British Columbia: More than Beautiful

When my youngest son left Ottawa for Victoria in British Columbia late last summer, I promised to visit.  This past weekend I had the pleasure of fulfilling that promise.

British Columbia is the most western province of Canada with Victoria, located off the mainland at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the capital city. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, BC is not just beautiful but absolutely stunning.  As I have only previously been to BC (never left the Vancouver airport) en route to Hawaii, this was an exciting adventure. 

This next set of pictures provides a perspective on the geography of the area. 


The weather forecast was not great, not a whole lot warmer in this area of British Columbia than Ottawa.  Although there is much less snow here, just a few patches visible, (especially in the higher altitudes) left over from last weekend’s storm. You can probably tell how cool it was from all the layers I’m wearing in all the pictures.  That was my greatest challenge, packing for the probability of rain, wind, and chilly temperatures.

Flair Airlines

The discounts available when flying with Flair airlines are awesome. That’s if you can travel light.  A small carry-on, dressed in layers of clothing (especially rain gear and warm sweaters that take up so much room in a bag), pockets loaded with snacks, and I’m ready to fly.

Flair only flies to Vancouver (sometimes direct to Victoria, more on that later) on certain days of the week, so you cannot be too picky on your flight dates. Thursday to Tuesday worked for me.

Another stipulation for the reduced rate is that you must check-in online and print or download your boarding pass prior to arriving at the airport.  This saves time for the traveler (you head straight to security and your gate) as well as reduces the impact on airport staff. 

You could choose to take more luggage, select your seat, and have airport staff check you in but you would be required to pay extra for those options.

Local Transportation

Although Flair flies direct from Ottawa to Victoria during the summer months, this time of year it only does so to Vancouver.  This meant I had to take a ferry between mainland Vancouver and Victoria on Vancouver Island. That was an adventure in itself.  The views were spectacular though, especially with my personal tour guide at my side.

We also took advantage of the efficient bus and train systems. A tap of a credit card will get you on the bus in Victoria, and either the train or more buses in Vancouver. From my son’s apartment, we hopped on a bus to the ferry terminal, then another bus on the Vancouver side to the train station to head downtown or to the airport. Although it sounds complicated, it wasn’t, even for those (me included) used to driving a car everywhere.

The transit system is so inexpensive, efficient, and accessible here that my son doesn’t need to own a car, saving on gas, insurance, parking, and upkeep, not to mention the price of the vehicle itself. When a car is needed, Uber and Lyft as well as Turo are available too.

Walking Tours of Victoria

Victoria is small enough (population 400K) that walking tours are an efficient way to take in the charm and scenery.

While my son worked on Friday and Monday, my (clothing) layers and I walked down to the waterfront, only a few blocks away from his apartment building.  Beautiful British Columbia (the slogan on the car license plates) does not even begin to describe the views between Vancouver Island and the mainland. 

I walked my way through James Bay (the neighborhood my son lives in), Fishermen’s Wharf, and the Breakwater District as well as the opposite direction following the waterfront on Dallas Street, all the way to Victoria’s Mile 0.

Although much of Fisherman’s Wharf was closed for the season, I was able to wander around admiring the floating houses and shops. Boat tours are open for tours of the waterfront.

I love the quaint, you-guessed-it, Victorian architecture in this neighbourhood. Even the most modern buildings blend well into the theme.

You can tell the lumber industry is huge here, with logs washed up everywhere. The massive fir, hemlock, and red cedar trees are also a clue. I guess the longer growing season and lots of rain helps.

The neighbourhoods of Victoria also include cute boutiques, gift shops, cafes, and dining options like Floyd’s Diner, which I nicknamed Pink Floyd’s for obvious reasons…

We also discovered Victoria’s best spot for my favourite cusisine at Indian Aroma, located at 612 Fisgard Street in the downtown area.

Driving Tours of Victoria

My son had already visited lots of the tourist spots in Vancouver and Victoria so made a great tour guide. He also has a much better sense of direction than I do.  When you are on an island (surrounded by water) under cloudy skies (no visible sun to provide a clue) orientation is even more difficult. I’m sticking to that excuse.

