what I did on my summer vacation-part one

This year we had a HUGE family trip planned. The in-laws have been on us to join them for a trip to Singapore for a few years now. We figured that the kids were old enough to remember such a trip and we did not have any major projects (ie, the Natural Urban Home) on the go. The flights and hotels were booked, travel vaccines done, and our days all planned with the amazing and wonderful sights to see and places to visit in and around Singapore and our planned side trip to Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

And due to circumstances WAY beyond our control (suffice it to say that CANCER can SUCK IT!) we had to cancel our trip. The day before we were supposed to leave.

I had to break this to the kids on the Friday before our planned departure.  Yeah, that was not fun. They cried, they asked why so many times I stopped counting. And they were so, so disappointed.

I felt that we could not just cancel outright any chance of us taking a family vacation this summer and so I hit the interwebs to find a suitable (and relatively close-by) alternative.

Maui? No, the flights were just too much.

Mexico? The Carribean? Nope, surprisingly most all-inclusives are rather costly in the summer months.

So I started to look closer to home.

And then it hit me.

Vancouver Island.

My parents have been yammering on for years about this place on Vancouver Island that they love and visit as often as they can. In my mind, I somehow pictured tit as the Canadian version of Boca Raton and just dismissed it as a retirees haven of golf and well... more golf. And more imporantly, neither I nor the kids have ever been to the Island, so it just made sense.

It looked like the perfect spot for us to get away for a week and just chill.

I am talking about the lovely little town of Parksville, British Columbia.

I headed over to VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and started to look for a nice cottage to rent for the week.

And two hours later I had our flights booked (on Westjet of course) and I found and reserved a great fully-equipped vacation rental just minutes from the beach.

We had a plan.

When the kids woke up on Saturday morning, we told them all about our NEW holiday plans. And because they are kids, they were just as excited about this trip as they were about the one to Singapore (which is still on the books for sometime in the next six months or so)!

We left on the following Monday and flew into Comox airport. We rented a ridiculously small, yet surprisingly roomy and EXTREMELY fuel efficient car (the Mazda 2) and headed to our final destination.

Parksville is this little wonderfully tourist-y kind of town on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 25-40 minutes from the airports in either Nanaimo or Comox and it is the perfect family vacation spot.

On our first day we headed to Cathedral Grove. A forest of ancient Douglas Firs that my kids (and my husband) loved. It was magical walking through the trees and watching L look for 'fairy houses' {giant mushrooms} and C trying to figure out how high the trees were. I personally loved all the moss-covered everything, it made me feel like I was in a Rivendell forest scene from Lord of the Rings.

On our way back from the forest we stopped for a picnic at the Little Qualicum Falls park and inadvertently took our kids on what turned out to be a 2.5 hour  strenuous hike on some pretty rocky terrain (which we learned later is also bear country!). We got lost {twice} and eventually made it back to our car. All I have to say about this is THANK GAWD I had my toddler carrier. Now if only I had brought more water with us...

Day Two was filled with more tourist-y sights and we headed out to the famous Goats on the Roof Old Country Market in nearby Coombs. It is an eclectic little place to visit, with lots of cute shops, a fabulous {and very crowded} market filled with all kinds of imported and local foods and gifts and yes, there really are goats munching away at the living roof of the main building. We also found the giant limestone statues and carvings a block over, while completely odd and out of place, rather awe-inspiring. And for some reason, my kids were particularly drawn to these ones.

We visited the Butterfly World and Gardens on the way back and although the kids thoroughly enjoyed it and I got to fool around with my new macro lens for my iPhone, the price to get it was rather steep and the kids were quite obviously DONE!

Day Three was declared a beach day and we headed out in the morning to stake our spot on Rathtrevor Beach. With the tide out in the mornings at least a kilometre, small pools of water get warmed by the sun and you can spend your whole day exploring the ocean floor and finding lots of great treasures. The kids dug a huge trench and just sat in it for the longest time. We tried to walk to the ocean's edge, but a kilometre trek at the end of a day in the sun was too much for everyone and so we headed back home for a nap instead!

 After our much needed nap and discovering that when you offer to put sunscreen on your husband's back and he says "Don't worry, just do my shoulders." you SHOULD NEVER LISTEN TO HIM (um, hello sunburn!), we headed to Parksville Beach to check out the sand sculptures created for the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition. The sculptors get a truckload of sand and 24 hours to create their masterpieces and then they are on display for the next 4 weeks. We all got to vote for our favourite one and the competition was tough and provided some awesome inspiration for our next beach day!

There really is so much to do in and around the Parksville area on Vancouver Island that you can't go wrong with a family vacation there. Check out this great website for a lot more information about what to do, where to stay and more while in the area. I have 4 more days of fun to share with you, but this post is getting quite picture heavy. I will post Part Two later this week and I leave you tonight with this.

My little monkey man climbing around at the COOLEST playground ever!!

What about you? Have you vacationed or explored a new part of Canada for the first time this year? Where should we go next?

Natasha~

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Today is Day 10 of the 31 Days of Summer Blog Challenge.

Please visit the posts from my fellow bloggers and encourage them to keep going by commenting and sharing!

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life

April at This Mom’s Got Something to Say

Aramelle at One Wheeler’s World

 Jessica at 2plus2X2

and Liam at In the Now