The Watering Hole Blog

Goin’ With the Flow


Goin’ With the Flow


“This is a story of how a Baggins had himself an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

A gas station exploded so I spent the night on a tugboat.

This is the sort of thing that happens when a writer strays too far from the safety of her hobbit hole!

In what has now come to be known (in local circles) as “Maryanne & Renee’s Excellent Adventure,” what began as a short hike near Port Alberni to the (aptly named) “Hole in the Wall”:

Morphed into an overnight stay on a converted tugboat in Port Alberni:

You never know what’s around the corner…literally.

After our hike (okay, a 15-minute stroll) to see the Hole in the Wall (followed by the mandatory post-stroll stop for ice cream), my friend Renee and I were driving back home (to Qualicum Beach) on the highway when we rounded the corner and found traffic at a standstill.

Word on the street was that a van had caught on fire at a gas station and the road would be closed for at least five hours.

So Renee and I turned around, drove back to Cameron Lake and pondered our options (while thoroughly enjoying the view):

It was already 4 pm so the highway wouldn’t open till 9 pm, if it even opened that night. Then it could take a few more hours for the backed-up traffic to move through, if the highway went down to a single lane.

And then we heard word that it wasn’t just a van that had caught on fire. An entire gas station – which the driver of the van on fire had pulled into (yes, you read correctly) – had exploded.

Oh dear.

I immediately picked up my phone and popped onto to see what sort of accommodations were available in Port Alberni. And wouldn’t you know it – but a tugboat B&B popped up! It was called the Swept Away Inn. How cool would that be?!

I rang them up. Yup…they had a room available (which is amazing because pre-Covid, you would have to book 18-months in advance! However, since most of their guests are international, they had room).

So we drove back to Port Alberni, boarded the beautiful tugboat, met the awesome owners, Daniel & Bouchra (they are Airbnb “Superhosts!), checked out our cozy room with bunk beds, then headed to dinner at the Port Pub (short on ambience but the Bacon Jam Burger was phenomenal…the chef even came out afterwards to say hello!).

The next morning, our (aptly named) Superhosts prepared a gorgeous avocado toast breakfast (fit for a hobbit…a fit one!) and we all had a fab chat.

It was just an impromptu one-night stay an hour from home but it totally felt like I was traveling again. Click To Tweet

Bouchra was from Morocco and loves to cook (so does Daniel), so they also operate a Moroccan restaurant on the boat (pre-Covid). The restaurant is slowly starting up again. I can’t WAIT to go back for dinner and another overnight stay!

Here are some more photos of the tug:




Daniel & Bouchra



If you are looking for a unique place to stay on Vancouver Island, I highly recommend the Swept Away Inn! Here is the link to visit their website. You can tell them Maryanne & Renee sent you 😊

Here is a snap I took on the drive home of what remained of the gas station, vehicles & ice cream store:

It is an absolute miracle there were no fatalities. Thank goodness!

Have you ever had an unplanned overnight stay somewhere that ended up being a spectacular experience? Or perhaps a not-so-spectacular one! Click To Tweet

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

– Jack Kerouac

Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a Director with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.

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