Why Powell River: A newspaperman’s heart is going to love Powell River — which once ground trees into newsprint used around the world. But the town refused to go belly-up when the mill laid off thousands and ownership changed. It has reinvented itself anew within a shell of the old town.
POWELL RIVER TO HALFMOON BAY
Distance: 60 miles, including a ferry between Saltery Bay and Earl’s Landing.
Along the way: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort. A favorite of the high-end glossy magazines for its luxury tents set dramatically on rocks overlooking an inlet, all linked by a weathered wood walkway. It’s a romantic spot. I’m not a huge fan of “glamping” — glamour camping — since canvas still doesn’t keep out your neighbor’s noise. I checked out the tents and the log cabins, and my vote goes to the less glitzy but more sequestered cabins. Details: 5356 Ole’s Cove Road, Halfmoon Bay; 877-296-4593; rockwatersecretcoveresort.com.
Good eats: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort. Even if you can’t afford to stay at the resort, stop in for a drink or dinner at the pretty little cove set amid the woods and water of the Sunshine Coast. Entrees $24-$29.
Why Halfmoon Bay: Joni Mitchell. If you’ve ever seen her album For the Roses, you’ve seen the Halfmoon Bay area. In high school, I fell in love with the freckle-faced woman on the cover (and perhaps a bit with the nude — tastefully photographed far away and from the back — on a rock in an inlet). Mitchell bought a place here as a hideaway from the craziness of fame in Los Angeles and New York. She still keeps a residence in the area and is active in local preservation struggles. I went to the General Store, where she is known to visit, but no Joni on this trip.
HALFMOON BAY TO VANCOUVER AIRPORT
Distance: 92 miles, including a ferry from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay and getting seriously lost driving in North Vancouver.
Along the way: After so many beautiful trips across the water, the 40-minute ferry ride between Gambier and Bowen Islands was the most dramatic of the trip, with towering, pine-covered mountainsides. It helped that the roiling gray clouds parted frequently for blasts of sunlight that freckled the waters before receding into the low-lying mist. A classic bit of put-on-your-jacket Canada.
Good eats: Molly’s Reach, Gibsons Landing. Locals will tell you there are better places to eat on the Sunshine Coast and even better places to eat up the street in Gibsons. But I’m a sucker for other cultures’ icons, especially ones I know absolutely nothing about. Molly’s was the setting for a hit TV series called The Beachcombers, and Canadians will drive across the continent just to have fish and chips here. It’s kind of like the Cheers bar in Boston. It doesn’t matter if the food is good, you’ve achieved your goal when you walk in the door. Dive into someone else’s sentimental obsessions. Fun to see the glow on the tourists’ faces when they come through the door. Entrees $11-$19. Details: 647 School Road; 604-886-9710; mollysreach.ca.
Why Vancouver: The end.