With his work week completed, we rented a car through Turo and headed on several driving tours of the island.  Friday evening we headed down the coast to the Saanich area and up to the summit of Mount Douglas for a spectacular, 360-degree view of Victoria and the surrounding area…

This next picture is of a five-foot-tall stone compass at the summit of the mountain depicting the distances and directions to various landmarks.  The darker, bronze-coloured areas represent water, while the lighter areas represent the land. The left, bottom edge of the lowest X near the center touches the point of land we were standing on.   The landmarks are listed around the perimeter with their distances away in kilometers. For example, the city of Vancouver was 85 kilometers away towards eight o’clock, and Seattle was 120 kilometers away towards one o’clock. Very cool!

We had hoped to watch the sunset from that vantage point but it was much too cloudy. Instead, we drove back down the mountain, parked the car, and walked around downtown Victoria…

We had also hoped to visit Burchard Gardens (Victoria) and Stanley Park (Vancouver) but both are in off-season mode, so will have to wait for a summertime visit.


Saturday we drove northwest for a few hours to explore Sombrio and Mystic beaches.  Both involved trekking (light hiking) through forests and hillsides to the beaches below.

The trail to Sombrio beach was an easy walk, a surfers’ dream, with a spectacular “hidden waterfall” tucked into the lush greenery edging a rocky shoreline (nicknamed green rock beach by me) at the bottom of the trail.

The trek to Mystic beach was a more arduous hike, the limit for my arthritis-weakened hip, but also incredibly gorgeous for nature lovers.  The trail started off inconspicuous (level and fairly smooth) progressing to steeper, rougher terrain with several footbridges and a terrifying (for this chicken) suspension bridge. The sign at the parking lot indicated a 2 km hike (no big deal) but 4 km (return) of scrambling over gnarled tree roots as well as up and down tons of stone or wooden stairs was more challenging than it sounded. Well worth it though! Let’s just say I was happy to see the parking lot.

Downtown Vancouver

Early Sunday morning we hopped on a bus to the ferry between Victoria and Vancouver, then another bus in Vancouver to the train station. An inexpensive day pass purchased there allowed us to get on and off the train at points of interest throughout the city. 

Stops included sushi for lunch on Cambrie Street and happy hour followed by dinner at Granville Island…

The setting sun escorted us back to the ferry for the return trip to Victoria. This was the only sunset I saw on this trip, thanks to the cloudy skies.


As usual, when I travel anywhere, I always take note of the surrounding landscape.  Spring has sprung here in Victoria with beautiful signs everywhere I looked..


At this moment I am sitting in the Vancouver airport, waiting (impatiently) for my return flight to Ottawa, and recapping my long weekend adventure.

I lucked out with the weather; other than a few sprinkles, the forecasted rain held off. The temperature was a bit chilly, especially with the constant wind, but overall quite nice for touring.

I loved my visit to Victoria and Vancouver, hope to repeat it again soon!

Road Trip to Florida: Highs and Lows

road trip

The past few weeks have been vacation time for hubby and I, on a road trip to Florida.  The first step involved renting a car as our 2009 Toyota Sienna would most likely not survive the trip.  If you have tried to purchase a new vehicle recently, you will know what I mean when I say it’s not as simple as it used to be.  With our Florida destination booked for three weeks we decided to wing the rest, ie stop when we were tired.

We have experienced a few hiccups along the way but nothing insurmountable. So far.

Thanksgiving (US) Weekend

When I planned this trip, I did not realize we were leaving Canada the day before the four day Thanksgiving weekend in the USA.  Apparently most Americans travel that weekend.  This became obvious as soon as we crossed the border…the highways were packed!


The Ford Escape (we love it BTW) we rented included an onboard GPS system.  Although hubby is (still) more of a map guy, he grudgingly admits to liking the commands to “turn right now!”  I must say, he listens to her voice better than he does to mine.  We did get lost in Fredericksburg Virginia looking for our first hotel though.  The hotel clerk excused the GPS though blaming the confusion on a recent road name change.  

Since that mistake, we have learned to trust the GPS to guide us to restaurants, beaches, and tourist spots here in the Nokomis area of Florida.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Our second night we reached Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  A slight mix-up with Expedia on our reservations made using McDonald’s wifi (they booked us for two rooms for one night, instead of one room for two nights) was efficiently handled by that hotel clerk. So efficiently we ended up with a significant discount.  Who doesn’t love a discount, especially when travelling?

Hilton Head Island is a gorgeous vacation paradise on the Atlantic coast.  I cannot believe we have have never stopped there before but know we will again.  It was cool and cloudy with a threat of rain the day we spent there but the beach was spectacular; our favourite kind of beach that stretches for miles.

