Pandemic travel logs
By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
When I got to Salt Spring (the best-known and largest of the southern gulf islands), I was underwhelmed.
I’ve decided to keep moving during the pandemic, and I’m not talking about boxing up my things and finding another place to reside (the Gulf Islands are great)—I’m talking travel. Yes, I know there are lockdowns all over the place, and things are rather dicey, but there will always be something going on going forwards. And if I use the pandemic as an excuse, I’ll never get what I want to do with my life done.
Over the holidays, I spent some time with my parents in Calgary where we enjoyed good meals and great conversations; one conversation we had was about how little of Canada I have seen. My dad held out a red six-inch by nine-inch book and said, “If this book is all of Canada, you’ve seen maybe about this much,” he then used the nails of his index finger and thumb to measure out the tiny space of Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Toronto, and Grand Prairie. I thought he was exaggerating, but it turns out he wasn’t, and his thumbnail might be a bit bigger than yours and mine. Canada is HUGE, exactly 9.985-million-kilometres-squares huge.
There are ten provinces and three territories that make up Canada, some of which you can’t even get to without a plane! Most of them, however, you can drive to and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Travelling by car is pretty safe during the pandemic—you’ve got a mobile bubble where you can view the world harmlessly from your seat while listening to “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script. Best of all, you can stock up on all of your favourite snacks and drive-thrus are still open if you run out. Should you decide to upgrade road travel to the next level and take on a cross-country trip, I’d recommend also upgrading to an SUV, minivan, or RV as you’ll likely need to purchase groceries and sleep in the vehicle to save some money.
I plan to start with island hopping—I’ve already checked out Mayne and Salt Spring, the two islands neighbouring Galiano. Mayne is smaller than Galiano, so I wasn’t expecting too much, but when I got to Salt Spring (the best-known and largest of the southern gulf islands), I was underwhelmed. The internet makes Salt Spring out to be a hippy paradise, full of treehouses, vegan cafes, boutiques, and magical markets! The pandemic saw to it that there were no markets (something I anticipated), but it also left me high and dry for places to pop into. What few restaurants, cafes, and clothing stores there were all happened to all be closed. I was mildly disappointed, regardless we drove around anyway and took in the vegetation and classic Gulf Island houses. It wasn’t until we parked for the night (spending it in the SUV) and listened to the rain drum against the roof that I thought about what I had always claimed was the reason I travelled: to explore, see the sights, and take beautiful pictures. And here I was, let down by closed boutiques and markets. And it hit me, we don’t need to buy things to have fun, remember, and enjoy our travels. That seems like it should’ve been obvious, I know. It took a pandemic for me to remember that I delight in forging out mountaintop views, sandy beaches, and vast farmlands to explore and capture with my camera far more than trying to source a souvenir shop.
My guess is as good as yours, but I’d assume it’s all the restrictions and controls in place that got the better of me. In my opinion, travel is about creating memories and learning new things and what better place to start than my own province. Because the pandemic conveniently closed a lot of services, it has opened up an alternative option to appreciate travelling. We do things like stopping roadside to take fast photos, exploring each trail and tiny town we come across, helping local farmers and fruits stands that don’t garner a lot of attention otherwise, taking in stunning countryside scenes, and making us think creatively when it comes to meals and night times. By the time I find out more about Canada, maybe the pandemic will be over and international travel will be safer again.