Raconteurs, Flyleaf, White Stripes, Tokio Hotel blasting to near distortion as we bombed Northward up the Malahat for an up-island-day-trip.
Fueled by coffee, a blueberry scone, an apricot muffin and a big peanut butter cookie we drove out of town under low, dark sky that threatened rain but, climbing the hill past the Split Rock look-out we were greeted by a blue sky dappled with cotton ball clouds. We were going to where the sun was shining.
The plan was to drive and stop, drive and stop until we wanted to head home, checking out trails, paths and what ever inspired us to slow down and take a closer look. What ended up happening was an almost direct route to Parksville with a couple of pit-stops along the way.
Stop #1 was Schooner Bay and a great surprise down a typical twisty, tree-lined, hilly road. With no mile markers to indicate just how long we had to wait to get to this intriguingly named bay, we just drove and drove thinking it was just around the next corner. After half an hour we saw the sign and turned in to an awesome looking boat basin with all the expected services...booze, showers, laundry.
It never stops amazing me how dead and dirty the waters are along downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour. The water surrounding the docks at Schooner Bay were full of life and the eel grass and kelp were green and healthy with schools of fish darting around nibbling here and there, we saw at least five different species of starfish and dungeness crabs scurried along the bottom. The water was clear, healthy-looking and beautiful.
The boats on the docks were mostly medium in size and about evenly distributed between sail and power. While admiring one not so small ketch we were greeted with a friendly hello so typical of the boater types. This mid-fifties gent was performing some maintenance on the davit winches aboard his well loved, 48 foot CT Ketch. He clearly picked up on the fact that we were lusting over the shippy character of his yacht and the vast foredeck that would easily accommodate Stephanie, three students along with easels and supplies...beautiful!
We were generously invited aboard for a closer look. Needless to say, she was fitted out in Bristol fashion. These mid-70's built boats from Taiwan were finished by low-paid master craftsmen. Solid Burmese Teak and Mahogany were used in abundance complete with carved panels and louvered doors...just beautiful...for better or for worse, those days are gone.
By midday we arrived at the beach in Parksville under a warm, blue sky and a low tide. The beach is home to an annual Sand-art contest that draws international competitors. Needless to say this beach is vast. A walk to the water's edge was almost a kilometre! Lots of life scurried and swam in the shallow, sandy tide pools. Sand dollars also littered the beach; a sign that the waters are pretty healthy in this region! SAY NO TO OIL TANKERS!!!
A couple hours exploring and we were back in the car and in search of food and refreshments. Not too much was open in Parksville so we drove an hour South to one of our favorite little communities, Cowichan Bay. We found an awesome restaurant with a nearly empty outdoor patio overlooking the marina. The fact that Bob Marley and Van Morrison were filling the air with their mellow grooves only made the pizza and Coronas go down all the better! A good two hours melted away in the afternoon Sun and it was time to get back to reality and make the final run back home.
Sun-kissed and fresh-aired, we were home.
The Island is in my blood, boats are in my soul, the smell of the sea makes wish I could breathe it in for an eternity. Stephanie makes the sun shine brighter, the sea more blue, food & drink taste better. She makes me smile on the outside and the inside and I love her beside me as we jouney through this life...
Last week was a nice getaway to the mainland but, this past weekend was the perfect way to Embrace the Rock we call home.