When in Canada, climb a mountain and swim in a cold lake

View all the Vancouver Island photos here

Canadians are so nice it’s sickening, like eating too much maple syrup and walnut ice-cream.  This makes it an excellent place to travel as everyone and everything is just…nice.  There are exceptions to this.  When we got a surly bus driver I wanted to tug his walrus moustache in gratitude.  The car rental agencies are not nice either.  At first we had an issue with our debit credit card not having enough money in it.  We battled on without a car and returned triumphantly with money topped up only to discover that it was the type of card that wasn’t acceptable (and by the way we need to see your Australian drivers licence that you left at home because you stupidly thought the whole point of getting an international drivers licence was that you don’t need to carry your regular licence around with you, even though the international drivers licence explicitly states that you need your regular licence).  So we arrived at an impasse once again.  Thanks to globalization and the highly effecient modern delivery methods this isn’t a total disaster but we weren’t expecting Canada to be the place giving us the most trouble.

Being tough international travellers we battled on and scabbed a lift from our ever generous friend Mike whose in-laws we stayed with on Vancouver Island with his wife and our good friend Sarah.Vancouver Island is not just some little piece of land in the harbour off Vancouver.  It’s a huge island in its own right, about 9 hours drive from tip to tip.  It’s a 90 minute ferry ride to get to Victoria, the capital, and then roughly an hours drive to Lake Shawnigan where Sarah’s parents kindly put us up.  The house at Lake Shawnigan is idyllic.  When Mike mentioned baby deer grazing on the lawn in a Facebook post I thought it was hyperbole, but sure enough as we were starting dinner that night on the balcony overlooking the lake, a mother deer with her two fawn came trotting out for an evening graze.  Dragonflys zagged through the late evening sunlight.

Before dinner we did something very Canadian, climbed a mountain behind the Lake Shawnigan house.  Although not the biggest hill the views were spectacular.  We backed this up the next day by climbimg Mount Finlayson, through Lord of the RIngs style forest before clambering over the rocky ground near the top.  The air is beautiful here.

Once you’ve climbed the mountain, it’s time for the lake.  I was braced for truly numbing glacial water based on stories of Harrison Lake, where the Lows have holiday cabins, but as I gingerly made my way into Lake Shawnigan under beautiful blue skies my manhood wasn’t as severely tested as I had expected.  On the contrary, it was quite pleasant, with the hum of speedboats in the distance the only sound besides splashing.  The Canadians at the beach that day didn’t build castles but rivers in the sand running down the the lake’s edge which they filled with water.  Having eaten fresh sushi on the lake beach it was time to go to the local organic orchard for a cider sampling before taking our booty back to the hot tub.  Pretty neat, uh-huh.

View all the Vancouver Island photos here

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