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Sheringham Point Lighthouse is a bit of a local's secret. It's located at the end of Sheringham Point Road in the community of Shirley, but there's a chain link fence preventing people from getting closer to it. It's therefore very handy that somebody has made a gigantic hole in the fence.
Once you walk through the hole in the fence, there is an easy trail through very tall grass to get to the lighthouse. And what a lighthouse it is! Situated at the southern tip of Vancouver Island overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, it makes for some beautiful panoramic photos.
Although you can't enter the lighthouse, you can wander around it. Strangely, there was a monument located next to the lighthouse commemorating the USA-Canada border. Apparently a short distance off shore from that monument, the international border bends. Considering the lighthouse is officially off limits to the public, it was strange seeing it there!
Updated Feb 18, 2008
Address: The end of Sheringham Point Road, Shirley, BC
Driftwood Stables is where my friend rides and gives lessons. She treated us to free horseback riding here, which was a real treat! We took the horses across the street and down the hill to the beach.
I was riding a western saddle with my horse initially, although we found out later that the horse I was riding didn't know western! So I found it very difficult to control the horse, especially on the beach where he was acting very stubborn.
Since my friends had lots of experience riding horses, and they happened to be riding English saddle on very tame easy-to-control horses, we decided it would be best to switch horses. So right there on the beach in Sooke was my first time ever riding English saddle on a horse. It was actually a lot more intuitive and comfortable.
After the switch we continued along the beach, then followed the main street for a bit and then proceeded through the fields full of wildflowers and blackberries. We eventually entered a trail into the temperate rainforest, and this was really beautiful and enchanting. It was such a wonderful, relaxing experience that I highly recommend it to anybody.
Although there doesn't seem to be a contact for Driftwood Stables, they're located on the main highway connecting Sooke to Jordan River. They're located just west of downtown Sooke.
Updated Feb 18, 2008
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park is a huge coastal temperate rainforest located a short drive west beyond Jordan River. It's most famous for the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail - a 47 km wilderness hiking trail that parallels the coastline.
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park has 4 entrances: (from north to south) Botanical Beach by Port Renfrew, Parkinson Creek, Sombrio Beach, and China Beach by Jordan River. It takes the average hiker 5 days to hike the entire trail from Botanical Beach to China Beach.
The trail is for serious hikers. In a few places it's rated moderate, but in other places it's classified as difficult to extremely difficult. You have to be physically fit and well-prepared to hike this. In some areas where you need careful footing to cross rivers via suspension bridges, use narrow ladder-like elevated boardwalks (without railings), use alternate pathways along the shore at low tide, cross rivers by hopping rocks or balancing across a fallen log.
When I visited Juan de Fuca Provincial Park with friends in July of 2007, we had no intentions of hiking the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail - we just wanted to see Sombrio Beach. It took half an hour to drive to Sombrio Beach from Jordan River. The road was very curvy and the driveway to the parking lot was a gravel road full of potholes. Then we followed a trail downhill through the rainforest for 10 minutes before getting to the beach. The beach literally sits at the edge of the forest.
I loved visiting this park because of its old growth temperate rainforest. I loved the smell of the earthy air intermixed with the salt of the ocean. The forest floor covered in ferns and salal. Decomposing cedar trunks, marshmallow-like fungus, and gigantic Douglas firs covered in moss. Babbling brooks and garter snakes. River otters frolicking in the surf.
I know that "magical" and "enchanting" are cheesy adjectives, but they suit Juan de Fuca Provincial Park to a T.
Updated Aug 3, 2007
Located on the edge of a tiny stripmall off the main highway is the Alternative Kitchen. It's very tiny (they can maybe serve 6 parties at once) and it looks like it hasn't changed since the 1970's. This is okay - this is Sooke, a very relaxed, unpretensious place. But it looks like a place where fishermen hang out where you'd order burger and fries. I was definitely not expecting to see the healthy, green, and fresh food served on everybody's plates!
Not that Vancouver Island is a burger & fries type of place, but when you get into the smaller towns, restaurant options become more limited. But this is indeed Sooke's Alternative Kitchen, if you're looking for something different than fast food or pub food.
Favorite Dish: I was pleasantly surprised to find the large assortment of choices on the menu, from all day breakfast to sandwiches, burgers, salads, and wraps.
I had the curried chicken and mango wrap. It was definitely one of the best wraps I've ever had. I'm so used to eating wraps where they've just stuffed the thing full of cheap meat with maybe a handful of icceburg lettuce, but this wrap had a wide variety of fresh vegetables inside - it tasted like the kind of salads my dad used to make from his vegetable garden. Generous portions of green leaf lettuce, shredded carrots and celery, yellow peppers, juicy, red tomato slices and a portion of onion. Then there were strips of chicken breast and fresh ripe mango.
Updated Jul 29, 2007
Address: 6697 Sooke Road, Sooke, BC
Phone: (250) 642-1460
We made two stops at Sooke's Village Food Markets to pick up some snack food as well as some lunch items. They have all the things you'd generally need from a grocery store - including organic produce - but the reason I'm mentioning it here is because they have a fantastic deli and bakery section. If you're on the road and looking to pick up some quick picnic type foods, this is the place.
They're open every day of the week from 8am until 9pm.
What to buy: - bulk foods (with a good selection of bulk candies!)
- fresh fruit (especially fruit in season, like watermelon, peaches, strawberries, cherries, etc)
- potato salad!
- pre-packaged veggies and dip
- pre-made sandwiches (the chicken sandwich on olive bread is delicious!)
- Thai chicken noodle salad (made with a Thai peanut sauce on a bed of greens)
- macaroon cookies (very chewy, sticky, but delicious!)
I also eyed this one cake they have called "worms and dirt". It's a chocolate cake with gummy worms piled on top finished with a fine dusting of Oreo cookie crumbs. They even had worms and dirt cupcakes. So tempting!
What to pay: The prices are much cheaper than what I was used to in Vancouver.
Updated Aug 2, 2007
Address: 6661 Sooke Road, Sooke, BC
Phone: (250) 642-2734