in the car on the way there, so Jamie stayed with him while Henrik and I wandered the grounds. He was all over the place, checking out the old canons and bunkers, curious about the fancy tents, and always hunting for a good stick to carry around. I didn’t think I would ever get him away from the shore, with so many sticks and rocks to inspect!
After Henrik I had spent a good hour wandering around, we made our way back to the car only to find it empty. Kasper had woken up and Jamie took him into the park, but somehow we missed them on our way out. Lesson learned: have international roaming on both phones, not just one! I had no way to call or text Jamie so we had to search for them the old fashioned way.
We caught up soon enough, and by this point the film crew had moved away from the lighthouse and we were able to get closer. Jamie chased the boys around the outside of the lighthouse while I climbed over the rocky shore for some more photos. Once Henrik saw me out there he wanted to join me, so I was soon carrying him over the rocks.
It was late afternoon by this point, and well past lunch time, so we stopped at a picnic table on the way back to the entrance. I think the boys eat better outside than at home, perhaps because it’s more fun, perhaps because there’s no tv or computer screen to tempt them. This was a precious moment for me, just sitting and eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
We left the park at closing time, so the rest of the evening was spent at the playground and pizza place, just a repeat of our first night in town. I promised myself we would get out of the house earlier the next day, and we did, but spent the first hour checking out Clover Point Park just across the street, and didn’t get on the road until almost lunchtime anyway.
With only half a day left, I had to make a choice between Butchart Gardens or Port Renfrew, which would be a longer drive along the coast. I went with the drive, knowing that Kasper needed a nap, and it turned into a very different adventure than I had planned.
Port Renfrew itself was beautiful, albeit gloomy from the cold weather. Getting there involved long, winding roads through the coastal mountains, with several hairpin turns and corkscrews. I didn’t stop to take photos on the drive because there weren’t any safe places to stop. The most breathtaking views were from high up, looking out over forests toward the ocean, but there were no scenic overlooks where we could park and get out.
Now for the fun part…
One reason I picked Port Renfrew was the Tesla Destination Charger. We had not charged since arriving in Victoria, and a destination charger promised at least 34 mph. I imagined spending a couple hours wandering the area, hiking and looking at nature while our car sat parked at a visitors center, but I should have done more research.
First problem: the Tesla charger was no longer there! It was installed at a resort, half of which burned down the previous year, and that half included the destination charger. The folks at the front desk weren’t even aware of the missing charger until we showed up, and suddenly we were a long way from anything with barely enough range to get back to civilization.
Second problem: Port Renfrew is real wilderness! This wasn’t the easy, visitor-center national-park-type area I expected. It was beautiful, but quiet and huge, far too spread out for our boys. They enjoyed walking down the dock but anything else would have been a long way off, and with no charger we had no reason to stick around.
The drive out of Port Renfrew was nerve-racking. We were far from any cell phone towers, so the maps and navigation in the Tesla were unusable and my phone was no help. Fortunately there was just one road in and out, so retracing our drive until we reached cell service wasn’t difficult.
But the distance to an EV charger was daunting. I kept the Model X well under the speed limit, coasting as much as possible and we made it to a public station in Sooke with less than 30 miles left. There was little to do within walking distance, and Kasper was snoozing again, so Henrik and I wandered in and out of the community recreation center (where the EV chargers were located) and the nearby Sooke Region Museum.
They had some old buildings and old machinery that Henrik found fascinating. He wanted to know all about them, but since the museum was closed we couldn’t get any information. I was just happy we had something entertaining since most of the afternoon had been spent in the car.
We got enough charge to get us back to Victoria, then plugged into a Tesla Destination Charger in a downtown parking complex and spent a couple hours running around. There was a playground close by, and it was a short walk to the harbor, so that kept the boys happy long enough to put some miles on the car.
This concludes our big family trip! We had one more night in Victoria, but the next day was spent traveling back to Seattle and there was no time to do anything special. I have many thoughts on what we might have done better, but I’ll save that for another time. This was bigger than any trip we’d ever done, and now over a month later I’m still recovering!
Update: video added!