We bought a family Local's Pass for Grouse mountain, assuming that Jeff and I would be frequently using the gondola after hiking the Grind or the BCMC, and I'd say we have at least gotten our money's worth. I first took the boys up myself on July 4th and it was actually freezing up there! But not too cold to enjoy some Beaver Tails while watching the Lumberjack show (which is actually pretty funny!).
Oh, and this is an example of what happens on a those rare occasions when my children play on their own for a while, then you finally check on them to see why they were so quiet:
After spending a week at home after our adventure canoe camping, I decided to take the boys on another adventure, to explore more of our beautiful BC July 11th-17th. Jeff had already left the Friday before for a fishing trip in the Haida Gwaii, so it was just me and the boys. I made reservations for the ferry this time, but it was a 2hr ride to Nanaimo, so the boys watched a movie (Star Wars, I think).
Our first stop was Rathtrevor Beach, which was super awesome. We only camped there for 1 night, but we will definitely be coming back here. The weather hadn't warmed up much yet, so we didn't exactly feel like frolicking in the water, but there was a ton of other stuff we found to do.
The campground had a great playground that was surrounded by a BMX pump track and little trails, so the boys just played and played. They also met a new friend named Dennis, that Callum hopes he will meet again when they go to the same University, if he decides to go to UVic. Too cute.
All my kids seem to be good campers, loving the whole campfire thing and no problems sleeping in tents.
After sadly leaving their friend Dennis behind, we were headed out for some island-hopping. You need to take a ferry from Vancouver Island to Denman Island then another ferry from Denman to Hornby Island. The entire trip doesn't actually take that long, it just feels like it, since you drive, wait, ferry, wait, drive, wait, ferry, wait, drive... then camp.
We drove into the Tribune Bay campground feeling a bit disappointed, actually, having left Rathtrevor that exceeded all expectations while Tribune Bay was cramped, crowded, smelly and muddy. We all tried to put on a happy face, though, and grew to like it after a while. The creative playground (mostly built of logs and rope) was a serious social hub for the boys, where they hung out with all the random kids coming and going. We actually ran into a family we knew from White Rock there.
The beach was only a little walk down the road, and on one end of the beach, it was all carved-out rock formations and tidal pools.
The quiet-hours for the campground weren't until 11:00pm, so we actually huddled in the back seat of the van with the iPad and watched the first half of the Lone Ranger (the second half the second night), so the boys had an easier time falling asleep. The next day, I convinced them to come on a hike around Helliwell Park, a gorgeous 5km trail that I enjoyed very much.
After our hike, we stopped at the Hornby Island Market, and although there wasn't much to eat, I had to laugh at the number of potters that had their ceramic goods to sell - I guess everyone dreams of retiring to Hornby to have a pottery studio and mountain bike! We knew that Callum's buddy, Charlie, (from his class at Ross Road), was on the island with his family and cousins, so we managed to meet up with them on the beach. They had skimboards and a paddle board, then there was a guy on the beach who let them all try his "one-wheel".
I kept our meals pretty simple, including a lot of roasted hot dogs or smokies, but we learned that the "natural" ones don't curl up very well for 'spider dogs'.
The next day, we headed to another side of the island, Ford's Cove, where the ocean had carved out cool shapes out of the rocks.
There happened to be a Fish and Chips truck there for a greasy-good lunch.
It certainly was a lovely place, but we weren't all that sad to leave Hornby, but also because I was looking forward to visiting my friend Malaika. It was nearly 2 years ago that she and her family moved to the small town of Cumberland, about 10 minutes inland from Comox, and I thought this was a good chance to see her and her new town. And what an awesome place to live - she says it is a perfect ratio of young, outdoorsy-families (many of whom made very purposefully moved away from the big city for a simpler life), and red-necks (who have never been anywhere else!). Right from the minute we got there, Malaika's son, Waymouth, and my boys hit it off and played non-stop for 3.5 days. We went biked to the BMX track, the waterpark/playground, swam at Comox lake, ate a lot of empanadas at the best Farmers market I've ever been to, hiked around in the trails a bit and there was a lot of trampoline jumping! Great times!
Oh ya, and the night we got there, I bashed my toe on a doorframe - I thought at the time that I might have broken it, but now I know I broke it since it is over a month later and my toe still looks funny and causes me pain. Oh well!
On the Saturday, Jeff actually ferried over to Nanaimo and rode his bike up to meet us in Cumberland. Malaika, Peter and Waymouth made us feel so at home, it was pretty hard to leave, but we left Sunday afternoon in time to get to Parksville for the Sand Sculpture competition. I have to say that Parksville has an incredibly impressive beachside with the best playground and waterpark that I have every seen!
It was a full week of exploring and I felt quite satisfied with all the stuff we were able to see and do. At the start of the trip, I had to decide if I was going to make the kids help me do everything, especially all the campsite set-up and take-down, or if I should just do it myself and let them play. I went with doing it myself, and I think that was for the best. We got home very late Sunday night, (since I could only reserve for the 9:30pm ferry, which was late), so I let the boys have a perfectly chill-out day on Monday, allowing them several hours of electronics since our whole trip was pretty much electronics-free (except for Lone Ranger in the van and Star Wars on the ferry!).