Vancouver, et al.: Day 5: Vancouver Island

On this day, a Saturday, we did a wide assortment of activities in the rural areas of Vancouver Island. It was a beautiful sunny day, a great day to head into nature. The activities are well documented by these pictures. Di Yin also took photos. The latter link goes to her first picture from this day (pictures #106). When you see a picture of a truck full of flowers (picture #150), you're done with her pictures for the day. I'll link to the next day's pictures in the following post.

After a brief excursion to UVic (where I easily found the bunnies), we experienced a beautiful drive north as the highway cut between rocks. On the way, we stopped twice for views. Incidentally, even though we only passed through the outskirt of Victoria, I was surprised to see many pedestrian bridges.

The first item on our itinerary was the Blue Grouse vineyard, the winery that produces the wine I drank last night and enjoyed. While I tasted wines and bought the bottle I wanted, Di Yin made friends with the winery's cat.

As we left the winery, we stopped by a field of wildflowers we saw on the way in and by a tunnel of trees we passed through. We decided, however, that some things look better from the car.

The next item on our plan-as-we-go itinerary was downtown Duncan, where we saw a sign for a market. Duncan's a small town. Probably due to the climate, the market didn't have many fresh vegetables and lacked fruit entirely; instead, we saw vendors selling jams, jellies, honey, fudge, and, interestingly, rhubarb pie. The only vegetables we spotted were peppers, tomatoes, and salad greens.

We moved on to Merridale Cidery. It was lunchtime, and we decided to eat al fresco at the restaurant, La Pommeraie Bistro, attached to the cidery. We had a terrific meal in a lovely setting.

After lunch, we picked up a map and walked the grounds, stopping to read the signs, finally finishing our tour in the distillery. We learned about the cidery's many types of apples, how they grow them organically, and how they process them into cider.

Finally, we returned to the main building to taste ciders, which was our main purpose in coming here. We got to sample seven of their eight ciders, all of which are 7-15% alcohol. I'm not going to post my tasting notes here because we received a pamphlet describing each cider in detail and I only wrote down my observations that weren't already printed on that sheet. As that sheet doesn't appear to be online, I'm not going to bother typing everything up. Nevertheless, I can reveal my final conclusion: as Merridale is a respected producer of English ciders, I guess I just don't like English apple ciders. The more ciders departed from the traditional normandie, the more they appealed to me. The only one I would go out of my way to drink again was the cyser, and it appealed to me because it reminded me of good quality honey wine. Not only did it taste like it, it felt silky and yeasty and rested on the back of my tongue like honey wine. I tried to buy a bottle, at which time we were surprised to observe that the ciders are sold in plastic bottles. Di Yin, however, recalled that the ciders required refrigeration and reasoned that it'd be impossible for me to keep something refrigerated for a day during this vacation, let alone all the way home. I made a note to check when I returned home how I could acquire some cyser. It turns out it's impossible to buy or ship outside of British Columbia. Ah, well. (I had high hopes, as I don't know where to get good quality honey wine--or anything that tastes like it--, and there's so much bad stuff out there.)

Next, after a bit of searching, came Cowichan Bay, a tiny town with a few artisanal vendors that my research suggested we visit.

Our final major stop was the town of Chemainus. Chemainus is a small town with a cute downtown, much nicer than Duncan's. My guidebook commends it for its Victorian homes and many murals. The Victorian houses, small and boring, weren't even worth driving past. The murals, however, were cool, and there were an astounding number of them. I ran around town trying to take pictures of every one. I must admit my attempt to be comprehensive was a bit crazy, but look at the pictures and you'll appreciate my efforts.

Over the course of the day, we picked up some food for a picnic. As we drove south back to the apartment where we were staying, we stopped by a grocery store to round out our selection, then stopped in a park at twilight and ate in the car.

No comments: