4

**Our Gulf Islands Trip: Day 4 – June 10, 2008**

On Salt Spring Island

Afternoon on Salt Spring Island
(yes, it’s cold enough that we need hats!)

 

Summer has finally peeked its golden head up over the horizon here in the northern regions and currently, it’s my favorite time of the day.  The light is getting mellow and soft outside, and it’s still warm out, but not scorching.  I have an iced mocha keeping me company and it’s a good time to write.

By now I’m sure you’re quite bored with my account of our Gulf Islands trip, and maybe I’m a little bored too.  But I have only two more days of photos and tidbits to share after today and then we’re done.  This is supposed to be a knitting bloggy, right?  Yet I somehow feel compelled to finish what I started.  So just a couple more entries and then we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled blogramming.

 

************

 

Our trip route for Day 4

Our trip route for Day 4

(click for larger image)
Image courtesty of
KayakSuccor (aka R. Darling)

 

On this morning the weather was slightly better than it had been the day before.  It was sprinkling only lightly, but we could still see our breath out on the deck when we left in the morning.  I was finding it hard to believe that June had arrived.  The plan was to take a peek into Conover Cove for a possible few hours of paddling, but once we arrived there the scenery didn’t strike us as anything very different from what we saw back home.  And for the amount of effort it would have taken to anchor up there, it just didn’t seem worth it.  So we motored on by and headed for Ganges on Salt Spring Island.

I was looking forward to Salt Spring Island because I’d heard that it was sort of artsy and part of me was hoping for a yarn shop.  Or even just an iced mocha and some touristy crap.  Be careful, we’d been sternly warned beforehand, there’s hippies there.  As if hippies were some dirty creature that might contaminate us by being in the same vicinity.  Now that I think about it, I was probably the dirtiest creature there anyway (no shower since yesterday, but who’s counting?), so maybe the locals were the ones who should have been afraid.

 

Entrance to Ganges - Salt Spring Island

Entrance to Ganges
(click for larger image)

 

The yacht Paraffin

The yacht Paraffin
(click for larger image)

 

As we pulled into our slip we couldn’t help but notice this huge-mongous yacht docked nearby.  After coming home, R. Darling did some research and discovered that this ship is owned by the Yankee Candle Company. It has more amenities than most hotels I’ve stayed in, and is better staffed too.  It’s hard not to get nauseous with that kind of glamor staring you in the face every time you look up.  Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets or something.

Once we were settled, our tummies growled for food so we took ourselves into town and had some lunch at The Oystercatcher.  After lunch we walked around a little and because I was with the boys I was loathe to do much shopping, only peering in windows longingly as we passed by.  My FIL decided to go back to the boat for a nap after scoping out the ice cream shop (which he never went back to visit) and R. Darling and I explored a bit further.  The town does have an artsy feel to it with sculptures and gardens abounding, but I was a bit disappointed that the attractions of the main avenue seemed few and far between and were exhausted in mere minutes.  We’ve since been told that Saturday is the day to arrive as there’s a big art fair held every Saturday which we missed, pulling in as we did on a Tuesday.  

 

Saltspring Mermaid

“Service Above Self”
(click for larger image)

 

Salt Spring Stones 

I was fascinated with these stones paving the Mermaid’s court
(click for larger image)
 

 

Salt Spring Bust

Salt Spring Buddha

 

But what’s this?  A knitting shop??  Can it possibly be?

 

Salt Spring knitty shop

 

And a friendly hummingbird outside to greet me?  I have to go in!

 

The hummingbird greeter

 

No, I was very very good and didn’t buy anything.  I was tempted, but responsibility prevailed.  That and I didn’t have my wallet on me, and there was no possible way to make a sneaky purchase without first getting R. Darling who would then be witness to the carnage.  No sense filling him in on how much my little hobby actually costs.

