Sunday, August 26, 2012
While staying at the Westin Bear Mountain resort, we decided to hike the trail up to the top of Mount Finlayson. Finding the trailhead was no easy feat, but after asking for directions, we were well on our way. The hike started off easy enough as it meandered through the forest on the edge of the golf course. After a few minutes the trail got a little steeper and then our little hike turned into a full-on rock climbing escapade. 
We persevered and made our way to the summit. At the top, the view was fantastic as we looked over towards to the city of Victoria to the south-east and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the west. After a moment to catch our breath and enjoy the view, it was time for the downward descent. Slow and steady we headed back to the bottom and arrived at Bear Mountain to enjoy a refreshing cleansing shower.

All cleaned up, it was time to head out again. This time we decided to visit the town of Sooke. As we drove through the town, we turned off to follow the signs to the Sooke Harbour House - a highly rated Canadian hotel and restarurant. The hotel is right next to Whiffen Spit Park, where a spit extends into the mouth of the Sooke harbour and provides protection for the inner basin. We took a walk to the lighthouse at the end of the spit, where we were able to get some excellent views down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
We headed back to the mainland and decided to take a peek inside the Sooke Harbour House (www.sookeharbourhouse.com). The hotel looks to be very pleasant and restaurant is nicely situated with expansive views over the water. We asked to see the menu but the maitre 'd advised us that there is a new menu each day. Even though dinner was imminent, the menu was not quite ready. Clearly, the restaurant prides itself on the freshness of its ingredients. We will definitely be back one day to stay and sample the delicious cuisine. One of the neat features of the hotel is the artwork for sale that is spread throughout the corridors. We particularly liked the lighting effect captured in the following painting by Mark Hobson, an artist living in Tofino. Visit Mark's website (www.markhobson.com) for more samples of his excellent work.
As evening approached, it was time to head back to Bear Mountain. We decided to have dinner at the resort and had an excellent meal at the Bella Montagna Italian restaurant.
 
Saturday, August 25, 2012
We spent the last weekend of August at the Bear Mountain Resort on Vancouver Island, just outside Victoria. After a lazy morning and light lunch, we headed off to Point Ellice House for a tour of the house and afternoon tea (www.pointellicehouse.ca). The house is located on the Gorge waterway in Victoria and was built in 1861. The house belonged to the O'Reilly family before it was sold to the  Province of British Columbia in 1975. The O'Reilly family left all of the contents behind providing a rare opportunity to see one of North America’s largest collections of Victoriana in an original, privileged Victorian home. The house is now a National Heritage Site and the wonderfully maintained gardens present an excellent opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea on the lawn.
As the picture shows, afternoon tea is taken seriously in Victoria!
The waterfront views at Point Ellice House aren't shabby either.

We returned to Bear Mountain in time for a swim and some time in the sun. As the evening approached, we headed indoors for a light meal in the bar where we watched the Whitecaps lose 2-1 to their rivals in Portland.