My Canadian “Home”

You know how sometimes you go on an awesome trip, make incredible new friends and insist you will be back? Sometimes you only say it half-heartedly, or despite the best intentions, life gets in the way and you just don’t. Well..that was NOT the case on this past trip.

When I left Canada in August, I knew that no matter what, I would be back. Read about that trip HERE. I’m the type of person that you can’t say, “Come visit any time” to, because 9 times out of 10…I will take you up on that offer. I don’t know if my Canadian friends really thought I would come back or not, but I sure did and, yet again, I loved EVERY minute of my trip!

As you may have read in my previous post, Growing Pains + First Stop, the trip itself started out a little rocky. I have to keep reminding myself that I cannot control the future. Yes, I can control what I do, but I can’t control the turn out. I was frustrated dealing with trying to switch my cell phone service over to save money and it finally got to the point that my phone was just something I had to have. It was a necessity. Traveling ‘alone’ is somewhat intimidating, but I see my phone as my lifeline and I need a working phone in order to feel that sense of security. I also had to take into account that I am trying to stay connected and keep my social media and blogs current, which also requires some sort of connection. All that being said, I had to work out some kinks in order to get going.

My first full day here was started in the hostel spending 3 hours back and forth with the phone companies. I noticed that the hostel I was staying at offered free events each day and was planning on taking a hike. Well, the whole debacle ended up almost making me late and after I had been crying I thought about not trying to rush and just staying at the hostel for the day. Then I thought, “Is this really going to make me feel better? Probably not.” I knew that if I went on the hike I would want to be in a social and happy mood, which I wasn’t and which is why I was holding back. I told myself that I would go on the hike and I didn’t have to talk to anyone if I didn’t want to, but I HAD to at least go. Sure enough within the first 5 minutes of being on the hike, breathing in the fresh air Vancouver has (that Nashville doesn’t), and feeling the crisp, cool mist that was hitting my face…I had made the right choice.

I ended up getting my heart rate up, making a Brazilian and Australian friend, and getting a breath taking view. It was so worth it.

After the hike I didn’t have much time to prepare for dinner, but it was just enough. I ended up meeting up with my good friend, Luke, and his girlfriend for dinner. Interestingly enough, Jack Daniels was on special, so I took it upon my Tennessee self to indulge in a friendly drink from home. Towards the end of dinner his sister, Jen, joined. I had met her on my previous trip, but I spent more time getting to know Luke last time. Little did I know I would be getting to know a different Peterson on this trip! Out of the blue I decided to see if Jen would want to meet up for a hot yoga class in the morning, though I knew I was heading to Nanaimo for a couple days. She works quite a bit, but ironically, she was on an extensive break, so she was up for it!

That next morning I had to check out of my hostel before meeting up with Jen.

Side note on the hostel I stayed at: Samesun Backpackers.
This was my first hostel experience and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at all going into it. My flight got me in past 10pm and normally I would be worried about walking downtown alone with all my stuff at night, but Vancouver is a pretty safe city and I definitely felt more safe doing that there versus Nashville (I also don’t get weird looks being geared down like I probably would elsewhere). When I got the hostel they were having a thrilling “Paper, Rock, Scissors” tournament in the downstairs bar. The lady at the front desk gave me all my info and even got me a fresh towel for the showers! I was in a 4-female dorm room and was expecting a bed (with no sheets) that would be gross. Instead, I got a bottom bunk with sheets, a pillow, and even a comforter! There was a reading lamp, small fan, little shelf, and an outlet strip hanging by my bed. For those of you that don’t know, I LOVE little nooks like this! It’s like a little cave corner just for me, so I was pretty excited to see this was where I would be staying. The bathrooms were like that of a normal college dorm, there were common rooms, free wifi, and even free breakfast in the morning. I can’t wait to check out other hostels around the world!

Back to my journey…after checking out of the hostel, Jen and I got rather close as we were dripping with sweat, trying out different yoga poses, all in a room filled with other random sweaty people. After yoga we got cleaned up and grabbed breakfast before I had to catch my ferry to the island. It was then that she said I could come back and stay with her before I left Vancouver if I wanted to do more yoga. This was something completely unplanned and yet, it was the first thing that felt so right on this journey. Seeing things fall strangely, yet perfectly, into place is always my favorite part of travel…and life in general!

I always love the ride over to Nanaimo. It’s about an hour and a half trip on the BC Ferry, which features spectacular views and has a couple places to get food. I spent this time catching up with Miles (my boyfriend) who was skiing in Steamboat with his friends.