Once back on board the Ragunda, the sun decided to make an appearance and we thought that was probably as good a reason as any to go for a little afternoon paddle.  One of the nearby islands was said to have the ruins of a castle on it built many years ago by a Scotsman who seemed to like his liquor a wee bit more than he liked construction.  The island was later purchased by an American who discovered that trying to heat a castle is not a whole lot of fun, and he demolished most of it.  But we had to have a look now, didn’t we?  We paddled all the way around First Sister Island and only saw one small bit that even remotely looked man-made.  A bit disappointing, but interesting nonetheless.

 

Ruins on First Sister Island

Crumbling remains of a man-made structure on First Sister Island
(click for larger image)

 

After navigating around First Sister Island, we stopped for a bit on Third Sister Island.  This island has a gorgeous white shell beach that looks almost like it belongs in the tropics.  There are no houses here, unlike many of the other small islands in the area that are privately owned.  We walked from one end to the other and were rewarded with some nice views of the neighboring islands as well as some very unique flora to investigate.

 

R. Darling on the white shell beach of Third Sister Island

White shell beach on Third Sister Island
(click for larger image)

 

Knittymuggins on Third Sister Island

 

Interesting island flora

Interesting island flora
(click for larger image)

 

With the help of a 1 knot current in our favor, we headed back to our boat, taking in the sights as we passed.  With the help of the current, we were paddling close to 5 knots at times and I snickered to myself when I saw the speed limit sign in the channel.  There was a stern warning against vehicles moving at more than 5.5 knots.  Hard to believe that we could almost be breaking the speed limit in our kayaks!  But something we found even more peculiar, was the gigantic ReMax sign posted on Powder Island.  Apparently, if you have a spare, oh, $650,000 or so burning a hole in your pocket, you could purchase this skimpy pile of rocks with the ramshackle house squatting on top.  Once glance and I wondered what would happen if Neptune got a little peeved one day and decided to whip up a big ole storm.   

 

The house on Powder Island

The house on Powder Island
(click for larger image)

 

Goat Island

Goat Island
(click for larger image)

 

Returning back to the boat, my FIL cooked us a nice bunch of steaks and we settled in for another wonderful evening.  All that paddling had made me hungry!

 

Next stop:  Sucia Island back in the USA…..

7

**Our Gulf Islands Trip: Day 3 – June 9, 2008

Trip route for day 3

Our trip route for Day 3

(click for larger image)
Image courtesty of
KayakSuccor (aka R. Darling)

 

This morning I stirred awake to the sound of rain gently pattering on the deck above me.  The boat had been still most of the night and was rocking just the slightest bit when I first came to.  Having had a terrible night’s sleep, I rolled over and closed my eyes for another hour hoping to nod off again or at least postpone the cold and damp I knew awaited me when I crawled out of my cozy sleeping bag.  I could never hack it as a true sailor, or even a pirate queen, kickass though the outfits might be.  I hate being damp and cold, and I get seasick (though I was mercifully spared this time).  Plus, I’ve noticed, when you get insomnia on a boat with other people, there’s not much you can do about it except count to 1000 over and over in your head until you either fall asleep or go crazy and jump off the back deck.  Luckily I eventually fell asleep.  It would have been a long damn swim to shore otherwise.

After some coffee and chitchat, we untied ourselves from the mooring buoy and headed off into a cold grey morning, rain gently but steadily dimpling the water.  Today was the first day that I decided it was just too cold to ride on the flybridge with the boys so I stayed in the heated cabin and knitted blissfully.  This was my first day of real knitting and, though I hated to miss out on the scenery I knew was probably terribly enchanting, it was lovely to spend a little time alone with my fiber and get reacquainted.  Foolish me, I’d brought enough yarn to start and finish 28thirty, yarn for a complete Fake Isle hat for myself, and enough yarn to make 6 pairs of Warm Woolies socks give or take.  I laugh now to think I thought I’d have enough time to knit all those things, but I guess I was feeling optimistic.  Or maybe just hopeful.

 

28thirty in progress

28thirty in progress (knit from stash…..boo-ya!)

 

After about 2 hours of travel we arrived at our first destination for the day:  Degnan Bay on Gabriola Island.  We unloaded the dinghy from the boat and quietly motored our way into the harbor, heavily anticipating one of the major highlights of our trip.  It was eerily silent, with little signs of activity, and I almost felt as if I should whisper.  As if speaking aloud might awaken some sleeping creature that wouldn’t be too happy to find interlopers in their harbor. 

