Go West 2023 – Toronto to Tofino June 2nd to July 2nd

“Go West – Life is peaceful there
Go West – In the open air
Go West – Where the skies are blue
Go West – This is what we’re gonna do”
Village People/Pet Shop Boys

We begin our month long road trip to the Pacific Ocean. The last trip was in 2019 with Eve and Raisin. This time it will be with Eve and Greta. Raisin is 16 and has mobility issues so she is staying with friends. Greta will be dipping her paws into the Pacific Ocean, joining that exclusive pug club.

In 2019 we primarily camped – in national and provincial parks. This time around we are exploring some of the smaller cities in the west – places I studied as a kid in Geography class, like Moose Jaw, SK and Port Hardy, BC

We will experience art, architecture, history, gardens, music, craft beer and food.

We will be doing some camping and enjoying the trails, trees, prairie grass, mountains, PFD Pugs and canoeing. I’ve booked some new parks and returning to a couple of favs.

All the posts will be written by me – there will be no AI blogging. When I quote another source, I’ll put the section in quotation marks. This will usually be from travel guides but also Wikipedia and the Canadian Encyclopedia.

There are no ads on this website. I make no money from it. It is purely for education and enjoyment.

New to this trip – I will be looking at Indigenous culture and history when available. Each post will begin with a land acknowledgment. Because of this extra coverage, the posts will be a little longer than in the past. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to learn about the First Nations and to share it with you.

I’ve been planning this for roughly a year. I would check out one city or park, virtually explore what they had to offer. I’d note a few interesting things. Over time I would roughly work out the timing to see which ones could be accomplished. Looking forward to seeing how the planning works out.

I booked most of my hotels using Airmiles. I had been saving the airmiles for the past 2 years. Using airmiles I kept the hotels to the lower end of the grand scale. Just needed a place to feed the pugs then let them sleep while I went out in the evening.

One thing I’m glad I did notice is the reservation system for Parks Canada and the national parks. There were a lot of problems over the last couple of years because of the post pandemic rush. Parks Canada introduced an new reservation system. Individual parks were given specific dates in March when you could book. To prevent tour companies from booking en masse, users were limited to only 5 campsites per shopping cart. And they have a queue system now to prevent the site from crashing.

Why June? In planning, I found most of the festivals and events in cities take place in July and August. However, I’ve found that June is the perfect month for the pugs to travel. It can be a little chilly at night, depending on where we camp. But we are ready for that. And I did find a couple of interesting events happening which we are going to attend.

In addition, this year is the rise of El Nino, when the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperature rises. That means the months of July and August will most likely break records as the hottest. More on this year’s El Nino here.

The wildfires in Manitoba, Alberta and BC had already started in May. They are in the northern regions, which we are not traveling to.

Reading material will be a paperback copy of Moby Dick and an e-book of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – both travel books in their own way. I tried to read Moby Dick when I was 12. I had seen the movie with Gregory Peck and was inspired. However, in 1965, there was a big blackout in north eastern North America. I was in the Hamilton Public Library at the time, reading it. I went home and continued reading by candlelight. On this trip I’ll read it by the campfire. Don’t expect any Melville style writing in the blog posts. I’m keeping it simple.

A little background on Greta. Greta is 11 years old. She had been used as a breeding dog. She was kept in a wire cage, in a back shed, with little human contact. At 8 years old, the breeder allowed her to be taken away as she was no longer good for breeding. She came to me as a foster.

She was very frightened of me and her surroundings. It took quite awhile (and lots of treats) to earn her trust. I realized if I adopted her out, she would have to go through that transition again. I adopted her in 2020. Now, she sticks to me like Velcro.

She now goes up to strangers to sniff if they have a treat in their hands. If not, she backs off and comes stays by my legs. She does have one person that we regularly meet who brings out a treat. Greta speaks with her and allows the person to pet her head head. She is the only other one that Greta has developed a trust with.

I often look down at the dog bed and find Greta just staring at me as though she can’t believe I exist. She watches me to make sure I don’t disappear.

Because of her lifetime of immobility in a cage, she has developed arthritis in the knees and some in the spine. For this trip I’ve brought both her stroller for the urban walks and the back pack for the nature trails. We leave no pug behind. She can walk but very slowly. She cannot do stairs or mountains. However she has a feisty spirit and does enjoy exploring her world.

A little background on Eve. Eve is 12 years old. She came to Pugalug Pug Rescue as an owner surrender and I fostered her. She had been poked and prodded by the children in the family. After her signals were ignored, she lashed out and bit one of the kids. When she came to me she let me know that she did not want to be touched. After a day she began to develop a trust. At one point she jumped up on the couch and leaned into my arm. This was her signal that I could now touch her. That is when I decided to adopt her in 2018.

Over the year, she met a couple of other people in the dog park that she developed a trust with and allowed them to pet her. She will now sit in front of strangers and wait for a treat. I warn people not to try to pet her and they give her a treat.

At 12 years, she is still very active. She very much enjoyed the 2019 trip and I’m expecting her to have every bit of fun as last time.

Raisin will not be going with us this trip. She will be staying with Hugh and Kathleen, two wonderful pug people who will spoil her with love and adventures. She had a vestibular attack in 2022. She is 16 so not surprising this happened. It has affected her ability to walk. She can stand on her own for a little while but tires and then sits down. Otherwise she is healthy, in good spirits eating and drinking well.

In 2016 she came with Dublin and I for the East Coast road trip. Then with Eve in 2019 for the West Coast. We flew to Newfoundland in 2019. Finally another East coast trip in 2021. So she has certainly earned her “parts unknown” wings.

My Health

I developed mild arthritis in my left knee joint from an old sports injury. At the time the doctor at St. Michael’s Fracture Clinic recommended putting it in a full length leg cast for 8 months. The resulting immobility meant the injury never quite healed. It’s been a bother lately. I have to be extra careful when walking so we will be using the easy trails and a walking stick for support.

This will most likely be my last road trip – mainly due to health reason. I’ve been fighting melanoma cancer for the past 6 years. The planning and expectations of this trip have given me a much needed hope for the future.

I lost my right eye to cancer last year. I’ll have to take extra precaution of my surroundings when I’m driving.

In March I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Even though it was detected in 2021, it took Mount Sinai Hospital over a year to diagnose. It is in an advanced state with radiation and medication being the attempted cure. As much as this trip is about exploring and discovering the new, it will also be a time of reflection – looking past on a life well-lived and contemplating the end of days.

I hope you enjoy the coming chronicles I’ll publish. I plan to post one each day, time permitting. To be notified whenever I do publish, simply sign up using the form on the top right side.

Larry St Aubin


  1. I’m so looking forward to your reports of your trip, Larry! Hoping you stay in good health! Take care of yourself!

  2. Hey Larry

    Your trips are always a highlight for me especially with my health. Please enjoy this trip and let me know if you need anything even just to talk. Ron can help you drive you for treatments.

  3. I feel so honoured to follow you along your journey. I’m cheering for you and Greta and Eve! I’m also very saddened to hear about your health struggles, Larry. I’m sending you strength and love and energy as you and the pugs take on one last round of travel.

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