The Third Time Around

Look out West Coast, we’ll be seeing you in a month!

This will be my third trip out west in less than a year. Frankly, that’s a bit nuts. I could have easily gone elsewhere, but there’s just something about BC that continues to pull me in.

My first trip was meant to help me “find” myself again after ending an eight-year relationship, which it did in some ways. It also allowed me the opportunity to meet new people with whom I’ve formed enduring friendships with; people who, despite them living in Australia, the UK, or the Netherlands, I’ve remained in contact with and talk to as often as the time changes allow. I never would have met them if I didn’t take that first journey out west. That trip helped me grow as an individual and acted as a springboard to get myself back together.

My second venture into BC was meant to rebuild relationships with my father’s side of the family. Unfortunately though, things don’t always work out the way you had hoped they would, so that trip was a bit of a “snafu” right from the start. On the bright side, I did get to spend some quality time in Vancouver, roaming its streets and reconnecting with my friends there. I also had the chance to revisit Victoria, which allowed me to see my friend, Ethan (who’s more like family seeing how his sisters and I grew up together). We were able to see the Georgia Strait on a zodiac, and I saw my first whales in the wild taking the ferry over to the island. Although the trip started out on a shitty note, I left BC that second time with a feeling like I still hadn’t had enough.

Cue: my third journey into beautiful British Columbia.

Our flights and hostels are booked, a rental car has been reserved, and a rough itinerary has been drawn up. Our trip will take us through a good portion of the province and we’ll even be hitting up the gorgeous town of Banff, Alberta. One of my happiest places on earth is Banff National Park, especially Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. I fell in love with that area during my first visit last summer with my friends Ana, Damir, Milena and Matteo. This picture captured that trip for me in one shot:

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The colour of Lake Louise is down-right ridiculous.

My friend Shannon and I had been working on an itinerary for this trip over the course of a week. We had about ten days to work with and tried to fit in as much as we could. Although I’ve been to Vancouver Island on my previous trips to the province, I still hadn’t visited Tofino or seen Cathedral Grove (a 157 hectare stand of ancient Douglas Fir trees), so I desperately tried to fit in a jaunt over to the island this third time around. By the end of our planning though, we decided to stick to the mainland to make the most out of our time there. I think it’s safe to say that there will be other trips to BC in my future, so I’ll just have to make sure to go back to the island next time I’m out that way.

Here’s what we managed to come up with:

August 27-30: We’ll be flying into Vancouver on the 27th where we’ll be staying at the Samesun for four nights. During our time in VanCity, Shannon and I will be checking out Stanley Park, going on a whale watching tour with Wild Whales Vancouver, be given a guided tour of the Vancouver Lookout, and meeting up with my friends in the city. I’ll also be continuing my tradition of obtaining a souvenir tattoo when I get some work done by Stephen “Shawzy” Shaw at Gastown Tattoo Parlour.

I first met Shawzy in Victoria last October. My friend Sarah and I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate our trip, so we found a shop while we were there and both got a cherry blossom. I found out that Shawzy has been working out of a Vancouver shop for the past few months, so I got in contact with him and booked an appointment. This next tattoo will by far be my biggest souvenir piece yet. I’m so stoked!

Shannon and I have also been brainstorming about a tattoo we could get to celebrate our 25 years of friendship, so I’m potentially coming home with two new pieces from this trip 🙂

August 31-September 1: We’ll be picking up our rental car bright and early on a Saturday morning, hitting up the Crowsnest Highway heading east. Our destination will be the town of Slocan, with a mid-day pit stop in Osoyoos (which is often the hottest place in Canada with desert-like conditions and the warmest fresh water lake in the country). We’ll be staying in Slocan for two nights with a friend of Shannon’s, where we’ll leisurely enjoy our time and possibly visit Valhalla National Park.

September 2: From Slocan we’ll continue east, then north, ending in Banff National Park. I gave up the opportunity to see Vancouver Island, but there was no way in hell I was going to miss the chance to show Shannon the pristine, glacier-fed lakes of Alberta. While we’re in Banff we’ll be meeting up with some of our friends from Toronto who have all migrated to Calgary over the years.

Ana, Damir, Milena and Matteo (who I mentioned above) will be joining us, as well as our friend Lindsey. It will be a bit of a reunion as all of us (with the exception of the guys) grew up together in the same area and went to the same elementary and high schools. I’m thinking we’ll probably just enjoy ourselves at Lake Louise and maybe grab some dinner and drinks in the town of Banff. I can’t wait to see them!

September 3: From Banff we’ll be taking the Trans-Canada Highway/Icefields Parkway back west to the town of Golden, BC. One of Shannon’s wishes for the trip was to visit a wildlife sanctuary. During our research we came across the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, and immediately we decided to visit. When it comes to animal lovers, Shannon and I are some of the biggest ones you’ll ever meet. Shannon volunteers her time to feed a feral cat colony in Toronto, and I often joke that I’m somehow connected to Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals (you would not believe the number of animals my mother and I have rescued over the years – stray dogs, feral cats, a crow with an injured wing, a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest, countless baby birds…). But wolves? That’s a first for both Shannon and I, and I know it’ll be an experience neither of us will ever forget.

After our visit to the sanctuary we’ll continue west and either spend the night in Kamloops or Kelowna, whichever one tickles our fancy that day.

September 4: From Kamloops/Kelowna we’ll be driving to Whistler where we’ll be spending the night. Neither of us have ever been, so it will be nice to see what all the fuss is about.

September 5: From Whistler we’ll be making our way back south to Vancouver for the final night of our trip. We’ll be driving along the Sea-to-Sky Highway to take us back into the city. I absolutely love driving (I’m a mechanic’s daughter who grew up spending her weekends at a racetrack, what can I say), and especially love road trips and the amount of scenery you get to see while you’re on route. I’ve been wanting to drive this highway since I first heard about it, so I’m very excited for this. Check out this video I found that covers part of the drive (I might just have to get my own dash-cam to record ours as well):

Along this route we’ll be stopping at Shannon Falls Provincial Park near Squamish. We came across the falls during our trip planning and figured we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit a waterfall that bears the same name as Shannon herself. I foresee many pictures being taken with park signs in our future…

We’ll end the day in Vancouver and spend our last night at Samesun. Hopefully we’ll be enjoying some pints with my buddies there to see us off on our way home. Knowing me, it will probably be at the Beaver Bar in the hostel.

September 6: Fly back to Toronto, arrive in the evening, try to get enough sleep as we both have to work the next morning.

Twenty-nine sleeps until we leave! To celebrate, I bring you Pacific Blue from Toronto musician Jason Collett. Anytime I’m missing Vancouver, I listen to this song. Enjoy.

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