Throughout my young life, I’ve come to view families like a ship and its crew. After a while of being on the ship, you begin to develop traits similar to the rest of your crew—it’s like how certain traits are passed down throughout a family’s generations.
My mom’s side is made up almost entirely of women. My grandfather passed before I was born, so my grandmother has acted as the strong, stern matriarch for longer than I can remember—she’s the figurehead of a ship that’s rocked me to sleep since birth. She was the oldest of seven kids (five women) and gave birth to four daughters. In short, we’re a very female-dominated family. All of my family members have tended to have similar characteristics—we’re stubborn (determined, I like to say), caring (fragments of the maternal instinct) and most importantly, we all carry that same thirst for adventure.
I wrote an article recently about my grandmother’s adventure to Canada from Macau, but since then, she (as well as the rest of our family) has gone on so many more journeys since. From annual trips to Whistler to short hikes in British Columbia, there’s no shortage of stops that this ship has made, and each adventure has brought more and more strength to the bond of this crew. Writing this may be partially an excuse to share the photos I’ve taken on all of these trips (I’m that person who takes five photos of the same thing), but it’s also allowed me to reflect on some of the adventures that my family has taken.
Salt Spring Island, March 2018
For my tenth-grade spring break, we rented a cabin and spent a few days hiking, paddling and relaxing within the quaintness of Salt Spring Island. I was turning sixteen that year, so my priorities around that time looked a little something like this—family, friends, social media, driver’s license, figure out what I want to do with my life. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a small island that didn’t even have a Starbucks.
Sure, the island was quiet, but maybe that’s what I needed. With all the noise crowding my head about school, friends or whatever else occupied fifteen-year-old Izzy’s mind at the time, having the opportunity to get away from everything alongside my family was a much-needed break. We spent mornings exploring the island, afternoons paddling on the lake and nights playing Monopoly at the kitchen table.
Whistler, July 2019
Another trip around the sun brought the crew up to Whistler for the first time in a few years. Grade 11 had been quite the formative year for me (as I’d finally determined the general path I wanted to take after high school), and I was more ready than ever to get away from the looming stress of my graduation year.
We stayed in a large condo a few blocks away from Whistler Village, but on the way up, we stopped by Shannon Falls. We’d also gone for lunch at a restaurant in Squamish, where my grandmother joked about her chicken being drier than tissue paper. If I were to describe my family in a few words, it’d be like that—funny stories shared around the dinner table about sporadic adventures and outdoor mishaps.
Our hike to the Whistler Train Wreck was interrupted halfway by a deluge of rain (yes, rain in July), but we’d still decided to continue. Even with the rain pattering against the waterproof layers we’d packed, the drops sliding down our cheeks came from our sharp cries of laughter.
Thankfully, it didn’t rain on the day we decided to go ATV-ing. There were six of us, making for a perfect three-pair split, with two people on each ATV. While the tour wasn’t supposed to prioritize speed, my aunt and I certainly saw it that way, leading the pack with our rippling tires (behind our tour guide, of course).
Paddling at Alta Lake was the final activity of the trip, which we’d spontaneously decided to do after stopping by the lake for a quick walk. My aunt and I took a canoe out, paddling around until we got a little too close to the weeds and ended up stuck. My brother and other aunt came by shortly after, taunting us for having gone too close to the shore. But by the time we’d nudged our way out, they’d found themselves in the same situation.
I'm telling you, karma is instant.
Maui, August 2019
This was a trip I’d been looking forward to for the entire year—a stay at a beachfront Airbnb in beautiful Maui, Hawaii. I was excited to be sitting on the beach, feeling the sand between my toes and hearing the calm churning of the deep blue waves while working on my latest creative project. However, there was much more to this adventure than just rest and relaxation.
First off—look at that sunset! The sunsets in Maui were beyond anything I’d ever seen before. They made me appreciate the way that us West Coasters are treated to the stunning pink and orange reflection that casts itself atop the waves. It was something I realized that not everyone gets the chance to witness. Since then, I’ve become a major sunset aficionado. I even have a little sunset book club that I do with my friends every week or so.
One of the things I may have taken for granted at the time is the view from the top of Haleakalā National Park. At the time, I remember thinking about three things—how cold it was up there, how I’d learned all about tectonic plates and convergent movements in school and how excited I was to see the sunset. Looking back, I definitely should have spent more time admiring the landform itself—it’s not often you get to see a dormant volcano directly in front of you!
Now this was a special sight. The top of the volcano offers stunning sunrises and sunsets where you feel like you can pretty much see the entire world beneath you. We were perched above the clouds, surrounded by landmasses sculpted through natural erosion processes. At one point, at the top of a small rock, I grabbed my brother and lifted him, pretending that he was Simba and I was Rafiki. Everything about the sunset and the surroundings felt so . . . natural. Like it was meant to happen.
Views like these were some of the things we encountered on our daily excursions away from the Airbnb. Walking 10 or 15 minutes away from our place brought us to cliffs facing the ocean, towering palm trees or massive mountains stippled with trees. But back in the room, we bonded over card games, fashioning our own versions of Passion-Orange-Guava juice and taking photos of my brother sleeping in an inner tube. This adventure was truly one that brought us away from everything.
Golden, August 2022
Initially, our big family trip was supposed to take place in 2020—near Crater Lake and the Oregon Coast. However, Covid-19 forced us into a three-year travelling break, in which we were able to explore our backyard.
Our first trip with the entire crew onboard was Golden, which I wrote about in depth a little while ago. This was the first trip we spent with my little brother as a not-so little brother anymore. We also welcomed a new member into our crew—my aunt’s dog, Mochi.
This was the first trip my grandma had gone on since the pandemic, and since she’s more at-risk for diseases due to some medical conditions, we were reasonably cautious. But that didn’t stop her from testing her limits on a canoe on Emerald Lake!
We’ve taken many trips over the years, but these are some of the ones that stuck out to me the most. In each, we were able to come together as a family and share our thirst for adventure, whether that was through paddling on Salt Spring, speedy ATV rides in Whistler or seeing the sunset from the top of a volcano in Maui. As I look towards my final year of university, I can see that, like choppy waves, my journey may become unpredictable—but I know that with this crew on my side, any journey will be worth it.