Our final full day on the island, we did a little of everything. We drove through different areas of Nanaimo, went into more bookstores, went food shopping to make a simple dinner at the house, and drove a little further north to the towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
Parksville has a beautiful library ("has a beautiful library" drinking game?). In a bakery there, I made a random compliment about the very nice place and the nice town, and the person behind the counter raved about living there. Parksville and Qualicum Beach both have beaches, with waterfront motels and condos. I would have thought these towns were too upscale to have affordable rentals, but I saw several places online.
We've been talking a lot about, if I was a librarian in one of these towns, where Allan might work, and where we could live, and I've been looking at rental sites and job openings. It seems that while we were out here, Vancouver Island has moved from idea to intention.
We drove to the ferry, to see where it was, and how much time we would need the following morning. On the way back, M spotted a bald eagle; we got out to watch and take pics. Such a thrill to see those magnificent birds. Also we didn't wake up at in the middle of the night to do it. (Same people, two years earlier.)
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Tomorrow we take the ferry, a bus, and the SkyTrain to the Vancouver airport. M&M will head back to Victoria, see Butchart Gardens, stay one more night, then take a different ferry, and go to Olympic National Park. We've all had an amazing time together!
Sometime not that long ago, I wrote about how, when you're young, you don't know -- and can't imagine -- the shape your life will take. This trip is the perfect example.
First, when we lived in NYC, I never would have taken a vacation with another couple. We never had enough time off. Time out of the City was super-valuable, and we wouldn't have spent it with anyone else. Now we actually have enough time off -- paid time off -- that we can do this and still have a family vacation with a dog later in the year. This isn't accidental -- more time and money to travel was a factor in my career change -- but still, I didn't see it coming.
Second, my relationship with my brother has changed radically (although I think gradually, over time). (He's reading this... but he knows it's true.) This is awesome and amazing, and not something I could have predicted. An earlier version of me and him would not have done this, and certainly not done it so well.
Third, when we first moved to Canada, we didn't consider the west coast, as my mother lived in New Jersey. Now my mother lives in Oregon! Talk about not being able to predict your life! Even two years ago, on our first trip to Vancouver and Oregon, we weren't dreaming of moving west.
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Our photos from this trip are here. I haven't broken them up into smaller sets, as the number of photos seems more manageable than usual.
PS: Insect warning on page two of above Flickr set. Stop at parrots.
PPS: I was concerned that the trip from Nanaimo to the Vancouver airport would be grueling. It was super easy. It sounds like a big deal -- boat, bus, train -- but it's actually quite humane, even with luggage.