It’s odd, isn’t it, how many of us don’t take advantage of what’s in our own back yards.
You know what I’m talking about; the kinds of must-do-things that draw people and help make some places worth visiting.
We know the attractions are there of course, but for some reason don’t take the time to check them out.
For example, I lived in Victoria during some of my formative years, but never once ever visited Butchart Gardens.
Despite nearly a decade toiling in southern Alberta, I can’t tell you what the view’s like from the top of the Calgary Tower.
Nor did I participate in any drive-by shootings or indulge in any form of gang warfare when I lived in Winnipeg.
I did none of that touristy kind of stuff. (OK, OK, in full disclosure mode, I may have visited the famous gardens, but I would have been much too young to recall any of it.)
In a reversal of my habit of not visiting local landmarks, I took in one of the local northern island sights when I hiked the wonderful 2.5-km trail to San Josef Bay or, as it’s known locally, simply San Jo beach.
Now, I realize people who know me are probably calling me a big fat liar. Or they’re just calling me fatty because the last time I walked any distance further than the couch to the fridge was, hmm, I think Hill Street Blues was the hottest show on the tube.
I’m not the most active guy around, but I’ll tell you I’ll be heading back to San Jo, probably with a enough gear for a few days of beach camping.
OK, my girlfriend will probably be wearing the backpack, but still, I’m heading back to that wonderful spot.
My visit to San Jo coincided with another rare event here on the island: a sunny day.
July 9 it was, and my travelling companions and I were heading to the sublime beach at the southeast corner of Cape Scott Park to join in on the BC Parks 100 birthday celebrations. (The milestone was actually realized March 11, but hey, let’s see how great your memory is at that age.) Anyway, we started out before noon and headed south on the North Island Highway for a short distance before turning onto the interesting Holberg Road.
I use the word interesting because it’s a politically correct way to say crappy — there’s more washboard action on that 65-km route to the trailhead than a weekend spent with an Ozark bluegrass band.
Luckily we were travelling in a decent half ton that easily handled the ruts, gouges and pits. I’d guess if one takes it easy, any vehicle could arrive at the San Jo parking lot in one piece. And besides, the road does smooth out in some spots.
Once you’ve parked in the expanded lot, head down the recently reworked trail. Now, the trail is nice with fresh gravel, but it’s that larger jagged stuff that requires good-soled shoes. Unfortunately I wasn’t wearing that kind of footwear and by the time we returned to the truck it felt like the Turkish guard from Midnight Express used a pair of ball peens to bang out In A Gadda Da Vida on the bottoms of my feet.
But enough whine — the forested trail is superbly groomed with plenty to see during the roughly 45-minute walk.
One bone to pick, however: the trail is billed as wheelchair accessible. I’m sure a wheelchair could go on the trail, but I imagine it would be a difficult slog. Regardless, once you get to the beach, San Jo is simply spectacular.
The tide was out when we arrived and soft, foot-soothing sand on the vast tidal flats beckoned.
The day was enhanced by free hot dogs and drinks — part of the birthday celebration — and truly outstanding weather.
San Josef Bay also has some sea stacks and caves at the north end of the first beach, but I didn’t get a chance to explore them — just the excuse I need to go back.