Andru McCracken, EDITOR
We had made stories about this trip for ages.
We were going to a small Gulf island for a summer vacation.
Once before, my daughter, all of 2 years old at the time, had ridden the ferry from Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay and it was magical. Sunny skies, cool breezes, tales of whales and orcas nearby, made more real by a college student giving an interpretive talk about kelp forests.
Afterwards we told nighttime stories about the ferry, one about how my daughter commandeered the ship to save a kitten with help from a pod of dolphins.
Her questions about this summer’s island trip became more frequent as our departure date neared.
“Are we going on that thing with walls and a roof?”
It’s a boat quite unlike any other, so to call it a boat, like our kayak and canoe, just doesn’t make sense. Of course ‘ferry’ is already reserved for sprites (hopefully they’ll teach homonyms in Kindergarten).
When we arrived our experience of the ferry it was less magical, mitigated by COVID-19, clumsy masks, taped off seats, copious hand sanitizing, terrifying auto flush toilets and an upset tummy.
But we had a blast on the little sparsely inhabited island. It’s like the Robson Valley but splayed out over a tiny island.
Galiano Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands on the ferry’s route between Vancouver and Victoria. Despite being convenient to these metropolises, the year round population is about a thousand people spread out over 60 km2, and near as we can tell the people of Galiano have always had a strong sense of conservation: beautiful vistas are ruled by parks and conservation areas, there is very little by way of flashy new development. Public access to beaches seems to be important infrastructure.
A cousin and a friend helped our daughter learn to spot and eventually catch crabs scampering around tidal flats. We saw starfish, hurt our feet and knees on barnacles, played in soft soft sand and who would pass up a never ending supply of fresh mud?
We ate amazing local delicacies, blackberries were in season – hand picked – with injuries to prove it. Salmon, appropriately, on the barbeque.
The giant community garden was amazing as were the giant sized vegetables that grew there: It looked like something out of Jurassic Park.
And it was great to spend time with family, bonds strengthened with the aid of a weak cell signal.
Frazzled from the Spring and Summer’s work muddled and intensified with COVID-19, the island was a great reprieve.
It was a great trip.
We’d been home for about three days and having some playtime at the Valemount Skate Park (skate park plus strider bike is pretty fun).
“What should we do after lunch?” I asked my daughter. “Would you like to kayak on the lake?”
“Why don’t you want to go home, dad?”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s just go home.”
“I found your life jacket, we can go swimming.”
And we had lunch and played at home all afternoon.
The comfort of our beds near at hand.
It was awesome.
We were lucky to spend time on Galiano (and beautiful sunny, warm-watered Hope, BC on the way) but we are luckiest of all to be home.