AFTER THE CANADIAN CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIP.
ARTICLE #14: BRITISH COLUMBIA PART 4- LEAVING THE WESTERN MAINLAND.
Are the best lessons in life written and educated to the upcoming generation, or are the best lessons out in the wild to be experienced? It's in both methods of course, but depending on the individual the lessons that you read about might not translate the same way as experiencing the situation first hand. We all have our methods of learning. Some might believe that what they’ve read in a book or heard from someone else is enough of a measure to attain information or be cautionary towards potential hazards. I agree with that. Knowledge is key to further yourself in your field of expertise and becomes the necessary tools for the nature of what you apply yourself. There are times where your base of knowledge will get challenged, and I believe that’s where experience becomes the classroom. You're faced with a challenge that will exercise the fundamental tools you gained through education, and then it’ll challenge you. They're forms of adversity that will place you on the fine line of formal education and your common fundamental knowledge. These are the toolboxes that we need to further ourselves in the course of our lives. This is the ongoing learning sessions that I’ve been attending for as long as I can remember.
Oh, What a beautiful view. I was spending my evening watching a sunset going down the western islands from Porteau Provincial Park in the Howe Sound off Highway 99 north of Vancouver city. Then all of a sudden I turned to my side and noticed that there’s a train coming my way. I completely freak out. At this point, I realized that I was dreaming and I was in fact in my tent listening to a train passing by at 2:00 am in the morning. I can’t recall the last time my heart pumped this hard, but I didn’t feel the need too since it was horrifying to deal with. I couldn’t believe I was experiencing this. I laid my head back onto my pillow and blocked my ears till the train rolled by. I knew that there was a probability that there could have been a train passing by that night, but I didn’t want to materialize the idea in my mind. After the train drifted away from my aural threshold I tried to relax and get back to sleep. The next morning proved to be interesting since I had Whistler as my destination of the day. I woke well into the morning and with a tremendous effort I made my way out of my tent. I went for a stroll on the nearby beach, and the coastal atmosphere seemed to help gain some internal energy. I packed all of my gear and headed Northbound on Highway 99 towards my destination of the day. Highway 99 is one of a few highways that I would love to have a legitimate sports car and have a little bit of fun, within legal limits of course. These gorgeous coastal roads with twist and turns and areas that had new asphalt laid down were tremendous fun. The landscape was beautiful with the mountains and the islands lying over a massive body of water that is the Howe Sound. I made my way to Squamish again to top up my personal energy tank and my car’s actual gas tank.
I decided to stop at a park just outside of town called Alice Lake Provincial Park. This seemed like a great place to change the air tube for my tire on my bicycle. When I got into the area, I couldn’t resist having a swim in the beautiful lake nearby. There are simple pleasures in life and having the ability to swim in a lake surrounded my mountains is one of my top ones. Some of the bodies of water are frigid in the Rockies, but this water was just right. A few laps in and my body was at an ideal temperature. I like to stand in the water; I’m not much for long distance swimming. Having the cool water relaxes me. With my late morning therapeutic session, I put my bike mechanic hat on and got my rear tire straighten out. With a new tube in the tire and fully inflated it was time to make my way north. Back on the curvy but fun Highway 99, I drove to my third stop of the day, Brandywine Falls. This gorgeous 229-foot waterfall is a full-on stunner. The lookout point that I reached offered a tremendous view of the waterfall and great views of Daisy Lake and the surrounding mountains. It was a gorgeous morning with the right temperature and no clouds in the sky. After taking a few images of the waterfall and looking at the previews, it was clear that this place was special. I took some time to gaze at the natural marvel and with the slow build up of tourists that were crowding the lookout area, I decided it was time to leave. Onto Highway 99 I was finally getting closer to my end destination. Whistler is a must stop place if you're into outdoor activities. When I was coming in, there was an area where you can do bungee jumping. I considered it, but since I had to watch my finances, I decided I would have to save that event for another time. As I was making my way into the village of Whistler, I was starting to see why there’s an average of two million people who come and visit this location annually. Being a host for the 2010 Winter Olympics, this place is gorgeous. Whistler Blackcomb looks like a skier/snowboarders dream. In the summer the sport changes to what I was coming into which was the downhill mountain bike competition called Crankworx. There was a massive amount of people who were attending the competition. It was quite challenging to find parking, especially when there are areas that had height restrictions. One area, in particular, had an overpass that was under eight feet tall which normally wasn't an issue for my car. That wasn’t the case since I had my roof rack and my bike standing upright on it. I was about to pass underneath this overpass knowing well that I might not make it and with kind pedestrians yelling at me not to proceed because my bike was, in fact, going to hit the bridge, I sincerely thanked the pedestrians and continued looking for alternative parking. With some time and patience, I managed to find a spot next to a skatepark and close to outskirts of the village.
