Camino Victoria Day 4: Swartz Bay to Mattocks Farm 23.5k

Forecast: Rain easing towards afternoon. Two hours of rain so far. Linda wrung 1/2cup of water out of her muff (hand warmer, pocket, fanny pocket type thingie), which by the way we are going to redesign and make a fortune. The first improvement is we will make it waterproof and we’ll call it the roo pouch.

Wearing our required-while-in-a-BCFerry-terminal masks, and prepared for the rain.

We walk off the ferry into the Swartz Bay parking lot uphill through a stream of water rushing at us from above and on the ground. We dive into a washroom to prepare ourselves for today’s walk.

Linda holding her walking stick in her roo pack

We find the start of the Lochside Trail which at times runs beside the highway but below it and other than noise every now and then, we can ignore it. this is an old railway line meaning no hills! A perfect trail for walking.

The dark line is the Lochside Trail and the red line is the Galloping Goose Trail.

Our socks are damp, our shoes are soaked and our insoles are wet. We stop at the Rumrunners pub on the water in downtown Sidney, kilometre 7. Danish vegetable and meatball soup (not Danish meatballs, but Danish veggies!?) and coconut curry chicken wings.

We tried to dry our gear in front of the fireplace but we are told we couldn’t as it was too Covid-close to another table. Then we are told our backpacks are too close to the baseboards and would burn, so we move them.We decide it would be uncouth to change our socks in public but surreptitiously take our shoes off anyway. Then I try to walk to the washroom in my sopping wet socks to change into dry socks and am told I had to have shoes on. Old rules plus new Covid-rules. Sigh. But the soup was good. If anyone knows what Danish veggies are, let us know.

The trail in Sidney is a beautiful seaside trail with sculptures craftily placed—diver about to dive into the sea, dog on skateboard about to skate into skateboard park—and posters encouraging a heart healthy walk.

I was pleased to find there was a path along the water where the Anacortes Ferry docks. Rather than walking around the ferry terminal there was a shorter way. When walking 100+k is seems rather petty of me to look for a 300ft shortcut, but there it is. And so I was disappointed to see a sign that this path was only for northbound walkers. South bound hikers had to go around. Obviously, Sidney’s aging population was Covid careful. Good thing we didn’t defy the sign as a police car was parked up the street with a policeman just waiting for us to make the wrong move.

We don’t see many walkers, no hikers with real backpacks, and a few bikers. Six young 30ish people go past on bikes. Some with gear but not enough gear to be travelling any distance.

I like strong coffee. With lots of cream. Lots. So when we stop at a cafe for take out coffee I usually ask for an Americano in a small cup but only half full. An Americana is an espresso topped up with hot water. The story being that WWII American soldiers in Italy, home of the espresso, couldn’t handle shots of espresso so asked for the shots to be watered down et voilá, caffe Americano. Only half full means I should get a shot of espresso and hot water but only halfway up the cup—strong, yet room for lots of cream. For some reason the younger Baristas always ask if I want a 12oz cup with a full 8oz of Americano. To which I thank them, but no, an 8oz only half full is fine. And then they fill it up to within 1/4 to 1/2 in from the top. I then have to ask them to pour half of it out or to redo it. I usually opt for the pouring out.

I finally realized why they do this ….they are trying to be helpful by reasoning I’m getting more for my money with a full cup of coffee. I don’t think they realize that more is not necessarily better, it is just more.

While walking I’ve been trying to figure out how I can communicate my preference more effectively so sometimes I make clear eye contact and talk slowly asking them to only fill it halfway but invariably it never works.

In Europe, the Camino’s are marked with yellow arrows showing you the path to take. We saw a few on this journey. Apparently others saw this as a Camino too.

On day 1, in Cedar I ordered a coffee only half full. Cathy ordered a different coffee. And when the girl brought them she said oh I wrote down Americano on one of the cups and we looked at the cup marked Americana I open the lid and sure enough it was a quarter inch from the top. ‘Sorry, said the server. ‘I forgot, I can make you another one and I said ‘that’s okay I will just pour some out. ‘

On Day 2, in Crofton I decide I will explain that I prefer a stronger cup of coffee with lots of cream. Lots. Still didn’t work.

By the time we walked SaltSpring Island on Day 3, I had come up with another plan. I would show them visually what a half-full cup looked like. At Fulford Harbour I ordered an Americana half full but this time I said can you show me your small cup and they brought it over I then drew a line on the cup saying could you fill that up just to here. Sure enough this worked. These are the type of random thoughts you have while hiking, and you celebrate your small successes.

By the time we left Sidney, the rain had stopped except for one last downpour in which we managed to miss most of it by dashing into a MacDonalds for coffee….Foiled by an automated computer ordering screen with no way to explain to this technology about half full Americans, I hoped the four cream double double options I chose might force them to pour less water and more cream into it. It worked!

As we got further in to Central Saanich the trail looked more and more like the real Camino, winding through farm country, and country lanes. More bikers and a few more walkers. I recognize a couple of bikers being in the group who had passed us by before. They must have stopped for a long lunch.

Mattick’s Farm was our destination for today. According to Mr. Google it was a 20k walk. But Mr Google never walked it. Either that or all the walks to the washroom and back in the restaurants and cafes added an extra 3k to our actual mileage.

About 2k from Mattick’s we come across the same group of six bicyclists. They are stopped in a gravel parking lot next to the trail watching us. They obviously recognize us. As we came close I yelled over ‘Do you want to race us?’ And a fast reply from them ‘No! We figured you would beat us.’ To which we all laughed. They were a group from England seeing the sights of the area. We wished them well and they passed us for a third time.

Mattick’s Farm is actually a small shopping area with a cafe/bakery where Gary could sit while waiting for us before whisking us away by van to our AirBnB. Plus, it had an ice cream store! A perfect way to end a walk for the day.

The view from our AirBnB in Victoria

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