Imagine an island, just 25 minutes away, where the stores are by donation and the water dances with phosphorescence diamonds at night. Imagine a rain forest without bears and cougars but filled with deer prancing and grazing. I couldn't have imagined how wonderful a Bowen Island getaway would be for my birthday, but I loved it so much, I decided to return the very next weekend.
We rented a cozy AirBnB on the top of a hill overlooking Killarney lake (Click here for a coupon on your next airbnb trip). I spent the first evening in my housecoat and reading a book. I was feeling burnt out and under the weather after an exhausting week of working long hours at my online job (click here for details). For those of you who know me well, you'll know I pack my damn housecoat just about everywhere...including Camping! That soft fleecy "don't bother me statement" has been with me for years and I just can't imagine relaxing without it. I wear it every single day. And each of my children has their own.
The next day I got to exploring the island. I began my day at the cutest ever re-use-it store called The Knick Knack Nook. A wonderful resource on any island, this store allows you to donate items you don't want and for people to browse and take items they do want- with a donation amount they choose. I was sooo happy to find a children's life jacket, and two kid's camping chairs. items I desperately needed as I'm always having to borrow them from friends.
After the store shop, I met up with another homeschooling family that had rented an Airbnb for the night on the island as well. We drove to Cape Roger Curtis light house park. It was a hot day and that just made it even more glorious. I could hardly wait to shed my clothes and use the bathing suit I had been wearing in anticipation for a good cooling swim.
We enjoyed oogling at the crabs and sea life that were tucked away between the rocks.
My husband, Mark, isn't usually out with us for our adventures, so it was a nice treat to have his company. The children enjoyed "teaching" him about their finds and the berries in the forest.
We sauntered along the trail in the forest parallel to the water's edge and found a beautiful pebble beach the didn't have mollusks to scratch feet on. I went back in for another swim but this time I put on my wet suit so I could stay in the cold water longer. I took some of the kids out in their life jackets to a dock. It was their first time swimming to a floating dock and it brought back memories of my amazing teenage summers with my cousins in Muskoka. Despite all of us in wet suits they were shivering by the time we got there and happy to warm up in the sun on the dock.
We ended the day with take out pizza from the local pub and a birthday cake my husband had brought with us from Vancouver. It was so delicious that it was hard to share.
After dinner, we put the two little ones to sleep and Denzel and I went out one more time to check out a rumour of the phosphorescence glowing in the water after dark. We met with our friends again and drove a few minutes to a dock at the end of Mount Gardner road. If you have never seen this in real life, check out this video below of a similar experience. I hear the best time to see them is within 5 days of a full moon. Weren't we lucky to be here just 4 days afterwards!
I had never seen such a sight and I have to admit when we got to the dock and looked down into the dark water and saw nothing I felt a little duped. We were about to leave when some others who were just hopping out of the water commented on how bright they were dazzling tonight. We decided to try stir the water with paddles and were instantly amazed. Then we couldn't resist and hopped in for a frigid swim. It was an unforgettable night and the best way to end my birthday. When I returned to our AirBnB, I ran a hot bath and spent my last evening soaking in the tub, replaying the joy of the three days here in my head again and wondering how to stretch the last moments.
The next morning, we walked around Killarney Lake. If you look closely in the photo you'll see the Airbnb I stayed at nestled in the forest (Click here to view the unit). So cute! Killarney lake is a lake we've been told is okay to swim in if we don't ever stop moving...what? Apparently it is full of leeches.-eek! I remember my mother's horror as a child when she came home and discovered my sisters and I with a leech in a jar that we were planning to feed with our fingers. eww!
We decided to keep our swimming to the ocean instead. After a good couple of kilometers whereby we discovered the trail has too many hills to really be bike friendly for kids, we made a trip to the Xenia Centre. It is a beautiful retreat nestled in the woods and sharing the ground with OPA- a 1000 year old Douglas Fir Tree. We each took turns making a wish and the children even left theirs on a note folded in the crooks of the ancient bark. Then we explored a labyrinth trail and the children ran around the open space and through the rocks.
In their run, they found a garter snake and they spent time holding it and studying it before setting it loose. Unfortunately, not everyone in my family shares my appreciation for snakes (and I do appreciate all creatures really - except Caterpillars) so I did receive some hot messages after sharing these photos akin to being a witch, unchristian and a bad mother for letting my children hold and study these satanic creatures. (Can't win them all-sigh). But, if you are still reading and want to learn more about why snakes should be appreciated (click here). Although there are many creatures I am not interested in having as a pet, I still respect the balance they all contribute into the world and I'm happy to show my respect from behind the lens of my camera.
Of course, just as we set it loose, a horse rode by and they got to meet it and talk to its owner too. I sat back on the bench in the corner and thought just how blessed we all were to have such great experiences with nature flowing around us so endlessly this weekend.
After we had squeezed all the fun we could out of the day, we went to the community playground for lunch. A large space beside tennis courts, basketball courts and a soccer field!
It was wonderful to have access to a formal washroom before hopping onto the ferry for our return. With all of us reluctant to leave, we did make a quick stop at the dirt bike park that was hiding in the forest beside the playground. And then we hopped back on the ferry. It is free to return to the mainland and we made the drive home with hearts full.
I now understand the Island's tag line "Tell your friends it is awful here".
I'm sorry. The secret is out, and I'm coming back!
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