With my bicycle on the ground and my camera gear loaded into my small backpack, I was ready to go. The village is stunning to walk through. You have all sorts of stores and restaurants, pubs, and cafes to hang out. With the amount of people that were there, it was surprising how relaxing it was. I got a few video clips of the area for my vlog and made my way through the end of the village. I saw a sign indicating trails that are within the area, so naturally, that’s where I continued my journey. The trails were mostly paved, but there were some areas where you could go off into the woods. All of this helped me forget about the dreadful evening with the train that ran through my dreams and into my reality. I wondered into the trails till I got to a road which indicated to me that I was at the end. I made my way towards the residential area of the town and couldn’t help but think how fortunate these people are to live in such a beautiful location like this. While making my way to my car I noticed the skatepark that was next to the parking lot. With little to no experience riding skateparks, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to start. I hung out in the area where the main feature of the park was a bowl. I tried half a dozen times to make it through the first part of the bowl run, eventually to the point where common sense kicked in my head, and I grabbed my skateboard and retired the ridiculous idea. With everything loaded onto the car I made my way towards the campsite that I was going to use for the evening, Whistler RV Park Campground. With a steadily uphill drive to the campground, this is a great location to come too for mountain landscape camping. The rest of the day was spent exploring around the area. There was an alarming amount of gunshots that seemed to be quite close to the campsite so I made my way back to home base. I didn’t know where or who would be firing rounds of gunshots within the area. My neighbors that evening noticed them as well. I’m sure it was nothing to be alarmed about but it wasn’t something that happened much at all throughout my trip. I made a fire that evening, backed up all my content to my external hard drive and went to bed. The next morning was going to be a hustling one. Being my last day on the mainland, I was heading to the ferry and then towards Vancouver Island. I had my ferry crossing already booked, so it was just a matter of getting all my stuff packed and head on the road straight down south to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. It was looking ideal for another beautiful day with the sun coming from the East and the temperature getting to that comfortable summer heat. I got all my gear packed and headed straight to Squamish to get some breakfast and a caffeinated beverage and then drove towards the city of Vancouver. I jumped onto Highway 1 and then drove through Burnaby, went across Annacis Island, and then finally got onto highway 17 which brought me straight towards the ferry terminal.
The last time I was driving to a ferry terminal I had zero time to lose. I was surprised that I even got onto the boat from Port Aux Basques in Newfoundland to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. This time it was a little different. I did, in fact, get to the terminal with fifteen minutes to spare and that was a comforting feeling. I was very excited for this part of the trip. I had heard tremendous things about Vancouver Island with the vast amount of various landscape. I loaded the car into the ferry and grabbed my laptop and headphones and settled into the two-hour crossing to Swartz Bay. The water conditions were excellent. My laptop didn’t get touched because there was so much to look at throughout the crossing. There are a bunch of islands within the route with cottages and boats sailing around the area. It was beautiful in the sense that the ferry rides I had been on in the past never had this kind of landscape to look at so it was a real treat. Two hours flew by, and I made it on the shores of Vancouver Island. With everyone queuing I was ready to see some highway again. The first stop of the day was going to be the city of Victoria. Located south of Swartz Bay, Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. With a population of 80,032, this city has a lot to offer for visitors. You have the float planes that land in the Upper harbor with massively beautiful boats docked alongside Wharf Street. The Parliament Building is an architectural marvel to look at. There was a lot of activity that was going on the day I came in with Concession stands and outdoor acts bringing life to a beautiful area. My first stop in the city was Beacon Hill Park. Named after the two beacons on Mount Beacon, this park offers different types of natural features and also exhibits a statue for “Mile 0” for the 8000 km (4970 miles) Trans-Canada Highway, a highway I spent a lot of time on in the past two months. Next on the list was Fisherman’s Wharf. With restaurants and live music hosted on the wharfs, this was a great location to get a bite to eat. Afterward, I took a little stroll alongside all the boats that were docked nearby. It reminded me a little of back home, minus the city in the background and float planes landing in the water. My last stop was going to be Holland Point Park. I wanted to get some shots of beaches with the Pacific Ocean, and this location provided me with that opportunity. My visit in Victoria was short but sweet. At this point of the trip, I was tired of seeing cities. With the last shots of the day done, it was time to head to my end destination. A dear friend of mine and her mother was immensely kind enough to offer their home as a base camp for the time I was going to spend on Vancouver Island which I felt very thankful. With Victoria slowly becoming a faded image in my rear view mirror it was time to get onto the Malahat highway and make my way north towards my end destination.
In the course of my trip there had been tremendous opportunities to attain different forms of challenges that would provide lessons large or small. The little things like making sure that I would be leaving a location early to reach my scheduled time to my other location, or having a full tank of gas even when I still had half a tank left. These might seem minuscule in our normal day to day life, but on trips like this, those routine tasks can mean being left on an island for twelve hours more than you want to or stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Then there were the major lessons like taking time for myself and investing in my mental state as much, and if not more, than my physical state. Having the time to break away from the noise that is your work life has proven to be beneficial. When you don’t have job tasks to think about or meetings to attend there’s an opportunity that opens up in front of you, time that can be invested into yourself. I understand that we have to work to have the comfortable lives we hold, but there has to be a point where we can slow down and make time for ourselves to gain a reset moment, a time out. We're all a work in progress, and we’ll eventually learn what truly works for us. For me taking the chance to travel across the country has enlightened my mental self and that’ll become a lesson that I’ll use for the rest of my life.