Every year, my boyfriend’s family gets together in Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast. His mom’s cousin, Larry, and his wife, Marnie, own a water-front property up there. Every July long-weekend they invite everyone and their dogs up in trailers, RVs and tents for a week of kayaking, fishing, marshmallow-roasting and drinking. The highlight of the week is the big horseshoe tournament and roast dinner where the winners get their names added to the coveted trophy.
Last year, after my China misadventure, I came home and was lucky enough to be able to join Colin and his family for the last few days of their 2015 Pender Harbour trip. It was the perfect China antidote: clean air, lots of love and family, and a perfect escape back to nature. I elected to keep my phone off and just enjoy the people and the place.
This year, Pender Harbour fell just one day after we returned from our Toronto wedding and quick trip to Montreal. We arrived back in Vancouver around 10pm on Tuesday, I worked Wednesday and Thursday, and then Colin picked me up Thursday after work to drive to the ferry terminal. It was a crazy week for sure but Pender is the perfect place to relax after some crazy. Unfortunately, Colin and I were only able to stay for the long weekend as we both had to work Monday, so it wasn’t quite as long and relaxing as we would’ve liked.
We arrived Thursday evening and got to work pitching Colin’s brand new 8-man tent. He had previously bought a 3-man tent but I nagged him relentlessly until he upped the size. 8-man may have been a bit large but it was nice to stretch out and have lots of room for our stuff. Colin forgot our bedding, but we were able to borrow lots of blankets, sleeping bags and a miraculous piece of foam to keep ourselves dry and comfy.
By Friday morning, most of the other relatives had arrived and everyone had claimed their spot around the property. We took a quick walk down to the dock and spent the rest of the morning watching the guys chop down some trees, enjoying Marnie’s homemade fish head soup and playing with baby Kennedy. After some lounging, we decided to drive over to Skookumchuck and hike in to see the rapids.
I’m not a big hiking person but this actually wasn’t a terrible time. Looking back (and acknowledging that I have probably repressed the worst parts), I actually enjoyed myself. The hike was really pretty – there were Jurassic Park-like glades, a beautiful lake and it ended with the natural phenomenon: the Skookumchuck Narrows where differences in water levels creates insane rapids and whirlpools that a handful of brave kayakers take on. There were a few moments of uphill that my thighs were upset about and poor Colin got stung near a very active wasp nest but all in all, it was a great time. In fact, the hardest physical part of the hike was being squished into Colin’s backseat with his two 15 year old cousins who were all limbs for 30 mins there and back.
My favourite part about Pender Harbour is ending each night by the fire. I love looking up at the stars and just taking in the quiet with everyone in lawn chairs seated around the fire. Of course, making s’mores is part of that fun as well!
The next day was all about the horseshoes and the roast! More friends and family poured in for the annual tournament that would consist of 30 games and last apx 7 hours (with a dinner break) thanks to a 2-loss elimination rule. This is also where I learned that my horseshoe skills have not improved since last year but had, along with my enjoyment level, seriously decreased. But the partner that I bailed on after two games (sorry, Dave!) did go on to win the tournament with his new partner, so I really did them both a favour 🙂
On our final day in Pender, we didn’t get up to a whole lot. We had a nice breakfast and then started taking down our camp, packing up the car and saying our goodbyes. Unfortunately, we never did find the time or perfect temperature to go swimming and Colin missed out on the guys’ big fishing trip. So hopefully next year we’re both able to take a little longer off work and extend our stay. But it was still nice to have our short and sweet visit this year.
**I decided to go phone/internet free for this Pender visit as well so unfortunately I only have a couple photos snapped on Colin’s phone to share**