A Shelter in a Storm

Six hours holed up in Coastal Kitchen Cafe gave us time to work through the menu

I’ve never been kicked out of a coffee shop.

I’m sure I should have been. And not because of any bad behaviour.

It’s because of the countless times, throughout western North America, I’ve nursed a cup of coffee over two hours of catching up on email, doing online research, writing blog reviews or just killing time.

But I certainly set a personal best/worst recently, although arguably with good reason.

We had just come off the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a four-day backpack in the southwest corner of Vancouver Island. The last day, we had started hiking, sans breakfast or coffee, at 5 am because of a predicted heavy rain beginning around 7 am.

The Juan de Fuca Trail was certainly wet, muddy and rooted

It was a good call because the rain started in earnest just after we hit the trailhead. Still, we were reasonably damp by the time we walked the 2.5-kilometre road into the small community of Port Renfrew.

Normally, not a big deal. But because of our super-early start, we had about eight hours to kill before our shuttle bus arrived. And standing still for that long—even under a protective awning or tree and even with a change into dryer clothes—would be a chilly experience or worse.

So thank God for Coastal Kitchen Café, one of only a couple of restaurants in Port Renfrew. We dumped our packs on the patio, then marched into the mercifully warm café and set up camp, so to speak, at a far table.

Hot coffee and an excellent pulled-pork breakfast sandwich were the first order of business

There we sat for the next six hours—warming up, drying out and watching the steady rain out the window. Every half hour or so, one of us would venture up to the counter and order something to eat or drink. Just to show we were paying customers.

How about a bowl of fries? Sure, why not?

It was also a great way to work through a menu. Everything was first rate, from a breakfast sandwich featuring house-smoked pulled pork to a spinach-fruit smoothie to a bowl of hot fries. And lots of cups of good, steaming hot coffee.

Chased by a smoothie

Throughout these six hours, no one asked how long we were planning to stay, even during surges of activity that filled all the indoor tables. They pretty much just ignored us.

We finally did pack up and leave, near closing time, but only to move across the street to the Renfrew Pub, where we knocked back celebratory pints of beer along with local rock-cod fish and chips and poke bowls. Here, too, we were treated graciously, albeit for only a couple of hours until we dashed out into the unceasing rain to finally catch our bus back to Victoria.

A final meal of rock-cod fish and chips and poke bowls at the Renfrew Pub

So, a big thank you to Coastal Kitchen Café and Renfrew Pub for saving our bacon.

Coastal Kitchen Cafe
17245 Parkinson Road, Port Renfrew, B.C.
Daily 4:30 am-3 pm

Renfrew Pub
17310 Parkinson Road, Port Renfrew
Daily 11:30 am-8 pm


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