The Road Home

With heavy hearts we began packing our bags, collecting our leftover food (of which there was not much), and preparing the car for the road trip home. I sorted out the garbage from recycling and compost as it’s a little different here and Gemma hadn’t really had the chance to get to grips with what goes where; then we did a brief check of the rooms and just like that we were gone.

Check in at the Airbnb we were scheduled to stay at in Nanaimo was not until 4pm, so we had plenty of time to get from where we were to where we were going and check out one more trail on the West Coast of the island.

Car parked and cameras at the ready, we started on the boardwalk and entered the incredibly creepy rainforest. I do get creeped out at little things but the threat of sleeping bears and hungry wolf packs aren’t exactly far out here; in fact before you step foot in the forest there is a sign telling you how to ward off potentially angry wolves should they settle on you for dinner. We were not at all comforted by the thick silence that seemed to swallow us as soon was we entered the forest.

As we followed the wooden walkway, stepping over caution tape and broken planks, humongous fallen trees surrounded us. The trunks were home to an array of suspicious looking fungi and blankets of citrus green moss, and with their sprawling tangled roots, the scene could easily have been written into a Harry Potter book.

To be fair to us, we did stick with the trail for as long as we could but we were both just too anxious to get back to the car park. As striking and impressive as the ancient woods were, they were menacing and had a very somber feeling hanging in the air.

When comfortably strapped into the car with the heated seats on, we said a prayer for the couple who had just arrived… although they looked a lot hardier than us.

Once again we indulged in the act of singing loudly in the car. With our carefully selected tunes blasting as we travelled route 4 towards Nanaimo my heart was so full. It was full of love for the mountains, the blue skies, the fresh smell of pine wafting in through the wide open windows, and for my best friend singing like a loon in the seat next to me. In that moment I reaffirmed something that I’ve known for a long time… no matter how shit life gets, no matter what it throws at us, or even how much we do each others heads in, we’ll be okay because we’ll have each other!

Honestly, the weather could not have been more perfect for our drive home. We got to really experience the beauty of the mountains, the glass like lakes and winding roads. As we we driving around a particularly generous bend we noticed some cars parked up. Gemma read my mind and quickly pulled over to see what the fuss was about. No fuss, just stunning scenery.

We had parked next to a short length of railing covered with padlocks fastened by lovers and friends over the years. Sadly, we didn’t have anything to add to the masterpiece but we enjoyed it all the same.

There were some steep concrete steps tucked away which naturally we had to climb down. The steps lead down to hundreds of rocks for us to navigate. We hopped over pools of clear blue water to get as close to the river rapids as we dared. The views were well worth the stop; the snowy mountain tops visible above an expanse of evergreens, which in turn towered over the white river and the rocks it rushed around. An eagle even flew overhead and on toward the mountain.

Our next stop was primarily to use the washroom as we were both busting. We used the same stop as on the way out (you know, when we couldn’t see anything and had to pull over?). I’ve used the facilities at this particular spot previously and I really don’t remember them smelling so goddamn awful. Upon opening the bathroom door both Gemma and audibly gagged as the putrid stench filled our noses. We clamped our mouths real tight and did our business as swiftly as possible.

I decided to force Gemma to appreciate the snow. We weren’t stressed from driving and we hadn’t had any snow times yet, Canada does snow so much better than the UK. Of course, I wandered off and soon lost sight of Gemma. After taking a tonne of photos of a frozen over pond and white tipped pines, I headed back to the car figuring I’d find Gemma waiting patiently… I did not. I waited for a couple minutes and after hearing nothing I decided to go on the hunt. Finally, I found her down a riverbank and as lovely as Gemma is to look at, the river took my breath away.

The water was turquoise, the rocks all rounded and soft. I could not get enough. We walked the river and tried to get up on one of the cliff edges, but the snow made it unsafe and although I’m all about adventures these days… I’d like to get home in one piece.

We had a laugh and then started on the home stretch knowing we’d have to go through a drive through fast food place when we reached Port Alberni. Funny thing about Port Alberni, there is only one road through it. Gemma was adamant that we had not been there before. Like really adamant. At first it was amusing that she couldn’t remember, but then she started saying things like ‘Well I’M the driver so obviously I know the roads better’. Oh well okay then, girl! How’s about you navigate the way home and we’ll see how far we get. 😂

I did get genuinely irked and we made a very quick decision to get some food in us as swiftly as possible. One maccers later and we just really wanted to be back in our Airbnb. We would be staying at the same place we booked the first night of Gemma’s trip so we knew it was going to be a comfortable place to go back to.

As soon as we arrived we washed the car. The latest we could give it back to the rental company was midday the following day and there were certain ‘guidelines’ for returning without extra charges. In light of those guidelines we filled up a bucket and got to work. We may have returned it cleaner than when we picked it up, just saying. ☕️

Dinner was ordered in and we binge watched The Office in our PJ’s before turning in.

Lots of love,

Courtney xo

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