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Another May Long Weekend


One dinner Jeremy lifted his glass and said this was the ninth May Long Weekend trip we have done together.  Nine years of group trips is pretty good in my books.  Over the years we have learned tricks to make the trips a little easier - reserve ferries well in advance, alternative expensive and cheap trips, centralize shopping.  This trip showed off a new learning - if you can, make it a four day trip!  Most of us took Friday off and headed over to the island early to make a longer trip.

Coombs

I'm sure it won't be long before someone puts goats on the roof of some green building in Vancouver.  Coombs has had goats on the roof since I was a little kid and while what the general store has stocked has changed over the years (and the strip of stores around it has blossomed like a well fertilized but unfocused garden), it's still the same feel.  We grabbed a quick lunch, bought a few items and unwound a little.

 
Goats On The Roof At CoombsMusicians Playing At Coombs


Even on a Friday afternoon, this place is full of tourists.  The band playing for coins was quickly followed by another band when their shift was up.  Separating tourists from their dollars is a big business.

Englishman River Falls

Mike And Eric Looking On Falls
Englishman River is an interesting set of falls.  The falls drop into a narrow canyon and it's actually quite hard to get a sense of how far or even how much water is falling - it's just a lot.  Usually we admire the water and the move on, but Mike decided he wanted a closer look.  Walking past the fence, we found access to the canyon to really appreciated where all this water is going.   Given that the rock is quite slippery and down really wouldn't be friendly, I'm glad we all made it back alive.


Pano Of Falls

The walk between the upper falls and the lower falls takes you through a few different biomes - wet areas where maidenhair ferns thrive, dry sunny areas where Arbutus grow and lots of Douglas Fir in between.  I found a patch of forest that I visited a few years ago - looking at the old pictures, you can see the same plants are there, but they are hardly static.

Bright Spot Near BenchesMaiden Hair Fern

Getting close to the lower falls, we found a nice patch of White Fawn Lilies.  I think any gardener would be proud to have a path of these flowers in their garden. 

  Field Of White Fawn LilyWhite Fawn LilyLily

Our day was getting on so we drove up to our rental in Bowser and moved in!

Denman and Hornby Island 

The next day we decided to dedicate to Denman and Hornby Island.  These two Northern Gulf Islands are similar to the Southern Gulf Islands - quite roads, a vibrant community and a history of farming.  The ferries run quite frequently so we didn't have much of a wait.  While waiting we watched a colony of Purple Martin's - a large species of swallow that is recovering in the area.

Purple Martin Nest BoxesPurple Martins Hanging OutPurple Martin Couple

Helen And I On Cliff
Our first target was Helliwell Provincial Park.  Helliwell is one of my favorite parks in the Gulf Islands.  Unlike the Southern Gulf Islands which are dominated by sandstone, this park is build on a loose matrix of soft stone and pebbles which erodes to form cliffs. 


Helliwell Cliffs

Yellow Monkeyflowers
The gulf islands are generally gems of biodiversity - many tiny niches.  Sadly, similar niches on the mainline have long ago been paved, trampled or "developed".  On the grass bench above the cliffs there are number of rarely seen or highlight plants.  My personal favorite was discovering a small patch of prickly pear cactus. 

Field Chickweed With Dead WoodBrittle Prickly-Pear Cactus On Bluff

Helen Dwarfed By Douglas Fir
The park has two distinct forests to see - a large stand of Arbutus hugging the coast, a stand of old growth Douglas Fir further inland.  Unlike our earlier foray at Englishman river falls, these trees are widely spaced and there is a lush green undergrowth.  The bark on the larger trees is amazingly thick - I wonder if there were fewer forest fires on the island.

Douglas Fir Forest
 
I probably could have spent the whole day walking around this forest and cliff side environment, but new destinations awaited.  Our clever plan was to meet with the second later car and enjoy lunch at the Hornby Island Farmers Market.    This farmers market would make Mark happy - it doesn't open until 11am and stays open until 2pm.
 
Pottery For SalePlaying Harp In Forest
  I really enjoy the farmers markets on the Gulf Islands.  The presentation is novel compared to the polished or commerical presentation you seen Vancouver (for instance,  the Gabriola market).  Island food is local, in season and nice to look at (for example, see the Salt Spring Market). Many of the artisans are extremely good but because they sell locally, they are only known by locals.   The setting of Island farmers markets are often well beyond a parking lot.  Hornby uses a forest near the RCMP detachment which provides enough space that seeing all of the vendors is actually a stroll.


