The Discovery Islands and Sunshine Coast loop: Biking, Beaches and lots of Ice Cream
We started off Saturday near Comox were we parked our car near Seal Bay nature park. We had a pretty late start, but seem to make good progress. F biked through the park and along the small side roads and went back on the Haul-a-day with N whenever the roads became more busy. We managed to avoid the highway all the way to our end of the day destination at Miracle Beach Provincial Park. It did however involve a very rocky backroad near Williams Beach, and we also had to cross the Seaview Game Farm. We were hoping to get an ice cream here, but not one was around. It did look like a very nice option for camping. Luckily Miracle beach managed to provide the promised ice cream. We arrived rather late at Miracle Beach and knew that we had one of our longest days the next day, so we never made it to the beach, but just spent our time playing at the campsite.
On Sunday we continued to weave our way up the coast along small side roads and trails. In the outskirts of Campbell River we stopped for a play in Hagel Park, before continuing along a very bumpy trail leading us from McGimpsey Road to Jubilee Parkway. In Campbell river we first enjoyed a long descent on a beautifil bike path along Dogwood Street before climbing a big hill. F was on her own bike, and she just kept climbing. I could not even keep up. She was so proud of herself when she reached the top.
We picked up some food and an ice cream (of course) in town before heading out to Quinsam Campground. This evening we had time for a fire for roasting our sausages and carrots (a new favourite of F's). We are always a little doubtful about what you are suppose to do with your food at the drive-in campsites, where bear lockers usually is not provided, but since Christian is usually pretty fast at setting up a bear hang we have decided that it is the best option. This evening though Christian spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to set up the bear hang. It did result in us discovering all these painted rocks left behind by other campers. The kids got very excited looking for more. Our campsite was right beside the river, which gave us plenty opportunity to enjoy it in the morning before heading off towards the Quadra Island ferry.
We have been to Quadra Island a number of times, so on Monday we decided to just bike straight across to the ferry to Cortes. As is the norm for these islands, Cortes greets you with a nice big climb out from the ferry terminal... and the rest of the island is really no different. There is a lot of hills and a lot of them were pretty steep. F's new found hill climbing confidence meant that she managed to tackle a lot more of the hills than we expected.
Our first ride on the island was pretty short as we stayed at the Gorge Habour Marina resort. It was a bit more luxurious than the usual provincial park with a small grocery store, a restaurant and most importantly a pool. We all got in the pool soon after arrival and stayed there until the kid closure at 7pm. We all enjoyed playing and splashing in the pool, and the adults enjoyed feeling nice and clean as we went to bed.
The next day we peddled up over the biggest and steepest hill of the trip; we had several car passengers encourage us on the way. On the other side we could cruse most of the way to Manson Landing, where it was time for the ice cream of the day. The little grocery store there had some really good Popsicles.
Unfortunately this was where we discovered that some prescription cream escaped from its jar into everything in the toiletry bag. Most disconcerting was the toothbrushes. We decided there was no way to effectively clean them, so we'd have to dispose of them. This was *not* popular with F *at all*. When the little grocery store only had organic free-range toothbrushes (with no picture of, for example, a princess on them) this dissatisfaction grew into a complete meltdown. Fortunately the gas station a couple hundred meters back was stocked with colourful plastic, and we found some acceptable toothbrushes complete with blinking LEDs inside them. I never thought I'd be the type to buy a toothbrush with an LED inside, but now I understand.
Our stop for the night was at Smelt Bay Provincial park. We spent most of the afternoon at the campsite prepping the fire and the snobroed, while the kids cut up leaves and paper, and did some artwork. Unfortunately the beach was still at the bottom of a big hill, we did however still make it down there for a quick play in the sand. The following day we had a water taxi booked from Cortes Bay, so we biked back towards Mansions Landing, and decided that we would have enough time to go by Hague Lake for a swim on this sunny and warm day. We managed to wrestle our bikes down the short trail to the beach and it was definitely worth the detour. The beach was super nice, the water a great temperature for swimming, and a kind family lend us their tubes. We ended up spending a full hour in the water before we packed up again and headed towards our water taxi. The road leading us there, Bartholomew road, had some serious hills. Not super long, but definitely steep. We arrived super sweaty with just enough time to take apart all our stuff and carry it onto the dock before the water taxi arrived.
It was really hot when we were dropped off on the dock on Savory Island. The warm weather and the kilometres of sandy beaches greeting us made it feel like we had arrived on a tropical island. We took shelter underneath the dock, while having a snack and a swim, before making our way up to the ice cream store. She was just about to close, but took pity on us and sold us an ice cream. We found Pascal's campground after a bit of asking around. Luckily there was a space for us right next to another family with young kids. The other kids quickly took F into their group, showed her their bow and arrow, took over the best jumping rock on our campsite, and invited us to try their slack line. The kids really enjoyed this dusty, tree covered campground, so much that it was hard to get them to go exploring with me. F and Christian ended up spending many hours making bows and arrows and shooting targets with them. The following afternoon I finally got everyone convinced to go explore one of the nearby beaches, Savary Shores Beach, just south west of the campsite. It was a gorgeous beach with lots of structures build out of driftwood to provide shade. The tide was low, so the kids spend some time digging in the tidal flats. Christian and F went swimming, and I enjoyed some relaxing times in a chair in the shade. We left the beach with enough time to make it by the ice cream store before it closed.
The sunshine coast
Friday morning we had an early start to make it back on the water taxi to Lund at a reasonable time. In Lund I picked up some delicious treats from the local bakery, before we headed off towards Powell River. We didn't have a plan for where we were going to sleep, but was hoping we could stay at the campsite in Powell River as we needed to catch the 11 am ferry to Comox Saturday to make it to a wedding on the Island that evening. The biking on the sunshine coast was the least enjoyable on the trip. There is only one road, it is not super busy, but on long stretches it lacks a proper shoulder. It also has two pretty big hill. The kids went in the chariot with some snacks and we basically just tried to do it as fast as possible, but we did of cause made time for an ice cream stop at the Tla'amin convenience store. Once in Powell River Historic Site we escaped onto some forest trails that eventually led us onto the Willingdon Beach trail, which was awesome for the kids. It had a lot of old logging equipment along the trail and a great path for the kids to bike on.
Luckily the Willingdon Beach campsite had room for us despite it being the beginning of the long weekend. We enjoyed the nearby playground and splash park (despite the somewhat cold weather) all afternoon, before I picked up some sushi for a true camping meal on our last evening of the trip.
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