Galiano Island Getaway
April 28, 2018
We drove off the ferry on the right and immediately onto the ferry on the left!
Grey skies and a light drizzle set the mood as distinctively west coast when we boarded our ferry, bound for the Gulf Islands. Our final destination would be Galiano Island, but first we had a quick transfer in Village Bay, Mayne Island. We literally drove off the ferry and up a small hill, made a quick U-Turn into the ferry terminal and drove straight back down the hill directly onto the second ferry bound for Sturdies Bay. No waiting in ferry lineups for us, thank you very much!
Over the years, Nathanael and I have made several trips to Galiano Island, staying anywhere from a day to a week. Although it's only a short ferry ride from either Victoria or Vancouver, it feels a world away. This is one of those places where you can hear silence and relish in the quiet of a rain-soaked forest.
Rain-soaked is an apt description for our arrival on the island. Lush green grass gave way beneath our feet as we ducked under bare fruit trees, making our way to the cabin through the constant drizzle of spring rain. Just as we found it, we surprised two does who were grazing just outside the front door. Leaping over a small fence and across the empty road, it was only once they were safely on the opposite side of the street that they warily glanced back at, annoyed at the intruders. I smiled, thinking how lovely it was the deer jumping into the road required little to no concern for vehicles, unlike in Victoria where it is not uncommon to see deer walking down major streets. I've even seen a family of deer using a crosswalk!
After settling into the cabin and attempting to wait out the rain, we grabbed our umbrellas and walked along the winding road back to Sturdies Bay. That was a walk down memory lane, from the first time we'd stayed here without a car, frequently walking this stretch of road from the cabin to town for groceries and back again throughout the week. We could have driven this time, but were keen to get outside despite the rain, so we made our way to town pointing out old favourites and new additions along our route.
Sturdies Bay was pretty quiet by the time we arrived, so we quickly chose a loaf of multigrain sourdough at the bakery and slogged back towards the cabin for a much-needed cup of coffee. With one eye on my novel and the other on the weather outside (just in case it improved earlier than the forecast), my attention was suddenly caught by a movement just beyond the front porch. If you saw my Instagram story (@andreakuipers), you already know that we had a few curious visitors - four more deer! As the does walked along the narrow path in front of the cabin, each one stopped in turn at the same place to look intently through the deck railing, and through the living room window at us. I regretted leaving my camera out of reach, but realized that even if it had been closer, the motion of lifting it would have been enough to startle these cautious creatures. So there was nothing to do but return the gaze and watch as the small parade of deer carefully made their way back to the forest.
Look carefully - there are two deer watching us!
A rainy night filled with the sounds of small animals scampering across the deck and roof gave way to a fresh and sunny morning. Sunlight streamed through the cabin windows, beckoning us to hurry and get outside. We soon said goodbye to the cabin and drove to Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park. Having explored the park previously on a daytrip to Galiano Island, we knew there would be plenty of scenic views and hopefully, birds and wildlife. What we did not expect was so many groups of people camping! Considering it was only the end of March with temperatures around just 10C, we were surprised at the number of people out with tents and tarps. Braver than me, I suppose!
Following the trail above the shoreline, we inhaled the fresh scent of rainforest mixed with sea air. Ducks and gulls bobbed in the gentle tide below while we kept our eyes peeled for herons and sandpipers, but none appeared. In the distance, a seal bobbed along in the calm water. A couple of small dogs saw me taking photos and, becoming curious, quietly ran over, immediately planting themselves at my feet. Perhaps they thought I had treats, wanted their pictures taken, or maybe they were simply looking for extra pats.
We intended to treat ourselves with lunch at Max & Moritz food truck in Sturdies Bay but, yet again, we missed them. Wandering away from the ferry terminal, we tried a new restaurant called Babes in the Woods and were happy we did! They hit a great balance between healthy and savoury meals, such as their wholewheat quesadillas served with Mexican rice and salad.
With a couple of hours until our ferry home, we returned to another old favourite at Bellhouse Provincial Park. You can see the sandstone shores of this park from the ferry between Tsawassen and Swartz Bay. Usually you can spot an eagle or two in the tall trees above the shore, and this visit did not disappoint. The sandstone had dried quickly from the previous day's rain, so we found a natural seat in the rocks and watched the eagles circling just off shore and the ferries sailing through the pass until the idea of ice cream from Scoops called us back to Sturdies Bay. Our flavours chosen, we delighted both in it being mild enough to eat ice cream outside, and also at the bold little red squirrel clambering along the patio railing and watching us in hopes we might share (we didn't).