Our time in Surrey was supposed to be limited to two days. This would allow us to get into Vancouver for one day to tour around. The weather, again (like in Jasper), decided to make things interesting for us.
The day we arrived in Surrey, we started hearing on the radio about the “big storm” coming our way and more specifically, on Vancouver Island. The storm, which was leftover remnants of Super Typhoon Songda, was to possibly bring 100km winds and upwards of 400mm of rain to Vancouver Island over the course of three days. The Lower Mainland including Surrey were also due to get hit.
Friday, we were supposed to head out to Vancouver Island on the ferry. Due to the impending storm, we changed our reservation with BC Ferries and decided to stay in Surrey for an extra four days. The storm wasn’t as powerful as expected but it was still damaging. Tofino was without power for 18-hours at one point.Sadly, a teenage boy was also killed by a falling a tree in Surrey during the first wave of the storms.
The ride to Surrey from Kamloops was the craziest day of driving we’ve had on our trip. For the drive, we had to decide on one of two routes from Kamloops. We could either take the Trans-Canada Highway or Highway 5 thru the Coquihalla Pass. After some research and some help from social media, we decided to go with Highway 5.
After driving Highway 5, I’m interested to see what the Trans-Canada would be like because the drive down 5 was intense at times. It’s filled with steep ascents to the Coquihalla Summit and then followed by nail-biting descents. Thankfully, our studying on how to drive the truck in such circumstances paid off. We didn’t blow up the engine or burn up the brakes. Once we got through the mountains, we easily made our way onto Surrey where the landscape is much flatter.
We chose to stay in Surrey while visiting the Vancouver area because of its close proximity to Vancouver. It also had the best-rated RV park in the area. We chose to stay at the Pacific Border RV Park which was, right on the border of Canada & the US. Less than a 100-feet behind the park was the US which is pretty neat.
Peace Arch Park
After arriving at the RV park, both of us and Bella were in desperate need of stretching our legs. Luckily, a kilometer or so down the road was the unique Peace Arch Park. The park is technically an international park consisting of conjoined parks – one on the Canadian side of the border and the other on US territory. The interesting thing about the park is that you can enter the US without your passport, just as long as you remain in the park. As a Canadian, if you tried to leave the park on the US side, I’m certain Donald Trump would pop out of the bush in military camo and take you down.
Bella happily walked around both sides of the park while we watched streams of cars trickle across the border. The park was beautiful, complete with well-manicured gardens and enormous trees. For a short while, we sat on the lawn in front of the giant Peace Arch monument. The monument was built in 1921 along the border as a symbol of forever lasting peace between the US & Canada.
Another great park in Surrey came with an interesting tale. Redwood Park in South Surrey, is home to over 50 different species of trees. The park initially was a piece of land that was given from a father to his two sons. The sons spent years travelling the world collecting various seeds and saplings. The seeds and saplings were then planted throughout the property where they grew and flourished. The brothers later built a 2-storey treehouse which they lived in for many years. It burned down on multiple occasions but was rebuilt.
The park was a great place to take Bella for a walk while. We were excited to see countless amounts of trees that we had never seen before. The Redwoods, Red Cedars, and Douglas Firs were the highlights as they towered over the trails that snake through the park. There were also trees almost completely covered in moss. This served as our introduction to the rainforest element that we will be immersed in while in Tofino.
Something else that was really intriguing was the Fairy Village located down one of the trails. In the “village” you’ll find fairy doors. There are also hundreds of birdhouses aka fairy houses hung and lined along many of the large trees in the forest. It’s a fun spot to come with the family where you can even bring your own fairy house that you made.
We spent the one day where we had good weather (before the storm) in Vancouver. The sun was shining and it was beautiful. Perfect for walking around exploring which is exactly what Vancouver is perfect for. We truly enjoyed our day in the city. We took the SkyTrain from Surrey into the heart of Vancouver. From the Waterfront station, we were perfectly located to start wandering about.
Stanley Park is a large park, almost completely surrounded by water with plenty to do and see. In 2014, it was named the top park in the entire world by TripAdvisor. That’s quite an accolade but it’s not surprising as the park is stunning. There’s so much to do and see for everyone. The park is perfect if you’re active and love to run and/or cycle. To walk the entire loop of the park takes roughly 2 to 3 hours.
We walked along the outer edge of the park including the seawall. This gave us lovely views of the Vancouver harbour and the skyline along with views of North Vancouver. Along the way, we stopped to see the famous totem poles at Brockton Point. Most of the original totem poles that adorned the area have been moved to museums with replicas now standing in their place. They’re quite amazing to look at and to study the craftsmanship that went into creating them.
A little while later, after walking along the seawall for a bit, our stomachs were telling us that it was time to eat. As a result, we cut through the middle of Stanley Park and a short while later we were back on the streets of Vancouver, heading towards Granville Island. The one thing that we loved about Vancouver was how easy it was to walk around the city. Nearly the entire city is surrounded by parks with paved pathways and beaches connecting them to one another.
If you’re looking for a fun place to spend an afternoon – head to Granville Island. The Island was a former industrial area but now is bustling with 275+ businesses and facilities for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. The Island got its name from the bridge that it’s under – Granville. In fact, Vancouver was called Granville previous to 1886.
We were drawn to the Island by the Granville Island Public Market. The market is home to many different vendors selling everything from meats & produce to arts & crafts. The main attraction of the building for us, though, was the one section that was completely devoted to take away food. Because we were hungry when we visited, every option looked inviting. There was every type of food imaginable from Canadian food to Chinese, Lebanese, Mexican, Greek, Japanese, and so much more. I’m certain we walked around the building many times just trying to decide what we wanted. In the end, I went with a heaping plate of Chinese food while Kate feasted on fish & chips.
With our bellies full of food, we walked around Granville Island for a bit longer. It really is a great spot. I wish we could have spent more time wandering around the various shops and attractions. However, we had a chocolate lab to get home to. A short ride on the False Creek Ferry took us to our SkyTrain connection and we made our way back to Surrey to reunite with the chocolate pup.
Departure Time/Location: 8.30a Kamloops, BC
Arrival Time/Location: 1.30p Surrey, BC
Total Distance: 335km
Next Stop: TOFINO!