Salt Spring Island - A Day Trip
notes from Nathan
Activity:Auntie Joanne and Uncle Renato have had their cabin on Salt Spring Island for years. Even though every Christmas they would ask us to come for a visit, we never went. I have to admit I had my doubts: no TV, no computer, and worst of all, no McDonalds. But I tell you we had so much fun, I didn't even miss the TV; well, maybe McDonalds a little. Let me tell what we did.
On Saturday morning we went to the big craft market in Ganges village. Mom was ranting and raving about the size of the organic beets, but I thought Kaleidoscope Man was pretty cool. There were some kids a little older than me playing jazz for donations, which gave me an idea for my cello. That is until Jen asked is she could join me with her viola. Mom thought it was a wonderful idea. I couldn't imagine anything worse.
Anyway the market was really busy, so we didn't last long with Coleman touching everything he set his eyes on (including a lady's purse). We decided to go back to the cabin and have lunch. That's the neat thing about Salt Spring Island - everything is close.
On the way we took a detour up Mount Maxwell. It was a pretty bumpy and dusty ride up, but when we got to the top, it was worth it. What a view! For miles you could see farmland, mountains, even the hang-gliders, and turkey vultures.
After lunch we went swimming in St. Mary Lake. The water was warm and clear but the beach was small. We had fun with our snorkels and masks looking for fish. There was so many, unfortunately I couldn't get any to bite the bait on the end of my fishing rod. Jen was a little luckier, she found a bunch of fresh water snails. Too bad, some little kid found her stash and took them. Of course, we had to hear about it the whole way home. While we fished Mom went for a walk with Auntie Jo. She wanted to see where Randy Bachman lived . Who in the world is he anyway?
That night we had a barbeque. One thing about Salt Spring Island, it sure gets dark at night. Uncle Ren told us we could go exploring in the forest. He had a hard hat with a light on the top to help us find our way. To tell you the truth, I was scared stiff. Auntie Jo assured us the deer were harmless and the bears probably wouldn't bother us. Every time I heard a leaf crack I nearly jumped out of my skin. I don't think I need to tell you, I didn't budge from the porch all night. We ended up just talking and laughing, which is something I don't do often with my family. To tell you the truth, the TV always seems more interesting. Anyway, I found out my parents aren't too bad after all, and even Jen can be funny when she puts her mind to it.
The next morning I got up early (9:00 am is early for me). It's hard to sleep in with all that fresh air going into your lungs. We headed off for another day of exploration. Our first stop was Burgoyne Bay. Jen could hardly wait to get her hands on those huge shells Uncle Ren and Auntie Jo promised us would be there. The only problem was the tide was in. So much for beach combing. Even so, Burgoyne Bay is really pretty. I even saw a King Fischer dive-bombing into the water.
Next, we went to Fulford Bay. It's a small town where the ferry from Victoria stops. We ended up having lunch at the Treehouse Restaurant. One of the few places where every member of our family found something we actually wanted to order and it tasted good. Mom's Chai Latte was delicious so I'm sure we'll be going back. The last place (and incidentally my favourite) we went to was Ruckle Park Beach. Awesome gently sloping rocks dropping off into deep water made it perfect for fishing. Finally, it was my day. I caught four fish-amongst them a big lingcod and baby salmon. Jen got skunked. Too bad! I didn't see too many people swimming at Ruckle Beach, but it was perfect for cycling. Auntie Jo said you could ride the paths in the forest for miles and miles. Sounds great, but it'll have to wait for next time.
Age group:I think Salt Spring Island is great for any age group. Who can resist the great outdoors?
Expense rating:The most money we spent at Salt Spring Island was getting there and back. Dad said the ferry ride to the island and back cost us over a hundred dollars (for the five of us and our car).
:Going to Salt Spring Island is like a trip back in time. It reminded me of this show I used to watch called The Waltons. People on Salt Spring Island have a simple life. Many of them grow their own fruit and vegetables, and work from their own home. I think I counted all of one movie theatre on the entire island and it looked like an old church. Like I said, Auntie Jo and Uncle Ren didn't have a TV or computer-so I guess if you wanted to get back in touch with your family, Salt Spring Island is a good place to do it.
:I never saw a sign saying "We don't want visitors," but sometimes I sure felt it. All the places we visited, we would have never found unless Uncle Ren showed us the way. You see it's not like here where you have big signs saying "Stanley Park." On the island you'd be hard pressed finding any type of sign. I figure the people living there don't want crowds of tourists disturbing their peace and quiet.
Mom's beef was that the beach access for St. Mary Lake was only 50 feet wide. Although I can see the Locals point, because apparently they get their drinking water from the same lake.
Dad didn't like the ferry schedule. You don't get many choices and half the ferries make stops along the way, tacking an extra hour to your ride. I mean, let's face it, 2 ½ hours is a long time for any kid to spend on a tub that doesn't even have video games. We booked ahead for both our trips. You have to, otherwise you may not get on.
Details:The only direct route to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver is through Tswassen. Salt Spring Island is located in the Southern Gulf Islands about 1 ½ hours by ferry from Tswassen Ferry Terminal. You better phone B.C. Ferries for an up-to-date schedule of sailing times (1-888-223-3779), or check the BC Ferries website: http://bcferries.bc.ca; Salt Spring Island Tourism
Area:Southern Gulf Islands
Educational highlights:Actually I learned tons of things during our weekend on Salt Spring Island. But the highlights for me were getting to know Auntie Jo and Uncle Ren. Up till then, they were just two more people I said "Merry Christmas" to at Christmas dinner. I never knew Uncle Ren had the same corny sense of humor as me. And also, I got to know my Mom and Dad and Jen. I never knew Dad went to a party when he was young dressed up in a Scottish kilt. He said you don't wear anything under the kilt. Now that's scary!
Fun for the adult?:I think Mom and Dad (and Auntie Jo and Uncle Ren) enjoyed our trip, for the same reason us kids enjoyed ours-we got to know each other better and we laughed a lot. Uncle Ren even said he hoped we came back.