Whistler, BC (Aug 15/22) – Arms reached out embracing the child within, that child gently pivots before a blink of the eye… the turn of the hour glass, they have slipped from the embrace and turn to eek out their own path ahead. As teenagers grow to young adults (which seems to happen sooner than expected), it is imperative that the ‘grown-ups’ embrace that thought. Before you know it, they (‘they’ being little ankle-biters) have matured, left home & started their own separate lives. This premise has not eluded N&J, in fact it is a constant thought nagging in the back of their minds… so it was with this thinking, that ‘Auntie N & Uncle J’ spawned a short but activity fulfilled road trip with their niece Haley.
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With time and availability being short it was decided to choose the Sunshine Coast as the destination, the ocean landscape being so much different than the dry, arid climate where Haley’s family lives in the BC interior. To make room, Hobbes was ‘de-loaded’ of the usual equipment that normally came with… Jesse would now have a new bunk-mate in the ‘penthouse suite’.
The excursion would start at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal to catch the boat to Langdale BC. A lovely day for a sea cruise, albeit a short 45 minute sailing it was so grand to be able to sit up on the sundeck in the sun to enjoy the island & ocean vistas… something that Haley had not experienced since she was a very young child.
Once landing firmly on ‘The Coast’ the foursome ventured to the idyllic town of Gibsons BC, of which is famously known as the location of The Beachcombers, the CBC weekly drama TV show that ran for 19 years. The town built on a hillside overlooks Shoal Channel that leads out to the Salish Sea (aka Georgia Strait), dotted with marinas, seaside homes & Keats Island across the water. Lots of touristy shops & restaurants along the main street that parallels high above the water, passing by Molly’s Reach (made famous by that ‘Beachcomber’ show & still functioning as a restaurant), they walked down the steep wooden incline to the large dock below. A short walk out to the jetty provided a beautiful vista of the town & the harbour filled with boats of all types (fishing, sail, power, and houseboats) and even a glimpse of a family of sea otters who sheltered below in the huge rocks proved exciting as the experience of Haley’s first new sea-wildlife experience.
After much discussion it was decided to eat lunch at the Smoke on the Water BBQ Shack on the pier, sitting outside on the dock observing the sights & sounds of a busy harbour. A variety of smoked ribs, brisket or pulled pork was available, N&J decided to have the Prawn Tacos (delicious!!!). Haley chose the Kennebec Potato Fries (double fried w/house spice rub… Yum!!!). In the meanwhile Jesse patiently sitting in his go-kart was enthralled by all the bird life on the docks.
After lunch they headed to Bonniebrook Beach, a long straight strip of ocean front with endless rocks & driftwood overlooking Georgia Strait. Found a shady sandy spot for Hobbes, Jesse & J to enjoy the warm ocean breeze, Haley & N donned their swim gear to brave the clear, blue salt water. A beach ball tumbling along the beach before them, silently and alone struck the two girls as something they needed to explore, so following the ball they took off down the beach. After a fair distance and out of sight of Hobbes, they found the perfect spot to take the plunge into the ocean where the current was blasting in and creating swells just scary enough to challenge their adrenaline vs logic. The pair evaluating currents, wind and land made the plunge holding hands swam in the flow of water pushing them up and over to another shoreline interspersed with fits of laughter and nervous screams, meanwhile Uncle J oblivious to their big adventure was back at Hobbes enjoying a snooze. Covered in sand, the girls came back smiling with looks of accomplishments on their sunny faces creating a memory not captured by a device.
After what seemed like many hours of relaxation on the beach, they headed north past Roberts Creek and into Sechelt BC where they found a campsite at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park. It was refreshingly cool among the tall fir trees, a stroll to the sandy beach along Sechelt Inlet brought with it more swimming, ending with an enchanting sunset.
As the evening rolled around and dinner was complete, the travelling foursome tired from their busy day of sunshine & water prepared for the ‘first sleep’. Normally the upper bunk is left in its usual 1/2 arrangement as Jesse doesn’t require that much space for his ‘private chambers’, but with the addition of Haley the bunk is folded out to create a ‘full-size’ bed to accommodate 2 adults… in this case 1 teenager & 1 cat. Jesse wasn’t sure what to make of this new situation but eventually as heavy eyelids took over he adapted and welcomed the snuggling with his new bunk-mate.
With an early sunrise, breakfast of fresh fruit on the beach and an early morning dip was the perfect way to start the day. The groove of travelling easily taking over and already routines setting in, this group of four clearly at ease and happy with no schedule and taking their time just being…
After a leisurely morning they packed up and set Hobbes in motion, a visit to the shops of Sechelt was in order. While cruising the sidewalks, the foursome spied a funky burger shop, PKLS Burgers for a delectable hamburger, french fries & the most delicious super thick milkshake with really unique flavour options… Dr. Pepper for Haley!
Then it was on the road again, heading north on Hwy 101. First stop was in Sargeant Bay Provincial Park near Halfmoon Bay, unbeknownst to N&J that this beach was so beautiful, hidden off the highway… how did they miss this perfect spot all the previous times driving this road??? Clearly, it was meant to be for them to explore this new place together….
Such a gorgeous setting, a body of clear blue water tucked in from the exposed expanse of Georgia Strait, much warmer too, making for a pleasant place for a refreshing dip.
Continuing northward passing Secret Cove, the happy travellers entered the Pender Harbour area, specifically the community of Madiera Park. It is here you can find shops, a school, post office, restaurants & the main landing point for marine traffic to the region. A stop at the local food truck for more burgers & milkshakes (no dieting permitted!!!), sitting in the shade of the nearby park was the perfect way to ‘refuel’ & cool down in the sweltering heat.
