Rewind Day 5: The bugs of Northern Ontario

We left Brandon bright and early.

We stopped in Portage-la-Prairie for a break and found a flock of pelicans.

We visited the Canadian Mint.

We stopped at the longitudinal centre of Canada.

We saw another house on the back of a truck on the TransCanada highway. Must be a prairie thing.

Then we crossed from the forests of Manitoba to rocky Northwestern Ontario.

We stopped at a quiet rest stop to celebrate kid No 2’s birthday with cake and a picnic dinner.

We got to our campsite late. Nothing like setting up your tent in Northern Ontario in the dark because turning on the car lights attracts swarms of bugs. Those bugs were vicious. Hitchcock and his birds have nothing on these bugs.

It was just in time for a campfire. No fire bans here. And we spotted a few shooting stars from the Perseid meteor shower before bed.

Some stats:

  • Crop duster: 1
  • Deer: 2
  • RV in a ditch: 1
  • Pelicans: 1 flock
  • Total distance: 9600 km

Rewind day 3: Back on the prairies

We left Golden in a smoky haze.

This was especially disappointing as we had hoped to visit one of the parks or glacier lakes nearby. I live to hike. But it was quite obvious that visibility was going to be a huge problem.

Instead, we headed to Canmore.

We had ice cream (coconut!) and visited the local indie book store.

And I bought some handmade soap because really this whole trip has apparently just been a very elaborate plot to visit every boutique soap maker in the country.

Then we drove to Calgary. At this point we were supposed to have been camping for about a week, so we pre-booked a hotel with magical facilities like bathtubs and pillows. Also there was a pool with a water slide and room service. And I managed to squeeze in a trip to a wine bar too.

Some stats:

  • Total distance: 7850 km

Rewind day 2: Smoky mountain

It was still hazy in Naramata from the Okanagan fires when we left, and our plan was to get up above the smoke and camp in Glacier National Park, in the Rockies.

We drove up to Revelstoke, the last town before the park and spotted the first moose of the whole trip on the way up.

There was just one problem: Glacier Park was on fire.

We’ll only 600 hectares of it.

The park is on a 150 km stretch of curvy roads between Revelstoke and Golden. There’s nothing else in between.

In Revelstoke the air was so smoky it was hard to breathe. It was impossible to imagine camping.

But all the hotels for a 100 mile radius were booked for the local street festival. In Golden all we could find was the fancy jacuzzi suite in an independent hotel.

We set off. It was two hours driving through the smoky end of a forest fire on curvy mountain roads in the dark with extremely limited visibility at 110 km/hr.

I had an asthma attack about 30 minutes in and spent most of the drive in panic mode feeling dizzy. Good thing I wasn’t driving.

And yet there were still folks out repaving the road in the dark.

Nothing like alternating single-lane traffic for 24-7 construction while ash falls on your car. Harrowing.

I have never been so happy to get to my hotel in my life.

No pics of the drive – I was a bit distracted. But here is some hipster glassware from the restaurant in Revelstoke.

Some stats:

  • Moose: 1
  • Total distance: 7500 km

Press pause: And all the family…

We spent a week in Naramata camping with 42 of my cousins, siblings, aunts, and uncles, and one dog.

We swam in the lake, toured the local wineries, cooked our meals together, and applied sunscreen generously to our (mostly) pale bodies.

And I spent two days working (not pictured).

The weather was beautiful but it was hazy because of the nearby wildfires.

Everyone gets a turn cooking on this trip. I made barbecued corn, potatoes and kabobs. Then barbecued local peaches for dessert.

The leftovers were great with oatmeal for breakfast the next day.

My aunt and uncle took us out on their zodiac boat to visit a rainbow trout hatchery across the lake.

Rewind Day 1: On the Kettle Valley line

We packed up all our things and left Vancouver early in the morning. But our summer adventure wasn’t quite over yet.

With a small 3-car convoy, loaded with siblings, cousins, and one large dog, we headed back to the Okanagan.

By then, forest fires had been burning for a number of weeks in the Okanagan, and the Croswnest (Highway 3) was closed due to fire. We took the Coquihalla (Highway 5).

The main difference is that the 3 is curvier, and the 5 is steeper and faster (120km/hr).

When it was first built, my dad took us out on the new highway “just to check it out”.

My most hated feature: when the driver ahead of you slows down going through the snowsheds. Noooooooo!

We had a pick nick in Hope in that park we always stopped in on every single childhood road trip ever.

We drove all the way to Lake Okanagan.

Some stats:

  • Eagles: 5
  • Clear cut: 1
  • Open pit mine: 1
  • Total distance: 7100 km

And how did my hippy dad find the Coquihalla? “Far out” of course.

Home away from home

Even though I was working full time in Vancouver, we still managed to see a lot of the city.

We went to the Richmond Night Market and sipped frosty drinks, ate tasty snacks, and checked out the Totoro socks.

We went to the Vancouver Aquarium.

There were fish, jellyfish, and frogs.

The aquarium acts as a marine mammal rehabilitation centre, and they have a kids’ play area where they can practice.

I’m pretty sure I could fill a whole blog just with photos from the aquarium.

We also ate at some amazing places. We had great vegetarian dim sum in Chinatown.

We had amazing Indian food where they made naan and jelabi right in front of you.

We ate at my favourite hipster bakery.

We ate ice cream near commercial.

Durian ice cream anyone?

We ate real Ferraro Rocher.

And we stocked up on Pocky.

Hungry yet?

We also visited the planetarium.

We went hiking at Lighthouse Park.

Plus, there was actual work.

My “office” even had a koi pond.

You better work

The next part of the trip involves actual work. So we got back on a ferry for the mainland.

Although I took time off for the trek out to the West Coast, my very amazing employer does like me to get some work done.

So for three weeks, I’m working remotely on PDT hours and house-sitting for a very generous friend.

First on Saturna and now in Vancouver.

At the same time my kids are in day camp.

Of course we still manage to get out and see the city during the evenings and weekends.

So far we’ve seen The Granville Island Market, Kids Only Market, the UBC Museum of Anthropology, been for sushi, milkshakes and gelato, and had Slurpees.

More Vancouver adventures coming soon!

Day 10: To the sea

Technically, Vancouver is right on the sea, but since my kids had never seen the ocean before, I thought we should get a bit more of it than city life normally allows.

So we packed up our gear super early and set off once again, this time for the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

My kids have never been on a boat, so it made a big impression.

We passed a few of the Gulf Islands, and got off at Saturna.

We grabbed lunch and then headed out to the tide pools. There was a lot to see.

Then back to home base where I cracked open a bottle of the wine we bought yesterday and watched an island sunset. Definitely worth 10 days of driving.

Some stats:

  • Deer: 2
  • Crabs: many
  • Starfish: infinite numbers
  • Limpet: 1
  • Fish: a few
  • White-crested sparrow: 1
  • Eagle: 1
  • Total distance: 5353 km