A pit stop for snacks turned into a lesson on tadpoles. Thank goodness Dad is a walking encyclopedia because there was no cell service where we were. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

A pit stop for snacks turned into a lesson on tadpoles. Thank goodness Dad is a walking encyclopedia because there was no cell service where we were. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Why Scotch broom makes a great road trip companion

An unexpected detour along the Pacific Marine Circle Route turns into a good thing

If you ever want to see excitement about kilometre after kilometre of Scotch Broom just join my kids and I on a trip to Victoria. We head south roughly once a week for one reason or another and with two under four the trek is a regular slog for this mom, but a true adventure for them. (So much so that “Are we in Canada still, Mom?” is often asked. Clearly we need a lesson in geography.)

Anyway, I don’t remember when it all began but at some point within the last few months the drive has become less about looking at all of the cool construction vehicles working on the Malahat and checking for the wacky waving arms at the various car dealerships and instead more about screaming “WHOA! SCOTCH BROOM! LOOK AT IT ALL!” at the top of their lungs whenever we see a particularly prominent patch of yellow.

It was funny at first and sometimes still is. But, for the most part, I’m over it.

My children’s father got in on the excitement on Saturday, June 9 when the plan was to make a quick trip to the south Island in the morning and be home by lunch. I’m pretty sure that before we’d even reached the summit, he was made well aware of hundreds of Scotch Broom infestations. Through ringing ears, we got done what we’d needed to in Victoria and headed for home on schedule.

It was around Goldstream Park when we had to pull over for a B.C. Ambulance Service supervisor truck booking it down the middle of the highway with lights and sirens activated. My husband and I looked at each other. We knew right away something was wrong. Soon thereafter, we joined the thousands of others parked on the highway due to a fatality on the Malahat.

“ROAD TRIP!” we declared, feigning enthusiasm, only to look in the back seat and find both kids sound asleep. Faced with waiting an estimated six hours for the road to re-open, to go get in what would be an equally long line for the Brentwood-Mill Bay ferry, or to drive the Pacific Marine Circle Route home, we had chosen the latter.

We’d last driven the route together before we were married. Before kids. Before the stresses of mortgages, and before gas was a buck and a half a litre. It was nice to spend some quality time chatting with my husband without the kids interrupting. Like old times. An hour passed and we almost forgot the kids were with us until a little voice from the back-seat squealed: “SCOTCH BROOM!”

Then the adventure truly began.

We looked at the ocean, we noticed the trees. We counted the one-lane bridges (roughly 10) and we stopped in Port Renfrew for junk food and even saw tadpoles in a little pond by the gas station. We saw the tree on the log at Fairy Lake and where fire had ripped through the forest a couple years prior. We wondered about lizards living in Lizard Lake and questioned clear-cuts while driving up mountains and winding around bumpy roads. We laughed all the while.

It was dinnertime when we pulled into the driveway. Tired, five hours late, and with a nearly-empty gas tank, but we were home safe. For an impromptu road trip with two small children and no time at all to plan, it was a dream.

My only regret is the reason we had to make the trip in the first place.

If you ever need a detailed map of where all the Scotch Broom is along the Circle Route, I know just the kids for the job.


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