The year we returned to normal… or not so much. I really hoped 2021 would be better than 2020, but in most ways it was worse. Heat domes, forest fires, catastrophic floods, atmospheric rivers, and a very cold, white Christmas… this year was wild and that’s not even counting the COVID roller coaster. But, this year will be well documented by the annals of history, and I’m here to remember the highlights – the travels both near and far (but mostly near) that gave me joy in dark times. And towards the end of the year a trip that felt like the first real glimmer of what life was like before.
- Squamish, BC (May)
It’s pretty wild to think that I went nearly a full 5 months of 2021 without leaving Vancouver, and our first trip of the year was still in our health region (as per the COVID restrictions at the time). We were supposed to be on a ferry to Tofino but instead we drove one hour up the sea to sky highway to the mountains for 2 nights away from the city. We had perfect spring weather on the drive up, which enabled us to visit some epic waterfalls and take a lovely evening walk on an abandoned golf course outside our hotel. It was my first time staying overnight in Squamish rather than just passing through on my way to Whistler and I really enjoyed the quiet and calm. It’s such an easy getaway from Vancouver that I think we will make this a regular trip.
2. Sunshine Coast, BC (July)
Our first “big” trip of the year (lol) involved taking a short 45 minute ferry to Gibsons, and then driving up the Sunshine Coast to a gorgeous chalet outside Madeira Park. We spent 3 blissful days away from it all and checked off another item from my BC Bucket List – swiwelát (commonly known as Princess Louisa Inlet). We made the day trip by boat from Egmont up the Jervis Inlet to the opening of this magical 6km fjord. Surrounding my cascading waterfalls and massive granite walls, it’s impossible not to feel awestruck by the beauty. At the end of the fjord we disembarked to explore the small park area and visit Chatterbox Falls tumbling down the cliff directly into the waters below. We were able to scramble over the rocks and stand in the spray of the falls with no one else around – a true rarity at the majority of falls in the area. It was a truly memorable weekend and one that reminded me just how lucky I am to live, work and play on the land of the Coast Salish people.
3. Oliver, BC (August)
2021 truly was not kind in the natural disaster department. Our summer season was a bit of a trainwreck to be honest. We had an incredibly hot start to the summer with record breaking temperatures in June caused by a heat dome – which I had never even heard of before. The heat combined with drought also led to a worse than usual fire season which ravaged the Okanagan region for weeks getting dangerously close to major urban centres. We probably shouldn’t have continued with our trip to Oliver in August, but with the fires mostly moving in the other direction and evacuation orders lifted we decided to go for it all in the name of wine. Unfortunately, the smoke that filled the valley measured over 500 the entire long weekend so we spent most of our days hiding indoors to protect our lungs. We did manage to visit a record number of wineries and buy two full boxes of wine so the trip was still a success – but next summer we’re definitely planning our wine trip earlier in the season. Fire sucks. Climate change sucks.
4. Whistler, BC (September)
Fully vaccinated and ready to hit the road – Whistler called my name three times in fall 2021 after missing it completely in 2020. The first trip was with visiting cousin, Teri-Lynn and her husband Chad. We ended up with a rainy labour day weekend which didn’t allow for the best sightseeing but we found ways to stay entertained. We tried axe throwing, enjoyed Cows ice cream and walked around the village a few times. I finally got around to hiking to the Whistler Train Wreck, on the land of the St̓át̓imc Tmicw (St’at’imc), Lil’wat and Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish). In all my years of visiting Whistler, I shockingly had never even heard of this easy and popular hike. The story goes that a train derailed in 1956 when a freighter heading south from Lillooet came into on an area under track repair with just a little too much speed. Now you can find 7 graffitied boxcars in the middle of the forest, which is just about the most instagrammable thing I’ve ever heard of.
5. Harrison Hot Springs, BC (September)
Towards the end of September, I was able to wrangle my partner, his 3 sisters and their spouses to take our first ever couple’s trip. No small feat. We chose a spacious vacation rental near Harrison Lake and enjoyed a gorgeous end to the summer season. This was our first indoor family time in nearly a year due to COVID restrictions so we were really just overjoyed to be in each other’s company.
6. Victoria, BC (October)
With two of my best friends living in Victoria, it’s a staple in my travel rotation and is truly always a delight. This time we got an amazing deal on a harbour view hotel suite and got to enjoy brunch at Nourish and gorgeous walks by the water including Fisherman’s Wharf (pictured above) which I didn’t even know existed and found so cute and charming. This trip was really just a friendship tour including visits with both friends as well as well as my partner’s cousins. I’m sure we will be back again soon!
7. Whistler (November)
One of my return trips to Whistler later in the fall was a lovely retreat weekend with 12 ladies – some friends, some strangers – but all friends by the end. We stayed in a huge vacation rental taking time to reflect and vision, taking mindful silent walks to the lake pictured above and eating the most delicious plant-based food. I left filling so full of connection – something sorely missing in the preceding two years.
8. Hawaii (December)
What can I even say here. Hawaii is my happy place. This was my 6th trip to the Hawaiian islands and 2nd trip to the Big Island but it truly felt like the very first time. After 655 days in British Columbia. And 655 days since my last flight. And 721 days since I left Canada. I did it! We took the tests. We got the shots. We conquered our anxiety. And made it to PARADISE! My parents spoiled me and my brother my taking us and our families to Hawaii for a beautiful week in the sun and surf. I got to spend quality time with my 4 year old niece, playing in the waves and the pool, and making memories to keep us warm all winter long. This was one of the best trips of my life, truly refreshing and relaxing and so so lifegiving. For the first time in a long time the COVID woes seemed far away. With 95% of our activities outside, the world felt limitless and I started to remember carefree days gone by. Hawaii never disappoints but after staying so close to home for so long, I saw this island I love with new appreciation.
This post is going up later than intended… but January was pretty crummy so we’re saying that 2022 starts in February. I have a new found calm and peace. And as I think about the uncertain future, I have hope. I’ve been gleefully travel planning again and have some pretty exciting adventures planned for 2022.
2021: By the Numbers
Countries Visited: 1 (USA – which feels like a major accomplishment)
States Visited: 1 (Hawaii)
Provinces Visited: 1 – British Columbia
Plane Rides Taken: 2 one way flights (I count a flight as a flight regardless of how many segments or layovers it has).
Ferries Taken: 4
Airports Visited: 2 (YVR, KOA)
Kilometres Flown in 2021: 8,768
Beds Slept In: 13. Of those, 6 were vacation rentals, 5 were hotels, 1 was staying with family, and one was my own bed!
Trips Cancelled: 2 – Tofino (May) / Disneyland (December)