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After our winter as skibums in BC, we moved onto our trailer for our next adventure in covid summer 2021. After a quick one-week reno of the trailer, in late April we headed to the coast of BC in search of milder weather just as increased covid restrictions rolled out making interprovincial travel challenging.
We had mapped out a route that would see us visit destinations on the coast, Vancouver Island and the interior – mostly based around mountain biking. Since Paul would be working full-time, access to internet was paramount and we mostly stayed at private campgrounds. Ella would continue with her synchronous online class and the boys switched to “Mom school”. I taught online until April, but then became chief trip planner after that.
The plan was to stay in each location for a week so that Paul could work and we would still have time to see the area together. In May and June, we had a good routine of work/school in the mornings, adventuring in the afternoons and more work for Paul in the evenings. We did have to make some changes to our itinerary when the interprovincial travel restrictions were introduced. Sadly our time on the Sunshine Coast was cut, but we did end up spending a lot of time in Whistler and Squamish when it was very quiet, which was sweet.
The first 6 weeks were definitely spring camping – lots of rain and our trailer heater on a lot. In mid-June that abruptly changed to extreme heat leading into the horrendous forest fire season and smoky skies. Thankfully none too close to us, like in the case of the Christie Mountain fire that we witnessed in Penticton last year.
After 7 months in BC this year and 2 months in BC last summer, we are feeling like honorary BC residents. We definitely can see ourselves living out there at some point in our lives. Between the mountains and the ocean, the hiking, skiing, biking and relaxed lifestyle, it is hard not to fall in love with British Columbia.
You can read about our 2020 2-Month BC Roadtrip here.
BC Roadtrip Itinerary & Highlights
Whistler is one of Canada’s most popular destinations for good reason. The outdoors are so accessible, the Village is charming and there are so many things to do. Visiting in shoulder season during the travel restrictions made it even better because this always bustling town was super quiet.
We stayed at the Riverside RV Park located right in town and were just a quick bike ride into the Village along the Valley trail. Mountain biking around Whistler is epic, but one of the things I love the most is their amazing trail network through the town – it has to be the most bike-friendly place I have ever been to in Canada. The boys would finish their school work and then bike into the Village to the skate or bike park and loved that independence.
Highlights of our time in Whistler (almost 3 weeks) included mountain biking (especially at Lost Lake), the Whistler skate park and bike skills park, learning at the Squamish-Lil’Wat Cultural Centre, Disc Golf, creme brulee donuts, the best sushi, hanging out at Rainbow Park on the lake, the Whistler Bike Park, some great hikes and me getting my first vaccine. Gavin got a major bike upgrade, I had my first big bike fall of the season and we got a visit from my brother. You can read about our best of Whistler here.
Squamish and Porteau Cove
We managed to score camping reservations at the very in demand Porteau Cove Provincial Park, located right on Howe Sound (entrance to the Pacific) and right outside Squamish. This area embodies the “Sea to Sky” label with snow-capped mountains rising up out of the ocean. Many of the campsites at Porteau Cove are located directly on the ocean with stunning views.
Porteau Cove is located less than an hour from Vancouver and just 10 minutes from Squamish. The location allowed Paul to do some work on site in Vancouver and we loved being in a provincial park.
Highlights of our time in Porteau and Squamish included lots of mountain biking, learning all about mining at the Britannia Mine Museum, hiking the ever-present “Chief”, Disc Golf, walking the Porteau beach, dill pickle pizza, Paul getting vaccinated, a trip into Vancouver and a visit from good family friends. You can read about our favourite things to do in Squamish with kids here.
Northern Vancouver Island
Last year we visited Vancouver Island for the first time, visiting Hornby Island, Tofino and the Port Renfrew area. This year we wanted to get off the beaten path and opted for a week in the more remote northern part of the island, basing ourselves around Telegraph Cove and Port McNeill.
Being May, we almost had the place to ourselves and enjoyed our campsite right on the ocean at Alder Bay Park & Marina. It true Vancouver Island fashion, it rained most of our stay, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the amazing wildlife and views. I have never seen so many bald eagles in my life!
Highlights included a visit to Telegraph Cove, an old sawmill town build on boardwalks over the ocean that has been restored. We learned so much about whales at the small, but impressive whale museum there. We took a ferry to Alert Bay, a fishing village and indigenous cultural centre. We learned so much at the U’Mista Cultural Centre especially about the role of potlatches to the Kwakwaka’wakw and saw many gorgeous totem poles. We visited the island of Sointula, with its interesting Finnish history. The highlight of Sointula was biking around the island and whale watching from the beach at Bere Point (which has an incredible campground). Lastly, the kids loved going to a drive-in movie at a shopping mall parking lot in Port McNeill and they got their first shots.
