Sunday, June 13, 2010

Salt Spring Island (Part 1)

This is a family that takes a lot of pictures. This is true in our normal quotidian life, but when we go on vacation, it's an even more daunting task to sort through the photos and blog about them. So there's your explanation for why the Miles Files & Leo Log are running a bit behind of late.

Nevertheless, your editor is picking up the gauntlet -- and so here's an eyewitness, almost live account of our recent trip to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

For most of the family, especially its younger components, it was the first visit to the BC Gulf Islands. Our attentive readers will recall that we have been making an annual trip to San Juan Island here in Washington State, where we would often gaze at a glorious sunset silhouetting a fleet of mountainous islands arrayed to our northwest. "That," we would tell our boys, "is Canada."

So this year we decided to mix it up a little and skip the beautiful but familiar San Juans in favor of their Canadian cousins. We settled on Salt Spring Island, the largest of the BC Gulf Islands, largely because it offered the most confusing ferry schedule. We figured we were up for a challenge.

Armed with our new NEXUS passes, Mommy, Miles, Leo and Grandma Margee breezed across the border on Friday and caught a BC Ferry at Tsawwassen. It turned out to be a local. Three hours -- and numerous Gulf Islands -- later, they docked at the appropriately named Long Harbour and made their way to our rental house on Vesuvius Bay.

Daddy, on the other hand, had to work that day. So he did what all daddies ought to do if they want to impress their kids: he caught a seaplane the next day and landed in the harbour as they looked on, mouths agape.

Fortunately, Daddy arrived just in time to join the family for a trip to Salt Spring's renowned Saturday market. We took the opportunity to stock up on the island's bountiful farm products, which fueled a week of fine dining on the home front.

Salt Spring is an impressively mountainous and rocky island, even by San Juan/Gulf Island standards, but thanks to Mommy's careful planning, we found ourselves located on an actual stretch of usable beach at Vesuvius.

The boys made the most of it.

 As did the grownups.   We did not take long to deploy our inflatable kayaks to explore the bay.

The water was crystal-clear and, by regional standards, surprisingly warm -- at least in the shallows.

It didn't take long to spot seals, otters and eagles perched atop some very long food chains.

In short, the vacation was off to a blazing start!

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