Pender Harbour is a boater’s paradise, its sheltered design affords a safe refuge from whatever the ‘weather god’ can throw at you out in the strait. Lots of homes dotting the terrain, some with water frontage & docks for their watercraft. In the summer this is a popular place to stop whenever sailing up north to Desolation Sound, a chance to fill up the on-board food supplies.
By chance there was 1 camp spot available at Katherine Lake Regional Park located right on the lake. The lake was perfect for swimming (warm & clear), and they couldn’t believe their luck! Both girls teasing J about how they actually “secured the spot” that just moments before was not available. It would appear that J sweet talked the camp host lady with his charm 😉
Jesse wanting to stretch his legs got a chance to explore the surrounding forest (of course accompanied by his entourage). Needing to find the washrooms which were up a hill they all followed Jesse up a steep path, clamouring up roots and rocks… a 4×4 adventure in flip flops, Jesse led them right to the washrooms they so desperately were searching out.
The two girls found a path along the lake to explore, with fishing rod in hand they came upon a fishing spot far enough from the swimmers and in a deeper part of the lake. Fishing was not successful (thank goodness), the sun setting the girls headed back to camp and prepared dinner with thoughtful banter and lots of chit chat. Meanwhile J struck up a conversation with a next-door ‘very smart kid’ in grade 2 who was quite interested in solar panels and Westfalias LOL!
After a peaceful nights sleep they gathered up the camp and headed to the jewel of the Sunshine Coast… Skookumchuck Narrows. Located near Egmont, the narrows are accessible by a 4km hike through the forest (easy at first, but became much more challenging the further they went). What made the hike more difficult than usual was that Jesse came along for the walk in his travel go-kart which had to be carried over the roots & rock as they neared the attraction. Not wanting to miss out on seeing the spectacular wonder of the waters here… they hustled as fast as they could, sweat streaming down their faces… at times carrying Jesse… putting him back in the cart… pushing the cart… carrying him and the cart… sweat getting in the way… letting him hike on his own… passing people in awe of what they were doing… more sweat and lots of water breaks… The hike takes about 1 hour one-way, they finally made it… and it was worth it! WHEW!!!!
Seeing the massive tidal change up close & personal is mind-boggling, “How could that much water flow that fast for such a long time? Where does it all go?”. To top it off, watching the kayakers drop into this boiling caldron & maneuver their craft using mainly the power of the water and a bit of paddle action to perform all sorts of tricks & agility-intensive actions is fantastic. See the video at the bottom of the post. You need to time your arrival at Skookumchuck to ensure you hit the tide change at the scheduled maximum to get the ‘best’ experience… check out this website to get the schedule.
Returning from the narrows was a rather hot & sticky affair (even Jesse was matted with sweat), after the 8km roundtrip finding a place to camp was paramount. Fortunately N&J had scoped out a forest rec site that was close by during a visit last year… Klein Lake Forest Recreational Campground was only 10-12 kilometres away.
Driving back towards the Egmont turn-off at Hwy 101, they veered sharply left onto a gravel forest service road that ventured back into the bush. A well maintained road (the last visit was during the rainy spring and was somewhat swampy back then, bone dry now), climbed quickly up a steep pathway that was loose in some spots, good thing that Hobbes was now a Syncro (a 4×4 makes the task easy).
Upon arrival it was discovered that ALL the sites were occupied… except one, located across from the lake access (whoo!! that was close). After quickly setting up camp, they made their way to the dock to swim and dangle their legs in the warm water (it was refreshing). The lake was leftover from an earlier era of logging so the bottom was littered with logs & branches as such, but otherwise was just fine for swimming according to J (just float along the top)! No nefarious water life (snakes or leaches) were apparent, some small minnows and a rather large turtle did swim by peeking his little eyes and nose up to check everyone out.
The camp was relatively bug-free considering being deep in the forest, towering trees surrounding them made for subdued light. Dinner was prepared by Haley and N, as nightfall began its daily ritual, temperatures were pleasant after the days hot & humid conditions. Jesse was happily dragging J around the camp on his leash inspecting every conceivable tree within 100 metres, although he wanted to check out a somewhat murky looking pond, he was persuaded to keep his distance (no need to disturb or should it be said ‘wake up’ the skeeters). Sleep came quickly after such an adventure filled day… even Jesse was exhausted after the hike and the many hours cleaning himself.
On the last day of ‘Haley’s Big Coastal Adventure’, sleeping-in was somewhat punctuated by the need to return to Langdale BC to catch the next available ferry back to the mainland. So after some freshly made coffee, tea & hot chocolate they broke camp and started heading back to Whistler.
A few stops along the way (Wheatberries Bakery in Sechelt for some hot drinks, smoothies & delectable goodies) but the impending ferry ride kept them pushing forward, good thing they did… the lineups were immense. It ended up they were going to miss the next schedule ferry (which was due to leave in 1.5 hours, and the following ferry was about 2 hours after that (YIKES!!! …should have booked that reservation). Fortunately Haley’s mom & sister were driving to Whistler and would be passing by Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal in a couple hours… so N & Haley hopped on the ferry as foot passengers and were able to be picked up shortly after (J & Jesse not so fortunate, stayed with Hobbes to await their ferry ride in a few hours). So what to do? Pop the roof on Hobbes, lay back on the bed & snooze while they waited…
Needless to say, all arrived back home safely in Whistler no worse for wear. Another adventure come to a close, an adventure that is seared in the hearts and minds of auntie and uncle that will be looked back on as a special gift of time together and adventure cherishing the bond and expanding the heart with new found love of character and appreciation of the growth and person of their niece Haley.
TO VIEW VIDEO, CLICK ON ‘WATCH ON YOUTUBE‘ LINK (lower left-hand corner of the video)…