Tag Archive | British Columbia

Canada Day: Car-Free Mayne Island

The annual BC summer cabin weekend has become a fun tradition for the man, my brother, his girlfriend and I. 2014 was Bowen Island, 2015 was Galiano Island and this year we decided to stick with the Gulf Islands theme and head to neighbouring Mayne Island. Canada Day fell on a Friday this year, so we took the opportunity to book an afternoon ferry and get an early start to the weekend.

We went without a car to keep costs down so all of our exploring was on foot. We’d read that hitchhiking is common on the island and that locals will often offer tourists a ride to their accommodation from the ferry, and were very happy when that happened to us and we didn’t have to walk the 20 minutes uphill to our cabin. Unfortunately it turned out that the cabin was a two-minute walk rather than a 20-minute walk (thanks Google Maps), and it getting all of us plus luggage in and out of the car was way more exhausting than the short walk would have been. Regardless, we were happy to be settled into our awesome cabin with three bedrooms, a living comfy area, a full kitchen and an obscene number of decks. Airbnb for the win.

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Our awesome cabin

We spent Friday night relaxing at the cabin and got up on Saturday ready to explore the island. As previously mentioned, all exploring was to be done without a car. We’d read that the main town area, Miners Bay, was about a 20-minute walk from the cabin so we headed out in search of coffee and groceries. It felt longer than 20 minutes and we rewarded ourselves with drinks at the pretty Shavasana Cafe, lunch from Sunny Mayne Bakery Cafe and some groceries, beer and cider from The Trading Post. We weren’t keen on walking all the way back with our bags so hung out at the designated hitchhiking ‘car stop’ until another friendly local picked us up. It was another tight squeeze (this time around a car seat) but we were happy for the ride.

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Off to explore

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Shavasana Coffee/Gallery

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The view from the garden of Shavasana Coffee

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Canada Day at Sunny Mayne Bakery

Back at the cabin we loaded up our cooler bags for island exploration part two: the beach. We looked at the map and Dinner Bay seemed like the closest option. This time, it really was only a 20-minute walk (though mostly uphill) and we settled down on the pebble beach. The rapidly rising tide and army of ants meant we didn’t stay long, but it was nice to see some of the island.

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Canada Day decorations

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This way to the beach

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Dinner Bay

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The view from my towel

Usually when we go away we’ll spend most of the weekend BBQ-ing everything in sight, but this cabin didn’t have a BBQ. Instead, we decided to go out for dinner to try the main restaurant on the island, The Groove Island Kitchen, and timed our walk with the traffic coming off the ferry so that we could hitch another ride. We got the last table on the patio, and although the restaurant was out of burgers (outrageous…) we all enjoyed our meals. We did end up walking home, but it went pretty quickly after we found a shortcut through the trees from the main road to the back of our cabin. Success!

Sunday was another lazy day as we were lucky enough to be able to stay in the cabin until our late afternoon ferry. It was a hot one, so we made our own fun with a hosepipe and stints on the sofa cooling off. The views from the ferry on the way back to Tsawwassen were particularly stunning and were a great sales pitch for coming back to visit another one of the Gulf Islands next year.

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More info about Mayne Island can be found here at Hello BC.

From Peak 2 Peak and then some: The changing faces of Whistler Blackcomb

The Whistler Blackcomb Peak 2 Peak gondola has become the new Grouse Mountain lumberjack show. Remember the summer of 2011 when I had friends and family visiting so often I watched that show four times in six weeks? This year I’ve been lucky enough to have my parents and in-laws visiting within a week of each other, so naturally we’ve done some of the same activities twice. Throw in an engagement-moon weekend in late July and Whistler and the Peak 2 Peak (the longest and highest lift in the world, connecting Whistler and Blackcomb mountains) has become the getaway of choice. Even though we did the same trip up the same gondola three times in two months, our mountain experience changed significantly with the weather.

When you check the weather forecast on the Whistler Blackcomb website you get three temperatures. One for the village, one for mid-mountain and one for alpine (a.k.a. the very top of the top). When it’s 25 degrees on the ground in the middle of a long, hot summer it’s easy to forget 6 degrees at the top of the mountain is very, very cold. The one thing each of my visits had in common was a wish that I’d taken a warmer coat with me, only to decide the next time that ‘it can’t have been that cold, can it?’

I wouldn't want to be up there right now...

