Our destination was obviously Salt Sping Island - largest of the BC's Southern Gulf Islands. Getting to Salt Spring Island is a true journey. Planes, boats, automobiles, feet - there are a lot of travel modalities needed to get there. It is so worth it.
Ultimately our goal was the Salt Springs Spa Resort - a collection of chalets on the Trincomali Channel with a kickin' spa. More of this place later.
After a morning flight to Vancouver, we arrived in the rain (surprise!). Customs/immigration was unremarkable except I learned that in Canada, adults living at the same address regardless of gender can use the same form. Such common sense. The whole "same-sex" marriage thing is not an issue here apparently.
Not wanting to waste one minute of Canadiana, we hit Tim Horton's for coffee and a donut before heading off. OK, so it's not the best coffee - or the best donut for that matter - but it does the trick of sharpening one's senses after a long flight. And to walk about with a Tim Horton cup does allow for some slack from the locals.
We were soon in the vehicle and on our way sans map. Circling around, sipping our coffee, we returned to retrieve the security blanket (maps do that for me for some reason) and away we went.
Our first task was to locate a market. Peter and I take marketing while travelling very seriously. It's not only fun to shop for food, we also learn about a community by the foods and sundries the members of that community consume. The particular Safeway we located didn't hold any anthropological treasure trove but it did provide the raw materials to make us comfortable at our destination.
The London Drug store was next to procure the forbidden 2-2-2s unavailable in the States. Seems another common sense approach: have folks consult a trained professional when choosing drugs. Let them determine what works. Oh, Canada indeed.
Our secondary task of heading to the ferry terminal at Tsawassen was soon underway. Peter had previously reserved sailing times for us. This was quickly explained to be a reservation for sailing time ONLY. Full tariff is required when entering the toll plaza. Travel tip #1: Don't feel compelled to make a reservation. There was no line and the reservation was a waste of money. The only time it may be important is during high season (i.e. August) during the heaviest travel times. Talk to a local to find those times - looks like they use Twitter fairly well too @BCFerries.
Before long we were directed to our spot on the car deck and settled in line at the cafe for the famous BC Ferry Manhattan-style clam chowder. It seemed a terribly approproate choice being a rainy day and al. Sipping this marvelous savory concoction hit the proverbial spot as we slipped effortlessly through the Strait of Georgia waters. The hour and half crossing seemed to go by much quicker than actual time. The rain let up as we entered the Gulf Island channels finding us out on the deck in time to hear the "horn warning" issued by the Second Officer - pulg your ears or have them ring the rest of the day.
Times like these - with gorgeous scenery and the company of a loved one - makes for philosophical discussion. Wildlife spotting is another favorite activity. We spotted sea lions, otters and eagles. Houses on the shoreline and high in the clouds provided sumptuous imaginary possibilities: "just imagine living there." Comparisons to other places visited are inevitable; however, this was done to articulate more than judge. There really is nowhere such as this. It's no wonder the time flew.
Docking in Swartz Bay/Victoria was elephant-ballet-like in execution. They took the enormous ship in sideways ever-so-slowly and gently. Debussy's Jimbo's Lullaby played in my head. We were off the ship in minutes and used the "turn around" exit back to the ferry terminal - queuing up for the next launch - this time to the island of our dreams. Another short wait, more coffee in the rain and even a good "want a flax roll" booth made the time pass quickly. In no time our ferry was called and we were safely parked on the ferry.
The "baby" ferry (as we called it) featured a much more bus-like waiting room. Our fellow travelers were mostly young folks talking about this party or that. More otters were spotted in the water as we weaved through the southern gulf islands toward Saltspring (or Salt Spring).
Docking at Fulford Harbor was efficient as always and away we drove into the Land of Oz.
If first impressions are what makes an experience, we were instantly charmed. Roadside stands for organic or free range eggs lined the road as well as for other produce and even cut flowers. An exquisitely bold sign reading MANURE $1.00 imparts the fact that this is a very grounded place - full of the circle of growing and being.
The winding road to Ganges passes vineyards, cattle, sheep, goats, black sheep studio tour, signs for potters, woodworkers, farms and more green spaces of lush trees, vines and herbasiousness. Ganges' small harbor shelters small fishing boats and yachts. Yes, you can buy fish directly from the fisher. And you can get your shopping fix as well.
Driving on, we headed to the north coast. The road skirted St. Mary's lake and flowed through forests before plunging back to the sea. Rounding North Beach Road we spotted our destination: Salt Spring Spa Resort.
Jill's welcome was nothing short of amazing - the perfect balm for the harried jet-rentalcar-two-ferryrides-road-trip. She efficiently handled the business and then proceeded to educate us on where to go, what to do and how to transition into the Island vibe. This set the tone for the magic that began to unfold before us.
The resort features individual cabins or chalets. They are uniquely shaped wooden structures - almost temple-like in design. Intelligently placed to maximize both privacy from your neighbors as well as improving the view of the Galiano Island and Trincomali Channel, these sanctuaries are fully-contained to provide all your needs. From the wood burning stove in the living area (took the chill off beautifully) to the raised bedroom providing an amazing wake-up view.The two person mineral spring-fed spa tub to the fully equipped kitchen, this place was built by people with practical and esthetic brilliance. Charming doesn't begin to describe this place.
When we got settled, spirited beverage in hand, fire glowing, rain abating, we knew this was going to be a memory in the making.
Later, a hot, mineral tub was a religious experience. Sleep came easy and deep.