I used to call Canada home, having lived in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley for nearly 12 years. I went to highschool in Chilliwack, a town that always smells like cowpoop and only really has 2 highschools. It was the 10 year reuinion of my 2004 Sardis Senior Secondary graduating class, and also a friends wedding, so I had two good reasons to go back home. My sisters and mom still live there, and I still have a room at moms house, and grandmas home-cooking is reason alone to make sure I visit the family. But, I also wanted to experience BC as a tourist for a change, combine a familiar place with the novelty of exploration, and so I ended up on a roadtrip around Vancouver Island.
A friend of a friend from Vancouver came to visit Iceland in May, so after helping him out with his westfjords roadtrip, he so kindly repaid me with the best Vancouver Island roadtrip I could have ever asked for. We started by taking the ferry from Horseshoe bay to Nanaimo, and then drove along the east-coast beaches and lake-side parks on our first day. It was sunny and 30 degrees C, and I was slightly jet-lagged and in weather-shock, but nothing that a good nights rest in a tent and a campfire-cooked meal couldnt fix.
We stayed in Tofino and Ucluelet, hiking almost every trail between them in Pacific Rim National park. Sadly there wasn’t much surf those days, but we managed to see a whole pod of gray whales on our way to Hot Spring Cove. Theres a place, only reachable by boat or floatplane, where hot water pours out of the cliffside, into pools of water beside the sea. As the tide came in, the seawater mixed with the hot water to create little cold pools, but we could hop between them to find the perfect temperature.
On our way back to Nanaimo, we stopped in Port Alberni for a little wine-tasting. We spent the afternoon at Emerald Coast vineyard and the Chase and Warren estate winery, but got a lot more than just wine at Chase and Warren. We were hosted by the owner, who was maybe a little tipsy himself, and enjoyed home-made chocolates and sockeye salmon along with our free wine samples. We left with a case, as you do, and enjoyed a few bottles that night in Ladysmith, where we slept in a beautiful house on the water, complete with a (not-so-natural) hottub.
The other highlight of my trip was Reid and Erin’s wedding, a couple I’ve known since UBC days, and a perfect occasion to have an informal 2004 cohort UBC reunion. Friends came from all over north America and enjoyed the serene setting of North Arm farm, cradled between the massive mountain peaks in Pemberton, and witnessed the most beautiful outdoor wedding I’ve ever seen. After a night of dancing and romping around in some blueberry patches, I got on a plane back to Iceland, wishing I could have taken some of that summer sun with me on my next horse tour.