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  • Jennifer Dowd

An Overnight Adventure from Vancouver Island to the Mainland July 4-5, 2024

Sometimes, even the best-laid plans go awry, but that’s what makes travel an adventure. Recently, I embarked on an overnight trip from Vancouver Island to the mainland, accompanied by my aunt and my fur baby, Baylee. While the journey didn’t go exactly as planned, it turned out to be a memorable experience filled with unexpected moments and valuable lessons.

Our adventure began with an early morning ferry ride from Vancouver Island, from Swartz Bay. However, BC Ferries had other plans. Despite having a reservation, our 8 am sailing was cancelled, and we were bumped to the 10 am sailing. This delay set us back and wasn’t the ideal start to our trip, but we decided to make the most of it. It gave us plenty of time to chat about our plans. Little did we know at the time, but things weren't going to go as planned.

Once on the mainland, our first stop was the Delta Dump to try our luck at photographing eagles. We spotted one on a lamp post as we left the ferry terminal, which felt like a good omen. However, our hopes were quickly dashed when we discovered that without dumping anything, we weren’t allowed in. We tried exploring nearby farm roads, but only saw three eagles in spots unsuitable for photography. Undeterred, we moved on to our next destination.

Shannon Falls Provincial Park was next on our list. Shannon Falls Provincial Park, located just south of Squamish, BC, is a breathtaking natural wonder known for its majestic waterfall. Shannon Falls, the park’s centerpiece, cascades down 335 meters, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in British Columbia. The sight of the powerful water tumbling over rugged cliffs is awe-inspiring and a favorite subject for photographers. The park features well-maintained trails that offer various viewpoints, each providing unique perspectives of the falls and the surrounding lush forest.

We thought a Thursday visit would mean fewer crowds, but the park was bustling with tourists and loud, energetic children.

After a quick photo and video, we decided to head towards Brandywine Falls. However, with dinner plans in Burnaby at 6 pm and traffic being heavy, we opted to head straight to Burnaby instead.

Navigating through mainland traffic jams can be quite the experience, especially compared to the smooth sailing on Vancouver Island. My aunt and I found ourselves in a sea of honking horns and creeping cars, but hey, at least we now have a new benchmark for appreciating the leisurely drives back home—never complaining about island traffic again! We made the most of the situation with some choice tunes and sarcastic banter, turning what could have been a stressful delay into a comedic road trip memory. We arrived in Burnaby just in time for dinner with my cousin. The evening was a delightful mix of catching up and enjoying good food. It was a welcome respite after a day of thwarted plans and unexpected challenges.

The next morning, we decided to scrap our original plans because we figured they would be bustling with tourists and visit Burnaby Mountain Park instead. Burnaby Mountain Park is a scenic gem in Metro Vancouver, offering diverse attractions that captivate visitors. Among its highlights is the beautifully maintained rose garden, where vibrant blooms create a fragrant and colorful tapestry, perfect for leisurely strolls and photography. Nearby, the whimsical Cinderella Carriage stands as a charming photo spot, evoking fairy tale magic against the backdrop of the park's natural beauty. Additionally, the Japanese wood sculptures, known as Kamui Mintara or "Playground of the Gods," add a touch of cultural artistry. These intricate carvings, created by Ainu artists from Japan, depict mythological figures and celebrate the bond between humans and nature, enhancing the park's serene and contemplative atmosphere.

The park’s scenic beauty was the perfect setting for a morning walk with Baylee. As we munched on breakfast, we explored the rose garden, admired Japanese statues, and took numerous photos of the vibrant flowers. It was a peaceful and refreshing start to the day.

Next, we headed to Lynn Canyon Falls. Lynn Canyon Falls, nestled within Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver, BC, is a hidden gem offering an enchanting experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The park, spanning 617 acres, is renowned for its lush, temperate rainforest and the striking Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. The bridge, swaying 50 meters above the canyon, provides an exhilarating gateway to the park's many trails and scenic spots. As you traverse the suspension bridge, the sound of cascading water from Lynn Canyon Falls greets you, promising a captivating sight ahead. The falls themselves are a picturesque series of drops and pools, framed by moss-covered rocks and towering evergreens. The crystal-clear waters invite visitors to pause and appreciate the raw beauty of the natural world.

Note - I didn't realize I said squeeze by to someone passing me while I was taking video (LOL).

We found a parking spot right away, but the suspension bridge was teeming with tourists, all engrossed in their phones. I quickly took a photo and we moved on, finding little else to see that wasn’t crowded.

Our final destination was Lighthouse Park. Lighthouse Park, located in West Vancouver, BC, is a stunning natural sanctuary offering breathtaking views and serene landscapes. This park, known for its iconic Point Atkinson Lighthouse, stands as a beacon amidst the rugged coastline and lush forests. The park covers 75 hectares of mostly untouched wilderness, providing a haven for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike. The trails, though often steep and challenging, lead adventurers through ancient Douglas fir and red cedar trees, eventually opening up to spectacular vantage points overlooking the Burrard Inlet. The rocky outcrops provide excellent spots for contemplation and relaxation, with the lighthouse itself offering a picturesque backdrop. The sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks, combined with the chorus of birds hidden in the canopy, create a peaceful atmosphere perfect for meditation and unwinding.

Thankfully, it was much less crowded. The walk was pleasant, though the lighthouse was barely visible from our vantage point. The path was steep, but benches along the way provided welcome breaks. Baylee was curious and steady, making the hike enjoyable. We took moments to appreciate the sounds of unseen birds, finding solace in nature.

Hot and tired, we headed to Horseshoe Bay Village for a snack and some refreshments. The village was lively with tourists and school kids, but it was a nice spot to relax for a few minutes before our return trip.

By mid-afternoon, we decided to catch a ferry back to the island. We faced a two-sailing wait, but with refreshments and a shaded car, the time passed quickly. We managed to board the 4 pm ferry, where Baylee enjoyed the Pet Deck, mingling well with other dogs. I was really impressed with Baylee's ease of travelling now. She's is an official ADVENTURE DOG!

Despite the lack of photographic opportunities, the trip was a success in its own way. I'm so grateful to have my Aunt to go on adventures with and enjoy nature. Her adventurous spirit reminded me that travel is about the journey, not the destination. Her ability to pivot plans and stay positive taught me to find joy in the unexpected. Additionally, her ability to appreciate the little things in nature, like me, has been a source of comfort since the loss of my mom, reminding me that I'm not alone in my love for the natural world. And, I am learning as a photographer specializing in outdoor and wildlife photography, patience is crucial. This trip reinforced that not every outing will yield perfect shots, but every experience holds value.

In the end, spending time with my aunt, cousin, and Baylee made the trip worthwhile. Travel isn’t just about capturing the perfect photo; it’s about the memories created along the way. I’m grateful for the adventure and the lessons learned, and I look forward to the next journey with a more open mind and heart.

"Go forth and adventure! Enjoy the journey!"

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