A decade ago I was fortunate enough to attend the Winter Olympics that were held in Canada (not the Calgary ones, I’m not that old). I believe that at that time, my brother and I got to see Vancouver and Whistler at their absolute best. We rode the newly built Sky Train, meandered aimlessly through the streets of Vancouver and bused our way up to Whistler on the expanded Sea-to-Sky highway. As for the events, we were very fortunate as we saw Canada win their first medal of the games and also got to watch the men’s hockey team score eight goals in their opener. The sporting memories are some of the most vivid of my life and we still laugh about how lucky we were to secure tickets. Over time these memories have overshadowed some of the hiccups (like the bus lineups, the rain, and the protestors). I was looking forward to reliving some Olympic glory. But alas, where Paige got fortunate with Saltspring living up to her memories, the same could not be said about Vancouver and Whistler.Continue reading
Canada Leg – The West Coast
Salt Spring Island – A Return Home of Sorts- Days 52-57
My family had a summer cottage on Saltspring Island for 24 years. My dad used to spend a few months on the island every summer (when his television program was on hiatus) and the rest of us used to come for two weeks every July. I lost my dad when I was 17 but there’s nowhere that I have fonder memories of him than on Saltspring Island. I think of him teaching me to drive a boat, catch crabs and drive a Yamaha scooter (well before I turned 16). I have such happy memories of the place that I was terrified to go back as a tourist without a “home” to stay. Yet my desire to show the place to the girls outweighed this fear. To make it even more special, my brother flew to BC for a long weekend to be able to return with us. We rented side-by-side Airbnbs (on a different part of the island from our old cottage) and we crossed our fingers hoping that the trip would bring happy new memories and not just make us sad.
The magic of Saltspring was still there. Leif and I were reminded of all the things we loved about the place and we weren’t sad -only grateful for getting to spend so much of our childhood here. We were shocked at how much was the same after 8 years but also managed to find some new island gems.Continue reading
Time to play with other kids – Smonecten – Days 46-51
Months ago, Paigey sat online waiting on the clock for summer camp registration to open up in Sidney. This was the week we were to benefit from those efforts. Five days of kids off on their own at summer camp while we got to enjoy all the Victoria area had to offer. It wasn’t just the kids that were excited. I relished the routine of bedtimes, wake-ups and even packed lunches. Paige was excited about the weather and lunches without crayons or kids’ menus.Continue reading
Denman Island (an island just off an island) – Days 44 & 45
One of those places where the journey is better than the destination. That’s Denman Island to me. Paige and I had to fill a couple days before the kids started summer camp near Victoria so we decided on a two-night stay on Denman Island. I didn’t know anything about the place but it had availability and fit into the budget, so we gave it a shot.Continue reading
Port Alberni – Days 42-43
It was raining when we broke camp in Tofino. We find it easier to leave a place you love when it is raining (at least emotionally easier). However, packing a wet tent sucks. It causes you to rush and amid the chaos we left behind Isabella’s bike lock. It was the first piece of gear we had “lost” on the trip. If anyone finds it, feel free to use it. The code is 61014.Continue reading
Tofino and Pacific Rim – Days 38 – 41
Let’s start by saying 4 days in Tofino ain’t bad (even if you are not a surfer).
We woke up in the morning after our ferry to Port Hardy and blitzed to Tofino. We stopped only in Coombs to find a cute market with goats on the roof that we remembered from our last trip to Vancouver Island. Instead of a quaint market, we found a zoo of shops selling every piece of tourist junk you could find. Our ice cream hole-in-the-wall was replaced by a gelato store trying to look like a french cafe. It’s one of those dangers of going back to places you’ve been to before. Your awesome memories get replaced by new crappy ones. Oh please … do not ruin the “Mike and Paige newly in love memories” from Tofino!Continue reading
Drive to the Ferry – Days 32-36
So with Kluane in our rearview mirror, we could begin to get excited about the next “WOW” destination of the trip, Vancouver Island. There was only one problem, we were nowhere near Vancouver Island!
First, we needed to backtrack 400km across the Yukon, then we would take a highway down the middle of B.C. and then we would cut back to the coast to the port city of Prince Rupert. It was going to be easy. The little lines on the map connected the cities, we just had to drive the road. The reality is far different. Firstly, not all highways are treated equally. Secondly, this was the first section where we really didn’t have accommodations booked. Thirdly, we were coming off the high of having stayed in one place (the Yukon) for 6 full days. And finally, we had to say goodbye to our Nan who was heading home after a short visit. As they might say on the amazing race, this was a tough leg.Continue reading