Awaiting us at the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo, Greyhound’s bus stop, were two vehicles driven by special relatives.
With five us plus large suitcases, we were certainly not going to fit in one car. I loved being back in that city again with family who had welcomed my B.C. sister Valerie and me a couple of months earlier. Unfortunately our nephew Richard was away working, but Wendy and her daughters opened their hearts and home to two of my Aussie sisters, one they had never met before, and one Aussie husband and my Canadian bloke, John. Some of us lapped over into luxurious B&Bs with fabulous views of Departure Bay, Protection and Newcastle Islands.
Besides taking this new gang to Neck Point, Petroglyph Park, and the fish’n’chip cafe floating at Nanaimo Harbour, which Valerie and I had enjoyed so recently, Wendy had a new treat for me. A few raindrops did not dampen our spirits as we left the car in Biggs Park, walked beneath the road brimming with traffic heading for the Duke Point ferry, and set off towards Jack Point.
“[The trail] meanders through the arbutus and Douglas fir, [curving gently] high and low a few metres above the ocean or right beside it,” says the Nanaimo Information website. “The shore is all sculpted sandstone offering interesting shelters and designs.”
Snaffling blackberries (carefully!) as we went, we wandered as far as time allowed. Just before turning back, I saw two critters scrambling along the rocky shore. Although we were beside salt water, these were the dark-coloured, semi-aquatic, long-tailed river otters. Wow! Another new experience was being served delicious pitas by my older great-niece, now working at the Pita Pit near home.
Not so happy-making, the end of time here marked several separations. Although those two Aussie sisters both live in the state of Queensland, their homes are 1,700 km apart, so they had travelled across the Pacific Ocean separately. Vera and Merv needed to get back to Seattle for their return flight to Brisbane, but, of course, it included lots of variety, beginning with bus to Victoria.
They left that pretty city on the high-speed catamaran for its berth in downtown Seattle. A local train took them to SeaTac, and their motel’s shuttle service. Unfortunately their plane home was delayed and delayed, resulting in a two-day lay-over in Honolulu. Poor things….
John, my youngest sister Edwina (now finally recuperating from the illness that had plagued her holiday) and I tore ourselves away from our Nanaimo family later that day. A BC ferry took us to Horseshoe Bay where hospitable friend Mary met us – and the fun continued. On her final full day, Dwina and I set off for downtown Vancouver and boarded the (rather expensive) “Hop On, Hop Off” bus.
We both learned lots as our open conveyance looped through the city centre, Stanley Park, and back and forth across bridges. One day later, Dwina returned to Vancouver Airport where I had excitedly met her just three weeks earlier. We hope she will be back soon to make up for all she missed….
That left John and me in West Vancouver with no vehicle of our own. Our friends thought hitch-hiking back to Clearwater, or even trying to co-ordinate buses was a bad idea. Mary drove us to Hope, and, over lunch, handed us over to the Dad of the gal we had seen in Port Hardy. He returned us to his house first where Jake the dog and Sophie the cat had been minding our cat Gypsy before taking us to Home Sweet Home. Here we happily reminisce about these adventures with our fine family.