Last week, Christine and I went back to the B&B on Nex̱wlélex̱m, aka Bowen Island, BC, where we honeymooned eight years ago. We’ve been trying to get back there since 2020, but the COVID pandemic has stymied us time after time. Finally, this year, Canada allowed for international travel for vaccinated passengers, and we were able to get six days at the cottage with a sea view on Bowen Island.
Bowen Island feels like an open secret. When I mention that we’re going to vacation on an island off the coast of Vancouver, everyone asks, “Vancouver Island?” Some folks have heard of Nanaimo or Gibsons. But Bowen is a special little place. Its permanent population is around 3,500 people, but it sits only a 20 minute ferry ride from the Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver. It’s accessible from Downtown by public transit. It’s a tiny, wooded, mountainous island with a very low pace of development. Bowen is also a fairly common set location for the booming Vancouver film industry.
Bowen has changed very little in the last eight years. The same little café we brunched at is still there and thriving, the same pubs are there and largely unchanged. A cannabis shop has opened that wasn’t there before, and our favorite clothing store is still in the quaint Artisan Square, although customers are by appointment only these days. The B&B looks and feels exactly as it did eight years ago, despite new owners. Only the hot tub seems to have been replaced.
Sitting in a hot tub overlooking the Salish Sea is about as good as it gets. The island is our own little piece of paradise, and I’m so glad we got to get back there for my 40th. Vancouver is a great place also to do some whale watching, so we went back to the place we had gone years before, Vancouver Whale Watch out of Stevetson. This time, we opted for riding in the smaller Zodiac, which seats only 12 people but is a hell of a fun ride. The last time we had gone out, we spotted J-Pod with their matriarch, the now-deceased, J2 Granny. This time, we followed a humpback north, incidentally off the coast of Bowen, and got to watch it feed.
On our way back, we got to see some other wildlife: California sea lions, some seals, and some baby bald eagles. But perhaps the highlight of the trip was that we forgot to eat during the middle part of the tour, so I had to try to eat a sandwich while riding in a zodiac at full speed. Definitely a great way to wear a lunch.
All in all, our only lament is that we didn’t get enough time to really see the city. We’ll be back again before another eight years pass. Of that I am certain.
What I’m learning
While traveling I refuse to do German lessons but I have steadily but slowly been working through my exercise book. I also learned that I passed my B2 exam but as expected not by the margins I would have liked. When I get back to Germany, I need to find ways to speak more German.
- Deutsch üben (Progress: 74%)
What I’m reading
No progress reading this week. The sea told me all the stories I needed to hear.
- Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie (Progress: 12%)
What I’m writing
- One of the reasons big tech has such a stranglehold on how we use the internet is that we’ve failed at usability for almost everything else.
Longform Online Content
- An older but relevant article on a geographical quirk and how that informs infrastructure development in southern Africa;
- Another look into the online spaces that radicalize so many white supremacist youth;
- A neat glance at a historical building in Berlin, still being used as living space.
The week ahead
Wrapping up travel out west, and making the long voyage back east. Still have a few days left to explore and unwind.