One of my goals this year was to travel more locally, explore areas close to home in order to help the budget but still get out and discover new places! Goal achieved and original hypothesis proven: it is worth it!
Being a newbie on the West Coast (it's almost been 1 year since I moved here so I guess soon I won't be able to call myself that) is amazing because there is so much awesomeness and variation in location close by, I still have so many weekend getaways ahead of me. A few vacays I've taken this summer are briefly photo documented (for your enjoyment, I hope) below.
Weekend #1: WASHINGTON
I went on a ladies weekend to a trailer park in Washington to stay at my friend's family trailer and it was conveniently close to Mount Baker so we took a lovely drive up the mountain one day, exploring waterfalls, rivers, winding roads and mountain tops.
Mount Baker is a huge mountain and living in Vancouver we can see it from many locations around the city including other mountain tops I've climbed and being so close by I had to take a drive up the massive mountain. The lake above (aptly called Picture Lake) was on top of the mountain (or what seemed like the top). The clouds are touching the peaks around us and this was May but there was a lot of snow. It was a different climate than the one we can driven from 1 hour earlier.
There was a lot of snow and A LOT of fog, or maybe it was clouds? Probably clouds because one minute it was extremely thick fog and then next it was bright and sunny. It's a weird feeling when a cloud passes through where you are. This was at the very top of the mountain, and we pretty much couldn't see a thing. Except this.
S'mores too! We were "camping" after all :)
Weekend #2: GARIBALDI LAKE
Ever since moving to Van, people have talked about Garibaldi Lake in passing, how they hiked to it and camped overnight to continue on to hike Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk. I'd seen pictures and was blown away by it's beauty. I had to experience it for myself.
Without proper camp gear, I managed to convince an out of province friend to do the day hike only with me to the lake. After underselling the difficulty, 18km later, she was somehow still my friend and we were both glad we pushed ourselves to go the distance. The forest was mystical on this cloudy day.
Arriving at the lake after a 9k hike was breathtaking (in all possible ways). The water was so turquoise I shrieked with delight I thought it was so beautiful, I'm cool like that.
Yeah that's a glacier.
So the verdict is: GO. Even if you can only do the day hike like we did (make sure you leave yourself lots of time, it takes at least 5 hours plus you want to chill at the lake) it is worth it. Next time I go back, I want to camp.
The drive up to Garibaldi Lake is one the of my favourites.
Weekend #3: VANCOUVER ISLAND
Vancouver Island feels like a whole different world to me. It is much bigger than it seems (I don't look at it on a map very often but I'm always surprised how large it is!) and I've only explored a small portion. So much to see!
I will never be tired of a ferry with views like this. The wind was fun too.
The last time I came to Victoria it was for a total of about 3 hours so this time I spent a whole day exploring downtown and the harbour.
Fan Tan Alley and it's tiny shops. I loved window shopping in Victoria, there are a lot of great boutiques all located close together.
I even went full tourist and took a free tour of the parliament buildings (I've never done that in Ottawa so why not?!)
The following day we took a drive up the coast and went past Nanaimo to Cathedral Grove, a small destination that has been on my list for the past year. It's an easy 15-20 minute pit stop on the highway if you're going towards Tofino. For us it was a small detour past our destination. You walk through a path in an ancient forest with trees over 100 years old that are gigantic and majestic. I was loving it.
We passed through Coombs, a touristy town with a marketplace that houses goats on the roof and other quirky fun things like that, then headed to Rathtrevor Beach. This beach was huge. The tide was out so low. So low. We walked on wet sand for like 20 minutes before we reached the water.
Weekend #4: MONTREAL
Now I know this is not a close by location, but since I used to live here, to me it's visiting home and not a new destination so it's like a weekend getaway- plus I was only there for 3 days! A must do- Tam Tams on Sunday, the perfect place for all the visitors to gather.
And have the best spread I've ever seen at Tams before. This was only half of it.
After Tams, climbing to the look out at Mont Royal is always worth it. A much smaller hike ;) (20 min max) and you can see everything and it's romantic and picture perfect, especially at dawn or dusk. Friends can have romantic times too.
My final destination this summer was Toronto. Another "visit home" since I used to live here as well. A quick 2 day visit meant sticking to my downtown locale and visiting City Hall for some PanAm action.
I love a quintessential city shot like this one. What's wrong with being a tourist in your own cities- nothing I say! Nothing at all.
Flying back to the west coast in these beautiful clouds *sigh*.
I'm already planning my next cross continental trip (super early since I won't be going anywhere until next Spring) but just having the possibility in the back of my mind keeps me excited for the future and inspired and energized! For others consumed by their travel addiction like myself who are always craving there next destination (but don't always have the funds to make it happen) take time to explore what's around you, it's not so bad ;)