Red Tide

Our road trip to Florida continued after Hilton Head, arriving at our final destination on Casey Key, located on the gulf coast, twenty minutes south of Sarasota, the next day.  Unfortunately, we had not heard that Red Tide had also arrived a month earlier, and was still hanging around like an unwelcome house guest.  Luckily for us it had (for the most part) moved on by the end of our first week. 

In the meantime we became beach hoppers, searching for red tide-free beaches to walk.

Family Visits

A favourite part of this Florida road trip was the fact that one of our sons and his family flew down for twelve days.  Having two of our six grandchildren for at least part of the trip was an added bonus.  In fact, I’ve decided if I ever win the lottery, I will buy (or rent) a big house down here where we all could be beach bums together.  It would have to be a big house to fit all thirteen of us at once!

I think Elton John wrote Your Song with those (similar) lyrics:

I don’t have much money, but boy if I did, I’d buy (or rent) a big house where we both (all) could live (stay)

Elton John


The weather has been unusually warm and sunny for this time of year on this road trip to Florida. 

Other years we have not been so fortunate. Cooler and wetter weather is forecast this coming weekend, just in time for our departure. 

I’ll be Home for Christmas

Like that song says, this road trip will be a memory in the rear view mirror.  Although local residents here try to decorate for the holidays, a wintery white Christmas is for me!

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos, Mexico

Recently I travelled to Los Cabos, Mexico for my brother’s destination wedding. What an adventure it was! A week chock full of sunshine, warm weather, parties, great food and lots of margaritas, shared with a large group of cousins.

Two generations of cousins in fact were represented. Me, two of my brothers, and two of our (many) first cousins with all of our partners, as well as two of my sons and four of their first cousins, and a few partners. Unfortunately, many more were not able to make the trip.

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos

Los Cabos Geography

Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are collectively known as Los Cabos, (or just Cabo). Although in Mexico, it is located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. Sporting dramatic views and rock formations of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, Cabo is surrounded by the rugged Pacific Ocean to the west and the calmer Sea of Cortez to the east.

Los Cabos is a popular resort destination for winter vacationers seeking sunshine, warm weather, beaches, and adventure.

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos
image credit


Wedding guests stayed at the adult-only Pacifica site of the Pueblo Bonito resort. This oceanfront paradise was the venue for the wedding ceremony and other social activities. It was perfect for the older set of cousins, myself included. The younger set loved the fact that they could visit the livelier neighbouring Sunset Beach site with a short shuttle ride or cactus-lined walk. Both resorts are located within the gated hillside community of Quivira.

Vacation Condo Rentals

Prior to Covid-19 slowing down the vacation industry globally, my youngest brother purchased two penthouse condos in Cabo. Since then the investment has become a successful vacation condo rental business within the Quivira community of Cabo. He currently (my last count) owns two houses and more condos and manages many others too.

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos

We did not stay in any of his rentals, as the wedding and events were at the all-inclusive Pueblo Bonito Pacifica. We did, however, get to visit one of his beautiful houses…

Living locally, this brother (AKA Senor Dave) scouted out wedding venues and organized our group excursions outside of the resort. His knowledge of the area and connections within the community were invaluable, much appreciated by the bride and groom as well as their guests.

Be sure to contact Dave at Cabo Condo Vacations for more details, you won’t be disappointed!

Bucket List Golf Course

Also part of the Quivira community is a world-renowned, bucket list (for my sons and other avid golfers) golf course. This landmark was designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus and features spectacular ocean views. Breakfast, lunch or dinner at the golf course clubhouse was also included in the all-inclusive feature of Pueblo Bonito. Golf fees were extra.

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos
two sons, one nephew and one brother

Cabo Beaches

The portion of the Pacific Ocean that Pueblo Bonito Pacifica is situated on is not swimmer friendly due to dangerous undertow, strong currents, and drop-offs. However, the sandy shores made for wonderful morning walks, whale spotting, and glorious sunset views. They also have a baby sea turtle releasing event this time of year that some of us were able to experience; look closely to see them crawling towards the ocean in the beach picture with the setting sun…

Cerritos Beach, on the other hand, 45 minutes north of Los Cabos, is a beach-lover, swimmer and surfer paradise, with nothing but pristine beach visible for miles.

Medano Beach, on the Sea of Cortez, is smaller and less pristine than Cerritos. It offers lots of hotels, restaurants, souvenir vendors, several designated swimming areas with views of visiting cruise ships.