I wouldn’t want to be up there right now…

Our first visit in July was our postponed would-be-engagement weekend which we cancelled because of forest fires. It’s a good job that James decided to propose on the original weekend anyway instead of waiting two weeks for the trip, because the weather pretty much sucked. It wasn’t too bad in the village, and the sun was even peeking out behind the clouds. Unfortunately when we got out of the gondola at mid mountain it was very cold and the clouds looked pretty ominous. It was our first time up the mountain in the summer so we decided to go ahead and take the chairlift up to the summit anyway. The clouds got darker as we got higher, until we couldn’t see anything in front of us or below us. And then the hail started. Let’s just say our tour of the summit was ‘whistle-stop’ to the extreme and we were back on the soggy chairlift within minutes. We were so cold and soggy that we didn’t even get off the Peak 2 Peak at Blackbomb mountain. Thank goodness the chalet served hot chocolate.

Up, up into the clouds...

Up, up into the clouds…

Chairlift to the abyss...

Chairlift to the abyss…

James did not enjoy the abyss (I did)

James did not enjoy the abyss (I did)

The inukshuk of gloom

The Inuksuk of gloom

Our next trip to Whistler was with the in-laws in August. It was a beautiful weekend with clear blue skies and zero percent chance of rain. The views from mid-mountain were fantastic, and this time we made sure to explore to actually get out at Blackcomb Mountain and explore the other side of the Peak 2 Peak. The chairlift ride up to the summit was much more enjoyable in the sunshine, and we laughed at how low to the mountain we actually were now that we could see the rock below us. The laughing continued when we finally saw the stunning views that we missed on our previous visit when we were literally in the clouds.

I'll take this view from the chairlift any day

I’ll take this view from the chairlift any day

The view from the summit!

The view from the summit!

Feeling Canadian. No jacket needed!

Feeling Canadian. No jacket needed!

Blackcomb mountain. Much nicer in the sunshine!

Blackcomb mountain. I’m glad we got off the Peak 2 Peak this time!

Our new favourite adventure, the Peak 2 Peak

Our new favourite adventure, the Peak 2 Peak

Our latest visit was in September with my parents. It was a really warm day in the village so I convinced myself I didn’t need to bring a proper coat with me. Luckily there was on rain on this trip, but it was bloody cold at the summit. My jacket was well and truly zipped up and my hood was definitely staying up. We got some good photos, but were also happy to get back down the mountain again. The view from the Peak 2 Peak was distinctly autumnal and the leaves were definitely more orange than green. On this visit we were lucky enough to see some very Canadian wildlife: bears and marmots, just hanging out on the slopes.

Enjoying the cold sunshine mid-mountain

Enjoying the cold sunshine mid-mountain

Hoods up at the summit

Hoods up at the summit

Fall from the Peak 2 Peak

Fall from the Peak 2 Peak

A marmot!

A marmot!

A bear! A bear! And a silly biker taking pictures...

A bear! A bear! And a silly biker taking pictures…

We knew when planning our first trip that we’d be heading up the mountain more than once, so we paid $20 to upgrade to the Peak 2 Peak 360 pass which is valid all summer. We’ve saved $80 in lift passes so far and also took advantage of a Peak 2 Peak 360 ticket package to sample the all-you-can-eat Mountain Top BBQ buffet on our first visit. It was delicious and well worth the extra $15. Contrary to what this post might suggest I don’t actually work for Whistler Blackcomb, but I have had fun at their mountain this summer. Hopefully the weather will cooperate more next summer and we’ll get some proper hiking in. Cheakamus Lake, here I come!

The British in British Columbia: A Visit to Victoria

I haven’t written much about the places I’ve travelled to in the last six months, mainly due to time constraints and other more blog-worthy happenings, but I think my latest adventure deserves a post all to itself. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia after all, which is why my boyfriend and I hopped on the ferry for a spontaneous getaway last week.  I’d heard many great things about the city and the vast majority proved themselves to be true. It’s official – I heart Victoria.

Looking across the Inner Harbour towards The Empress Hotel

The journey from Vancouver to Victoria took approximately 4.5 hours, and included a bus to Downtown, a SkyTrain to Richmond, another bus to Tsawassen  Ferry Terminal, a ferry to Scwartz Bay and a final bus to downtown Victoria. We were all checked in to our hotel room on Quebec Street by 1pm, and by 1:03pm we were sampling the delights of Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour. We took in lunch at The Irish Times, the city’s most famous Irish Bar, and spent the afternoon wandering around the little town, stopping only to eat fudge, drink cocktails and take a free tour of the Legislative Buildings. Canada’s political system is based on that of the UK, so being a Brit I found the building and the information interesting and at times amusing, particularly the part with the portrait of the Queen and Prince Phillip.

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in the Legislative Buildings

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