Friday, July 5, 2013

If Once You have slept on an Island

If Once You have Slept on an Island

If once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with neighbours of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh! You won't know why and you can't say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You'll never be quite the same.

Rachel Lyman-Field 1894-1942

~ ~ ~

A few decades ago, a friend sent Lyman-Field's poem to me when we spent eleven beautiful days on Grand Manan in New Brunswick. It seemed appropriate to reference it here again after spending two relaxing nights on Quadra Island in British Columbia.

~ ~ ~

Our weekend started out at the crack-of-early by heading down to the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen. There was a tiny hiccup in our ferry selection but we rolled with it and enjoyed the scenery.

BC Ferries - Came to be in 1960 to provide a similar service to that by CPRail. BC Ferries has become the largest passenger ferry line in North America and the second largest in the world, boasting a fleet of 36 vessels with a total passenger and crew capacity of over 27,000 serving 49 locations on the BC coast.

In fiscal 2011, BC Ferries reported a loss of $16.5 million due to dropping ridership, with vehicle traffic dropping by 3.5 percent and foot passenger traffic dropping 2.8 percent. Increased fares were to blame for the drop in ridership and warnings came that there would likely be cutbacks in the service on a number of its routes in order to reduce costs.

On August 26, 2012, BC Ferries announced that it will be cutting 98 round trips on its major routes starting in the fall and winter of that year as part of a four year plan to save $1 million on these routes. Service cuts have included the elimination of supplementary sailings on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route, 18 round trips on the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay route and the largest number of cuts to round trips on the Duke Point to Tsawwassen route by 48 sailings with still more plans to look for savings on the smaller, "unprofitable" routes in the future.

On November 20, 2012, BC Ferry Services Inc., was listed as the 90th most profitable company in BC with a net income of $3,781,000 for 2011 and $3,422,000 for 2010.

Gorgeous sunny morning sailing out of Tsawwassen.
Spirit of Victoria.
Crossing to Victoria.
Wind swept coast.
Despite the - what I can only describe as greedy incompetence from the top - BC Ferries' 'front-line' staff and crews are managing quiet efficiently to provide amazing service to the general public - at least that is all we experienced on our weekend trip to Discovery Passage and Quadra Island.

~ ~ ~

Quadra Island - was named in 1903 after the Spanish navigator Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra who explored and settled the Vancouver Island area in the late 18th century. The Southern Kwakiutl (part of the larger Kwakwaka'wakw ethnic grouping) migrated into the northern Georgia Strait from Queen Charlotte Strait over two centuries ago, enslaving, displacing and absorbing the Comox and Pentlatch Peoples who formerly lived there.

Quadra island is a short ten minute ferry ride from Duke Point in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Quadra is the hub of the Discovery Islands. Has a close-knit community of about 2,700 full-time residents. Three main communities make up Quadra; Cape Mudge to the south, home of the indigenous We-Wai-Kai band of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, Quathiaski Cove,  considered the 'commercial hub' of the island and where we stopped for our supplies for our weekend, and Heriot Bay is at the north end.

Our weekend stay was at the south end of the island at Cape Mudge in a charming little cottage at the Tsa-Kwa-Luten Resort and Lodge (#1 Lighthouse Rd).

Wood carvings spotted in Campbell River while we waited for the next ferry to Quadra.
The 'great room' (lobby) of the Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge & Resort.
The lush view out the kitchen windows in our cottage.
Sitting room of our cottage complete w/fireplace.
Twilight view of Campbell River from our cottage.
Moon over Discovery Passage from just outside our front door.
Mysterious Cruise ship coming up the Passage under a full moon.

We speculated that the ship was possibly heading up to Alaska. It floated by so silently.
Morning rush hour up the Passage.
Main dining lounge at Tsa-Kwa-Luten. Delicious meals and charming staff.
Driftwood on the rocky beach across from our cottage.
Single striped stone - said to be good luck.
Beach stones draped in 'terry cloth' seaweed (that's what we named it for the weekend).
Our little cottage nestled in the trees.
Heading along Cape Mudge Rd to try and find petroglyphs.
There were supposedly petroglyphs on this but we didn't find them.
But there were H.R.R Giger-like corpses among the rocks.
And an unnerving number of caterpillars EVERYWHERE.
~ ~ ~

Totem Poles
, derived from the Ojibwe word odoodem [oˈtuːtɛm], "his kinship group" are normally carved from western red cedars which decay eventually in the rainforest environment of the Northwest Coast so, few examples of poles carved before 1900 exist.

Beliefs about maintaining the totem pole vary, but generally it is believed that the deterioration of the pole is representative of natural processes of decay and death that occur with all living things, and attempts to prevent this are seen as somehow denying or ignoring the nature of the world.

Retired Totem Pole.
Dust to dust.
Quadra Island Cemetery.
Robin's egg by a local monument.
United Church built in 1931. Still in use today.
~ ~ ~

The Arbutus
, with its smooth reddish-brown bark is one of the most beautiful trees on the planet - imho. Arbutus can be found in a narrow band along the south coast of British Columbia, generally
found on exposed rocky bluffs within eight kilometres of the ocean. It is found in locations that lack moisture like the rocky bluffs or in rapidly drained soils. The Arbutus does not like shade so will take hold in clearings or on the bluffs along side Garry Oak or Douglas Fir and several herbs and grasses.

Its flower has a strong honey smell and very attractive to bees (just another reason to love this tree!). Fruit eating birds like the Waxwing and Robin are frequent nibblers. It is the only native broadleaf tree in Canada.

Spectacular Arbutus at Duke Point ferry terminal.
Waiting to board.
Aboard and waiting to sail.
Kayaking along the shore.
Hitching a ride in the middle of nowhere.
Ominous backdrop over Tsawwassen.
This was a short two night stay on just one of the many Gulf Islands. There was much more to explore so I think there may be another trip to Quadra in our future. Or maybe Salt Spring? Gabriola? Mayne? Saturna? What about Cape Scott on Vancouver Island? Or maybe we should head way up to the Haida Gwaii?