We meandered through south Langley to 8 Avenue and headed to White Rock for something to eat and a walk on the beach. This is a great way to end a hot summer day, but it seems about 10,000 other people had the same idea as us.
The secret is to not worry about parking spots or restaurant seating. After all, you’re here for a relaxing evening and a stroll so it doesn’t matter if you have to park and walk. I spoke to a lady in her 80s recently, who reminisced about the long-ago summers when she and her sister would pay 15 cents to take the train from New West to the White Rock station. They would play all day on the beach and take the return train home in time for dinner. Imagine that, a commuter train that came out south of the Fraser River? What a novel idea, we should look into that.
We parked at the far west end of the strip and walked along the promenade past the picnickers, the readers, the sunbathers and the lovers. The lovers come in all ages. An elderly couple sit on a bench, holding hands and chatting. A young couple are a bit more passionate, tucked back under a shade tree on a blanket. A well-dressed gentleman in a white summer suit with a gold pocket watch glinting in the sun gently pushes his elegant lady along the walk in her wheelchair. It seems to me that this may be an evening ritual they have been carrying out for years.
A powered hang glider buzzes over the water attracting everyone’s attention with its noise and brightly-coloured chute. I smile as I recall former Township Mayor Bill Blair referring to ultra lights as ‘chain saws with wings’ as they droned over his farm from the Langley Airport.
We approach our restaurant of choice and two people are just vacating a patio table as we walk up and the waitress nods for us to sit down. So far so good, no parking hassles, no waiting line for a table. The evening is moving at an easy pace, cooling down as the breeze blows in and the sun creeps around the point.
After dinner we decide to walk along the pier. I have no idea how many times, in all seasons, I have walked along this historic structure but it is a unique experience every time. Tonight the tide is in and water sparkles as the kayakers and paddlers pass underneath.
All nationalities are on display here this night. Some women are covered completely in bright garments and then three young girls in skimpy two piece bathing suits run past us headed for the end of the pier where a crowd has gathered to watch some bold young men performing cannon balls or somersaults off the dock into the deep green water.
As they surface they are covered in strings of kelp and a rainbow sheen of oil from the boats moored nearby, but everyone applauds the summer performance that has taken place here for decades. The splashes don’t seem to deter those fishing for just the right size crabs.
We lean on the railing, watching the sun set and sky turn amazing colours. Suddenly it seems like we are the only ones there. It doesn’t get much better than that. At least that’s what McGregor says.