Wednesday, August 28, 2013

HIGH SUMMER ON GALIANO

After a delicious breakfast in Galiano Inn's resto on our last full day on Galiano, we headed out in the hot sunshine to find some interesting places and people to visit. Once again we took one of the inn's Smartcars and it was just as well we did. We travelled main roads (two lanes) and narrow, country lanes wide enough for a small, very small car.
We wanted to find a few spots that were less well known by tourists and a couple that are favourites.

Heading north, stopped at the glass studio, but it wasn't our cup of tea, and crossed the main road in search of a few galleries on the map that we never found or were closed.

© James S. Ferguson
Next stop was easy—Cable Bay Farm in mid-island. This is the home of Galiano's photographer, Henny Schnare, and her family. What a great place to stop on a Tuesday! Tuesdays are the farm's weekly open house and market day. Henny has a thing about basil and it grows in vast abundance—she gave us a huge bunch for the chef at Galiano Inn. But the small acreage grows all sorts of organic produce for purchase and for the restaurants, pubs, cafés, and B&Bs on the island.

Henny is the most welcoming and enthusiastic person I've ever met. Wildly fun too! She invited us into her farm kitchen as my husband wanted to buy an enlargement of an image of hers. We also met her daughter and husband, who is a retired master mariner. We had a great time and walked out with a huge signed photograph that is now framed and graces our kitchen. Her skills with a camera are legendary on Galiano and you see her images everywhere. They're gorgeous.

Henny directed us to drive across the main road at the end of their driveway and follow the lane to the sea. Soon we could go no further and found Retreat Cove, tucked away and sheltered, with a small island in the centre. There's a cave to explore if you go through a gate on the left at the road's end. Idyllic, does not do this spot justice, especially in high summer. And, there were only six tourists and a couple of locals who were fishing off a rock. Here, Henny and her husband Tom moor their boat.


We drove south to visit the provincial park just off the road to Montague
Harbour. This is a forested park with camping and RV spots that ends at White Shell Beach. When we were there in mid-August, the campground was nearly empty and the beach had only two kayaks pulled up to the high tide line while their paddlers enjoyed a picnic. Galiano's shores are a kayakers paradise, sheltered and calm on the western side away from the Georgia Strait. Visitors can rent kayaks and canoes at Montague Harbour where we planned to eat lunch.

This is the main "town" on Galiano and is really a marina packed with boats in the summer. Many are anchored in the bay and their owners row into the marina for supplies and showers. We joined many of them for a good lunch at the Sea Blush Café with a pint of pale ale. The food is plentiful and mostly seafood, but the view is amazing. We sat and admired it and the marine traffic for longer than we were welcome, given the number of hungry patrons who were waiting!

As the weather was perfection, we returned to Whaler Bay, which we had visited on an overcast morning to meet a local artist whose work we had admired in a gallery. I wanted to get some good images in sunshine. It was worth taking the time to go again.

Whaler Bay is big as the bays go on Galiano and has a government wharf. It sits on the east coast facing the Georgia Strait but is long and narrow so provides sheltered moorage and anchorages with Gossip Island guarding its entrance. Today it was quiet and beautiful.

Of course, many moons ago, this was a place from which small whalers operated and logs were dumped. Today it is clean and a haven for wildlife from land, sea, and air, as well as residents and sailors. Stand still awhile and you'll see osprey, waterfowl, raccoons and mink. The waters are home to fish again.

Our last stop was a left turn at Sturdies Bay on Active Pass and down a windy lane called Gulf Drive. We found three lovely coves here and for about fifteen minutes watched seals playing in a bay as the ferries to Victoria and the mainland sailed by with their sirens blaring.

I found it almost impossible to tear myself away from these tranquil spots so far from the madding crowd. Tourists were few and the locals were always happy to chat and give advice as where we should go next.

Sadly, it was late and we were leaving early the next morning. But first we enjoyed our last dinner on our patio watching the super moon for the third night in a row.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2013. All rights reserved.