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Byline: Carol Pucci
"Hi Carol. Gone for groceries," said the note tacked to the front door at Ocean Wilderness Inn. "Coffee at your door at 8:30 a.m. Breakfast in the dining room at 9."
The table near an old stone fireplace was already set with English china and a lace tablecloth, but it was the collection of silver tea and coffee pots on a shelf near the kitchen that convinced me we had made the right choice for exploring Southern Vancouver Island.
We had planned on staying just two days, but getting here from Seattle took longer than we thought _ six hours including driving time, waits at the border and a 90-minute ferry crossing.
Enticed by the idea of relaxing in our room over coffee, a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic mountains out our window, we didn't even bother to unpack before deciding to book another night.
From the start, I knew my ideal Vancouver Island weekend would fall somewhere in between a stay in a luxury hotel such as the Empress in Victoria and my colleague Brian Cantwell's RV retreat to remote Port Renfrew.
My husband and I are urban bikers and hikers. If someone describes a trail as "well-maintained," that's for us. Our camping days are mostly behind us, but big hotels aren't our style, either. At the end of a day outdoors, give us a cozy B&B and a dinner cooked by someone else.
Forty-five minutes west of Victoria, the Sooke area is ideal for lightweight adventurers such as us.
There's a network of accessible regional and provincial parks, bike baths and beaches, some with wheelchair access and all reachable along paved roads. The area boasts a handful of good restaurants, dozens of artists' workshops and …