Gabriola Island: Escaping the Rat Race


Neil and Maya walking on Gabriola Island

As much as we hate to admit it, we are sometimes part of this ongoing rat race too. We live in a big city, Gili is working full time for a successful start-up company, I started my own cycling education program and peak activities were this April. And then there is Neil, of course – who is growing and changing every day, and who is now walking, even though it feels like it was just yesterday that he started to crawl.

Rocks are a lot of fun

Gravel is a lot of fun

Between all of this it is sometimes hard to slow down, disconnect, get away. But we must do it, we know it, since really this is what life is all about. Even if it’s just for a weekend – there is nothing like taking some time off and escaping the rat race. Even just for a little bit. The Gulf Islands are a close enough destination, but they also feel remote and quiet, exactly what we needed.

We packed our car and off we were on the long drive to… Horseshoe Bay. Neil managed to fall asleep about five minutes before we arrived, maybe we should start doing longer drives. We parked, unloaded the car, re-assembled the bikes and trailer, and downhill we went to the ferry.

Loves the sand

Neil loves sand

There Neil found a pile of gravel that proved to be great entertainment while waiting for the ferry – he slid down the gravel, like a slide, over and over again, never mind that his clothes got all dusty. On the ferry we discovered the ‘Kids Zone’, a play room which until recently we would have avoided at all costs, but now it was a life saver.

The ferry was running late, so when we got off, we met our friends Jan and Warrick who were waiting for us, eager to join the trip. We exchanged quick hellos, but we had to make a go for it to make it on time for the ferry to Gabriola. It turned out that the bike ride to the ferry was fairly quick so we arrived with plenty of time to spare, finally allowing us to catch up properly with Jan and Warrick.

Malaspina Galleries

Malaspina Galleries

The ferry ride to Gabriola only takes 20 minutes or so, but it was enough time to have our lunch while Neil was still sleeping. We spent the first day just exploring the west end of the island, visiting nice beaches and the Malaspina Galleries. Neil is a natural beach bum, and he could spend hours feeling the sand with his feet and hands and trying to walk on the uneven surface. He found an abandoned yellow shovel which he immediately adopted and wouldn’t let go of for the rest of the trip.


Good night

On Twin Beach Neil befriended a family with three children that were hanging out there, while some of the kids were happily playing naked in the sand. We started chatting with the mom and it turned out that they decided to escape the rat race for real and had just moved to Gabriola from Vancouver permanently. They home school the children, and have a bicycle that can fit almost the entire family, and there was no doubt that they are living a bit differently from most.

Great cycling on Gabriola Island

Great cycling on Gabriola Island

It’s been a while since we last slept in the tent and Neil was very excited to re-discover the ‘Orange House‘. The night was a bit tough though, but we suspect it was due to a tooth coming out and not to the tent (the next weekend he slept perfectly in the tent). So we had a rough hour between 1 and 2am and we felt sorry for Jan and Warrick who were camping close by. I hope they will still want to go on trips with us.

Sunday brought more playing in the sand for Neil and a more cycling for us as we cycled around the somewhat hilly island. We realized we didn’t bring enough food for lunch with us, so we stopped at the local supermarket, where we met the nice family we had talked to the day before. Only two days on the island and we already felt like locals.

Trooper cyclists

Trooper cyclists

Neil was a trooper in the trailer both when he was asleep and when he was awake. He didn’t mind at all just sitting in the trailer talking to himself. We took a long lunch break at Drumbeg Beach, although on the way there we managed to lose Jan and Warrick briefly, but luckily they found their way back to us.

Then we had about an hour and a bit more of cycling till we reached the starting point at the ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare before the 3:05 ferry back to Nanaimo. We had more time to kill since the ferry back to Vancouver was only at 5pm, so we hung out on the board walk where Neil climbed the stairs of a high tower a few times.

So much fun in the 'Orange Hosue'

So much fun in the ‘Orange House’

We found a somewhat secret trail that led us straight to the ferry terminal, but alas the ferry was running late again. We said our goodbyes to Jan and Warrick, and while Neil was busy eating Bamba in his trailer (an Israeli peanut snack) Gili and I managed to share one good ice cream without him noticing.

The ferry was super busy for some unclear reason with over 1,200 passengers. We decided to have dinner at Horseshoe Bay and save another transition. We found decent cod burgers and fries and ate at the park overlooking the bay and mountains. Since Neil’s latest skill is walking, he enjoyed exploring the park on his feet, something that proved a bit easier for him than walking on the sand which he tried to do the entire weekend.

We are still not at the point where we can completely break free from the ongoing rat race but we hope that the summer will be a bit more relaxed and allow us to take many more breaks and spend quality family time together.

Back at Horseshoe Bay, more walking

Back at Horseshoe Bay, more walking

This entry was posted in Cycling & Cycle Touring, Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast, Trip Reports, Trips with Kids, Vancouver Island. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *