We drive "up island" from Parksville to Campbell River and Quadra Island. We take the "Oceanside route" rather than the main highway. You can't really see the coast from the road, but it's never far away and in most cases just parking the car and peeking through the trees will take you to the water's edge. It's raining, mostly, but we are still tempted to stop at several moody, pretty much deserted, misty beaches.
Oyster shells, colourful seaweed and driftwood - piles of driftwood - cover the shores. In the water, occasional wrecks, and in the distance the mountains of the mainland are just about possible to make out. It's raining, but strangely beautiful.
Courtney and Campbell River are a come-down, as any town would b, but soon we are on a ferry, making a short hop across to Quadra Island. We keep the windscreen wipers going during the crossing which is obviously a mistake as the car refuses to start on our arrival on the other side. The ferry staff seem pretty used to such an occurrence, as an efficient person with a jump-starting device appears immediately and soon, despite mysterious ways the automatic cars operate, we are on our way.
Our host family are on the other side of the island , but it's not a big place and we should be there in a few minutes. Or so we think. Unfortunately, the piece of paper with the address has ended up in the footwell, trod on by at least two pairs of muddy boots and is now impossible to decipher. My phone doesn't have any coverage, but I remember – vaguely – the directions. We end up driving round in something resembling a circle, getting lost in what seems like magic woods of Quadra. Eventually, we stop by a walker on the roadside, and ask, reasoning that people here might just know each other. She doesn't quite, as she is a new resident – a poet, actually - but she takes us home and searches in a local directory and soon we are on our way. We eventually manage to find our host and her brood in a big, ramshackle house full of children, animals, toys, nice food and animated conversation.