I found a new happy place. It’s always been there. Sitting in our backyard. Waiting for us to explore.
We’d been there before but as it turns out we hadn’t even scratched the surface. So this summer we discovered and explored the Sunshine Coast. We dug a little deeper and boy did we have fun.
Just a hop from the bustle of Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is a short 50-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to Gibson’s at its southern tip. The boat trip transports us to another world. It’s laid back. Peaceful. And feels as if we’ve stepped back in time. A simpler time.
This is what we need – time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other.
We wind our way north to Halfmoon Bay, our new home for a few days. We’re virgin Air BNB’ers and we’re thrilled with what we find. A secluded oasis. The owners have gone all out – baking cupcakes, stocking the fridge with juice, milk and eggs. We find nuts and granola sitting on the shelf. We feel right at home. Can we move in?!
In place of a television we find a frog-filled pond next to our sun drenched deck. Our little man is in heaven, gently poking frogs and giggling with delight as they leap into the water below. We throw a ball for the resident black labrador and feel our stress melt away.
It’s a magical sunny day so we don’t waste any time, packing our hiking gear into the car and heading down to Smuggler Cove Provincial Park. We strike hiker’s gold. Smuggler’s Cove is paradise. Rocky ledges overlook stunning views of Georgia Straight. The colour of the water reminding me of the mediterranean.
The cove is a feast for the eyes, tiny islands dotted throughout the clear green waters, Arbutus trees hanging over the ocean, anchored sailboats drinking in the serenity and Texada Island visible in the distance. I wish we had our stand up paddle board in our backpack – next time, I think. We find a rocky outcrop to enjoy an afternoon beer.
Our little man drinks his juice but doesn’t stay still for long. He finds rock pools teaming with tiny crabs and purple starfish. We stay a while, we could stay forever.
We hike back to the car and spot three small garter snakes, sunning themselves in the summer sun. The trail is a mix of gravel through thick west coast forest and a boardwalk protecting the bog below. Frogs croak and birds sing. The bog is alive. We spy for beavers, evidence of their “building” abounds.
We enjoy take out pizza on the beach in the evening from the Halfmoon Bay Cafe. The owner tells me her and her husband visited this sunny coast for a weekend from Portland and never left. It’s a familiar theme in these parts. Halfmoon Bay is the best babysitter ever. We relax and enjoy each other’s company as the sun goes down. Little man potters around digging sand, throwing stones and making friends on the beach.
The next day we drive north to hike out to Skookumchuck Narrows. Mr. G and I hiked here years ago and it remains one of our favourite trails. We’re keen to share it with our little man. Skookumchuck is a Chinook First Nation’s word meaning “strong” or “turbulent water”. Forming the entrance of Sechelt Inlet the narrows form one of the most beautiful and powerful ocean rapids you’ll ever see.
Each day ocean tides force over 200 billion gallons of water on a three metre tide with speeds exceeding 16 knots. It’s one of the fastest tidal rapids in the world and we strike it at high tide on a warm sunny morning. Our little man enjoys throwing rocks into the fast water. He scares his mum as he climbs near vertical granite walls and spots jellyfish in the fertile ocean below.
We stop at the Skookumchuck Bakery for lunch on the hike out. I feel as if I need to pinch myself and check if I’m imagining this gem of a cafe hidden in the woods offering hikers sustenance and a place to rest.
We savour our time on this little piece of supernatural BC coast. We make pancakes on the BBQ and pick wild blackberries.
It’s been just what we needed after a few months of too much work and not enough play. Travel shakes us up and wakes us from our daily slumber. From the busy-ness of life. It strips us back to our true, raw selves exposing our hopes and dreams which can be buried under the monotony of daily life and chores. Which is why we crave it.
We go away to find ourselves. To find each other. Every time we seek adventure I fall in love with my husband, and myself, all over again.
It gives us a chance to properly talk. When we’re travel drunk we let our guards down and dare to dream the way we did when we were teenagers. We talk about our future. What’s next for us? Long term travel? Building a cabin in the woods? We don’t know yet. So, we’ll keep going.
We’ll slow down as often as we can. Nature and adventure have never failed us – they’ll give us the answers we seek if we look hard enough.