Monday, July 27, 2009

Gulf Island Getaway

We've just come back from the most gorgeous holiday. We took a lot of ferry rides to get to our camping spots - one on Pender Island and one (incredibly amazing one) on Saltspring Island.
For a number of years now we have mostly camped in a travel trailer (although sometimes the boys and I go on tenting trips) because when the boys were little we found it much easier to be ready to go when we kept the trailer packed and ready. This time I really wanted to do the Gulf Islands and I thought it would be much easier to do so with just tents and a camp stove. It turned out to be a wonderfully relaxing trip and I am so glad we did it.S and I both love to explore and see all sorts of different places. We left thinking that we would camp on two islands and see two other islands on bike - by biking onto the ferry and over to each island as a day trip. Instead, as soon as we got to Pender we seemed to fall into "island time" - that sort of syrupy kind of time where it just flows along and you Slow Right Down. We soon decided to just fully enjoy and explore Pender and Saltspring and see some of the other islands the next time. We did a lot of beach walking and lots of hiking. This hike up Mt. Norman on Pender gave us a fantastic view of some of the Gulf Islands, parts of Vancouver Island and even some of the San Juan islands.

After a few days on Pender we headed to Saltspring where I was determined to get a camp spot at Ruckle park. Somewhere I had read it was considered to be one of the most beautiful provincial parks in B.C. I thought that would be quite something to live up to because I've been to many of our provincial parks and so many of them are extremely beautiful. These shots are taken right from our campspot at Ruckle. Here is a snap of our spot - I can't recommend it highly enough. It was just an incredibly beautiful place to be and I feel lucky to have been able to stay there.

The boys enjoyed exploring the ocean life and watching the deer.
S and I enjoyed the amazingly delicious local food and...erm, the view from our camp spot!
But seriously, the bread from Salt Spring Island Bread Co. (especially the focaccia bread with tomato on top) is amazingly good. S also loved the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company sun-dried tomato goat cheese (with more Salt Spring Island Bread Co. bread, of course). I'd love to go back in August and just bike and eat my way round the island. ;-)
Ruckle provincial park was originally a farm and parts of it are still a working farm - the oldest continually operating farm in B.C., apparently. We hiked all round the park and were fascinated by how different it was in all the different areas and amazed to think that at one time one family lived and farmed in such an wonderful place. We walked about 11 k round the park one morning with E leading the way at a good clip, you can imagine that I was not a very popular mama when we arrived at the farmstand, where they were selling cold lemonade, and I had no change with me. :-( Their farmstand was delightful too. The boys and I have big plans for our own future farm stand. We got all kinds of new ideas during this trip.

Another mountain top view - this one from Saltspring and we didn't even have to hike to get to it, you can just drive right up. The thing I loved most about Saltspring (besides our campspot at Ruckle) was the farm stands. There were farm stands everywhere with all kinds of good stuff for sale. I also really enjoyed the Saturday Farm market in Ganges. We bought some beautiful tomatoes from the Foxglove Farm stand.

Last year I read two of Michael Ableman's (of Foxglove Farm) books - Fields of Plenty and On Good Land - and thoroughly enjoyed them, it would be a treat to see the gardens at Foxglove. I was disappointed to just miss out on their farm day but we had to catch our ferry to get back home, I'm tempted to go back to take one of their classes.

Sun coming up on our last morning - gorgeous. We'll will definitely be going back!


Joanne said...

Wow Heather! Thanks for sharing that...looks like another trip for us to plan! That camping spot looks amazing.

Andrea said...

I think I camped in that very spot for my 40th birthday on Saltspring Island. And I cycled around the island with my sisters.

ipsa said...

Glad you had a good time in "lotus land". Nice to know you'll be back. :)

Heather said...

Andrea - Fun! We took our bikes too but with the narrow windy roads and gravel shoulders I found I was concerned about E, we'll wait a few years to try biking around again or maybe go without kids. ;-) Sounds like a great trip to do with sisters.

I had my 40th b-day this year and that, along with a few other things lately, has me really determined to no longer put things/wishes/dreams on hold. I've wanted to go to the Gulf Islands for a long, long time and decided to "just do it". I've also wanted to get a kayak for myself for a long time and guess what turned up for sale right in Ruckle park - a kayak just like I wanted. Funny how things go when you decide to just make things happen. ;-)

Heather said...

Hi Joanne

Yes, it was such a great trip and I'm sure your family would enjoy it. I think you would also like how passionate the whole community seems about growing and providing local food. It is quite inspiring.

Just in case you do go you might want to have a peek at these programs offered at Foxglove Farm. They sound fantastic.

Heather said...

Hi Rebecca
You know you had told me how dry it was on the island but I just kept thinking of it more like the area where I grew up, now after being on the Gulf islands I'm thinking that I'll have to believe you. ;-) And...I have to admit that the tomatoes were quite delicious - still not Okanangan tomatoes, mind you, but quite delicious all the same. ;-)

Actually I found it shockingly dry there and was impressed at the efforts to conserve water (and to encourage others to conserve) that I saw on Pender and Saltspring. Do you get to Saltspring much? I was thinking you would love the market.

Mary-Sue said...

Wow! What a fantastic trip. So glad you did it! i saw a t-shirt the other day that said "just did it". love that. you need one of those!

Anonymous said...