Saturday, September 19, 2015


Thirty dollars each way in mid-September will get a vehicle and two retired passengers onto the ferry to the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver. Little traffic and few tourists make for a quiet, relaxing getaway. Weather can be lovely too.
Neither my husband nor I had been there for decades and with few recommendations to assist, we selected Painted Boat Resort and Spa for our three-night getaway. I remembered the winding and narrow main road though, lined by towering evergreens and few views of the coast because most of the shoreline is privately owned. After 63 kms from Langdale's ferry dock, we arrived at Madeira Park. The resort is about eight years old and built on the steep slopes down to the water. The view was stunning.

The units are cleverly stacked so everyone who stays here has that view overlooking the marina. But nothing had prepared me for the unit we stayed in. (They're all two bedrooms.) I gasped as I walked into the huge open-plan living/dining room with a kitchen to delight the most discerning cook. It was so well-equipped, we enjoyed dinners in every night. The master bedroom and living room have decks and there is a BBQ off the dining area. The master ensuite is also huge with a soaker tub and separate shower. The beds embrace you and we slept like newborns!

Painted Boat overlooks Gerrans Bay and Beaver Island in Pender
Ebb tide at Painted Boat
Pool Lagoon
Harbour. As the tide floods and ebbs, two tiny islands join and separate. Herons fish along the shore; kayakers paddle in and out of the marina. The resort faces west with the promise of sunsets. A major benefit of staying at Madeira Park is a good supermarket and a liquor store, both of which are well-stocked, in a small shopping centre. The other advantage is that exploring by car or boat north of Sechelt means beautiful spots are close by just waiting to be found. Many boat rentals and tour companies are based out of Pender Harbour.
Garden Bay

Beaver Island is linked to Madeira Park by a bridge and has a marine park at its southwest corner. We explored the north coast of Pender Harbour on a glorious sunny day and lingered over a great lunch at Garden Bay Hotel's pub that provides a huge outdoor patio above the bay. This spot is busy with boats big and small, and boat tours run from here up to Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Inlet. Earlier we had stood below the historic Sundowner Inn to take photos of Pool Lagoon and Hospital Bay. The fall colours had begun to make their appearance and softened the more gloomy hue of the evergreens.

Our last full day was overcast but dry and we headed up to Egmont, near the ferry dock that leads up to Powell River. This tiny village is home to two big draws. The first is West Coast Wilderness Lodge, an attractive retreat with all modern comforts. The views from the restaurant and bar are breathtaking. You look towards Jervis and Princess Louisa Inlets with blue mountains as the backdrop. Two islands dot the Skookumchuk Narrows in front of the lodge.

We had the best meal of the getaway here plus glasses of pale ale. The home-made curried coconut, cauliflower soup was fragrant and warming. I chose to have the special — squid steak, grilled to perfection, and resting on a wonderful thick ancho-tomato sauce. My husband tucked into an ahi tuna clubhouse sandwich with tuna confit. It was a good four inches high! There is a huge viewing deck below the resto and a vine-covered patio for dining beside it.

The second draw is the standing wave — a two kilometre hike away. Kayakers and surfers come from around the world to ride it as the tides sluice in and out of the Narrows. We did not do the hike as the tides were wrong. I wish it had been the right time because it is a photographer's dream to take shots of the derring-do!

We will return to stay at the lodge and take advantage of the boat tours and the photography, but will also take a few days at Painted Boat to relax awhile and I will also try out their spa.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2015. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TWO NEW PHOTO PORTFOLIOS: Hebrides and Iceland

I'm proud to announce the publication of two new portfolios recording my explorations of the Scottish Hebrides and Iceland in September 2014.

Three Weeks, Fifteen Islands documents my exploration of the Inner and Outer Hebrides off Scotland's northwest coast. I travelled by land, sea and air from Arran in the south to Lewis in the north. 

Some of the many highlights were a full-day, hands-on photography workshop on Arran and a week's cruise on a converted trawler that visited Mull, Staffa, and Iona, and included a wildlife safari too. Another was landing on the beach at Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

The land steams. Volcanoes erupt. Earthquakes rumble. Mud boils. Geysers gush.

