Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dionisio Point

Dionisio Point is the northeastern tip of Galiano Island. I had seen pictures and checked it out on the map and it looked like a wonderful place to visit, if I could get there. The Provincial Park is cut off from the rest of Galiano Island by some large swaths of private property, so its official designation is "marine access only." But that doesn't mean you can't get there without a boat. The bike not not only made it possible, but added to making this place the highlight of my little Galiano adventure.

I spent a few hours exploring its rocky points and beaches - the centerpiece of which is a beautiful tombolo (a spit that connects two islands). There was also a nice little pocket beach farther west, below the old (and large) native village site of Quelus'.

Dionisio Point itself marks the southern entrance into Porlier Pass. The sandstones, typical of the Gulf Islands, weather into fascinating shapes and patterns (this kind of honeycomb texture in rocks is called tafoni). 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Active Pass

The ferries from Tsawwassen to Long Harbor (and those to Swartz Bay, Mayne, and Pender) go through Active Pass, making it a busy place.  It's a fairly narrow channel (between Mayne and Galiano) with strong tidal currents and lots of other boats. Every year for twenty years, we've ridden through, usually on deck, enjoying the scenery and hoping to see orcas jumping across the bow (not yet). And I've always noted little rocky points and beaches on the north shore (the south end of Galiano), promising to check them out someday.

My two days on Galiano last week finally gave me the chance. And it's amazing how often the ferries were going by. The return from Sturdies Bay to Salt Spring also gave me a chance to go through in the dark, which added a new twist.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Galiano Island

This year I decided to mix up the Saltspring routine by spending a couple of days on another island. I left M with ample support staff and took the car, the boat, and the bike on the early Monday morning ferry. I camped at Montague Harbor and spent the two days checking off a long list of beaches, home keys, paddles, and bike rides. I arrived back in Sturdies Bay Tuesday evening for the 8:55 boat feeling I'd gotten a great introduction to the island (and that my advance work had paid off). 

I'll post a little more about specific places in subsequent entries, but this post is just an attempt to capture the overall gist of the adventure. Which began, right off the ferry, at the Sturdies Bay Bakery. Then it was off to Morning Beach, a couple of more public road end shore access points, and a hike up Mount Galiano. From there, I headed down to the beach at Mathews Point and to Bellhouse Point, both of which I'd been eyeing from the ferry for twenty years. I found my reserved walk-in campsite and set up the tent, then took the kayak out for a hour or two. Dinner was at the Montague Harbor Marina (The Crane and Robin). Sunset was from Shell Beach.

I broke camp early on Tuesday morning, stopped for coffee and a cinnamon bun at the Bakery (I was going to try something different, but my first choice wasn't open yet). Then to the north end of the island to see if it was true that I could get to Dioinisio Point without a boat. I switched out the bike for the car and rode the last 8 kms - more on this adventure later. Bodega Ridge, not far away, was easier and perhaps better, than Mount Galiano. I followed it with a drive to the very north end of Porlier Pass Road with several stops on the shore along the way.

I went back to Montague Harbor and rinsed off the day's sweat at Shell Beach, then hung out at the Hummingbird Pub for a couple of hours. I'd made good work of the two days and had plenty of time left to wander around Sturdies Bay wishing the ice cream place was still open. The Salish Raven (brand new boat) takes its time getting back to Long Harbor (stops at Mayne and Pender), but I was back to Geeen Acres by 11:15.

White Rock

This is a bit of an experiment, trying a new App to let me use Blogger from my iPad (a perennial obstacle to posting while traveling and a reminder of how frustrating it can be when a large company - like Google - fails to continue to support an application despite a large base of users).

We always begin our Salt Spring week with a Friday drive north across the border - makes Saturday morning more pleasant before heading for midday ferry in Tsawwassen. We have tried Tsawwassen and Richmond, but this year we got an AirBnB just north of the border in White Rock. We drove out to Crescent Beach for dinner at The Cabin.

Saturday morning I rode back out to Crescent Beach on my bike in a big loop that included the beach at White Rock and the Peace Arch.

Now the test. Can I add photos to the post? If this works, maybe I'll add some more comments on my blogging mechanics in a future post.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

English Bay

The main point of the weekend, or at least the thing that everything is planned around, is the Celebration of Light fireworks show Saturday evening over English Bay. There will be two more shows this coming week, but those folks don't realize that it is going to be really hot and incredibly smoky - so we're glad we reserved this weekend. We stay at the Sylvia, right across the street, and there are thousands of food options in the neighborhood, which makes it all very easy.

The challenge is always figuring out where the tide will be when the show actually happens - the tide is typically rising on these summer evenings. We want to be in the front row. If we're too high, there will be folks in front of us. If we're too low, we'll get wet, and by then there won't be any place to retreat to, since several hundred thousand people will have filled in behind us. But despite M's apprehensions, we got it right. People who set up in front of us had to move and we still had a few feet of dry sand between us and the water when the show ended.