Once I got to Nanaimo, I was greeted by a friendly face, Lisa, who I also met on my last trip. She was actually the girlfriend of the guy who invited me to come back to the island after Pemberton Music Fest to spend time exploring on my journey–basically why I ended up staying in Canada last summer vs. road tripping down the West Coast of the US like I had originally planned.

Anyway, we got dinner at a local pub then headed home to wait for Richard to get off of work. It was SO good seeing both of them again and being so welcomed into their home! We went out and met up with several of their friends and had a great night of drinking, dancing, and chatting away!

Of course, glitter glasses got lots of love!

The next morning we felt a little under the weather (I blame the tequila), but that didn’t stop us from putting on our rain jackets and tennis shoes to go out for a hike. We met up with another one of the Pemby peeps, Jeffy, who led us on a fairly strenuous hike (mostly due to the mud) down to a waterfall. Pictures do not do this justice, but here they are anyway…

After getting our blood pumping, we went back to the house to hang out and have a meal at home for the night. I also had to re-position and re-pack since I was leaving in the morning.

The next day I took the BC Ferry back over the Vancouver in the morning so I could catch up with Jen again for another hike! We ended up doing the same one I had done a couple days ago (she didn’t know that I had already been) but this time was much different than last. The sun was out this day and we got to travel down to a nice ledge for a snack and some real talk. It really is amazing to me how quickly relationships form when you come across certain people. It’s just like your paths were meant to cross. Timing is perfect. The setting is perfect. Maybe we both needed a little something to happen like this…as if the universe was saying, “Hey! When you let go, look what happens!” Again, I felt super refreshed, but it only got better from there…

Once back to the city, we quickly changed, grabbed some “Hey Y’all’s”, blankets and sushi, then headed down to Sunset Beach by Luke’s place (which he also joined us for). Though there wasn’t much sun to set (due to clouds and such) it was still pretty awesome to be on the beach in February (though it was pretty cold) and be able to see all the colors and the reflections off the water….with mountains as the back drop and a sparkling city of the other side.

After dinner we headed back in to warm up and figure out exactly what we were going to do for the rest of the night. We ended up hitting a few bars in the city. I had a lot of fun with the Peterson’s! We laughed, enjoyed more beverages from my homeland (Jack Daniel’s), and goofed off. It was a really good time!

The next morning, Jen and I hit up a final hot yoga class then went to brunch before my flight. I briefly saw Luke and his girlfriend a final time to say good bye. The most noteable part of this meal, however, was the insane Cesar that Jen and I had! For those of you that may be unfamiliar with Cesars, they are basically the Canadian version of Bloody Mary’s, but somewhat different. They aren’t as thick and are made with clamato juice versus tomato. This one was a deluxe version and featured fresh horshradish grated into it along with a pickle, chorizo, bacon, an entire skewer of prawns and it was all topped with a raw oyster! This was a bit new for me (especially the oyster), but I managed to slurp the slimy thing right up and enjoyed the rest of the drink!!

My takeaway…
This trip, yet again, reminded of why I love travel and why I love Canadians! Being back up there was like re-discovering the piece of ‘me’ that I had left there in the summer still existed. Yes, this time was very different, but I am still just as obsessed with the West Coast of Canada as I ever was! I know it sounds weird, but I just feel this sense of ‘home’ when I’m there. It’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt confused about where my ‘home’ is these days.

What is ‘home’ any way?

i used to think that home was a specific place (in my case Nashville, TN), but I’ve had this dark cloud hanging over me when I’m in Nashville for almost 2 years now. I think it is because I am supposed to leave. I think I’m learning that ‘home’ is any place where you can be your true self; whether that be a physical place or being surrounded by specific people. This ‘home’ feeling I get in Canada is a mix of both. I think I am very comforted by the surroundings there because it opened my eyes to such different terrains than I had ever seen. I STILL have yet to see mountains more gorgeous than Whistler/Pemberton. Walking in the city of Vancouver you get glimpses of these mountains down the street almost every block, and I literally looked at them with appreciation EVERY TIME we passed them. Canada was the first place I visited for an extended amount of time and I learned SO MUCH about myself while I was there. I have a deep love for this place because I feel that the short 3 weeks I was there this summer I grew leaps and bounds from a person who I thought I had to be. I was able to shed the “supposed to” for the “true me”. AND, it was there that I first learned I could trust myself and my decisions, even if plans changed (which they often do).

The Van City area (and the amazing friends that live there) will always have a special part of my heart…and I can promise you this..I WILL be back!

#GlitterGlassesJourney #ILoveCanada

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