Our favourite kind of adventures are the ones were we are not quite sure if we are going to make it. "Adventure is when the outcome is uncertain", as they say. This was definitely one of those - in fact when we headed off Friday morning I wasn't even sure it was a good idea. We were already two and half hours later than planned, as we had debated all morning if we even wanted to leave due to the pouring rain. F had insisted though; she would rather go biking and canoeing in the rain than go to school, so we went.
It was 12.30 by the time we finally left the house. I was towing the chariot with the two little ones, Christian towing the canoe and most of the gear in our homemade trailer, and F was on her own bike. It was still raining but at least not pouring anymore. We headed North on Ontario, and then East on 10th until the greenway. On the usually busy bike route we were grateful for the poor weather keeping the crowds at home. I had been pondering our route choice for a while the night before. I wanted to avoid busy streets, minimize elevation gain, but also make sure that the canoe did not get stuck on a narrow path. Luckily the bollards along the greenway were slightly further apart than the canoe was wide. Until we turned off the greenway F enjoyed riding through puddles and into the wet grass along the path. The real challenge for her started when we turned north again on Willingdon to go up over the Burnaby hill. It seemed like the up would never end, and we had to have a few extra candy and undressing stops. The rain had now stopped and the sun was starting the peak out. Christian and I began to wonder if we had enough time to actually do the canoeing part before dark. We both got a little agitated with F when she stopped for the umpteeth time to adjust who knows what. Just as our patients seemed to be running out we hit the top of the hill and started cruising down. It was smooth riding until we hit the Barnet road. The first kilometre or so has no shoulder, so we opted to loose most of the elevation down the bike route on cliff ave, only to have to regain it on a very steep hill. We were all kind of wondering if Christian would make it up with the canoe. F hopped on the haul-a-day for the little stretch left of Barnet road and we rolled into Barnet marine park just after 4pm.
At the park our friends, Chris, Krystil and their kids, were waiting for us. They helped us carry the canoe down and supervised the kids while we locked the bikes to the bathroom (we couldn't find a single bike rack in the park). The weather now seemed perfect. The sun had come out, and a gentle breeze was ready to help us up the inlet. We were later than planned heading up the inlet, but that also put the tides in our favour. Once we were in the canoe it seemed like we were flying. I started to relax again and enjoyed the paddle with our friends, chatting and catching up along the way. At Belcarra they wished us good luck as they headed for home. Still flying we quickly passed Jug Island Beach and headed into the open water beyond. The weather then seemed to quickly turn, dark clouds came in and the wind started picking up. I wasn't liking the open water, so I put the baby down, and let baby and kid complaints be, while I joined the paddling to quickly get us close to shore again. It wasn't long before we rejoined the shoreline and the wind seemed to die down (along with my heart rate). It seemed unreal that it was only 6.30pm by the time we pulled up a long the dock on twin island - just 6 hours after leaving our house in Oakridge.
Despite having forgotten the baby carrier we managed to carry all our stuff up to the closest tent platform. N kept baby W happy in the mean time, while F was off exploring the many small trails all over the island right away. After setting up the tent and making a bear hang, Christian headed out to explore with the kids, while I cooked dinner. We were in bed just before dark.
The next morning the kids were off finding huckleberries right away. Packing up camp and getting breakfast ready was fast and efficient. We knew that we had a long day ahead of us. During a little low tide explore of a small island just off the coast, we spotted another set of friends, Tim, Mirella and their daughter, coming to greet us. The kids had a quick play while we got the canoe ready, and then we all headed off together. The conditions were perfect, calm water and little wind. We spotted a number of seals on our way across to Racoon Island; one just a few meters from the canoe. Baby W feel fast asleep in my lap and with two paddlers we made great progress. The winds were suppose to pick up, so I wanted to keep going, but I was talked into a stop at Jug Island Beach. The beach had lots of little (mostly dead) jellyfish. N enjoyed touching the jellyfish and eventually worked up the courage to pick one up. By the time we were back in the canoe she had a few that she insisted on bringing.
We said goodbye to our friends as they headed back towards Deep Cove, and we started our last stretch past Belcarra. The wind had picked up and with the increased fetch I felt at uneasy in the canoe with three young kids. The canoe was handling just find, but I wanted to get on land before things got any worse. As we crossed Burrard Inlet the waves got smaller, but soon a dark cloud has over our heads and it started spitting. N was the only one wearing rain gear, so I wrapped baby W up in my rain coat and F covered herself with the tarp. Just has we hit shore the downpour started. I ran towards the covered washroom with the girls.
I had a headache coming on from the morning, and the somewhat exciting paddle during the last 30 minutes made my head pound. I curled up on the washroom bench for a while, and let Christian deal with bringing all our stuff out of the water and up to the washroom by himself. At this point I wasn't sure if I would manage to bike home. The big girls were happily playing just outside the washroom. The rain had stopped, but when I went to check on them, N was standing under the shower pretending that it was still raining. I couldn't help laughing. Somehow Christian had installed the canoe onto the trailer by himself; I let him assemble the rest of our rig, while I took a little nap. I woke up somewhat better, and convinced that I would at least make it to the gas station to buy some painkillers.
Our bike ride home was uneventful, but slightly more busy as the sun had come out. At times it was tricky navigating around other people with a stop-and-go 6 year old and a canoe. Parked on the side of the road during our break we nearly caused several bike crashes when people did a double-take of our setup rather than watching where they were going. A few kilometers before home F started falling over, so we let her ride on the haul-a-day for the rest of the way. However, back in the alley way both girls joined the neighbourhood kids for more riding. I guess she was not that tired after all.
River of Golden Dreams
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