Halló Iceland is the visual journal of my adventures in northern and southern Iceland in late-September 2014. The boon and the curse of seismic activity has defined the land and the people of Iceland since the mid-800s. Its natural beauty is breathtaking, sometimes desolate, and always revealing....

© Photos by Pharos 2015. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


After cancelling our two major trips this year, we are taking day trips around home. We live close to Vancouver in Port Moody and many places beg for a visit and photography. Although I've lived here for nearly fifty years, there's much left to explore.

Our first day out involved a five minute cruise after a half-hour drive. Barnston Island lies smack in the middle of the Mighty Fraser river in southern British Columbia, sandwiched between Surrey on the south bank and Pitt Meadows on the north. The ferry dock is accessed at the eastern end of 104th Avenue in Surrey,

This triangular-shaped, small island was named after George Barnston, a naturalist and clerk in the fur trade who arrived here in 1827 when Fort Langley was established. Now it's a farming community with cleared land and houses scattered around, most of which belong to the Katzie First Nation on the south side of the island.

The free ferry takes vehicles and passengers across Parson's Channel on a large raft strapped onto a powerful tug. It sails across the river crabwise in the strong current and the tug's captain has to be a master ship handler to dock successfully on either side. Drivers need to know that they will have to reverse either on or off the ferry up a steep ramp. Most visitors park their vehicles on the Surrey side and walk onto the ferry with bicycles. I tackled the intimidating reversing.

Traffic-free and flat, Dyke Road runs 10kms around the island close to the river and we stopped often to take photos of the magnificent views. On the north side, visitors can see the entire span of the new Golden Ears Bridge with its backdrop of mountains (last photo below). We were lucky, the cloudscapes were dramatic and enhanced the images we took.

The Fraser river is a working river and there is always something to watch: log booms, tugs towing barges and booms, light aircraft taking off on the other side from Pitt Meadows airport, and pleasure craft pushing their way upstream against the current.

On Barnston's northwest point is a tiny regional park with peek-a-boo views through the trees. Here too are the only public restrooms and shady picnic tables on the island. We spent an enjoyable thirty minutes watching a tug bring a huge log boom alongside others with consummate skill against the current before having our picnic and heading home.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos. All rights reserved 

Click on the images to enlarge

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Once in a while life throws a curveball at travelers' plans. I had two in a row this year that cancelled two major trips. My husband's health has been poor since we were in Iceland last fall and he had to have surgery. It was successful but his heart didn't like it.

First to go was my trip to the Travel Media Association of Canada's 2015 conference followed by a cruise to Georgian Bay and two days in Montebello Quebec. Second was our Pacific Northwest road trip. These were complicated itineraries to cancel. But in neither case did we lose any money, thanks to travel insurance, credit card policies, and knowing the cancellation dates of all the accommodations.

I have never had to actually cancel big trips before and was very glad that we always keep a list of the "Last date to cancel." Also my precaution of never booking anything that does not have a clearly-stated cancellation policy and having good travel insurance paid off handsomely.

It's was a big disappointment, but it was the right action to take, especially as in both cases we would have been in some remote areas far from good hospitals.

I partially made up for the loss by attending the British Columbia Highland Games in June — I love all things Scottish, but especially the pipes. I spent a happy day with Bella, my Nikon, and several more afterwards editing the results. We are also planning to take two or three day getaways close to home.

Highland dancer practising
for the competition
The Vancouver Police Pipe Band

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2015. All rights reserved

Friday, May 1, 2015


Scarinish, Tiree
In the first four months of 2015 I enjoyed a publishing bonanza with my travel articles and images from the Scottish Hebrides and northern and southern Iceland  – to read them, click on "My articles" above or visit my website. On the strength of these, four more requests brightened my inbox.

Crofter's cottage
Future plans include: In mid-May, I visit Galiano Island for some photography and relaxation after a stressful six months of health challenges. After that, it's off to the Travel Media Association of Canada's 2015 conference in Peterborough, ON, followed by a river cruise to Georgian Bay with Ontario Waterway Cruises and a visit to Montebello, Quebec.

And later, my husband and I are planning a five week road trip in September to explore places we've never seen in Washington State, Oregon, and northern California.
Trekking to Solheimajökull, Iceland

All images:
 © Photos by Pharos 2014. All rights reserved