“Been over the Malahat yet?” was a question we’d heard often in our early days in Victoria. Sometimes phrased as “Gone up the Malahat yet?” or the shortened “Over the ‘hat yet?” was posed. Whatever the wording, there seemed to be undue interest in our travels there, and what we thought of this Malahat.
The Malahat, spoken in tones of hushed reverence. The Malahat, that geographical feature that separated the southern tip of Vancouver Island and the rest of it, referred to as “up Island”. To get “up Island”, one had to cross the Malahat, and this Malahat was clearly of some great import. The very idea of “Crossing the Malahat” became almost mythic to us, conjuring up images of Hannibal crossing the Alps.
Elephants nothwithstanding, the day finally came when we decided it was time to venture up Island by way of the Malahat, and off we went.
Well then. So much for legends. Turns out the Malahat is little more than a hill. A 1150 meter hill, with a couple of lovely look-off points that afford spectacular scenic views, but…a hill.
We laughed, and laugh about it every time we take the TransCanada up Island.
But one thing we do enjoy about making this trip is that it brings back a memory we both have of a road atlas we saw in our childhoods (Reader’s Digest, perhaps?). The atlas has a picture of a 1950’s camper on a curving highway road, taller than east coast trees soaring into the sky. It looks like it could have been taken at the base of the Malahat drive, and so it’s a little like time travel for us when we slip past Goldstream Park and begin the climb.
And so it seemed fitting, when deciding on a place to take MoHope on her maiden voyage, that we bring her over the Malahat. Not all the way over, there was a perfect place right on top–the RV park that time forgot. An RV park and cabins, with signs that look like they haven’t changed since the ’50’s or’60’s; a more modern restaurant and lodge across the highway, and a small store of the same vintage as the RV park. Yes, this is where we would spend our first RV night.
It also fulfilled the recommendation of experienced RV’ers that the first trip out should be close to home, in case of major system failures. This “shakedown cruise” would be to pinpoint deficiencies and detect issues that are common and expected in new motorhomes, things that we’d have the dealer fix. (Spoiler: MoHope had a couple of minor issues, nothing worth covering here.)
Well, except for one thing, maybe. As the cook in the family, I was responsible for listing the equipment and groceries, and ensuring the wonderfully efficient little kitchen was outfitted properly.
I had one job.
Fortunately, across from the campground there’s a restaurant and bakery, and the purchase of a couple of cookies also secured a pair of plastic knives and forks. (“Ah, forgot your cutlery hey?” said the counter lady knowingly. At least we weren’t the first.)
One more task and we’d be set for our night. Putting together a BBQ–there’s a reason home improvement stores offer barbecue assembly for a small fee, it’s the stuff that ruins marriages. The only time Mike has hung up on me in many years together is the time I called him from work to ask if he’d gotten our new bbq put together yet. “No” came the terse answer, spit through clenched teeth.
“Why don’t you read the instructions?” was my ill-advised reply.
But the small grill we’d picked up for MoHope, dubbed an “RVQ” by those in the know, shouldn’t be too much trouble; after all, it had no legs, and was the size of two generous striploins and a pair of hot dogs. And while it ended up taking longer than the 32 seconds I thought it should have, I wisely kept my trap shut and the RVQ was assembled, and deployed, successfully with no further marriage rifts.
The RV park guy brought around firewood in short order, and for $10 we got enough to make S’mores all afternoon and well into the night. Not that we did, because the extremely dry weather conditions led us to believe that we likely would not be able to have a fire. Note to self: ALWAYS be packing S’mores.
As we were tucked in for the night, cozy and snuggled in MoHope’s bed, the rain started. A gentle rain, a soothing sound on MoHope’s roof and canopy. We drifted off to sleep, content in the knowledge that should a giant starving bear invade, there was a “softshell” (tent) nearby that would make a better and easier target (hey, we’re not outdoors-y types).
Next morning as pulled out, we got a better look at some of our neighbours. We really liked the Malahat Mountain RV park, and had zero issues. But here’s some pictorial evidence of why we called it the “RV Park That Time Forgot”.
We pulled back into the driveway after what must be deemed a successful first excursion with 85 miles on MoHope. Eighty five miles for the round trip including a bit of sightseeing. Eighty five miles away from home and reality, and it felt like a million.