Last year we didn’t love Tofino, much to the shock of others. It was cold, rainy, crazy busy and expensive. But, we thought we better give it a second chance, especially when we scored an oceanview campsite at Bella Pacifica.
This year we enjoyed our stay more. The beaches are spectacular, the forest so lush and the scenery wild and untamed.
Highlights included the best tacos at Tacofino, tasting the brews at Tofino Brewing, visiting the quieter town of Ucluelet and walking the West Coast Trail, walks on the beach, spotting banana slugs, biking along the beach and watching the surfers. The lowlight was rubbing our trailer up against a tree stump at the Long Beach campground in Pacific Rim National Park (like really rubbing that required Parks staff to chainsaw the stump so we could get off).
On route towards our stops in interior BC, we stopped in Oliver in the Okanagan to soak up some sunshine and warmth. This area contains Canada’s only semi-arid (ie. desert) region. We stayed at the Lakeside Resort with a lovely view of Tuc-el-Nuit lake. We arrived just as cherry season was beginning and we feasted on delicious cherries and even cherry juice.
Highlights included visiting the very family-friendly Covert Family Farms Estate Winery, learning about this unique region of Canada at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, being awed by the Osoyoos Desert Model Railway, discovering that you can buy delicious samosas alongside cherries here. Lowlights included getting a hole in our SUP (don’t leave it near your trailer water heater!) and a bike ride that turned into a hike-a-bike.
Most people outside BC likely haven’t heard about this little town and I think its residents prefer it that way. It’s out of the way location midway across the BC interior at the US border, makes you work to get there. It has a big reputation in the mountain biking world for its trails and super cute town. After visiting, we were hooked and definitely saw the appeal. We loved the amazing trail network and the town truly is picturesque. We stayed at the Lions Club campground – what a great service to visitors.
Highlights include great biking, being surprised by a bear at our campsite (maybe that is a lowlight!), meeting up with friends from Guelph, disc golf, hiking to Mount Roberts, learning about the town’s history at the Museum, another great skate and bike jump park and of course the food trifecta of amazing ice cream, beer and baking.
Nelson is the regional hub of the Kootenays and is another mountain biking superstar. It has loads of cute shops and foodie restaurants and an awesome Park with a skate park, bike skills park and disc golf all in one spot. Located on the west arm of Kootenay Lake, its BOB (big orange bridge) is the city’s major landmark.
Highlights of our visit included biking of course, swimming in the frigid waters of the local beach, visiting an original Diary Queen location, staying in the awesome central municipal campground, thrifting with Ella, the skate and bike park, disc golf, getting my second shot and our amazing day trip to Gwillim Lakes.
We had to work hard to get to Gwillim Lakes located in Valhalla Provincial Park – a 2-hour drive from Nelson, half of that along rough forestry roads and even a section driving up a creek! And that was just to get to the parking lot, where we had to wrap our car in chicken wire to keep the porcupines from eating our truck’s electrical. After a challenging 16 km hike, through quite a lot of snow (it was late June) we made it to the most stunning glacier lakes I have ever seen. Next time we will bring our camping gear and spend a night up there.
By late June, the BC heat wave was in full force and we had resorted to making use of our trailer’s A/C to keep cool. We were headed to a rustic campground without electricity, but detoured to Kaslo for a few days to enjoy some A/C. Kaslo is a super cute, tiny town on Kootenay Lake with a great brewery and one of the best taco restaurants I have been to outside of Mexico (Taqueria El Corazon) where we celebrated our 17th anniversary.
Next stop was Mt Abriel Recreation Site where we were meeting up with my brother’s fam. I love BC Rec Sites – they are no frills campgrounds, often in more remote locations, require no reservations and they are cheap ($15/night). Mt Abriel is a newer Rec Site centered around mountain biking and they have developed a pretty great trails network (with more constantly being built) including a sweet jump course. With no electricity, we tried to stay cool in the very lovely Upper Arrow Lake and spent our days biking of course.
Highlights included lots of great family time with our favourite little people, getting to use my new bike, the boys getting bike jump lessons from a pro, daily beach time and visiting the gorgeous and wild Halfway Hot Springs (clearly visiting hot springs is smart when it is 35+ out!).
