Well... another week, another adventure over here. This time it was heading to Camp Fircom on Gambier Island for a midweek trip. Gambier is in Howe Sound, just a short water taxi away from the main ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay. But it is an island with few roads, no electricity, water, anything. Every place is off-grid and self-sufficient.
Camp Fircom is a summer camp on the island with a gorgeous waterfront property -- it's been there since 1923, and started as a Presbyterian church's outreach program for families in the rooming houses of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Nowadays they do overnight summer camps for kids and families, but this year it is trimmed down, very restricted and Covid-safe. However, we still got to stay in a cabin, eat meals in the dining hall, check out the farm and garden, go kayaking, do archery, and hike. The boys had a blast, we did too, and it was nice to have a break from cooking every day.
Highlights included: touring the garden and getting rhubarb umbrellas, feeding raspberries to the local chickens, seeing a garter snake, a seal, many deer, and even WOLF POO (photo available upon request).
Apparently there are wolves on the island that the locals regularly hear. This is not totally unheard of, as wolves have gotten to Vancouver Island and are known to swim to little islands on the west side and basically live on the beach – sea wolves. However, its the first I've heard of wolves so close to Vancouver. We saw some large and very fresh scat filled with fur, so obviously a predator, but too large to be anything else. Very exciting! We also found a deer antler.
Other camp favorite moments were Obie & Emmet doing archery for the first time (also Beth). Everyone hit the target! We all went kayaking as a family, and Asa did a steep 4+km hike walking the whole way with the big boys and us. The camp was a nice safe spot and just the right size for the kids, and we got to see each boy flex their independence muscles and go explore a little further on their own than they have before. Then when the evenings came, it was s'mores time of course, and the boys spent every possible moment poking the campfire with sticks, as is their wont.
Another summer camping trip – this time to Rathtrevor Beach with friends.
A ferry ride over to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and a short drive north to Parksville and we were there. Beautiful forest, great campground for kids, and a top notch beach. It wasn't baking hot when we were there, but we did get a bit of sun.
This beach loomed large in Emmet's imagination in particular, as it is the closest spot to Vancouver where you can reliably find sand dollars. The beach goes out forever at low tide, and indeed we found sand dollars everywhere.
The kids ate s'mores and ran around in the woods together as per our mandatory camping agenda. We went on a hike to some gorgeous waterfalls at Little Qualicum Park nearby, and spent the afternoon at a wildlife rescue animal sanctuary with live bears, eagles, and a zillion other birds, much taxidermy, and big grounds to explore.
It was fantastic to be able to spend so much time with our friends, and the kids were loving it. Our little guys seemed so grown up on this trip, helping to set up camp, entertaining themselves, no one needing to be carried on the hike, everyone sleeping through the night. What a great trip!
Summer has officially begun!
The border is still closed, so we are staying in BC for now. First camping trip of the summer – off to Lake Osoyoos in the Okanagan for Father's Day weekend.
The boys were excited for "Canada's only desert" – highlights including rattlesnakes, black widow spiders and...scorpions!! :) Happily, we did not encounter any. It was also billed as "Canada's warmest lake." We also did not encounter this...maybe in August.
We did however have a great time – what a location. Swiws / Haynes Point park is on a long spit right out in the middle of the lake.
We stopped at EC Manning Park on the drive over the mountains, and saw many friendly marmots there.
We set up camp. We went for a desert hike. The boys investigated an ancient metallic object located near our campsite (AKA payphone). Many hot dogs and marshmallows were consumed.
And then I inflated the boats I ordered off Amazon, which may prove to be the pinnacle of my dad career. These things were great – everyone got some use out of them.
After a sweet weekend, we headed home, stopping for lunch at a gorgeous winery and vineyard in one of the small towns along the way. What a great Father's Day and kickoff to the summer!