In August 2015 we spent two weeks cruising the British Columbia asphalt: a family road trip back to our old haunts around Vancouver, the lower mainland, and Vancouver Island. Along the way we saw some familiar sites, ate some long-missed food, and caught up with many folks who’ve migrated west in recent years. These are some of the highlights.
On Mountain Passes & Scenic Views
Back when I was “lost in Vancouver” and we moved out and lived there for those short three years, we’d made the drive through British Columbia not-lots-but-enough times that I considered myself fairly familiar with the trek. We’d get up early in the morning and hit the road, be in Salmon Arm for lunch and Vancouver for a late dinner.
Claire was given strict instructions regarding her screen use. “I want you to look at the scenery, not just play Minecraft on your iPod for four hours a day!” And to her credit, she complied with only minor complaint.
We staged a run through the Banff area, lodging with Karin’s cousin nearby for our first night on the road, and having left early enough to avoid the Sunday homeward-bound traffic we landed in Golden for lunch on a trip that included a variety of scenic pit-stops along the way. Like some Norman Rockwell version of a family vacation, I’d pull off at the well-remembered rest stops and we’d all pile out of the car to snap some photos.
On Speedboats & Lake Lots
This leapfrog-like adventure across the province was significantly more leisurely than I remembered from my past West Coast quick runs, and it afforded us multiple opportunities (out and back) to stop along the way and not only check out various points of interest, but also to impose (with open arms, of course) on the hospitality of various family and friends.
The next night we found ourselves checked into the soon-to-be-retirement cottage of Karin’s aunt and uncle in the heart of the Shuswap region near Salmon Arm. They’d bought an elegant home a few short steps from where they’d camped every summer for many years, and (fun fact) the same campsite where we’d wandered back into oh-so-many-years ago after that fateful stroll on the beach involving the moonlight, a diamond ring and some awkward twenty-something versions of ourselves and (another fun fact) the same campsite whence the same aunt and uncle rescued us from the Coquihalla highway when our little car broke down en route back for the wedding a year later.
The lake, in other words, was full of stories and Claire’s first vacation edition nostalgic trip down her parent’s memory lane was only balanced out by the fact that she got to ride in her Great Uncle’s speedboat and go swimming in the crystal clear lake on a beautiful August evening.
On Fruit Farms & Hippie Sandwiches
And as much as we could have parked ourselves beside that lake for the two week duration, we pushed on, leaving Salmon Arm for the last of the mountain passes, blaring past the long-removed toll booth where we’d last driven our little blue car, and into the promised lushness of the Fraser Valley… which was actually pretty brown with drought.
By this point it was pushing one o’clock and having only been on Pacific time for about a day our stomachs had yet to catch up. We hobbled through Hope, but found little… hope or food to sate our hunger, and pressed on.
A half hour later in mild desperation we peeled into Chilliwack where we found ourselves looking for food that met a couple of vacation criteria: (1) not chain and (2) something that Claire would eat.
The result was a healthy indoctrination into the famous laid back lifestyle of British Columbia in the form of a wonderfully delicious restaurant that could be summed up with the three simple words: hippie commune sandwiches. Or, as the short essay on the back of their menu elaborated (and I paraphrase) that the restaurant was the loving creation of a small religious commune near Chilliwack who were passionate about fresh ingredients and good food. I’d most definitely go back, and not only for the fresh ingredients and good food but for the perfect welcome to the lower mainland meal.
Following lunch, we cruised past countless corn stands and signs for fresh berries, and by mid-afternoon we had entered the pre-rush-hour crunch of an all-too-familiar city. We’d made it to Vancouver… and didn’t recognized much of anything.