We had such a great time in “Revy” last year that we knew we had to include it on our itinerary this year. This was the second part of our time with Steve and family and this year we were staying at the Revelstoke Campground by Pinnacle instead of the Mt Revelstoke National Park campground that we stayed at last year (couldn’t get a reservation). By now it was July and the campground offered movie nights, an ice cream store and kids galore – we had to drag the boys away from the park each day.
Highlights included more great family time, more mountain biking of course, the boys biking at Revelstoke Bike Park, beach time at Blanket Creek Provincial Park, hiking to the Asulkan Glacier in Glacier National Park and Paul and the kids getting their second shots.
Almost three months after leaving Golden, we were so excited to return to this place that had become so special to us. By now the fires were starting to affect visibility and the mountains were very hazy as we drove into town. We stayed in the Golden Municipal Campground (have I said how much I love these community campgrounds!). Located just down the street from the skate park and an outdoor swimming pool, the kids could come and go as they pleased.
While there were lots of highlights, the major lowlight was me crashing on my bike, breaking my collarbone. It really does make for a good story now. I was biking by myself (which I never do), encountered a bear early on, was feeling quite fast on my new bike and then crashed right near the end of an epic ride from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort into town.
I knew right away I broke it, but couldn’t get ahold of Paul so had to call 911 myself. I went into shock so couldn’t walk the 1 km to the road, but after 45 min, I was able to walk halfway and the paramedics met me. My then the pain was really kicking into high gear (worse pain of my life; worse than childbirth!). The Golden hospital was great and were able to organize for my surgery in Banff two days later.
We had been meant to do a 5-day backpacking trip in Kootenay National Park called “Rockwall” two days later. Our bags were packed, food and meals all laid out and lots of reading and research done. It was the first big disappointment of my injury, with the quick realization that I wouldn’t be able to do our August West Coast Trail backpacking trip either. That meant giving up all 3 backpacking trips we had planned for this summer (first cancelled due to covid and the next two, due to my injury).
Aside from that major excitement, the boys really enjoyed biking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and we loved the many different trail networks in the area. We did return to Golden two weeks later and spent a wonderful day at Kicking Horse, taking the gondola up to the top, visiting the resident Grizzly, Boo, eating at our fav coffee shop (Double Black) and celebrating Miles’ 10th birthday.
The lemonade with my injury meant that we had an unexpected week in Canmore with Steve & fam. It was so nice to have a house to stay in while I recovered from surgery and of course we loved the extra time with the girls.
I spent my days resting and learning to do things with one hand (thankfully I still had my dominant one!). We put the boys in a mountain biking camp to get them active, Ella concentrated on her summer school course and Paul got some stable internet to work for a change.
After a week, we moved back onto the trailer and headed down to Fernie, which would be our last destination of this trip before our long road east. It was easy to see why people love Fernie – so many great outdoor activities and another super cute mountain town. While I couldn’t do as much as I would have liked, we still got a good feel for the town.
Highlights included mountain biking for Paul (after a week at bike camp, the boys were pooped), tasting the brews at Fernie Brewing Co, enjoying the views from Island Lake Lodge (and wishing I could hike those mountains), cliff jumping at Silver Spring Lake, eating tasty ice cream and bagels and more skate parks, bike parks and disc golf.
Other than the clavicle fracture, it was an absolutely wonderful 3-months travelling around BC. We loved our trailer, which was the perfect size for us with a great layout. We thrived living in a small space and feel fortunate to have had these 3-months to explore beautiful BC. Our desire to be among the mountains is even stronger and we could definitely see ourselves living there someday.
I am the dreamer and schemer, but Paul has to be commended for willingly going along with my plans with a smile. Working out of a small trailer with sketchy wifi and your family within a few feet isn’t easy, but he has focus. He also had to balance work with my constant desire to hike, bike or sightsee. Photos show all the wonderful views and adventures, but not the challenges along the way; balancing working and travelling ain’t easy. But so worth it!
August saw us return to Ontario (driving from BC to Ontario in 3 very long days) and lots of visiting with family and friends.
The kids went to camp for 2 weeks and Paul hiked the West Coast Trail (Vancouver Island) with friends.
September brought us back into our house, back to work and school and regular life (as regular as life can be with covid!). Ella entered high school and we have promised her we will stay put for the next few years. Of course that doesn’t mean we are giving up travel entirely; we are simply switching to short trips during school holidays. We already have Christmas and March Break trips booked and a plan for a summer 2022 roadtrip.