The products were a mix of pottery, wood carving, clothing, fresh food and preserved food.  Unlike most markets, this market had a strong collection of "services" - people offering massage (several different vendors) and a variety of readings.

  Hats For SaleFresh HerbsDressmaker In Forest
 
I'm told the population of Hornby grows from at most a thousand in the winter to more than ten thousand in the summer.  I imagine the market is an excellent way to keep more of that tourist money on the Island.  We had lunch featuring two loaves of freshly cooked local bread and then caught the ferry from Hornby Island back to Denman so we could visit the Denman Island Pottery Tour.  

Pot In The Grass
I was put onto the tour by my Mom who happened to be visiting with a local the next day.  This tour's reputation is starting to grow because of the quality of the work on display.

Spotted Coralroot


I'm not much of a pottery guy, but what really attracted me was the locations where these potters work.  Often they are beautiful homes on expansive properties, several far away from any major road.  When the workshop is surrounded by such a lush environment, it can't help but to rub off on the work.

Entrance To Pottery StudioVanilla Root Outside KilnVanilla Leaf

The work itself varied as much as the settings.  Some potters specialize in glazes - others in building.  Some potters showed a half dozen different styles, some concentrated on just a single presentation.  Elements of many cultures were brought into the work.

Bright And CheerfulVancouver House On Denman
At first we were planning on seeing only 5 of the 9 potters available.  I enjoyed myself so much we took the time to visit the other 4.  Thankfully the last potter was patient and didn't mind that we arrived well after hours.

Mugs And Cups
 
The next day we walked around a few other sites.  First, we stopped by Little Qualicum falls.  This isn't so little - there is a massive waterfall that forms a big swirling cauldron and then follows a steep cut canyon down to the lower falls.  You imagine the pictures that must be available from half way down the canyon, but there is no way to get there except on a one way trip.

Little Qualicum FallsLarge Cauldron Of Water


Just up the road is Cathedral grove - a large stand of Douglas Fir trees.  It's always fun for a short walk so we went for a pre lunch stroll:

Helen And IAt Giant Tree
There is a giant tree that people like climb up to and demonstrate how it dwarfs them.  Just turn your head to the side and there are amazing scenes, but most people (myself included) rather take pictures of their friends next to a big tree.

TrilliumGiant Tree Fallen
 

Life at the Beach

Bald Eagle In Tree
Every place we stay has different stories.  Our accommodations on Saltspring Island was an active sheep farm so we watched the sheep munch their way around the property.  One of my favorite activities on Mudge Island was to watch the great blue Herons fight for territory to feed.  Our rental in Bowser had an amazing number of Bald Eagles.

Bald Eagle Flying By

What was amazing to me was to watch the bald eagles feed in the inter tidal zone.  Most of the time I've seen eagles, they take a branch on a high tree and survey a large area of water before flying out.  Here the birds stood on the beach rock, much closer to the water.  The fed by flying to the near shore and grabbing fish with their talons (unlike a Heron which stands and stabs).
 
Eagles On Rocks
 
Eagle On Rock
It was not uncommon to count six or seven birds on the rocks feeding at low tide.  The trees behind the house provided good perches and at high tide some trees had two or three eagles in them.   When the eagles were on the beach, they were quite easily scared into flying - with several attempts I made no progress getting close to them.

Eagle On Beach RocksHeron With Lighthouse


Starting Order Of The Stick
We were quite lucky with the weather so any time outdoors was pleasant.  Mike got a game of "Order of the Stick" going and it ate up a few hours of an afternoon.

Playing Order Of The Stick On The GrassHandful Of Cards

And of course there is always the eating.  We had an excellent selection of meals this trip, and some chefs really spoiled us.  Our kitchen was a good size and had no problems accommodating 9 people for dinner.

Steaming PorkSeasoned CarrotsEric With APlate Of Food

Another nice feature - an elevated fire pit.  We scavenged driftwood and hung out around the fire for a few hours.  The glow from Nanaimo and Vancouver dominated the horizon, but between the passing clouds we could sometimes see stars.