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos

Deep Sea Fishing

A highlight for my youngest son on this trip was a deep-sea fishing excursion at sunrise one morning. I’m sure you can guess why by looking at these pictures; that’s a 110-pound sailfish he hauled in! They released it back into the sea; a sailfish is quite a rare catch.

His brother, father, and I (and others prone to seasickness) did not participate in this adventure. That was our loss, evident in their obvious enjoyment.

Here are a few videos of their fishing adventure, including dolphins and a sea lion following/leading the boat as well as the rookie reeling in the sailfish….

Cabo Landmarks

As well as its beautiful beaches, Cabo is also famous for El Arco, the Sea Arch, or Lover’s Rock. This rugged, distinctive landmark sits at the tip of the peninsula where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos

We experienced an up-close and personal tour of this landmark and other majestic rock formations in a spectacular 90-foot yacht. Whale watching and frolicking in the buoyant, surprisingly warm, turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez topped off the day.

Enroute to Cerritos Beach, we stopped for lunch and shopping in the tiny, rustic town of Todos Santos. Its claim to fame for tourists? Home of both the Hotel California and Tequila Sunrise. Contrary to popular opinion and speculation, the (musical group) Eagles have never been there. In fact, a recent lawsuit challenged the use of the famous Hotel California name.

Mexican Culinary Delights

Along with every flavour of margarita imaginable, we sampled lots of delicious food too. Seafood lovers or abstainers, vegans or carnivores all had lots of choices. All-day and (apparently) all night with 24-hour room service. All-inclusive featured daily breakfast buffets, (including an over the top Sunday Brunch buffet), poolside snacks, casual and formal dining.

Not an adventurous eater, but not too picky either, I tried a few new things. You know, when in Rome (Mexico). These delectables included sushi (with more than avocado and rice in it), sashimi and ceviche. Of course, I included lots of my favourite Mexican treat, fresh guacamole. The jarred stuff is just not going to cut it now.


Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos

I sipped on my share of margaritas on this trip; tequila appears to be the alcohol of choice in Mexico. That makes perfect sense as agaves grow in wild abandon there. Tequila shots, meant to be downed quickly and not sipped, are not my style. I prefer to sip at a beverage. My eldest son suggested a low carb, liqueur-less, “skinny” Margarita with a bit of pineapple juice….delicious!

I am no stranger to tequila and the endless variety of cocktails one can create from it. In fact, I concocted my own skinny version last winter when we were just dreaming of a winter vacation.

My brother (the Mexico dwelling one) swears tequila is good for you. According to this information from The Independent he may be right:

Research has found that tequila can help lower your blood sugar. Agavins are the sugars which occur naturally in the agave plant. They are non-digestible so they act as a dietary fibre. They also support growth of healthful microbes in the mouth and intestines.

The Independent, July 24, 2018

I consumed more alcohol in a week than I normally do in two months. No hangovers slowed me down though. Skinny Margaritas may become my new drink of choice here in Canada. Move over red wine!

Covid Precautions for the Destination Wedding

The travel industry is eager to welcome travellers back at (what we hope is) the end of the pandemic. All airlines, airports, transportation services, and resorts we visited were fully Covid compliant. All staff wore masks, we did too when not eating or drinking inside restaurants and bars. Masks outside were not necessary.

Restaurant menus within the resort were accessible through apps on our phones. Much like here at home.

My immediate family members and those of the bride and groom had to obtain an expensive PCR covid test to return to Canada. That was on top of the rapid antigen test (less expensive) to fly through the USA. I was also randomly selected to submit to an additional PCR test at the Edmonton airport on our return. Thankfully that was not at my expense. All results were negative. Travellers were all double vaccinated, symptom-free, with all test results negative. For those reasons, we did not have to quarantine on our return home.

As a sign of the (pandemic) times, the bride and groom included customized face masks in gift bags…

Destination Wedding in Paradise, AKA Los Cabos

along with a bottle of tequila of course!

Romance in the Air!

The oceanside wedding ceremony was very romantic. My niece (daughter of the groom) got engaged in Cabo as well. Her fiance definitely chose a romantic theme.

Photo Credit and Acknowledgement

I took very few of the gorgeous photos within this post. Most were taken on better cameras by more talented photographers, then shared amongst us on our wedding FB page.


In summary, the only downside to this adventure is that we had to come home to cold weather! I for one cannot wait to go back!