Like so many Canadians, we used to go away in the winter. One week a year, paying an exorbitant price because we were only able to travel during peak times, we would steal away from cold snowy Ontario and relax in the sunshine of Mexico or the Caribbean. During the winter of 2015, we were snowbirds for the first time in our lives. Thrilled to pay for a month what a week used to cost us, we enjoyed two months in Texas.Since moving to Vancouver Island in July of 2015, we have not gone south. Actually, except for a stolen weekend on Hornby Island and a writers' conference last fall in Surrey, BC, we have not left the island at all. Inevitably, we are asked when we will be going, especially by those anticipating the long frigid months ahead in Ontario. While all things change and unexpected adventures arise, at this point we both can honestly say we have no desire to head for warmer climes. It's an easy decision. There is no reason to leave.
Our every day is filled with the spectacular beauty and moderate weather of the Cowichan Valley. We have basked in the sun on the decks of the seaside restaurants in Cowichan Bay, celebrated guests with brunches over the water at Bridgeman's Bistro and been shuttled with new friends to our favourite pub in Duncan—Craig Street Brewing Co. We have painted and sipped at Blue Grouse Winery, we have sampled crisp pinots on the mountainside of Averill Creek and we have laughed to the point of tears while being entertained and informed at Rocky Creek Winery.
Last weekend alone, we enjoyed Octoberfest on a barge temporarily located at the end of the dock in Mill Bay. We nibbled our way through the evening, relishing culinary treats and sipping local ciders and beers. The following night we had dinner at one of our favourite wineries, Unsworth. The food is of the highest quality, the service is stellar and their Charme De L'lle is one of my favourite bubblies. Add the best of friends and a flock of frenetic chickens, and it's the perfect night out. And, it's right here in our own backyard.
The weekend was followed by four days at a small resort on the Pacific coast of the island. Point No Point is nestled along the shore, far from anything except extensive and stunning provincial parks. It's somewhat off the grid—no TV, no Wi-Fi, no cell reception…not even a landline phone in the cabin, and I was worried I wouldn't do very well. I asked my Twitter peeps to pray for me. How would I survive, unplugged, for so long?
Well, I didn't just get by. I adored it. We walked the trails, we cooked our meals and we sipped wine, surrounded by a breathtaking ocean vista. In the evening, we talked and played games, and then we curled up in luxurious beds, drifting off to the sound of waves crashing on shore. I discovered that unplugged did not mean disconnected. Keev and I and our dearest of friends, Alice and Jim, spent four days uncluttered by technology, four days living in the moment, four days of truly spending quality time with one another. Amazing.
So, when once again asked when we will next go on a southern vacation, Keev and I will just look at each other knowingly, shrug our shoulders and smile. The truth is, when you love where you live, you don't need to get away.