Tofino: An overview/budget review

I have only amassed about three weeks of travel in the past two and a half years. I know it’s a lot, and I know how lucky I am for that. But damn, for someone who’s used to spending 3-4 months of the year abroad it’s hard. So, Adam and I decided a long weekend away was in order. We were going to go to the states, but I’m kind of dodged out by the US because Canadian/American exchange rate is, for lack of a better word, complete and utter shit; also, I’m not too fond of who the people put in power. The combo made it a pretty easy choice to stay in Canada. We didn’t want to fly anywhere, so we thought Vancouver Island would be perfect. With my luxurious family weekend in Tigh-Na-Mara still fresh in my mind, my first thought was spa. Then we looked up the prices for spas. We ended up deciding on Tofino because I hadn’t been out that way since I was about eight, and it has some amazing, super British Columbia-y stuff going for it. Think lush rain-forests and tsunami evacuation signs.

Heralded by everyone telling us Tofino is beautiful but, “oh! It’s so expensive there!” we decided to go for it. I truly believe there always a way to see a place regardless of budget. The problem with this trip was that we only had a weekend. The slower you travel, the cheaper you travel. But alas, we both have steady jobs, so what can you do.

Tofino is pretty easy to get to from Vancouver. You could go this weekend on a greyhound for about $100. We opted to take my Mom’s car because, well, she loaned it to us and Adam likes to drive.

It quickly became a game of me sending pictures like that to her and alerting her to all the fun her car is having without her.

We started our journey from my house in the suburbs and drove to the ferries. If you’re driving the quickest way is hands down Horseshoe Bay- Nanaimo. We made it on to the 8:30 a.m crossing and since it wasn’t a long weekend, our Friday morning was nice and cruisey. BC ferries is… well, it’s the only option so I’m not going to critique it too much. You pay about $18 for each passenger, and an extra $55 for the car.

After we got off the ferry we followed the signs. We did make some stop though….

This is Little Qualicum Falls. They have an upper and a lower route. Because my body is still messed up, we did the lower route. It took about twenty minutes and was a nice little detour.

All in all, there are a lot of amazing things about the off season. It’s cheaper, less crowded… but a lot of stuff we stopped for was closed until March. Most notably Coombs market, which has always been one of my favourite places on the Island.

One thing that wasn’t closed? ….actually it’s only open Saturdays but she sold us cheese anyway… Was Coleman Meadows Farm! We stopped there because we saw a buffalo dairy sign and I’m obsessed with buffalo mozzarella, which ended up being our dinner that night.

Also, water buffalo are super cute. After we pet the dog and checked out the chickens, we headed on.

Continue reading “Tofino: An overview/budget review”

Tofino: An overview/budget review

HI-Shuswap Lake: Why Did I Come Home?

I mean, you can tell from the title I had fun so this post is really just going to be me going on about how much fun I had.

With pictures!

So, the first weekend in August is BC day where we celebrate…. how arrogant we are about not being a frozen tundra like the rest of Canada? Something like that. The important thing is we get the Monday off. This tends to fall close to, or spot on to, my birthday, so I tend to have an easy time of convincing people to do what I want. And I wanted to camp. The problem is some of the pickier of my friends are just not outdoorsy kind of people. So, when I was procrastinating I found something. A hostel. On Shuswap lake. And I spent a year convincing people to go with me. Then Adam moved here, and I was like, “we’re going, care to join?” And surprisingly enough they did. We went up with a group of 7 people.

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The front is a blink and you’ll miss it type place- the sign is on the far left. It’s right on the Trans-Canada Highway. My parents knew it as “that building” and couldn’t believe there was anything there. I knew better though. After my rural hostel experience in Austria I believed in the travel magic to deliver unto me awesomeness.

The concept is that there’s some rooms in the house, you can tent where you find room, and most importantly, the dorms are old cabooses.

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There’s three cabooses, but I’m working with a blackberry camera here so I don’t have the greatest scope. One was booked out by a family, one was female only, and one was coed. I booked the three girls into the girls dorm just in case more guys came for the coed, and Adam was in there. The rooms weren’t the biggest dorms. I mean, they were cabooses! Each had 6 bunks, a bathroom, a chill out area, and a kitchen.

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The mattresses were some of the best I’ve had in hostels, and the pillows were beyond badass. The cabooses got cool in the night, which is a big plus for me, and I slept well for the first time in months. It’s been hot in Vancouver and I was just so, so happy to be in a real sleep environment where I could get blanket cozy.

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Just off the cabooses was a common area and a hut with another kitchen, bathroom, and shower stalls. I’m going to be real here- I didn’t shower the entire time I was there. Two of my friends did though and assured me the water pressure and heat were excellent. The kitchens were great too.

The real beauty was the water. You walked down this path, passing a sweat lodge,

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to get to the lake.

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That water. It was cold, but we still went in. I haven’t seen water that amazingly clean in a long time. The canoe on the dock? You can use it for free. You can row to a beaver dam. There’s just so much cool.

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Alternate dock activity? Drinking and eating chips.

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Or, like my friend and I, bonding like men. This involved manspreading, holding cans, and saying yup to each other. We bonded. Also note: I am wearing all the clothes I packed save for a driving t shirt, plus Adam’s hoodie. The weather report said it would be over 30 degrees every day. We had a lot of rain and thunderstorms on the last day we were there. I need to learn I don’t pack well after a couple of drinks.

But…

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I found something to do. Read all day, party all night!

When you book you get an email explaining things. Like….

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THE CAT! I love this cat. He would absolutely not let me take a picture, so I just took one of his face. Beautiful, cuddly cat.

AND

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DOG AND LLAMAS!

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Look at those majestic animals. You can feed them. Feed Llamas! The animals are great. It’s so naturey.

As for food, we did a huge Costco run and brought up cold cuts for lunches and hot dogs and s’mores for nights around the campfire. But what about breakfast? I’m assuming you asked because you, you are an involved reader. Pat yourself on the back.

Well, for like $5 a day the hostel does ALL YOU CAN EAT PANCAKES!

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These ones are blueberry peach. Now, we all know I can eat. I never got more than 3 pancakes in. It’s filling.

So, would I stay here again? HELLS YES. I already want to go back. We became good friends with the workawayer, (BECAUSE THEY ARE WORKAWAY HOSTS AND SUPPORT IT AND SO MANY GOOD VIBES!!!) and like, the owners of the hostel… it’s just like… indescribable how hospitable they are. Being there just felt like a magic wonderland of everyone being friends. Travel magic wonderland. If you go in with the expectation that it is a rural hostel, it’s a 10/10. Go here. Stay here.

And to book and for prices and such, and much better photos, click here.

As for photos, I’ll leave you with this one:

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It’s a llama. Judging me for leaving the awesome hostel and going back to real life.

 

 

 

 

HI-Shuswap Lake: Why Did I Come Home?

When Solo Travel Means Being Alone

I walked into the bar and ordered a local pilsner. There was the usual hostel vibe, a large group was playing some sort of game. I sat down with my tablet at a table nearby. I figured being in a hostel bar alone some other solo traveller would strike up a conversation eventually.

I was still tired after the bus ride from Germany, but who knew who I’d meet? Where the night might take me… That’s what I love about solo travel. I completely bought into the whole hostel concept, and after three trips I had yet to meet a person I couldn’t “gel” with. For someone who spent lunch hours in Elementary school doing homework alone and got bullied out of a high school I felt like I had cracked the mythical code to acceptance, friends, and building up self-confidence.

“Is anyone sitting here?” I looked up at one of the guys from the game. I knew it! The travel inclusion always wins. “I just lost the game we were playing and my punishment is to talk to you for two minutes.”

What. The. Fuck.

I wish I had said something along the lines of, “I’m not a punishment, I’m a human. What happened in your life to make you that saying that is at all okay?” But sadly, I’m not a badass. I’m still mad at myself for going along with it. I was just… I guess flabbergasted. Who does that?

Larry*, apparently. Larry was someone who looked like the 90’s spelling of X-TREME! He acted like, well like someone who would orchestrate the above exchange. He set up a GoPro everywhere to record his “epic” times with his friends- one of which had just gone back to their group.

“I just got offered a job!” I saw the tour guide from the bus that day walking away from the group looking as shocked and bewildered as I felt while shaking his head. Larry looked ecstatic and was slurring his story about how the tour guide liked how he arranged this big game and that he should work for the company. I found out during my two-minute-to-the-dot conversation that I was on the same bus schedule as them until Paris. My stomach dropped. Great.

In the next Czech city the booking gods frowned on me and I ended up in the same room as Larry. The town was small and Larry and his merry band of fellowmen decided this means they needed to binge drink for two nights straight. Now, I won’t sit here and say you shouldn’t hard core party in Europe. I ended up being invited in on one of the night (after Larry passed out? Was to drunk to object? I’m not sure. As salty as it sounds, I wasn’t exactly concerned for his well-being.). His friends were actually pretty cool. I had fun. In the next city there was enough museums that I managed to avoid the group, but the town after that was very secluded. Hostel in the middle of the woods secluded. One of the nights a girl they had deemed worthy to be in their group was setting up a board game and invited me in on it. I jumped at the opportunity to be social until Larry announced “I’m not going to play if she’s here.” I was glad to see everyone at the table was a bit taken aback. I just didn’t have the energy to fight it and went to bed. Looking back, this did my bank account and liver a lot of good. I was able to take on the next two major cities with a lot of gusto; however, the whole endeavour soured me a little. I was having trouble shaking it off. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t people want me in on their super fun times? Had nothing really changed since I was a teenager?

I met up with my friend Tom in Munich, where I told him the whole ordeal. “The guy Larry, I just don’t get what his issue with me was. I mean, I don’t think-”

“Wait, Larry?” Tom’s eyes lit up. A look of understanding, disbelief, and the faintest hint of pity on his face. “That group had to stay back a night. They were on our schedule but no one could stand them. We were all happy to be rid of them.”

At first I was shocked but if literally anyone I knew had told me about what Larry did I would think he was more vile than satan’s breath after a night on cheap hooch. The guide’s bewildered face? The other people on the bus when Larry drank a 40 of jager at eight in the morning? His friends faces when he decided not doing something was better than including me? All true reflections of how he is and how the world reacts to him.

I’m happy I didn’t let him ruin my trip, I had an amazing time. I’m also a lot more aware of how behaviour like that hurts people and it’s helped me not do that to others. There needs to be an exception to prove the rule, and he was mine. I still think that I always meet amazing people while travelling.

As for Larry I don’t think that he works for the bus company- they make all their guides get a branded twitter. I haven’t found evidence of him doing anything really. I hope he got help. I get the feeling that there was something under the surface that he took out on me. I hope he’s not pissed off someone who would physically hurt him. Above all else, I really hope I never see that asshat again.

*name changed to protect the absolutely, completely guilty.

 

When Solo Travel Means Being Alone