Monday, 19 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 18. Parksville, BC to West Vancouver, BC

After two nights in the same bed for the first time in three weeks, it is time to move on again, so we pack up and say farewell to our kind hosts. It’s a half hour drive to Nanaimo and the aptly named Departure Bay to await our third ferry in four days. This ferry is much busier, so after we leave the car and make our way up to the passenger deck we find that there are not many seats left, and we end up facing backwards as we make our way out of port. Michael queues for our strange breakfast of poutine without the beef gravy — there are not many vegetarian options on this boat — and I fix my eyes on the water in the hopes of seeing a whale or two. Yet again no whales spotted, and I just end up feeling sea sick. Up and outside to the ‘sun’ deck, only there is no sun, just lots of wind and freezing temperatures, although it does help to blow away the sick feeling.

As we emerge from the bowels of the ferry onto the mainland at Horseshoe Bay it is snowing, and we realise it must have been snowing for a while as there is a generous covering of white everywhere we look. Thankfully this isn’t the dry, packed, icy snow we experienced two weeks ago in Casper. This is a wet snow and the road are pretty slushy so at least we have some traction. Michael drives us round to Whytecliffe Park, and we tramp through the snow to see the bay where he learned to SCUBA dive, and sure enough there are some people preparing for a dive in drysuits. It seems incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to be outside in these temperatures, let alone get in the water. We head west and decide against spending $30 apiece to walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge; for one thing it is freezing cold and the snow is still coming down — it is pretty miserable to be outside — and we also are not interested in any of the other attractions that the entrance fee would afford us. The last time Michael was here there was no entrance fee, and he realises that must be over 20 years ago and that the unique bridge has been turned into a Disney-esque tourist trap.

Nest stop, Lonsdale Quay Market, a covered complex of food stalls and independent shops. We share a delicious spanakopita and follow it up with a couple of handmade chocolates; marzipan for me and cherry bark for Michael. It’s early afternoon and we head to see Michael’s friends Ann and Andy, who have kindly offered to put us up for a couple of nights. Up their steep drive, freshly cleared of snow, then safely under the car port, and we are soon sitting in their cosy kitchen as Andy is making us feel at home. Ann soon arrives with young Luna, a lively puppy just back from her tracking training in the snow, and very excited to find new friends in her kitchen. Dinner is at an Indian restaurant nearbye where Ann and Andy’s daughter and son in law join us and we all share a delicious vegan feast.