 

Degnan Bay - Gabriola Island

Inside Degnan Bay
(click for larger image)

 

Small island outside Degnan Bay

A small wooded island outside Degnan Bay
(click for larger image)

 

I was particularly excited to be going ashore as we had been promised that Gabriola was the site of some amazing ancient stone carvings.  As to how to find them, well that part was rather vague.  Walk to the main road, turn left, walk to the church, then take the path behind it to a large field.  Nothing was clearly marked at all, but after a mile or so we found the church and made our way into the clearing behind it.

 

The field behind the church

 The field behind the church
(click for larger image)

 

 I can’t begin to describe the feeling that engulfs you when you find yourself in the presence of carvings made some 5000 years ago.  Carvings so ancient that they pre-date the Native People indigenous to the area itself.  What struck me most was how different they were from most Northwest Coastal Native art.  Alien, in fact.  Who were these stone carvers?  What did these images mean to them?  Sadly, the site is quite evidently eroding from exposure to the elements as well as exposure to unappreciative humans who seem to feel compelled to walk over, and desecrate the images with their own brand of graffiti.  It’s sad that a wonder such as this isn’t better protected.  I feel extremely grateful that I got to see it before it becomes just a footnote somewhere in a long-forgotten book.  Here’s a few of the better images that we were able to see (click on them for a larger view):

 

A bird perhaps?

Another bird?

A funny faced petroglyph

Interesting creature

A long-nosed creature

This one looks like an alien!

 

Contemplating what we’d just seen, we walked ourselves back to the dinghy and took a quick look inside the bay itself before heading back to the boat.  We had hoped to catch a glimpse of the killer whale image that is supposed to be visible on one of the rock faces at low tide.  It’s the best known of the Gabriola petroglyphs, but we didn’t appear to have arrived at the right time to see it.  Instead, we were rewarded with this little guy eating some shellfish on the rocks.

 

Rocky Raccoon

 

In a steadily falling rain, we weighed anchor and headed for Telegraph Harbor on Thetis Island.  If I thought Gabriola seemed eery, then I wasn’t prepared for the creepy that was Telegraph Harbor.  Imagine boats in varying degrees of disrepair, rocking gently in the water, hidden eyes watching closely as the newcomers arrive, unsuspecting, in their midst.  The perfect setting for a horror film.  We even had the pounding rain and ominous mist necessary to set the stage.  But rest easy dear readers, we were safe.  The afternoon was spent knitting, napping and watching movies.  And later, I was rewarded with the most blissful 5 minute shower (in 2.5 minute increments) imaginable.  Never mind that it cost me 1 loonie ($1 Canadian coin) per 2.5 minutes, never mind that a good 2 minutes of each increment was either lava hot or glacier freezing.  For the first time in way too long, I was clean!  Whoever invented hot water and indoor plumbing, you are a true genius and I salute you. 

That night we fell asleep to the sound of pounding rain and the feeling of clean limbs.  Lovely.

 

Next stop: Salt Spring Island!

8

**Our Gulf Islands Trip: Day 2 – June 8, 2008**

Gulf Islands Trip - Route for Day 2

 Our trip route for Day 2

(click for larger image)
Image courtesty of KayakSuccor (aka R. Darling)

 

Sunday morning arrived and we climbed out of our damp v-berth (everything on a boat always seems just a wee bit damp no matter what) to my FIL’s traditional early morning greeting of, “Good afternoon!”  He falls asleep ungodly early and wakes up ungodly early so no matter what time you arise, he will greet you with “Good afternoon!” even if it’s only 7:30 AM and you feel as if you haven’t slept in at all thank youverymuch.  This charming routine would persist for the remainder of the trip, but despite this little quirk, I still have a very nice FIL.

