What I did on my summer vacation

To get away from the rain here in Whitehorse, Daisy and I went to Vancouver for our vacation.

I have used this line many times since I have returned. Every time, it is met with a wry and knowing laugh … then there is an awkward silence … and then a heavy pall of sadness.

Just as comics tell us their witty observations are funny because they are true, ironically, it works the other way, too.

Last month on Air North, a disappearing breed of airline that still serves food and sends you and your luggage to the same place, we began our search for “summer”.

We were looking for the summer that the rest of Canada takes for granted: we badly wanted to take a walk in a dark night while it was still warm.

In the Yukon, of course, it is cold when it is dark; and it is warm when it is light.

“Dark and warm,” we would chant in a sing-songy fashion in much the same way Ebenezer Scrooge delighted in reaching Christmas morning alive.

It was pretty much the theme for our entire vacation as we shucked the usual countenance of the typical Yukoner-on-vacation. That is to say, we did not bore people with how much cleaner our air is, how less congested the streets are or how beautiful the landscape is.

No, no. On this trip, we gloried in all that Southern B.C. has to offer.

We saw how alive and exciting a waterfront could be in Victoria; we saw how history and fun could be married on Steveston’s waterfront.

We were amazed at how freely deer roam the neighbourhoods of Nanaimo (except, there, they call them “pests”).

On the Island’s endless beaches, there are sand dollars to find and clams that spit at you.

Then there is downtown Vancouver which can be scary when considered in its entirety, but Daisy’s daughter has found a small community within a two-block radius where everybody knows everybody else and they all agree on the favourite restaurant and where the old shopkeepers have been there forever and flirt with everyone.

English Bay is the only place I have found where half a million people can congregate and cause no damage. We were there twice to see Canada and China take turns to see who had the best fireworks. No offence intended to the Picton, Ontario, Rotary Club, but those were the best fireworks I have ever seen.

Again, near the water, we learned the obvious lesson that the best seafood is fresh seafood … especially when it is prepared by a kitchen staff that does little else.

And there was a porch in Penticton in which we luxuriated in the soft lights of patio lanterns and the graciousness and artistic flair of our hostess who served peaches, ice cream and fresh sourdough bread for breakfast. The fact that there were no mosquitoes contributed to the experience exponentially … as did the friendly banter that only good, good friends can enjoy.

Kathleen is both interesting and interested, a killer combination and we look forward to her accepting our invitation to visit us.

It was in Penticton that my watch was repaired by a jeweller for free, where the peaches were so fresh you needed two napkins to eat them and it is where I entered into an unspoken contract with the street musician, just metres from my table outside of a coffee shop, not to play the weird stuff until after I finished my latte and Globe and Mail.

In the end, our successful vacation depended not just on the beauty of Southern B.C., but on our friends and family. As Daisy and I introduced each other to our respective kith and kin, their love was extended automatically to the other.

This is the quality of British Columbians. This is the makings of a great vacation.

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