I’m tired. And I’ve got a cold. I blame the children going back to school and bringing the nasty bugs home. Plus the weather has turned damp and I’m thinking about beaches. Except I’m too tired to pack. So I’m sticking close to home for this blog post, but still visiting a beach.
I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. With thousands of lakes and mountains, I could spend decades exploring my home province, and still never get bored. So here’s a shocking confession. I haven’t travelled as much around British Columbia as I have some distant lands. And that’s a real shame. Every summer I say I am going to plan a road trip for the family so we can see some of this great land. Every summer something comes up and we can’t go. Every fall I rue another missed opportunity.
One of my favourite places in British Columbia (or what I’ve seen so far) is Harrison Hot Springs. It’s about an hour from my house. A large lake surrounded by mountains with warm mineral springs and an active artsy community, you think I’d go there at least once or twice a year. Here’s the confession – I haven’t been there in years. In fact, I think I only had 3 children the last time I went.
Whenever we have a visitor come from the UK I think, “I’ll take them to Harrison.” And we never go. You see, even though it’s one of my favourite places, there are two problems with Harrison, the first being parking. Although they’ve made an effort to expand the parking lot by the beach, if it’s at all a sunny, warm day you end up cruising the parking lot for hours, waiting for someone to pull out. And there is very little other parking available throughout the town. The second, and this may have been rectified as I haven’t been there in a while, is the lack of decent, affordable accommodation. If I’m going to go, I’d like to spend the weekend (even though it’s only an hour away). And the main hotel is hideously expensive for what you get. I have stayed there. In fact I spent my wedding night there (another confession). I wasn’t impressed by the hotel. And there doesn’t seem to be anything better, especially for a large family.
However, if you do decide to make the journey to visit Harrison Hot Springs, and I hope I haven’t put you off, there is a lot to do. The beach is wonderful with soft white sand, which I’m sure they must truck in from somewhere. A while ago they even made a separate swimming lagoon. As the lake is fed mostly by snow melt and mountain streams, plus it’s very deep, it is incredibly cold. With the sectioned off swimming area, the water is a little warmer and you won’t risk hypothermia for a quick dip.
They used to have a sandcastle competition at Harrison, but I don’t think they do any more, at least it’s not advertised. Plus you had to pay to see the best sandcastles which I think is a cheat on a public beach. However there is lots of hiking, golf (if you are so inclined), and the shops to peruse. And I can testify that Harrison Lake is great for small boat sailing, although my brother and I did destroy my aunt’s boat there.
So, if you’re a local Vancouverite, or you have a day to spare when visiting the Lower Mainland, may I suggest a jaunt up Highway 1 (or 7 for a more scenic route) and visit Harrison. Then take a deep breath of fresh, mountain air.