Family Time in Parksville

July 28, 2016 - 4:17 pm 1 Comment

Got dropped at the gas station in Parksville and was met with hugs from my mom and sister. After a week of solo travel, it was great be with family again.

Parksville is a small town nestled between mountains and rocky beaches. It’s filled with deer, black bunnies, and old people. We’d spend the days seeing the local sights: an international sand castle competition, Little Mountain, Horne Lake, Qualicum Falls, and Rathtrevor Beach, which is the most massive beach I have ever seen when the tide is out. It’s a half-mile walk to the water’s edge.

Parksville Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition

Kids at Little Mountain

Mom at Horne Lake

Using the TripAdvisor app, I was able to find some fancy places for lunch in this small town that even my sister’s family had never heard of. And through it all, the weather was incredible. Every day, warm sun, cool breeze, and happy, fluffy clouds. I can’t remember ever enjoying weather this good for this long.

In the evenings, the family would sit at the kitchen table and play Rummikub, one of our family traditions. Other nights, we’d sit in the backyard around a little fire and chat.

Another thing my mother’s been raving about for years is the whale-watching tour she took when she was up here a few years ago. It was a life-changing experience for her. With me in town, she insisted that we do it. Well, it was truly awful.

We slammed our little boat through 8-foot seas for 2 hours, well past Mt. Baker and probably into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, before we finally spotting a pod of orcas and stopping the boat. By that point, my mom and I were thoroughly drenched and cold and nauseated. I checked my camera gear to make sure it wasn’t ruined while my mother leaned over the side to vomit.

Our guide’s playful enthusiasm was admirable but particularly annoying given our nausea and state of mind. He gave us one of those nervous “let’s not be discouraged by the fact that we’re all cold and miserable” giggles and told us that orcas are very intelligent, very social animals that love to touch each other. He snapped a few of his own photos and again mentioned how much orcas love to touch each other.

The orcas were swimming all around us and going back and forth under the boat, and it was a cool thing to see, but it was a little hard to appreciate given the mood. After 10 minutes, just as I was getting enough feeling in my hands to take some photos and my mom was finished vomiting, our guide said it was time to turn the boat around and head back. Then another 2 hours slamming through the same 8-foot waves. This was not a fun day.

By the end of my family visit, I had cemented my status as coolest uncle in the world. Amanda is blossoming into a wonderful young lady with hidden opera singing talents, Jamie discovered the game of volleyball, and Matthew proved to be an absolute wizard at Rummikub. Tucker, their new family dog, is a neurotic and jumpy crotch-sniffer who hated me at first, but after a few days of playing dog whisperer, I couldn’t get him to stop humping me.

And that was it. The Pacific Northwest and a week with my family were over, a few days of downtime had me recharged, and it was time to forge onward.

Checking in at the ticketing counter at Nanaimo Airport, I smugly asked the agent how many times he’d seen a passenger fly from Nanaimo to Zagreb, thinking I might be the first. “About once a week or so, we have a Serbian sailor flying to Zagreb.” Darn it.

I’m now sitting at the airport terminal in Nanaimo (nah-NYE-mo). From here, I fly to Croatia to begin a European adventure that will last nearly 2 months. It will be a long trip to Zagreb, about 19.5 hours of travel and 4 different flights. In less than an hour, I’ll be off. It’s these moments at the very beginning, with all of the fun and excitement of a great adventure ahead of me, that I love the most.

    One Response to “Family Time in Parksville”

  1. Alice Lockett Says:

    Oh my what an experience. I really have a new respect for you. Enjoy the rest of your journey . Love reading your blogs.

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