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Published: September 24th 2013
September 22, 2013
We wake this morning to the predicted rain and as a result at 10am we’re still in our pj’s and enjoying the prospect of a lazy day staying around the house.
We’ve got films we want to watch, painting to be done, playing pool (lovely full size snooker table in the den!) cookie mixture to make up, books to read, games to play and of course some work with the boys etc, etc.
The sun does make an appearance around 1pm though and the clouds disperse leaving a lovely blue and white fluffy sky.
Matthew and I get out the bikes from the basement (and what a basement! - excuse the interruption but….it’s the same size of one level of the house and is home to an interesting and comprehensive selection of wood working tools and machinery as well as countless bottles of wine, the usual Christmas decorations etc, etc).
Anyway, where was I? Bikes…Matthew and I borrow a couple and cycle a few kilometres south while Steve and Sam head into Ganges to check out bookshops and pick up supplies.
It’s very pleasant cycling along the quiet coast road
and we stop to buy tomatoes and zucchini from a make-shift stall at the bottom of someone’s drive, pick up beautifully shiny conkers from a horse chestnut tree and drop into the café on the return trip for the most deliciously moist chocolate cake and coffee. I’m the first to admit we’ve not cycled for anything like the amount needed to compensate for the cake but still…when in Rome and all that.
The nice thing about this stretch of road is that you are adjacent to the coast. The houses (including ours) are on the far side of the road which is actually fine because the road’s quiet, access to the beach is easy and the view from the house isn’t compromised in the slightest.
However Sunset Drive on the other side of the north part of Salt Spring isn’t the same at all. The properties meet the sea and as a result if you drive this road you barely see the sea at all, let alone a sunset and certainly getting down to it is almost impossible. There are one or two “shore access” signs but not much. It’s certainly not what we had in mind from
a road called Sunset Drive that’s for sure. A couple of provincial parks on the island obviously retain a bit of land for public use but there aren’t that many of them.
Salt Spring Island is the most populated and biggest of the Gulf Islands. It has a population of about 10,200 with a total area of about 70 square miles. Quadra Island, on the other hand, the island we stayed on at the beginning of August, is actually a total area of 120 square miles but only has about 2,500 people living on it. And when you’ve stayed on both within a few weeks of each other it’s easy to notice the difference. (And our stay on Quadra was at the height of the summer season whereas we’re now into the off-season on Salt Spring).
It’s swings and roundabouts of course. Salt Spring has more amenities and a lovely main village that I wouldn’t swap for the world but Quadra has more open public space and a lot more walks and trails thanks to the fact that much less of the land is privately owned.
Maybe the answer is to live on a boat and enjoy
a bit of all of them!! In a couple of weeks we’ll be staying for a week in a house overlooking the sea on the other side of us. It’s on Vancouver Island and overlooks Salt Spring Island. It will be interesting to see whether the appeal really is living on a small island or whether it’s fine just to be living next to the same stretch of sea but with all the amenities of living on a much larger island (Vancouver Island is about 1.5 times the size of Wales).
September 23, 2013
A wet start but it soon clears by the time Steve and the boys have done their work. We head down (or should I say up
) to Mount Maxwell which we remember having the most amazing views. Again it’s a bit of a sad reflection of Salt Spring in that there are a lack of signposted trails in or around Mount Maxwell Provincial Park. It’s a rough road up to the top, about 9km in total, passing many areas signposted “Private Land” but once up the views really are amazing.
It’s not until you look down from Maxwell that
you really comprehend just how many islands make up the Gulf Islands. The sea is scattered liberally with them, like little floating stepping stones thrown randomly into the sea.
From Maxwell we hunt down what few trails Salt Spring has to offer and find ourselves at the Peter Arnell trail. We strap on the boots, fill the rucksacks with life saving water supplies and proceed on our 1.5 km trail. It’s a lovely one but still…..it’s over before we know it and we return to the car with our water intact. Needless to say the boys are happy although sadly they don’t find any roughskin newts as they’d hoped to. To be honest we weren’t really walking for long enough!
We do find awesome gigantic starfish down at Burgoyne Bay though. We’d be forgiven for thinking they were octopus except there are definitely way more than 8 “legs”. They turn out to be Sunflower Seastars and are quite incredible.
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