 

Friday Harbor from the water

Friday Harbor from the water side
(click for larger image)

 

Following the smell of bacon with our noses, we walked up the maze of docks and slips in search of breakfast.  But something very curious stopped us in our tracks. R. Darling will be the first to confirm for you that I am instantly enchanted and completely sidetracked whenever I see a creature of any sort in the vicinity.  Near the water I am continually scanning for seals, and peeking at the sky for eagles.  On dry land I will cast about for squirrels, bunnies or deer.  This morning we clearly saw a seal at the dock and it was doing the strangest thing:  bringing its flippers up to its face as if it was eating something.  We were transfixed by its strange behavior and had to get closer to find out what exactly it was doing.  I had seen a woman on the dock and speculated that the seal was greeting her in some way and as we got closer we witnessed one of the most magical and memorable things I have ever had the privilege of seeing.  One by one, the woman threw a series of bait herrings to the seal.  One by one it snapped them up and when they were gone the woman told the seal “No More.  That’s it.  They’re all gone.”  The seal flipped backward, showing us its belly and swam away.  Fascinated, we asked the woman about her friend.  She told us that this seal, Popeye is her name, had been coming there for 15 years or so and every morning this woman feeds her 12 herring.  Once Popeye eats her fish, she swims away only to appear again the next morning for her breakfast.  My FIL being the kind of generous and friendly guy that he is, asked the woman how much one pack of herring cost her.  She replied that it was about $5 each.  He handed her a ten and told her that breakfast was on us. 

 

A video of Popeye we discovered after we arrived home

 

Delighted with our chance encounter, we took ourselves off to a little diner for breakfast where we stuffed ourselves silly.  I was to discover, over the duration of our trip, that there’s something tricky about the outdoors and marine air.  If you spend too much time out in it, you will soon develop one of the most voracious and indiscriminate of appetites imaginable (remember that 4 pounds of excess luggage I mentioned?).  If it was in plain sight, my hand would surreptitiously snag a bit and stuff it down the hatch before my brain could mount a proper defense and put a stop to it.  But no matter.  It’s vacation is it not?

After breakfast, we rearranged items in the boat from sleepy time arrangements, to running time arrangements, and left Friday Harbor around 11 AM bound for Canadian Customs in Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island.  We arrived around noon (spotted a porpoise on the trip over!), tied up to the dock, and proceeded to clear customs via phone.  Is that not the strangest thing you’ve ever heard?  Apparently, if they question your citizenship or intentions, you must then pilot your boat over to the other side of the island and meet with an actual officer.  It seems so strange in this day and age of heightened security, to clear customs without ever speaking to someone face to face.  But clear it we did.  Walked ashore briefly to buy a bottle of red wine for me and 2 mochas (if I had ever wanted to give up mochas, this trip would have been the perfect occasion as not only are Canadians seemingly mystified by iced coffee – no offense my northern friends :) , but espresso stands were few and far between in the islands).

 

Customs at Bedwell Harbor, Souther Pender Island

 Customs at Bedwell Harbor, South Pender Island
(click for larger image)

 

The extremely narrow Pender Canal

The extremely narrow Pender Canal
(click for larger image)

 
Thusly reinforced, we navigated the scary passage through Pender Canal between North and South Pender Islands (at times there was only 4 feet of water beneath our hull, and no room for error on either side of the canal) gripping whatever each of us could and gritting our teeth with nerves until we were safely through.  Beers were opened soon after.  From the canal, we passed up the north side of North Pender Island, into Navy Channel and up to Galiano Island.  We arrived in Montague Harbor around 2 PM and tied ourselves up to a mooring buoy where we would spend the night. 

After a bit of lunch we unloaded the kayaks for the first time during our trip and set out from Montague Harbor for a leisurely paddle around Gray Peninsula.  It was low tide and there were so many interesting things to look at as we paddled around.  We saw more seals, clams the size of salad plates, eagles and great blue herons, starfish by the bushel, an eerie and beautiful lichen formation, small fish jumping, and stark and mysterious rock formations.  It was peaceful and lovely and so nice to take our time examining all the wonders displayed so openly for us.  We paddled for close to 2 hours and then made our way back to the boat where we prepared dinner as the sun sank slowly in the northern sky.  A lovely way to spend our second day.

