" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

August 24, 2011

Daytripping Mayne Island

There are few things I like better than a spontaneous decision to go somewhere or do something that I've been wanting to do. Usually, what happens is that one day I wake up, the wind is blowing in the right direction or who knows what, and voila, I know it's the day to do it, Mary Poppins-style.

That happened on Sunday. I have been wanting to get over to Mayne Island for a while now and after almost 3 years on Salt Spring you wouldn't think it would be a difficult to get to another Gulf Island but it has been.  I'm always at the market on Saturday and the inter-island ferry schedules are, surprisingly, not the greatest for daytripping in terms of the scheduling and the amount of time you're left with to explore if you plan on returning the same day.

So, I packed a knapsack, threw in a toothbrush and some toothpaste, added my flipflops, an apple, a nectarine and my camera and off I went. It wasn't until I was walking to pay for boarding that I realized, hey, just a minute, if  I leave the car at Long Harbour, I have to come back for the car. I can't just come back via Swartz Bay at a time when the bus no longer runs on Salt Spring and the buses don't run later than 7pm here. But, by that time, my intention was set and come hell or high water I was going to Mayne Island even if it meant I had to sleep under a Garry Oak in a meadow. (Yeah, right!).

And, let me just say, doing the walk-on inter-island option has to be one of the best travel deals in B.C. It cost a whopping $5.70 each way.

It was a spectacular August day. I got off the ferry and felt like walking. In fact, by the end of the day, it was like I'd become the female version of the fictional Forrest Gump; as if my car-dependent lifestyle on Salt Spring had reached its zenith and my body told me you just keep moving there you little slug. So, I just kept walking. I walked from the ferry to Miner's Bay where there's a little village, a bookstore, a bakery, a real-estate office, a General Store and a pub.

From there I decided it really wasn't that far to walk to Georgina Point Lighthouse. I enjoyed the slow pace looking at the scenery that I'm very familiar with from jaunts in past years, albeit I'd typically be cycling. I sampled a few blackberries to see if they were ripe, I stopped in at a garage sale and there's nothing better than perusing someone else's stuff with all the weirdness of it. I enjoyed the aromas of dry golden grass and nature's sweetness and scenes of long meadows of yellow grass with the occasional Garry Oak breaking the flatness. I saw empty shacks and rusted cars fantastic for photographing and an old rowboat behind the lighthouse building. I talked a bit with a man out for a walk with his son.

While I was at Georgina Point, I decided  that I really didn't want to to get back on a ferry in 3 hours so I called the Mayne Inn and found a room for the night. I pictured the beautiful old white house that was on the point near Bennett Bay. I was feeling really happy.  I know it's weird but sometimes just exploring on my own makes me really, really happy. Not that I don't like good company but when I'm in the right mood, solo, day-time meandering is just something that I absolutely love to do. As long as I have my camera, I'm good.

I walked back towards the Springwater Lodge and had lunch on the deck which has to be one of the best decks in all the Gulf Islands (although the food there could be better).  The food is edible but it's not Bruce's Kitchen.

After lunch, I poked around, got some fruit, a bag of nachos and a beer for later and walked towards Bennett Bay. When I arrived, I was shocked to see that the old white Mayne Inn and the charming country style room that I was fantasizing about, was gone. In its place, I had actually booked myself into one of those time-share style condo-things that had replaced it. The view out the deck was spectacular except my room was right above the restaurant deck which meant I'd be staring down at people while they were eating. But, the restaurant, or at least the deck, wasn't that busy and they cleared out by around 7:30 so it was no big deal.

I took myself out to Bennett Bay and explored that whole area. I had no idea there was a park there and walked among the gnarly Arbutus to the end of Campbell point with a spectacular view of Mount Baker. As I left the complex, I ran into this woman, whom I'm guessing may be in her 80s, riding the coolest electric bike she bought from a place in Kitsilano. She just struck me as the definition of "cool" with her clothes and her helmet and her bike and the fact that as an elderly person she was still rockin' it.

My room was small but clean. Unfortunately, the toilet seemed to have a problem in that it would be silent for a long time and then suddenly, inconsistently, it would spring to life, runing and ending with gurgling sounds. I awoke at 3:00 am to gurgling sounds and in my semi-conscious state, I imagined the toilet blowing the ceiling off the place wondering if they'd built upon a natural spring or something like Old Geyser.

I awoke to a very grey and rainy Monday. I got dressed and walked to a designated Car Share sign and stuck out my thumb. I was picked up by two older men who were going to the island's coffee-shop hub in the village. There were lots of regulars and part-time islanders with tourists sprinkled in. It's a great little bakery/coffee-shop/breakfast and lunch spot and it was good to just drop in to an environment that was completely foreign and watch all the interactions.

It's good to get off one island and go to another where nobody knows you and none of the faces are familiar.

The moral of this story? Do something you've been wanting to do. Just do it. You'll feel better afterwards regardless of how small an "adventure" it is.