For a little over a year now I've been authoring our ON THE ROAD TO series where, originally, I was being loaned vehicles from manufacturers for a week at a time in order to take them (and myself, and you) out to beautiful BC locations not easily accessible by transit. Our blog publishes a number of regular cycling features, we partner with car-share businesses like Car2Go, we obviously have a vested interest in a healthy future for our city, and as our editor-in-chief one of my responsibilities is to balance out our editorial. This driving series is a part of that balance, and it's one I get a lot of joy out of doing.
As a travel and outdoors enthusiast with a small family who shares these passions, I love driving. Love it. And I love how owning a vehicle allows me the freedom to go wherever I want whenever I want. I love not having to wrangle my son's car seat into a shared vehicle every time we drive somewhere together. I really love that Toyota BC has come on board as one of our top tier Community Sponsors (ANNOUNCED a couple of weeks back) and that this driving series now has an anchor to keep it around.
Part of our arrangement with Toyota BC is that we're leasing a vehicle off of them which will be the one that gets us out "On the Road to" these destinations we feature. Initially I was pretty sure I knew what we were going to land on but decided to play out a "three bears" sort of scenario where I completely ruled out a couple of options. First I took out a MINI VAN, then a RUGGED 4X4 and, as expected, I concluded neither were right for my family. What ended up being the perfect fit was the 2014 Highlander Hybrid that you see below, which we signed the papers on and took out to Alouette Lake this past weekend. I'm thrilled about it, and I'll get into what makes it super awesome in an upcoming feature. For now I'd like to focus on Golden Ears Provincial Park, and what makes it worth the drive. That is what we're here to do, after all.
One of the things that makes the park really special to us is the fact that this website of ours is literally a part of it. Vancouver Is Awesome readers pitched in for a $1500 sponsorship of a park bench near the boat launch a couple of years back (HERE is the feature on it) when BC Parks was having its 100th anniversary and was offering up centennial benches as a fundraiser. Ours is located right at the boat launch, it's made of recycled plastic, and it will be there for at least the next ten years. It's usually the first stop we make when we drive out to this wonderful lake which is just barely off the LTE grid, almost exactly one hour drive from downtown Vancouver outside of Maple Ridge. You should rest your bones on it some day.
While our bench is located at the boat launch, I don't own a boat and have never launched one into this body of water. In the summer we fish from shore and I do plan to bring a vessel here some day, but for now it's a nice place to sit and look out at the mountains and the lake and the other folks out there.
Alouette Lake is partly a man-made one, originally only 2 km in length but expanded to 8 km in 1928 when they built a BC Hydro dam at the foot of it. Walking the shores you'll come across almost-century-old remnants of the damming process, like this driftwood stump. The bottom of the lake is covered in these, sometimes making it a bit of an art form to fish in it, as you'll lose a lot of hooks if you're not careful.
Beyond the shores are many trails to explore. This one pictured is adjacent to a picnicking area that has a ton of tables, some bathrooms, and is filled with day trippers in the summer months. There's a trail system that goes deep into the park that you can explore if you're brave/fit, and a lot of super easy ones that stay pretty close to the lake if you less inclined.
Stay tuned for my next ON THE ROAD TO feature where I'll take you inside our new Highlander Hybrid and share why it's such a joy to drive, and how insanely efficient it is on gas. I'm not going to name the brand of sub-compact car that we owned prior to getting our Toyota but it's crazy that this midsize SUV gets way better gas mileage than it did.