 

Montague Harbor sign R. Darling & his kayak Purple starfish abound!

Knittymuggins can kayak! Land of giganto clams Sleepy seals

Giant red starfish Knittymuggins standing in front of the giant lichen formation A beautiful lichen formation up close

(click the thumbnails for larger images)

 

Stay tuned for Day 3:  petroglyphs, lots of rain, some knitting & a much wished for shower (the first since the day we left!)……

9

**Our Gulf Islands Trip: Day 1 – June 7, 2008**

Day 1 - June 7, 2008

Our trip route for Day 1

(click for larger image)
Image courtesty of KayakSuccor (aka R. Darling)

 

Saturday morning came early.  A little too early actually.  The original plan for our trip had been to meet my FIL in La Conner, WA at 8 AM on Saturday morning June 7.  The weather forecast for Saturday had been vacillating between decent and not-so-decent (swells and higher winds predicted) so plans were changed to leave on Sunday.  Friday night around 5 or 6 PM, after we’d slacked off on our packing all day thinking we had all day Saturday to pack, my FIL called and decided the weather was good enough to leave on Saturday after all.  Mild panic ensued and we spent all of Friday night and into the wee hours of the morning getting our shit together (so to speak).

The next morning (Saturday) revealed a comedy of errors that to this day really still doesn’t seem that funny.  They say time and distance add humor to a situation but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.  Everything was loaded and the dogs piled into the truck exactly on time.  As we were headed to the kennel, R. Darling reached over and patted my hand and told me how he loved knowing that he could rely on me when times were stressed, that he always knew I would get things done and be organized.  Foreshadowing anyone?  We get to the kennel (about 20 min. from our house) only to discover that we didn’t have the paperwork from our regular vet documenting their vaccines against common kenneling diseases.  Guess who was responsible for that little treasure?  Guess who didn’t have that little lovely on their list?  O.k. 20 minutes back home to get the paper and “I know just where it is“, proved to be “Where the hell is it?!”.  Shit.  Someone is about to report a domestic next door.  But I find it (Actually filed away?  What the….?) and we drive 20 minutes back to the kennel and drop off the pooches.  Driving back towards our house now (on the way to the freeway), we realize we have forgotten our pillows and DVD’s.  Craps.  Back to the house. 

By now we are close to 2 hours late and feeling pretty stressed.  But we get to the boat in one piece, load up our stuff and are headed out of La Conner through Swinomish Channel by about 1:30 PM.  The tide was amazingly low and at times, there was only about 6 feet of water beneath our hull.  Yikes.  But we navigated it safely and made our way into Padilla Bay and then Guemes Channel headed for Friday Harbor, WA on San Juan Island.  We decided to make this day a short one due to our late start and by the time we arrived in Friday Harbor (around 3:30 PM) we were ready to call it a day.  I rode the whole way on the flybridge with R. Darling and FIL, and worked on a Warm Woolies sock when it got a little choppy to keep from getting queasy.

 

All aboard the Ragunda

Our kayaks

 (click for larger images)

 

After the most ginormous bacon cheeseburgers evah at Herb’s Tavern, we had a little walk around town (literally a little walk – it couldn’t have taken us more than 15 min. or so, at a leisurely pace, to navigate the two main streets lined with closed shops).  My FIL grew up here so he told us which stores he remembered being where, and a little about his time here.  R. Darling kept marveling over how many cars parked on the street had keys in the ignition.  It probably would have been easier to count the ones that didn’t.  Then we walked down to the waterfront and had some ice cream even though our sides were pretty much bursting (this explains the extra 4 lbs of fat I came home with….) and walked back to the boat to watch a movie and head to bed.  A nice easy start to a much needed vacation.

Here’s some photos from our first day and if you want to read a different perspective (possibly more technical) check out R. Darling’s bloggy.

 

Funk & Junk!

Lovely Friday Harbor Mermaid

Pumpty Dumpty

 (click for larger images)

 

I had to throw that last one in there because for some inexplicable reason, anything to do with poo, and funny names for its disposal, just makes me laugh….

