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Word Travels - Behind the Scenes on Vancouver Island by Robin Esrock
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Behind the Scenes on Vancouver Island
by Robin Esrock / Published October 24 2008
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Since the show is broadcast worldwide, we didn’t want to stress too much that Vancouver is actually my home.   It should also be said there is nothing fake at all when Julia comes and gets me for our trip to the Vancouver Island. I was crashing in the downstairs nook of a legendary party house on Commercial Drive called the Foxy House, along with a couple other folks as I only found out that morning.   Living out of backpacks and boxes is a reality for travel writers, even ones with TV shows.   Even as I write this, I’ve spent the last four nights crashing on an air mattress and a couch, although I’m very excited to finally get my own place in a couple days.  It’s a couple steps up from the glorious chaos of the Foxy House (ruled by the Chihuahua you see named Margaret Thatcher, I kid you not), but on the same street, just a few houses away.   

Vancouver and Vancouver Island are easily amongst the most beautiful places on earth, which is one of the reasons why I moved here.  It also rains a lot, and while we were hoping for a blue-sky day to really make the colours pop for the camera, we got the clouds and the west coast drizzle.   On our schedule, when it comes to weather, we either get lucky or we don’t, so I was bummed we couldn’t show off the city, the ferry across the fjord, and even Tofino, in all its sunny glory.  I’ve been to Tofino many times, as have most people who live in Vancouver.  It’s wild, it’s remote, it’s got this great hippie-logger vibe.   Usually I camp further up the beach, so it was a serious treat to stay at the luxurious Pacific Sands.   “One day I’m going to come back here!” I swear as I always do, although Tofino is a little more doable for me than, say, Ethiopia.

We talk about it a little in the Philippines episode, but I have a bum ear that has pretty much ruled watersports out for me since I was 6 years old.   Hence I grew up in South Africa, and don’t know how to surf.   I’ve have tried a couple times before and have never got up, so it’s to Krissy and Tia’s credit that I got up, even if it was for a brief second, on those puny waves.    I once started writing a book that looked at the rise and fall of Apartheid through the eyes of a South African surfing community.   This kind of inspired me to get that project going again, along with a thousand others.

I didn’t grow up here, so I still get a thrill seeing bald eagles soaring above me.   For the crew who were born and raised in British Columbia, it’s like seeing a seagull.   A couple years ago I did the West Coast Trail, a 7-day hike up the coast of Vancouver Island.   The only animals you might see are bears, wolves and cougars.   Now that was a hard hike!

As for the yacht, it all came together quickly through word of mouth, and Nick and Cory are impassioned British Columbians, proud of their beautiful backyard.   Pearl Jam had rented the Pacific Yellowfin a few weeks before us, so we truly were living like rock stars.   The water was freezing though, so doing those jumps damn right nearly gave me hypothermia.   But there were always delicious cocktails on hand to distract the cold.  When you see Julia wake up – well, the night before, we got carried away with Captain Colin’s homemade brew, and one of the many attractions of that magnificent yacht:  a trunk of masks and costumes.  Trust me,  it was a very good thing, for everyone involved, that the cameras weren’t filming. 

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