Cool Kids Go Camping

I haven’t been camping in over 10 years. Maybe even 15. The last camping trip I actually remember was in like grade 6 when we went on a school trip somewhere up Vancouver Island. With that said, I was a Girl Guide for a hell of a long time and I did grow up on an island. I’m by no means scared of making a fire, sleeping in a tent or the adventure that is… camping.

Camping as an adult is way different than a kid. I don’t remember having to do anything as a kid. I just remember showing up and it being simple. Mom always took care of the food. Mmm marshmallows. There was always toilet paper for the outhouses and there was generally a beach to play at. What else do you need?

E is way more outdoorsy than I am, as in he could probably save us if we were lost in the woods, came across a bear and/or fell in a river. When we decided to kick off the camping season a few weeks ago and I was both nervous and totally, over-the-moon excited. Nervous because I’m totally scared of the dark {truth!} and haven’t been camping in forever!!

E delegated meal planning and cooking and all that jazz to me and I delegated everything else to him. ;)

After a few trips to MEC and local camping stores, we were set. The plan? Head to Vancouver Island for the weekend. We planned to spend our first night in Goldstream Provincial Park and our next in Port Renfrew.


Goldstream Provincial Park

Friday was a big day for me. I had my last day at work and it was a bit of a whirlwind getting out of there and getting home so that we could grab our stuff and get to the ferry. I think I just operated on my usual go-go-go until I got to the ferry and thought … whoa. Not only am I a free bird for the weekend, I also just quit my job and I have all the freedom in the world right now. More to come on that later. :)

We grabbed a sunset sail over to the island and the next thing you know we were stopping in Sidney, BC for groceries and booze. As I had lots to celebrate, I obviously grabbed some bubbles!

We made it to Goldstream Provincial Park before dark and quickly set up our tent {or Tom & Christin’s tent I should say!}. I remember being/camping at Goldstream as a kid but I totally forgot how magical it is. Although there were tons of people camping, it felt like E and I were alone in the woods soaking up the beauty that is British Columbia.

The next morning I made macadamia nut protein pancakes on the campfire — first time and they were a hit!

We then packed up and headed out to explore Goldstream’s trails before getting on the road en route to Port Renfrew. Why Port Renfrew? Well we were on the search for some big trees. In particular, Canada’s largest Sitka spruce, the Red Creek Fir {the largest Douglas Fir in Canada} and Avatar Grove.

The drive to Port Renfrew was windy but beautiful. I failed at being the talkative co-pilot and slept quite a bit. :) 


China Beach in Juan De Fuca Provincial Park

We stopped at China Beach {located in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park} for lunch and it was windy, but glorious. We walked the 1K down to the beach with all the things we needed. The plan? Mediterranean pita pockets!

  • Ingredients: pita shells, greens, cucumber, red pepper, avocado, olives, feta, chickpeas {‘marinated’ in coconut oil, chili flakes, oregano & basil} and Goddess dressing from Trader Joes {dairy-free and also the best!}

Although the pitas were delicious {mine was at least}, one turned out to be a bit of a disaster. I loaded E’s with way to much goodness and it exploded in his lap. :|

So much for being a good camping chef!

After a quick play on the beach, we continued on our way to Port Renfrew. An hour or so later, we had arrived and made a quick stop at the General Store.

I don’t think either of us realized how remote Port Renfrew was and we had both assumed there would be a grocery store in the town. The General Store  had a few things but it was by no means a grocery store. Tip for next time? Stop in Sooke! 

We hadn’t ironed out a plan of where to camp in Port Renfrew {and we didn’t have cell service!}, so we went on adventure to find one. We drove past Fairy Lake and Lizard Lake {both BC forest service campgrounds} but they weren’t really what we were looking for. We kept on our drive and decided to venture down a gravel road to a smaller campground we saw on the map.

We absolutely lucked out when we arrived at the San Juan River Campground. With just a few spots, it was intimate, quiet and the home of the Sitka spruce!


