Seventeen giant windmills stand before us at the North Cape, and suddenly we get it: this tiny province is a windy place! With gale-force headwinds, our six days of bicycle touring are not quite as easy as advertised, but we successfully pedal Prince Edward Island from tip to tip, buoyed by the camaraderie of our tour group and our two professional guides.
A cod-killer is a good thing, while a smatchy brine is not. Newfoundland’s rural fishing villages are long-abandoned, but the stories are not lost. A fisherman born in Kerley’s Harbour, Captain Bruce educates and entertains us with tales of everyday life in the enchanting coastal communities near Trinity, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best preserved historic towns.
Safe yet playful river rafting, spectacular alpine walking, wildflower meadows and waterfalls, comfortable cabins to stay in, congenial new friends: check! Destinations, dates, and companions are a mystery until the last minute, as tour companies scramble to work around an evacuation alert for Clearwater and a two-week wildfire-related closure of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Why is there no one here at the far end of Maligne Lake, the most famous body of water in Jasper National Park? Gorgeous glacier views, interesting folded rocks. A trail that’s not-too-hard but not-too-easy, 16 km (return) on an enjoyable grade following a stream up through the forest.
Instead, thousands of visitors board tour boats to cruise mid-lake to Spirit Island, a well-marketed patch of land with about a dozen trees. Have you guessed that we prefer the lower half of Maligne Lake?
The Tourism Whistler web site lists forty-eight summer activities. From the list, our multi-generational group chooses seven sports – a heptathlon. We hike, bike, paddle, swim, climb, slide, and zip. Snow-capped peaks, creeks with views at every bend, wildflowers, wild animals, bucket list-worthy thrills: Whistler, a mountain resort two hours north of Vancouver, is truly a family-friendly, multi-sport mecca.
Joining us on this Whistler-week are our son Alec, his wife Angie, and their three children, Nathan (14), Scarlett (12), and Robin (11). Nick (18), our oldest grandchild, comes, too; the rest of his family are occupied elsewhere with work, summer school, or dragon boating.
Who can forget the first time they walk onto the endless sands of Long Beach? In 1970 hordes of hardy hippies, draft dodgers, and surfers would make the drive over a long dirt road to a glorious tent city on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We were there in our paisley shirts, with two naked toddlers in tow. Beach camping in driftwood shelters, drag races on the hard-packed sand, huge bonfires – forbidden now by Parks Canada regulations, and firewood costs seven dollars for a little bundle. Can two old hippies go with the flow?
One hundred little islands and rocks scattered like pieces of a broken jigsaw puzzle in the centre of Barkley Sound. Open-ocean waves, swaying kelp forests, and a maze of quiet lagoons. Curious seals and shy minks. The piercing shrill of the bald eagle and the haunting call of the loon. Ancient trees, archeological sites, and colourful tidepools to explore. “Totally” is our guide’s favourite word, and we totally agree: the Broken Group Islands four-day kayak tour is a totally awesome, completely classic west coast experience.