When we first started doing this, the show was sponsored by Benson and Hedges, but that was a problem in the politically sensitive northwest. HSBC took over for awhile, as I recall. Now Honda is the main sponsor. It's set up as a competition among national fireworks teams (are there really such things?) - this night was put on my Japan and they did a very nice job. One of the things we like about being up close is that you see so much more of the low level stuff and the choreography - not just the big blasts high in the sky.

Here are links to a couple of our earlier trips:
2008: English Bay

2006: English Bay

Saturday, August 05, 2017

False Creek

M headed back to the hotel when we finished our loop, but I kept going. I've always wanted to ride the Seaside trail all the way around and out to Spanish Banks and this was the perfect opportunity.

I've been doing long rides every Saturday all summer - motivated by the new bike. Our basic loop around Stanley Park was 7 miles or so, but by the time I made it back from the far end, I'd put on more than 30 miles.

The trail is great. Most of it is dedicated bike path, usually segregated from the pedestrian path it parallels. The biggest challenge was the volume of traffic and the number of riders with very little road sense. I can forgive the kids - but still have to watch out for them. And at least the Brit who swerved left when he should have swerved right (dangerous, but understandable, given their conditioned responses to oncoming traffic), was very apologetic (in a very polite British way). But the walkers staring into their cell phones while wandering down the middle of the bike lanes and the tourists on rented bikes who seemed oblivious to basic road etiquette, or even to the presence of other riders, was a little terrifying!

In Kitsilano (okay - we're not on False Creek anymore, despite the title of the post), the trail shifts away from the shore and onto well-marked bikeways through the Point Grey neighborhood, before hitting the long stretches of Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks, where you lose pavement. The trail completely peters out as you approach UBC, but I kept going up the hill on the road before deciding to turn around. I took a break and walked down to Acadia Beach, which sort of marks the transition from the broad sandy beach at Spanish Banks to the cobble foreshore of Point Grey and Wreck Beach.

Spanish Banks - quite a ways beyond False Creek - looking back at the city

Stanley Park

When D was young (heck, we were all young), we came up here every summer for a weekend at the Sylvia Hotel, a bike ride around Stanley Park, and the fireworks. I guess that routine ended when D began high school, so while we've been back to Vancouver many times, we've done it differently.

But this year M and I decided to come back - we pretty much picked up the routine where we left off - albeit without D. The bike ride was great - thought a bit crowded. The weather was wonderful.

Writing this a week later, I'd note that right after we left, the heat went up and the smoke from the BC forest fires blew in, and the last week was probably not very pretty up there (or down here, either).

Thursday, August 03, 2017


We checked into the Sylvia, dropped off our bikes in the storage room, and made some last minute decisions about dinner. Which led us to Kitsilano, on the other side of English Bay.

We walked along Sunset Beach, hopped on the water taxi below the Burrard Bridge, and then walked up to Oddfish on 1st Avenue. Oddfish is among the newer of Vancouver's 2000-3000 great restaurants - it only opened earlier this summer. It had a nice neighborhood vibe - we sat outside and felt we were the only customers who weren't chatting with their friends as they walked past.

We caught the last little ferry back to the other side and walked back along Sunset Beach (appropriately name) to the hotel - well, I guess we stopped so I could get ice cream first.


Squamish sits at the head of Howe Sound, on the road between Vancouver and Whistler. It boomed in the buildup to the 2008 Olympics when the highway got improved and all sorts of new housing popped up, and now, like so many other places, it's trying to attract tourists and bill itself as a hub of outdoor recreation.

The Sea to Sky Gondola, which rises between Stawamus Chief (the granite monolith known well to climbers) and Shannon Falls, climbs from the highway up about 3000' (885 m) to the summit house, which is pretty much a ski lodge without the skiing. But there are plenty of well-maintained walking trails, viewing platforms, and even a dramatic suspension bridge.

Apparently, they had live music Friday evening, but by then we were already back in Vancouver.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mount Rainier

At 9:00 we had no plans. By 10:00 we were on our way. Yet another pleasant day and we decided to go for a long drive. It's been a long time since we've been to Rainier together and a very long time since we'd driven the whole loop.

The Park was metering traffic at White River, which meant a long wait, but this probably made it less of a zoo up at Sunrise. We stopped at the snack bar for a simple lunch before heading on around the mountain.

I'm always impressed by how big this mountain feels, especially from close up. I guess most mountains are massive, but when they have broad shoulders and stand alone, they really stand out. Rainier was in and out of clouds all day, but we got plenty of great views.

Paradise was crowded, but we were still able to grab a parking spot in the top lot without much of a wait. We kept our exercise simple - the short paved walk to Myrtle Falls. Pretty much any other route would still have involved snow. The new visitors center (new, at least for us) was nice and the old lodge was even better. I still have visions of entering the lodge through snow tunnels when I first visited as a child (one must always be a little skeptical of such memories - brains can create data as easily as they can store it).

It always seems like a long drive back. We had dinner on the patio of the Copper Creek Inn, then headed to Des Moines so M could swing by her office and clear her floor of stacks of paper so the carpet could be cleaned. Why the carpet has to be clean (or even gets dirty in the first place) if it's covered in paper is beyond me.