In celebration of our country’s independence, my husband and I enjoyed our freedom to come and go freely from the U.S.A. and traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, for a long weekend leading up to my birthday.
Brian came across a package deal where we could drive to Port Angeles, Wash., and take the Black Ball Ferry Line to Victoria. In addition to the ferry fee, you got several nights stay at the James Bay Inn, which is about an eight-minute walk from Victoria’s downtown and harbor.
The roundtrip ferry plus hotel cost less than half of the Victoria Clipper ferry option alone, so we tackled the drive around to the Olympic Peninsula Wednesday evening so we could catch the first ferry Thursday morning.
I give my husband kudos for the ferry/hotel package booking. The ferry from Port Angeles only takes 90 minutes compared to the several hour ride of the other ferry options so we had more time in Victoria, and the James Bay Inn was a beautiful restored Victorian inn conveniently located to everything. He did an excellent job.
I give my husband a swift kick in the ass for booking our Wednesday evening stay in Port Angeles at the Holiday Lodge, a run-down, roadside motel that Chevy Chase could have taken his family in one of the Vacation movies or where Quentin Tarantino could have staged a prostitute murder scene in one of his bloodbath films. He will never live this one down.
It was about 90 degrees when we returned from dinner down the street at the Bushwacker, a delightful restaurant that’s interior hasn’t changed since its opening in 1979.
At first I wondered why our fellow motel patrons were hanging out by their cars with their room doors flung wide open, but after walking into our smoky unit (the Holiday Lodge has obviously been in existence longer than smoking/non-smoking room designations) the answer became clear.
The room was stifling.
There was no air-conditioning, and when Brian tried to open the single window next to our bed, the right side fell out of the track and the whole thing dangled loosely to the left. Despite the possible security repercussions, the open window was our only opportunity for air movement so I began thinking through self-defense strategies should we experience a breach.
The room appeared clean, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I attempted minimal contact with all room furnishings (meaning the lone chair and table) as I climbed into bed and tried to let the smoky essence coat my nose, throat and lungs as quickly as possible so I would no longer notice I was sweating to death in an ashtray oven. Brian offered to call around and find us another hotel, but I had already resigned myself to the possibility of being murdered in my sleep or contracting some disease and needed to focus on moving and breathing as little as possible if I was going to survive through the night. I texted my mom a few last words, just to be safe.
Note: Lest you think I’m the type of high-maintenance companion who requires luxury or even comfort in her surroundings, I would like to assure you I have backpacked, camped and frequented enough European hostels to have seen a thing or two about minimalistic lodgings. This experience, my friends, tops them all.
Fortunately we did survive the night, albeit with practically no sleep, and were dressed and out the door heading for the ferry by 7 the next morning.
The sun was rising over the harbor so we parked and took pictures before boarding and then enjoyed a beautiful and uneventful boat ride to Victoria.
The rest of our trip was incredible– I will write about some of the highlights soon.
Until then, here are a few photos from our time in Port Angeles, on the ferry and arriving in Victoria, BC.