Glassy Ocean SurfaceFire Getting Started

Standing Around Camp FireJeremy Tending FireCamp Fire With Stars

 
Thanks everyone for coming!


Field Chickweed With Dead Wood
Species: Cerastium arvense (field chickweed)
Altitude: 14m (45 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: flower, gulf island, trail
Jeremy Tending Fire
Tags: fire
Eagle On Beach Rocks
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Tags: beach, bird, rock
Steaming Pork
Tags: food porn, steam
Mugs And Cups
Tags: pottery
Brittle Prickly-Pear Cactus On Bluff
Species: Opuntia fragilis (brittle prickly pear)
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cactus
Purple Martin Nest Boxes
Species: Progne subis (Purple Martin)
Tags: bird, nest box, piling
Pottery For Sale
Tags: market, pottery
Yellow Monkeyflowers
Species: Mimulus guttatus (common monkey-flower, yellow monkey-flower)
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: gulf island, rock
Bright And Cheerful
Tags: pottery
Starting Order Of The Stick
Tags: game
Mike And Eric Looking On Falls
Person: Eric, Michael
Tags: waterfall
Musicians Playing At Coombs
Tags: musical instrument, performance
Goats On The Roof At Coombs
Person: Eric, Jeremy, Michael
Altitude: 79m (259 feet)
Location: Go To...
Fresh Herbs
Standing Around Camp Fire
Tags: fire
Helliwell Cliffs
Altitude: 15m (49 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: gulf island, panorama
Playing Order Of The Stick On The Grass
Person: Andrea, Eric, Jeremy, Michael, Stephen
Tags: game
Spotted Coralroot
Species: Corallorrhiza maculata (Spotted Coralroot, Summer Coralroot)
Eagles On Rocks
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Tags: beach, bird, panorama
Helen Dwarfed By Douglas Fir
Large Cauldron Of Water
Altitude: 142m (465 feet)
Location: Go To...
Eric With APlate Of Food
Fire Getting Started
Person: Eric, Gabi, Stephen
Tags: fire
Entrance To Pottery Studio
Altitude: 79m (259 feet)
Location: Go To...
Vanilla Leaf
Species: Achlys triphylla (Vanilla-leaf)
Altitude: 81m (265 feet)
Location: Go To...
White Fawn Lily
Tags: flower
Little Qualicum Falls
Altitude: 139m (456 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: waterfall
Purple Martins Hanging Out
Species: Progne subis (Purple Martin)
Tags: bird, nest box, piling
Handful Of Cards
Tags: game
Seasoned Carrots
Tags: food porn
Dressmaker In Forest
Field Of White Fawn Lily
Species: Erythronium oregonum (White Fawnlily)
Tags: flower
Bald Eagle In Tree
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Trillium
Pano Of Falls
Person: Michael
Tags: panorama, waterfall
Glassy Ocean Surface
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, reflection
Douglas Fir Forest
Purple Martin Couple
Species: Progne subis (Purple Martin)
Tags: bird, nest box, piling
Vanilla Root Outside Kiln
Altitude: 79m (259 feet)
Location: Go To...
Lily
Tags: flower
Camp Fire With Stars
Tags: fire, long exposure, stars
Maiden Hair Fern
Species: Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair)
Tags: fern
Helen And IAt Giant Tree
Altitude: 218m (715 feet)
Location: Go To...
Heron With Lighthouse
Species: Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron)
Tags: bird, lighthouse
Bald Eagle Flying By
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Eagle On Rock
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Tags: beach, bird
Helen And I On Cliff
Person: Helen, John
Altitude: 19m (62 feet)
Location: Go To...
Giant Tree Fallen
Pot In The Grass
Tags: pottery
Playing Harp In Forest
Hats For Sale
Vancouver House On Denman
Tags: house
Bright Spot Near Benches
Altitude: 157m (515 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dappled light, twin
Tags: bird(7), pottery(4), fire(4), beach(4), flower(4), panorama(3)
People: Eric(4), Michael(4), Jeremy(2), Stephen(2), Gabi(1), John(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > May Long Weekend in Bowser
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2016 to 2005 > May Long Weekend in Bowser

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Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:42:34 Edit
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