What a summer we have had, and continue to have. We are still living nomadically, even though we are meandering in places that are somewhat familiar to us. In many cases, we’re staying in communities or areas longer than we have before, which gives us the opportunity to explore them in new ways. Adventures we’ve already written about:
- Visiting with family in Calgary, including a 3-week house sit.
- A month house sit on Vancouver’s waterfront.
- A short house sit on Vancouver Island.
Here are a few highlights of other places and activities that haven’t made it into their own post.
Besides our house sit in the woods, we enjoyed an outdoor visit with our Victoria-based nephew, Peter, and his partner, Andrea, hiking on a short bit of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail to Mystic Beach.
We also met up with our niece, Jessica, for brunch at a hidden-away-but-worth-it brunch spot, Spoons Diner.
We had never visited Hatley Castle on the Royal Roads campus, so took the time to stop in. There was a private event going on, so we weren’t welcome inside, but enjoyed the outside views. From the parking lot, we realized we had driven along a skinny causeway on the day we arrived in the area, flying right past the castle without noticing it.
We came back into Vancouver on the Schwartz Bay to Tsawwassen ferry, only to drive across town to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal and board the Langdale ferry for a visit with my sister and brother-in-law, Janice and Mike, at their cottage in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. When they had to return to the city, we refused to leave, and hung around for almost a week.
In Gibsons, the Gibsons Public Market is small, but worth checking out. As well as a few delicious food shops and a great cafe (Emelle’s Catering Market Bistro, sister restaurant to Emelle’s Catering in Vancouver), it offers free wifi, a cozy place to hang out near the marina, and a farmer’s market on Fridays (spring to fall).
Mike came back to the cottage, supposedly so he and Ken could have a bit of fun while I was working, but I think it was probably also to make sure that we vacated their home when we said we would. In any case, they did get out for a ride, cycling to Secret Beach–a new find for Mike, and a good one.
One day we drove up the coast, intending to go on a not-yet-specified hike. Instead we popped in to visit long-time friends, Reto and Joanne, who live in Sechelt, and who we estimate we hadn’t seen for a couple of decades. We got so caught up in catching up, that we were too late to hike by the time we pulled ourselves away. We made plans to get together the following week for dinner, and headed back to Gibsons.
A couple of days later, we made the drive up the coast again, this time all the way to Earl’s Cove and Egmont, where we hopped onto the trail to Skookumchuck Narrows.
The trail is about 4km through lush rainforest, and ends at a rocky viewpoint. We joined 20 or 30 others who were gathered on the rocks at the narrows, watching the crazy kayakers negotiate the waves created as the tide turned.
Another trip up the coast to Davis Bay to check out the community-based sandcastle competition. There aren’t many sandy beaches in this area, so the competition has to be planned for a low tide that exposes a sandy area. Three hours from build start to awards, and then the tide starts to rise and erase the creations.
Our last drive to Sechelt was to meet our friends for dinner at The Old Boot Eatery. The menu includes innovative pastas, salads, and pizza, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our choices. For Reto and Joanne, this is a go-to spot, and we could see why.
For many years, we have spent a week over New Years at a condo in Whistler, BC. Rarely, though, do we get to enjoy Whistler in the summer. Our kind friends, Janet and Dom, allowed us to stay with them for a couple of nights. Together we enjoyed a great day of riding the trails.
La Conner and Anacortes
We’ve spent lots of time camping not far from La Conner, Washington. We’ve wandered through the town of La Conner, but haven’t spent any time in nearby, larger Anacortes.
This time, we drove into Anacortes several times: to grocery shop, to work, and to explore.
Since we began this journey, I have been able to work mostly in the homes we’ve stayed at since we make sure our accommodations include wifi. On this jaunt, we were staying in a cabin at a campground, with only very poor wifi offered in a common area. I took one of my work days off, but still had to manage one work day without wifi at home. So I needed to find places to work that were not too far away and where I wouldn’t be thrown out for loitering. On a non-working day, we checked out Penguin Coffee, just off the highway before you get to Anacortes. It was small and pleasant, but there were no plugs available. The chairs were a bit too hard, and the tables a bit too small, to be comfortable for a few hours.
What turned out to be just right was the spacious, not-too-busy Starbucks on Commercial Avenue in Anacortes. Lots of seating options, including comfy bench seats with plugs below each one. Camping neighbors had also recommended the library, so we headed there after lunch. It was a terrific working space as well. Lots of natural light, large tables and a variety of seating options. In both places the wifi was great.
Another day we took our bikes into Anacortes and rode the Tommy Thompson Trail, a trail built on old railroad bed. The trail wasn’t long, but we enjoyed riding right out into Fidalgo Bay on the old railroad trestle. The view as you head out isn’t great because there is a large oil refinery on the other side of the bay, but the return trip is lovely.
We checked out the viewpoint in Cap Sante Park. It offers expansive views of the area, but the smoke shield from the BC fires limited visibility significantly while we were there. We will check it out again when the skies are clear.
We wandered a bit in Anacortes. The historic downtown area was filled with flowers, quaint shops, interesting murals, and artwork. The Causland Memorial Park, which takes up a city block nearby, was walled entirely in the rock mosaic style of this gazebo.
Birch Bay and Blaine
We spent the last few days of our stateside visit in the Birch Bay area, camping near the border so we could get back into town quickly for a key handover for our next place. We weren’t particularly interested in the area, but ended up having a pleasant time. The first afternoon, we rode our bikes south from the campground to the bay, and then along the shore to a field where we found the Birch Bay Music Festival just getting started. The music at the time wasn’t our cup of tea, so we picked up a few things from a grocery store and headed back, planning to ride over again the next day.
But the next day, our only full day there, we decided instead to ride north a few kilometres to Blaine, a town we know mostly as a place where people set up a US mailbox and drive over from the Vancouver area to pick up deliveries. The small town is definitely that, but there are restaurants and shops as well. But what we enjoyed was the ride along the shore into Drayton Harbor, where the Drayton Harbor Days Festival was being held. We watched pirates put kids through a series of challenges, intrepid rafters paddle their way around the bay in their makeshift vessels, walked the docks to a visiting tall ship, and soaked up the small town community fun.
From the park we were able to look across to the border crossing at Peace Arch Park and other areas of Canada. It was an odd feeling to be in another country, literally overseas, when our home country was just a quick paddle or drive away.
For the last week, we have enjoyed ocean-side living in the condo of dear friends, Dom and Janet. They are in Alberta, enjoying grandson time, while we inhale the still-smoky-but-still-fabulous sea air, visit with Ken’s mom who lives very nearby, and soak up a lot of music at the Harmony Arts Festival, free and on all week in the seaside parks just a walk away from where we are staying.
We even managed a sushi night at the beach with live music, Valdy and Jim Byrnes, to accompany a visit with my sister and brother-in-law.
We head off again tomorrow, dropping the keys in the mailbox and driving east for another house sit–details will have to wait for another post.