Try This: South Island Kid Adventure

I had a week off recently and was able to take my niece on another adventure!  You might remember my last adventure with my niece – our Sunday Funday Kid Adventure! My niece is 7 now and when you put a 7-year-old in charge of the day, you know it’s going to be both crazy busy but also heaps of fun!

We started the day with our pancake breakfast tradition before turning the car south and heading to Duncan.  Here, my niece got to choose between the BC Forest Museum or the The Birds of Prey Visitor Centre.  She chose the Visitor Centre and off we went to see The Raptors.  From the moment we arrived, she was fascinated… actually, we both were!  From owls to eagles to vultures to kookaburras to an actual real-life stork, my niece zoomed around, reading all the birds’ stories and calling to them.  We stayed for a flying demonstration and had eagles, hawks, and owls swish by our heads within inches.  My niece, an animal lover, loved getting to know more about all the birds and being able to be so close to birds that are normally only seen from a distance.

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From there, we stopped for a quick lunch at Boston Pizza and continued south.  Seeing the birds had really made her want to go to a farm and see even more animals so I decided the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm would be the perfect next stop.  Turns out she had visited here once before but I think that made her a little more excited!  She grabbed me by the hand and took me around to show me all the animals.  We laughed at the chickens in the alpaca pen, the peacocks in the trees, and miniature horses quietly roaming about.  The baby goat pen was lively and chaotic so naturally my niece ran straight in and was curled up with a tiny little goat within seconds.  She made sure to introduce me before running off to pet Every. Other. Goat. There.

After a while (turns out it’s kinda hard to get kids out of a petting zoo when they’ve buried themselves in baby goats!), we got cleaned up and headed to Fired Up Ceramics.  This is a pretty cool place that has shelves upon shelves of pre-made ceramics, about 80 colours of paint, every paint brush imaginable, and knowledgeable staff to help teach you a multitude of painting techniques.

I let my niece pick her own piece to paint and she got to work.  She chose a lizard and made me google what a bearded dragon looks like so that she could get the colours just right.  Turns out she had wanted a bearded dragon for her birthday and when she didn’t get one, she took this opportunity to just make her own!  It turned out to be pretty adorable and she worked so hard on it.  The staff were all so good with the compliments, telling her she got the colours exactly right, so she left with a puffed chest and excitement to meet her new bearded dragon in a week (you leave it behind to be glazed and fired in the kiln).

From there, we grabbed dinner at the family-friendly Old Spaghetti Factory and began the drive north towards Nanaimo.  We had packed bags so we made a last-minute decision to stay at the new Microtel in North Oyster, just north of Ladysmith.  After the crazy busy day, I was ready to sleep, but instead we put on bathing suits and headed for the pool!

The hotel is fairly new and still building a name for itself so that there was short-notice vacancy and we got to have to the pool all to ourselves.  Because it was empty of other guests, my niece could be a crazy little kid (and, let’s face it, she was running on pure adrenaline by now!) and I could let her.  By the time we got back to our room, I think we were both struggling to keep our eyes open and we fell asleep pretty quick once our heads hit our pillows.

The adventure felt busy as we hopped from place to place all day long but we weren’t rushed and it was such a special treat to stay in a hotel, especially when we really weren’t that far from home.  We got to cuddle with the goats, see a stork in person, get creative with our ceramics, and have a private pool party!  We covered a lot of ground from Nanaimo to Duncan to Victoria to Ladysmith and filled the time doing and experiencing things we hadn’t done before.  My niece is getting good at planning these crazy busy adventures and I can’t think of anything else we could have done to squish any more fun into one day!  I wonder what she’ll come up with next time?!

To check out more of our Van Isle adventures, click here

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Go Hiking to the Bomber Plane Crash in Tofino

I’ve wanted to do this hike for years and just never made it there… Either it was too rainy when I got to Tofino or I was in Tofino to go to the beach or another event.  If I’m being honest, I also thought this hike was in Ucluelet (not Tofino like it actually is!) so it was probably best I waited for a friend to suggest we go and tag along with them so I actually got where I planned to go!

I’m talking about the hike to the famous Canso Bomber plane crash site in Tofino.  Starting near Radar Hill, you walk through some dense West Coast rain forest, a genuine muddy bog, an absolute maze of tree roots, and around a crater lake left by bomb detonations after the crash.  In total, the hike was only about 4.9km rountrip, but it was certainly one of the more interesting short hikes I’ve ever done!   Continue reading “Go Hiking to the Bomber Plane Crash in Tofino”

Park Guide: Stotan Falls

We had heard about Stotan Falls near Courtenay a few years ago. People who have been here before say it’s a perfect place to swim and explore so we were already motivated to find this spot, but then a promotional video in September 2017 from the Matador Network (check it out on Youtube HERE) made us even more googley-eyed and excited to check it out! Fast-forward to this summer and our friend posted pictures of it on Facebook and we knew it was finally time to just go!

Stotan Falls has been a bit of a secret for many years, though locals know it and love it as a great summer spot to cool down and relax. Continue reading “Park Guide: Stotan Falls”

Park Guide: Sandy Island Marine Park

looking back at Denman from Sandy Island

Having grown up on Vancouver Island, I’m fortunate that this island and its surroundings have always provided the backdrop to my camping experiences, hiking trips, and island adventures.  Of course, as I got older and started exploring on my own, I found my favourites and, over the years, I’ve apparently developed a bit of a routine that helps make sure I visit these places as often as I can.  One such place is Hornby Island.  It’s my happy place and I’d be there every weekend if I could!

the view at the bottom of the stairs on the way to Sandy Island

My trips to Hornby usually consist of:

  • drive from Nanaimo to Buckley Bay
  • catch the ferry to Denman (always using my BC Ferry Experience Card)
  • drive as fast as I can across Denman
  • catch the ferry to Hornby
  • have an amazing time on Hornby

In all the years I’ve been going to Hornby Island, I’ve spent zero time on Denman Island and have always kinda wondered what I’d find there if I ever stayed longer than it takes to catch the ferry.

Continue reading “Park Guide: Sandy Island Marine Park”

Try This: Run in a Race on a Weekend Getaway!

Celebrating Mother’s Day today with my Mom and my family, I couldn’t help but think about everything Moms do for their families.  I’m quite certain everyone describes their Mom as a super hero and we’re all right about that!  Moms really do hold so many different job titles, like Counsellor, Chauffeur, Banker, Hair Stylist, Referee, Chef, Mentor, Event Coordinator, Teacher, and Nurse (and I don’t believe for a second that is all of them!).

While I’m not a mom myself, I’m surrounded by some of the most amazing Moms ever.  My family, my friends, and my coworkers all have the best, funniest, craziest, and ridiculous stories about their kids.  I love hearing all of them!  I also love being there for all the Moms in my life when they need to get away 😉

Continue reading “Try This: Run in a Race on a Weekend Getaway!”

Go Hiking at Cameron Lake Trestles & Wesley Ridge

Every time I’ve driven to Port Alberni and beyond, I pass Cameron Lake and have looked longingly across the lake at the old trestle on the other side.  I always wondered how you got there and imagined you’d be privy to a pretty spectacular view from that spot.

Fast forward to a day a couple weeks ago where it was too beautiful to stay inside and I wanted to get out and play.  My friend suggested the trails around Cameron Lake and I readily agreed if it meant finally getting to go see the trestle!

Continue reading “Go Hiking at Cameron Lake Trestles & Wesley Ridge”