“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
First news first: Jordan successfully defended his Master’s thesis two weeks ago! He had time for celebratory beer with his labmates before we jumped in the car to kick off a victory lap around Western Canada. In ten days we drove from Regina to Airdrie to Nelson to Vancouver Island and back through Kelowna and Banff to home. Some of you may have seen the highlight reel on our #45hoursoffun hashtag on instagram. Here is a slightly more extended version!
Our first long prairie stretch took us right to the delightful home of my best friend Shae and her husband Riley. We were also lucky enough to overlap with Krista’s visit and had such fun catching up! As well as being a practicing optometrist (whaaat), it turns out Shae is also an exceptional chef. Penny the puppy is a pro at doodle things and stole our hearts.
After a bright and early start the next morning we began our drive through the mountains, down beautiful highway 95 where our brakes became feeble heading into Radium, and over highway 93 into Kimberley. It was neat showing Jordan the Platzl and all our old houses in Kimberley, Marysville, and Wycliffe. We followed memory lane out west towards Nelson, whereupon Rhonda (our fussy gold Rendezvous) had her first meltdown at the top of the Salmo-Creston pass. Opening the hood to allow her to cool down afforded us the opportunity to take in the beautiful lake at the top of the pass, which I interrupted Jordan’s fretting to point out and appreciate. An hour later we made it into Nelson in one piece and drove right out to my Uncle Randy and Auntie Kim’s lake house at 12 Mile. The excellent company, cold beer, and dip in the Kootenay Lake were exactly what we needed after such a long travel day. My cousins Brittany (and boyfriend) and Courtney (and sweet baby) came out for dinner too. So nice to introduce Jordan to more family!
Another early start from Nelson included the heady smell of gasoline when we parked the car for coffee. It did go away, but not before Jordan diagnosed in Rhonda a faulty fuel regulator. Onwards and upwards! And upwards and upwards and upwards… over the Bonanza Pass, down the sharp switchbacks into Osooyos, and over the Sunday Summit and Allison Pass. Rhonda managed herself and it was a gorgeous drive. Finally we made it onto the ferry and short hours later arrived in Ladysmith at Darling and Grandpa’s house. Mom was also there, and new friend Jane from Australia (who was completely charming). A few drinks and late into the night we made it to bed and slept like logs.
On Wednesday, Mom, Jordan, and I traveled down to Victoria (ditching Rhonda at a dealership on the way). We had such a weddingy day planned! After dropping Jordan off at the Victoria Art Gallery, Mom and I found Blush Bridal Boutique – the most adorable bridal store with the most phenomenal staff. Candace helped us pick out and sort through a hundred pounds of lace, chiffon, beading, tulle, and embroidery until she found me a clear winner. In the evening we met our wedding photographer Kim for a sunset engagement shoot at Brentwood Bay… followed by an exceptional dinner at the Brentwood Bay restaurant with Mom. What a perfect day!
Bright and early the next morning the three of us took the quick road up the hill to our wedding venue, Sea Cider. We hadn’t seen the venue before and it was exactly like we imagined it would be! Our wedding planner is such a sweetheart and the grounds are perfect. It’s so easy to envision how our wedding day will feel next summer… and I’m already full of sappy feelings!
The feelings didn’t stop when we left Victoria – that night Dad got into town and we all had a lively celebration of Jordan’s success and his new M.Sc. Jordan fit so seamlessly into Regina when we moved here for my program, and it is so exciting to see all the networking, the hard thinking, the working evenings, and the caffeine pay off for him.
On Saturday, Mom and Dad packed us and the dogs up onto the boat and we set off on day one of our boating adventure. On our first stop at Telegraph Harbour a dog named Tucker helped tie our boat to the dock. On the way to Saltspring Island we let off a crab trap full of chicken to pick up the next day. We docked in Ganges, one of my favorite places to visit – a busy marina with boats of all sizes, seaplanes, herons, and an artsy little town center. We had drinks and dinner at The Oystercatcher against a backdrop of live music.
Sunday morning began with a visit to a Ganges gallery and delicious Saltspring Island coffee. First order of business on the boat was rescuing the crab trap, where we had TWO absolutely ENORMOUS crabs waiting to fight with us! Mom and Jordan wrestled them out of their labyrinth and we put them in a bucket for dinner. On our way to Genoa Bay we explored the lazy inlets of Prevost Island (where I will retire to be a painter) and the breezy cliffs of Russell Island (where we harassed tiny crabs in tidal pools), and tried our best to catch up to a pod of whales in the Sansum Narrows. Once at Genoa, we spent a lovely evening with steak, crab, cider, and wine. Last summer I wrote about the bioluminescent waters in the bay – they were there again this year. We laid out on an isolated spot on the dock and gazed at the stars above while we dipped our fingers into the stars below. Magical.
On Monday we traveled through the Sansum Narrows back to Ladysmith. Alli and Chris were down for a few days so we had a lovely afternoon in Darling’s garden visiting and fantastic spaghetti for dinner – easiest way to my heart! Mom and Dad took off after dinner and we had Darling to ourselves for a few hours before our early bedtime.
The long journey home began the next morning, over the ferry, through the Greater Vancouver traffic, up and up and up over the Coquihalla Pass (fast!!! 120kph on BC highways now!!!), and up and up again over the Penask Summit. Rhonda survived despite herself, and I found the twinned highway very nice. Finally we came down into Kelowna, home of Uncle Brian (and Stacey, Alli, and Chris, who were still on the Island when we drove through). Brian treated us to a wonderful evening; we had dinner at the neighboring golf course and then wandered through the golf course back up to his condo for Japanese vodka (oof). An evening very, very well spent!
From Kelowna we drove the most beautiful Okanogan highway through Sycamous and Revelstoke, full of gorgeous blue lakes, corn fields, vineyards, and mountain views. The Rogers Pass, our last major mountain pass, was such a treat as well – just beautiful. Finally we made it to Lake Louise, where Rhonda had her second meltdown and we ditched her to shuttle up to the lake. We had an hour or two up there to take in the mountain air, explore the Chateau Lake Louise, and be a little bit touristy. By the time we made it down to Rhonda she had recovered her sensibility and we drove the last stretch to Banff. Pasta for a late dinner, coffee in the heart of town, and so much time spent poking around in a geode store… a wonderful evening to end our vacation. We drove the long, easy prairie road to Regina the next day with good spirits and eagerness to be home.
Writing up this blog post, my heart has been so full of love for our friends and family scattered across Canada. We have people who would welcome us into their homes in just about every province in the country. We are so lucky to have all of you in our lives!