Wednesday, July 30, 2008
CAMPBELL RIVER — For the second time this trip, we left Vancouver Island aboard a ferry and headed for a couple of islands in the Strait of Georgia. This time we were visiting Quadra and Cortes (or Cortez, as it is sometimes spelled) Islands, just east of Campbell River.
The first hop was a 10-minute ride, after which we did some exploring of Quadra, the larger of the two islands. Both are known for their population of artists and artisans and for their rugged beauty. In addition, both seem to have a rainy northern half, and a drier southern half where most of the population is concentrated.
There are about 2,700 people on Quadra, and a lot of them, from what we could see, prefer to build their homes at the end of narrow, gravel roads well back in the woods, possibly with views of the water, and many with little orchards or patches of vegetable gardens. We followed the main road in the general direction of the ferry dock on the opposite side that would take us to Cortes, but we took a side road to look at Rebecca Spit and the provincial park that was at its tip. There was a lovely beach with rounded rocks, bleached driftwood and a serene feeling. A woman and her dog were wading in the water in the distance, and a couple of boats were moored to bouys off shore. Across the bay we could see Heriot Bay, where we were headed for the next ferry ride.
As we strolled back to our camper, a couple who had been walking their little dog were looking at our rig with some interest. They came from California, where they keep an Airstream trailer, but live part of the year on Quadra. They called their trailer The Empress when they first got it. Then their kids re-named it The Toaster because of its chrome exterior and rounded shape. Now that it’s older, they’ve taken to referring to it as The Tin Can, they joked. We gave them our blog address so they could read about our Alaska trek last year, after they told us how much they wanted to see that part of the world.
We headed on to Heriot Bay to line up for the next ferry. It only runs every other hour, and, not wanting to miss it, we ended up getting there well ahead of time. So we left the truck parked in line and strolled around a bit. There is a lovely inn near the ferry with nice flowerbeds and lawns, and Adirondack chairs overlooking the marina, plus a huge chess board about 10 feet square with pieces the size of traffic cones on the grass in front of the verandah. The place looked very welcoming.
As we strolled back to the truck, we passed a car in which an elegant older lady was reading the paper as she waited in line. I remarked to Val how much she looked like Iona Campagnolo, (former Liberal cabinet minister and former Lieutenant Governor of BC) and he said that was because she was Iona Campagnolo! We had just seen her portrait a few days ago at the aviation museum in Comox.
The ferry ride to Cortes was 45 minutes, but it didn’t seem long at all, as we gazed at the mountains, islands, clouds and water around us. A couple of young men on the ferry asked us if we had space to take them to Manson’s Landing if we were headed that way, so we rearranged a couple of items in the truck to make room. They were working on the island for the summer. The older one, Patrick, was 19 and had just spent a year in England working with blind people while fitting in some travel around the UK and Europe. It was interesting chatting with them about the adventures of travel and how much you can learn from visiting different countries.
Cortes is much smaller, with about 1,000 residents, but a similar feel to Quadra. After we dropped off Patrick and his friend, we headed toward Smelt Bay to the south, and then Cortes Bay on the west side of the island. It would have been nice to spend more time exploring and following some hiking trails, but we were very conscious of the time and the need to make it back to the ferry so we could connect with the Quadra ferry back to Campbell River without ending up getting back to our campground after dark. We did see a good number of impressive pleasure boats moored in both the coves where we stopped, and guessed they belonged to the owners of the gracious estates we didn’t see at the end of the narrow gravel roads we had passed.
We also saw a lot of deep forests of tall pine trees with thick undergrowth of ferns and carpets of soft needles and moss on the ground. Everything is so green and lush!
It was a pleasant ride home after a lovely day of sun mixed with cloud, and not too chilly temperatures.