For the Family Day long weekend Lauren organised a surprise get away as it happened to coincide with valentines day and our 6 month anniversary. Having lived on an island for most of my life it was easy to figure out a ferry was involved by our very specific departure time. This meant two options, the Sunshine Coast or Vancouver Island. An additional treat for the weekend was a break from training. I have been injured since December so can’t run, I wasn’t taking a bike and there was no way I was swimming in the sea given the forecast of sub 0 and snow!! The only other hint I received was there would be a hot tub so I could at least splash around, but most importantly it would be 100% relaxation.
It wouldn’t take long to work out where we were headed, left out the house = Vancouver Island (I just can’t bring myself to call ‘The Island’), right = the Sunshine Coast. Right it was, which had been my hunch, I’m a massive fan of the Sunshine Coast and on my previous visits I always thought it appealed as remote place to live close to Vancouver.
On the ferry appealed to the jury to watch the Islands go by but it was deemed far too cold so we stayed warm and watched the ultimately disappointing Prada Cup final. When we disembarked I still didn’t know the destination so had to put up with the navigation woman telling us where to go. We passed through Gibsons and this narrowed the options to Sechelt as there isn’t much else on the Sunshine Coast and only one road.
I was correct. However, at Sechelt we turned away from the town and headed North. Still following the Google lady’s instructions we drove in to the woods. Eventually we were told to turn up a steep hill. This was concerning as the forecast had snow and ice and we were in a Prius. This would make the return downhill terrifying and any subsequent uphills impossible.
We followed the instructions until our only options were dirt tracks in 3 directions. Given we weren’t at our destination and Lauren shared that we weren’t staying in an abandoned cabin we concluded the silly Google lady had taken us the wrong way. Call me old fashioned but this is why I like a traditional map, or at least one in my head, that way I know where I am going in case technology fails!! As it turned out the correct postcode took us to the completely wrong area, it was about 10 minutes back the way we had come and not in the middle of the woods. Now in charge of directions I found us a nifty little dirt track to get us back on our way.
Lauren and I disagree on very few things (mostly me being messy) but we did disagree on the suitability of my excellent, if a little steep, dirt track route. She wasn’t convinced it was the way or that her car was enjoying the steep downhill dirt track, with rocks, in the middle of nowhere. On the other side of the coin I was loving being a little lost in the wild on an adventure. Exploring in inappropriate cars has always been fun and takes me back to when I took a Nissan Sunny down a remote riverbed in NZ before getting stuck in a sand dune, it’s how good stories are made. I am sure my dad is fully responsible for my confidence that any car can go anywhere with the right approach and attitude. However, on this occasion there was no drama and with a little encouragement we reached the safety of the road.
We finally arrived at our cute little AirBnb, a cozy one bed apartment, Lauren assured me there were lovely sea views but it was too dark to tell. I haven’t done many AirBnB trips but I doubt there will be many better than this. The cabin was perfectly decorated for the seaside and everything had been so well thought through. I was especially grateful for the welcome cookies as I vetoed the idea of bringing food but was getting peckish and breakfast/brunch was hours away!
As always I woke up early and left Lauren to sleep but in the process walked in to Narnia.
It was still snowing as I emerged to a sea view with the trees and ground blanketed in snow. Being from England (the Isle of Wight in particular, it never gets snow) makes snow very very exciting, Lauren just doesn’t understand. In England you assume Canada is frozen all winter and covered in snow. However, the little corner of Vancouver is not. It probably gets as much snow as London so the novelty has not worn off at all!!
As I finished showing off my fresh snow on a family Zoom call Lauren emerged. I was pretty hungry now having polished off the last cookie hours ago, so I hurried her to go in to town for breakfast.
I was so excited to drive to town in the snow, me being a child again. However, over the last month I have been introducing Laruen to Top Gear and she instantly banned me driving on snow assuming I would be silly!! Almost certainly a correct judgement but still rather mean so I was left with directions again.
In town we found a nice little bakery for breakfast, including my mandatory hot chocolate, before walking around in the snow exploring the local shops. While Sechelt is a cute seaside town with some great shops, Oracle was a particular favourite, it is pretty limited and having spent a weekend there I less convinced it’s an area I want to live.
Having completed the town and with my feet getting wet, I refuse to buy a pair of boots everyone insists you need in Vancouver for the one day of snow a year, we decided to head to the Cidery (The Bricker Cider Company).
This was literally at the end of the road but so beautiful with the surrounding orchards and trees covered in snow. We shared two testing flights and despite neither of us loving cider were determined to buy some as their branded growlers are awesome. Having selected our two favourites it was home time for a relaxing afternoon and a splash in the hot tub.
I was given permission to drive home as long as I was sensible. However, the roads had cleared so it was no fun as it was just like normal driving.
We settled in to the hot tub with our new cider and short stories from my book The Wilderness Idiot. It’s hard to think of a way I could have been more relaxed. Sitting in a hot tub with light snowfall watching the sun set over the sea and snowy mountains, enjoying a cider and reading wilderness stories to Laruen (she could maybe have done without the stories). I can 1000% assure you the photo does not even begin to do it justice!!
Once the sun set over the mountains we moved inside for a few games of Dobble and Bananagrams. After a number of comprehensive victories (they are new to Lauren) and with our drinks finished it was time for an early dinner, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and my tummy wasn’t happy about it. We drove to town and settled on Batch 44 Brewery, a local brewery. I was starving so ordered poutine to share and the chicken burger. Given my hunger these were devoured at top speed which I quickly came to regret. The food was excellent but having not eaten since breakfast my stomach had clearly shrunk. We retreated home and watched TV as I spent the rest of the night in considerable pain, however I doubt I will ever learn.
There was no rush in the morning to get our ferry so we enjoyed a lie in before returning to The Bakery for another breakfast. With the time we had left I wanted to show Lauren around Gibsons Landing, which amongst other things has the best seafood restaurant in BC, Smitty’s Oyster House. While exploring the waterfront we got sucked in to another amazing shop. If I had a house to furnish and an unlimited budget I might have just bought the whole place. However, as I have neither of those things we settled on the below small local artworks printed on wood.
Sadly it was now time to leave after a very special couple of days, especially given the times we live in. However, having been banned from driving on the snow in case anything silly happened there was to be one last twist. After a number of heated games of Dobble on the ferry it was time to go. Cue flat battery!! Now I don’t want to name names but this was not Laruen’s fault as it wasn’t her phone plugged in. We were the front car on the top deck which given the early complaints made me chuckle as this was a suitably Top Geary moment. Luckily I found a ferry man who had a charger so I set to work finding the battery under the bonnet. Annoyingly I was unsuccessful and a very unamused Lauren discovered the battery in a Prius is actually hidden away to the side in the boot. Having successfully located it the man with the battery pack then told me that due to liability issues they can’t touch electric cars so I would have to. So while I can’t name who was responsible for the issue I was 100% the person that got the battery charged again, what a hero!
That was the end of the drama and bought the curtain down on my most Canadian holiday yet. The location, the weather and company were all perfect and suitably Canadian. I don’t think I will ever not be excited by snow, it just brings out the child in me and makes me want to make a snowman!!