PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Day trips perfect for easing out of pandemic bubble

B.C. offers many destinations worth exploring, writes columnist April Lewis

B.C. is open again for travel.

Weeks into phase 3 of the pandemic’s “new” normal, Supernatural British Columbia is beckoning us to visit.

B.C. residents are invited to travel within its borders, where the natural beauty and splendor of B.C. awaits. What an amazing opportunity to explore our own backyard and appreciate what world travellers have always known.

British Columbia is breathtakingly beautiful.

However, for many of us, we may be reluctant or nervous about moving too far away from the social bubbles we have created.

The idea of staying in a hotel or motel may be daunting to some who question whether COVID-19 cleaning protocols are enough to protect us from this virulent virus.

Should we bring our own pillow and towels? Are we able to visit a restaurant or café and maintain social distancing? Will we be required to wear masks? Are employees and those around us washing their hands often?

I understand your concerns, so may I make a suggestion? Start slowly by taking day trips only. Set off early and enjoy a day closer to home.

Taking my own advice, I set off to have a bite at the Sasquatch Inn in Harrison Mills. A quirky place full of old farm tools and bikers. Lots of bikers, as in motorcycles. Tattoos are not required to enjoy a comforting meal here.

To get there, I took a meandering route through Ridgedale in the Fraser Valley which led me to the Sumas Mountain Road. Up and over the mountain and down to Kilgard, the site of a former brick plant which is at the north side of Sumas Prairie. Did you know Sumas Prairie was once a lake? If you want to read about it, I recommend Before We Lost the Lake by Chad Reimer.

I explored pastoral places I had never heard of before. Straiton, where my boyfriend’s grandma Jones used to live. Her tiny tin-roofed house is still there with someone living in it. Apparently, grandma used to schlep down the hill to the Clayburn General Store to get her groceries and then make her way back uphill again. All in a raging snowstorm, I hear you say!

The Clayburn store still exists with an entire section which sells old-fashioned candy in jars just like they did 100 years ago. There is a gift shop and tea room where you can enjoy lunch. So cool to step back in time.

And to think I had never heard of Clayburn.

I am definitely out in the country, the endless development of Surrey a distant memory. On the south side of the Fraser, I am introduced to Bradner and Peardonville and McMillan. Greendale, Yarrow and Rosedale. I feel like I have been living life under a rock, as I didn’t know these adorable places existed.

Over to the north side of the Fraser, I stop at Kilby and buy a pound of coffee beans.

Arriving at the Sasquatch Inn, I have definitely worked up an appetite.

Having done a mini road-trip, my appetite is now whetted for more of unknown, local B.C. This time, I want to get some exercise.

The Teapot Hill hike at Cultus Lake is delightful and whimsical with colourful teapots strategically placed within the forest. A walk along the Fraser River at Island 22 Regional Park is soothing for the pandemic-weary soul. The Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve offers a peaceful sanctuary.

Who knew so much supernatural beauty is only a day trip away.

Passport not required.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’

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