Canada’s Largest Sitka Spruce

We had a leisurely afternoon setting up camp, playing down by the river and making friends with the trees. That night we played card games {and also learned that we don’t know remember the rules to any card games!} and made dinner.

We had plans to have some chicken with our dinner that night, but we missed the opportunity to buy some in Sooke. ;) We ended up feasting on campfire quinoa, veggies, chickpeas.

  • Ingredients: quinoa, baby red potatoes, brussel sprouts, red onion, zucchini, red pepper, orange pepper, garlic, lemon, balsamic, olive oil, lemon and the leftover chickpeas from lunch {‘marinated’ in coconut oil, chili flakes, oregano & basil}

I made a lot to make up for the lack of chicken. :) Couple some veggies with champagne and I’m a happy girl!

After a brief incident with the camping knife, we had a lovely campfire dinner.

I really love cooking at home but I had no idea if I would like cooking in the forest. Turns out I do! It was an adventure all on it’s own and I learned a  lot about what I do and don’t want to do for next thing. I had portioned out everything from home and the one thing I wish I had done is made more of everything. It’s hard to cook on the fly when you structure out your meals, so if anything, next time I will bring the staples {olive oil, balsamic, spices, veggies, grains, protein, nuts, seeds} and then go with the flow. :)

20140707-091725-33445062.jpgWe had a lovely last morning in Port Renfrew. We burned the last of our firewood, make a delightful quinoa breakfast scramble and chatted away.

  • Ingredients: quinoa, baby red potatoes, red onion, red peppers, zucchini, olives and feta

We left the campground determined to find the Red Creek Fir. We had read about it and looked for it, but still couldn’t locate it. We spent an hour so adventuring on forest service roads before we eventually gave up. Sad day, but another reason to come back to Port Renfrew. 

We then headed to Juan De Fuca Provincial Park. E was planning to run part of the Juan De Fuca Trail and I was planning to frolic through an itty bitty part of it and then enjoy the sun.

We lucked out with the weather on this trip. For a generally rainy part of Vancouver Island, it was absolutely gorgeous. E headed out on his run and I decided I would run around the Botanical Loop Trail {about 2.5K} a few times. I’ve never really run on trail before so this was my first attempt. Here is my recap:

Run. Run. Run. Whoa I’m trail running. Whoaa. Run. Run. {Enter crazy lady yelling with sticks in the air} “THERE IS A BEAR ON THE TRAIL.” Uhhh. Freak out. Walk with crazy lady. Walk some more. Run around the loop at the parking lot TWENTY TIMES. Stressful 8k but my gawd it was beautiful. Not the parking lot, the trail. :|


When E arrived back at the car a few hours later, I had calmed right down and was enjoying reading in the sun. To be honest, I was glad to see that he was alive. Tons of people hike and run the Juan De Fuca Trail all the time, but after my little bear scare, I could only assumed the worst. :)

With the few leftover groceries that we had, I made us black bean & rice wraps with salad.

  • Ingredients: wraps, rice, black beans {‘marinated’ in coconut oil, oregano, salt and pepper}, greens, cucumber, orange pepper and the Goddess dressing from Trader Joe’s

E had brought his MSR camp stove, so it made for an easy picnic!

I had missed most of the beauty of Botanical Beach {because I was terrified!} so we headed back down to the beach. No bears were seen. :)


Botany Bay in Juan De Fuca Provincial Park

Instead of heading back to Victoria, we decided to head home via Nanaimo. On the way to Lake Cowichan, we spotted the Harris Creek Spruce and stopped for a few photos. Trees are so grounding. Love them.

A few days away on Vancouver Island was just what we needed. Spending time with the one you love is always a great thing, but spending time with the one you love, in the forest, doing absolutely nothing, is even better.

PS – E has posted the photos from our trip on Flickr. You can check them out here!


  1. […] in the ass. It’s tough to find that balance between not packing enough and overpacking. The last time we went camping, I ended up with just a little bit extra. I had a few layers that I didn’t need and realized […]

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