30 Hours in Canada

When I was younger, I’d joke every Fourth of July that I wanted to get shipped off to Canada for the day. I didn’t like the loud fireworks, and leaving the country seemed like a better option than sitting inside all night.

This year, I finally did that.

Every Sunday on the way to the farmer’s market, we pass the interstate sign for Vancouver. And every week I mention how I want to go to Canada at some point while I’m here. Last Sunday, two days before the Fourth, I told myself that I’d go to Canada if I have Tuesday off. That night after market, I checked the schedule and had Tuesday and Wednesday off.

After doing some research I decided maybe I shouldn’t go—it was a long drive, my money wouldn’t work in Canada, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to get cell service internationally. But Monday night those problems all seemed to work themselves out—I booked a bed in a hostel, called the bank, and got my phone set up to work over there. I was off to Vancouver.

The drive up was long, but it was so pretty I didn’t even realize it. Northern Washington is beautiful, even just the view from the interstate.

This was the first time I crossed the border by myself. Luckily there wasn’t any wait, so I was able to drive right up. After showing my passport and answering a few questions (Where do you live? What are you doing in Canada? Where are you going? Do you have family here? Any weapons in the car?) I made it across the border.

The first place I went was Stanley Park. There were stunning views of Vancouver, nice walking trails, and a beach I spent too much time at. The beach had large logs scattered around, which made for a perfect spot to lean up and read a book while soaking in the sunshine. I wish I had more time to explore the trails and the Seawall, but my next destination awaited.

Next I went to Lynn Canyon, home to a suspension bridge 160 feet off the ground. A short trail led to the 30-foot pool, where people were wading in the ice-cold water or relaxing on the rocks. I watched as the more adventurous cliff jumped in the water. I waded in a bit, but after even a few minutes, my feet were numb. Like I said, ice-cold.     I got back in the car after walking those trails for a bit and drove north along the Sea to Sky highway up to Squamish. I tried to take photos of the drive, but they can’t do it justice. Also, safety first. The whole drive up was along the coast with mountains and cliffs on one side, and bright water on the other with more mountains in the distance. Every direction you looked there was a snow-capped peak.

Along with being my first time in Canada, this trip was also my first stay in a hostel. I was surprised at how nice it was—overlooking a river and mountains, hammock in the back, lounge, full kitchen, and nice bathrooms. There was even a craft night going on that night, although I didn’t participate. There were three other girls in my room, but we didn’t talk much, and luckily none of them snored. I had a long day of walking and driving behind me, so I felt like I was back in the dorms while waiting for 10:30 to roll around and quiet hours on the patio to kick in so I could sleep.

The view from the hostel

The next morning I was off to Alice Lake Park for more hiking. I started at one end of the Four Lakes Trail, which was supposed to take me to all four lakes in the park and then come back to where I started. Once I got to the fourth lake, the largest one, I came to paved roads and small trails leading every direction. I wasn’t lost—there were hoards of people around enjoying the lake—but I didn’t know how to get back to my car without retracing the past 3 miles.

I wandered around the lake area for a bit, grabbed something to drink, and spent an hour or so reading by the lake. (Sitting by water and reading was starting to become a pattern on this trip.) I eventually wandered through the campground, passing RVs and clotheslines of wet clothes, and somehow popped out right by my car. It was a bit of a miracle, but I didn’t question the fact that I didn’t have to walk another 3 miles to get back.

Throughout the hike, there were signs for bears and mountain lions. Even in the part of Washington I’ve been exploring this summer, I haven’t seen any signs for bears. The whole hike I was equal parts and excited and terrified about the prospects of seeing one of the creatures in person.

Coming back to the farm that night felt like I was gone for a week. One of my favorite goats was picked up by her new owners, and one of the interns left for a week. As I was traipsing through Canada, life on the farm went on without me.

This was probably my first “vacation” alone. And, somewhat surprisingly, I didn’t mind the solitude. I figured after a few hours of wandering alone I’d be craving someone to explore with me, but I was fine by myself. It gave me a lot of time to just sit and relax by the water without worrying about another person. Some things would have been better with a friend—like plunging into icy water—and some were better alone—like reading by a lake.

It’s nice to get off the farm for awhile. I love the goats and the people here, but as a city gal, venturing into civilization every now and again is a treat.

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