Go Play Outside

30 Jul

My plan for the weekend was to get outside and get moving. I’m pleased to report that I survived my own personal Olympic Triathlon and the whole weekend was a huge success! On Friday I hiked the Grouse Grind in less than an hour, on Saturday I swam (ahem.. floated) with the family, and on Sunday I cycled 60km before noon 🙂

 

Escaping the Office Grind… By Hiking the Grind

The weekend arrived early on Friday afternoon and I headed up to Grouse Mountain to hike the Grind for the first time ever. It was an overcast day on the North Shore, perfect for keeping cool while I hoofed it, one step at a time, 853 metres (2,800 feet) up the side of the mountain. Since the main goal for the weekend was to get outside, I tried to ignore how hard I was huffing and puffing and really take time to appreciate my surroundings. I don’t find myself under the rainforest canopy often enough these days and it is really an awesome place to be.

Although it was an intense hike and very steep in some sections, I was able to keep a good pace. I only stopped 3 or 4 times for a minute or two to have a quick drink and catch my breath. When the end of the trail came into view, I checked my timer and found I was way under my estimated time of 1 hour 15 minutes. I scrambled up the last bit of rock and stopped the clock just as it hit 56 minutes!

Grouse Grind

Not bad for a first-timer!

 

Pool Days are Here At Last!

Saturday began with some cloud and a cool breeze but by the afternoon it was full on summertime again, perfect for a pool day and a BBQ with the family. There was splashing, laughing, eating, and drinking, and the sun set on one more summer Saturday.

Pool days

Pool days!

 

Cycling to Paradise

There’s nothing like flying down Tsawwassen’s 52nd Street hill on your bicycle at 6:30am on a sunny Sunday morning. Pedaling furiously along the causeway to catch the 7am ferry to Swartz Bay is another story. It was another gorgeous summer day and I was going to make the most of it.

Welcome aboard the Spirit of British Columbia

Welcome aboard the Spirit of British Columbia

 

I arrived at the terminal just in time and rolled on to the car deck as the last ‘vehicle’ to board the ship. I sat outside on the upper passenger deck for most of the crisp sailing across the Georgia Strait and wondered what the Lochside Trail would be like. Turns out it’s fantastic! Well-marked, mostly paved, meandering but direct, and almost completely flat. It was a delightful 35km ride into downtown Victoria.

 

Lochside Trail

Lochside Trail

 

I saw breathtaking beaches, sprawling farms, and lots of wildlife (I counted several dogs and horses, a mother quail and her chicks, one rabbit, and two of the biggest hogs I’ve ever seen in my life). I rode on neighbourhood streets, wooden bridges, and tree-lined trails. I smiled to myself the whole way and was so excited to arrive at the Johnson Street Bridge and cross into downtown. Oh Victoria, how I’ve missed you.

 

Underpass mural on the Lochside Trail

Underpass mural on the Lochside Trail

 

Back in the 2000s, my oldest brother and his wife lived in Victoria. After dozens of ferry trips and weekend visits over the years, the capital city has a special place in my heart. I always feel like I’m on vacation in Victoria; everything is just a little bit more laid back and everyone is just a little bit nicer.

 

I rode along the familiar waterfront streets downtown, past the Inner Harbour and the Parliament buildings, and up Government Street to Dallas Road. I cruised along, soaking up the sun and the view, on my way to the old house in Fairfield. We enjoyed so many good times in that darling little turn-of-the-century house. The best part? There’s access to a gorgeous sandy beach just down the street. My tired feet + hot sand + ocean view = one happy lady.

 

Gonzales Bay

Gonzales Bay

 

Gonzales Bay Panorama

Gonzales Bay Panorama (Click on the image to see it full size!)

 

After about half an hour of lounging on the beach, I tore myself away from the serenity of Gonzales Bay, the promise of lunch the only thing keeping my weary legs moving. I retraced my waterfront route and circled back downtown and up to my favourite Victoria restaurant, the Canoe Brewpub. I’m told they have great beer, but I always come for the burger.

 

Refreshments at Canoe Brewpub

Refreshments at Canoe Brewpub

 

My obsession with the Canoe burger began with a ferry trip to visit my brother many years ago. I was hunkered down in the freezing cold pet area on the car deck with our two dogs (it’s a long story, but we all put in some serious time ferrying dogs back and forth to the Island. Riding in the pet area down below is a special kind of hell). The main character in the book I was reading, a cook at a restaurant, was thinking through some pertinent issue while preparing burgers. I couldn’t concentrate on the plot because my mouth was watering. On the drive into the city, my brother asked what I wanted to do for dinner so I told him I was in the mood for a good burger. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

The Canoe Burger

The Canoe Burger

 

It’s not just the delicious burger that brings me back time after time, it’s also the place. Timber framing + glass chandeliers + a big canoe hanging on the wall? Sign me up. Despite the tempting option to sit outside on the sunny patio, I decided to sit inside to enjoy the ambience. Bonus: I also got to watch highlights from the Olympics! This was the weekend of Olympic proportions, after all!

 

Totally satisfied and freshly sunscreened, I walked back downtown and through the Bastion Square Market. Among the many things that Victoria does well, outdoor markets are near the top of the list. Jewelry, pottery, art, clothes, food, you name it, they’ve got it, all sprinkled with that special Victoria fairy dust. I sampled a bit of vanilla bean fudge and bought a chocolate-covered strawberry for $1 but managed to resist all the shiny things.

 

Bastion Square Market

Bastion Square Market

 

Thanks to my early start, I had a good hour and a half to wander the streets before catching the bus back to the ferry terminal. If I’d had more time, I would’ve happily ridden the Lochside Trail back to the ferry (it really was that easy), but I didn’t want to be late for a special dinner back on the mainland.

 

I caught the 4pm ferry home and accidentally lounged on the outside deck the whole way back… I got a lot of sun 🙂

 

Sailing Home

Sailing Home

 

Dinner with my cousins in Ladner was the perfect end to my epic day trip, especially because I didn’t have to cook anything! Word to the wise: when my friend H tells you she’s making dinner and baking a Black Forest cake (with fresh BC cherries) for dessert, make sure you’re at the table, even if it means rushing home from a glorious day on the Island.

 

Black Forest Cake

The end

 

I really hope to get back out on the Lochside Trail again soon, it was such an easy, fun ride. To see my approximate route, follow this link to Bikely*. If you’ve got access to a bicycle and are even minimally active, I highly recommend taking this leisurely ride to Victoria!

 

*I didn’t really ride 100km, more like 65km. I couldn’t figure out how to skip the ferry ride in the distance calculation.

 

 

© 2013 C Chisholm Communications.
All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “Go Play Outside”

  1. Darlene Duckworth July 31, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Love it Chandra… the pictures are gorgeous and it sounds as though you had a most memorable weekend. Hugs from Midway…

  2. Andrea Noble August 1, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Wonderful! Great job Chandra. Love the blog.

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