4

Meme-ography

Yep, that’s right. I am indeed shamelessly attempting to distract you from noticing that I have not yet blogged about my recent trip. The photos are all downloaded from each of 3 cameras we brought with us, and my travel journal is in order, but the brain’s feeling less than clever so far this week, like a dull dented can of chili con carne (half price!). No signal from the brain means no typey with the fingertips, which means no worthy bloggy post about travel.  What with all the having to actually wake up and put some clothes on and go to work and all that garbage, it’s a wonder I remember anything past 5 minutes ago. How easily one slips into vacation mode and how torturous is the road back to reality.  It’s seriously cramping my style.

So, I thought you could have a little fun amongst yourselves with this meme I found on my pal Knittlesticks’ bloggy.  I’ve seen a few of these recently so I won’t be tagging any of you specifically (feel free to play if you haven’t yet, or even do it again!).  I’ve been having the bestest time checking out everyone’s secret (or maybe not-so-secret) celebrity crushes.  I wonder what they say (if anything) about our personalities?

 

 

How to get down with the fun-ness:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

 

photo credits: 1. 070418 Maryanne’s Fish – FX Shadows and Fill Light in Picasa – Brisbane, Queensland, Australia-2, 2. First find the Heart, then eat!!!, 3. A walk in the woods, 4. candy pop land, 5. Dwayne Johnson, 6. Ritas, 7. Picturesque village Vernazza, 8. Rhubarb pie, 9. writer’s teeth, 10. Gift Of Marriage, 11. fish kiss, 12. Skelly and the fetching mitt! (2/10)

5

Back On Terra Firma

Knittymuggins Knitting in the Gulf Islands

A rare moment of knitting during our vacation

 

Greetings Bloggy Peeps!  I am back home and back on solid ground again (though it still feels anything but solid; I’m wobbling around like a drunken sailor because the ground still feels wavy from spending a week on the boat).  Unfortunately, we’ve descended from vacation into a maelstrom of rather un-fun activities around Chez Funkytown, so filling you in on all the groovy details of our vacation will have to wait.  I’m just out of time right now.  But soon, I promise.  And because no trip would be complete without a few souvenirs, guess what I brought home with me: one half of a bottle of red wine (I’m really only a pretend drinker), a box of salt scrub, one head of greasy hair (only one shower in 6 days – yikes!!), a pile of stinky damp clothes, four extra unwanted pounds, a ton of photos and some really fantastic memories.   It’s all good. 

Hope you’ve all been well and I hope to catch up with each of you soon!  Stay tuned for trip pics later on….

11

Hunting For Sasquatch

Map of the Canadian Gulf Islands

The Canadian Gulf Islands
(map courtesty of this site)

 

Maybe you have already heard that Bushnell and Field & Stream are offering 1 meelyon dollars for a photo or video of Sasquatch doin’ his thang in the woods.  Or maybe you haven’t.  But supposedly they are.  Good thing I’m leaving Saturday morning for a week in the Canadian Gulf Islands.  What better place to look for Sas than in the tangled woods of the Canadian outback?  I’m sure there’s plenty of hairy naked dudes hanging out there already.  He’d blend right in.

Actually, I’m hoping to find a lot more than Sas while we’re away.  Recently I seem to have lost complete interest in blogging, knitting, and pretty much anything creative.  I’m sure that much seems obvious.  I feel tapped out, though I suppose it’s easy to dry up your well if there wasn’t much of a spring in it to begin with.  Murky puddles can only sustain you for so long.  Perhaps some time away from my bloggy, and my usual surroundings (but not my knitting; never that!) will revive me.  Either that, or I’ll find me a Sas, snap that winning photo, and spend the rest of my days drinking margaritas, barefoot, in a pool filled with yarn.  Personally, I’m sorta leaning towards that pool filled with yarn bit.

So while I’m on hiatus, take good care of yourselves Bloggy Peeps and I’ll look for you on the knitrawebs when I get back.  Thanks for sticking with this lackluster girl through her bloggy slump and I hope to have some good pics and stories when I get back.

 

Hasta la knitsta everyone!