Monday, October 05, 2009

Road Trip!

We gave kayaking a rest this weekend and headed over to Salt Spring Island for the 11th Annual Apple Festival. If you like apples, this is the place for you. Or so we hear.
First we have to get there. Salt Spring Island is a 35 minute ferry ride from the Swartz Bay Ferry terminal north of Victoria.
Swartz Bay
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Louise, Paula, Bernie and I boarded the MV Skeena Queen for the short hop. Although it was clear and sunny, we were buffeted by 20 knot winds, so it was probably a wise decision to skip the kayaking today.
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Our trip wasn't totally devoid of kayaking related activities. We were also going to take the opportunity to hunt down some put-ins, and the first one we found was in Fulford Harbour, near where the ferry docks. Follow the road around the north-west end point of the harbour and you come to a small park, a perfect spot to launch from, with parking and easy beach access.
Fulford Harbour
Also at the park is a petroglyph...
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...which Paula cleaned up and took a rubbing of.
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From there, it was a quick jaunt to the Fulford Harbour Hall and the first stop on the Apple Festival Tour. Here we found a zillion different varieties of apples on display, as well as info booths, tour maps and 4-H Club displays. There was also some delicious-looking pies for sale, but the line-up for those was just too long.
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From there we headed to Ganges, the largest town on the island. Home to a weekly summer market, Ganges is your prototypical we(s)tcoast town -- quaintly charming and old school, but containing enough shops, restaurants and activites to keep the tourists entertained, such as Island Escapades, a kayak shop right on the water in downtown Ganges.
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Driving through town, if you stick close to the water you'll pass another kayak store, Salt Spring Adventure Co., and there's a nice put-in here with plenty of parking. (Or if you feel like commando kayaking, Salt Spring also has transit service timed to coincide with ferry arrivals and departures.)

If I may be allowed to digress for a moment, many people have asked me for advice in regards to taking great pictures. Here's some tips. First, always make sure your subject is in a flattering pose. Next, make sure that nothing is blocking their face. And if all else fails, at least make sure that your subject is facing the camera.
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From Ganges, we headed north through the village of Vesuvius on our way to the north part of the island. At Vesuvius, we stopped at a roadside lemonade stand. Paula and Bernie may be ex-hippies, but they are entrepreneurial ex-hippies and always stop at lemonade stands. "It's a rule," says Bernie.
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At the northern tip we reached the next stop on the tour, Blue Horse Gallery.
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Salt Spring is home to a wide variety of artisans and here we discovered a small art gallery and lunch spot which served a warm and wonderful apple, blueberry and lemon tart. We also spotted a few of the rare Salt Spring Drift Wood Salmon.
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From there we headed south and scouted out another kayak put-in at the ferry terminal at Long Harbour. The terminal sits on the narrow isthmus of Welbury Point that splits two bays. On one side is Long Harbour where the ferry to the other Gulf Islands and Vancouver docks. There's not really a good location here to launch a kayak (and of course BC Ferries frowns upon it), but literally right across the street is Welbury Bay.
Welbury Bay
Here there's a short but steep walkway down to a small but servicable beach.
And someone has set up some wheels to presumably assist people with kayaks or canoes down the path. It is a cramped beach, so if you're in a group, you'll be launching one at a time.
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We continued south to Neptune Farm. While Louise and Paula checked out the produce and yummies, Bernie and I explored a bit, discovering this cool straw and mud building...
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...and Chester, the one-eyed cat.
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Okay, I don't really know if his name was Chester, but for some reason giving a one-eyed cat the name of Chester seems to work for me. At Neptune Farm, they also offer yoga and meditation services. And they had yummy baked goods. I had a fresh apple cinnamon bun, while Paula had a, er, um, actually, I don't remember what she had. But I bet it had apples in it.
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Here, we also bumped into national Green Party leader Elizabeth May who will be running here in the next federal election. She seemed pretty down to earth for a politician, and yes, she drives a Hybrid.

Salt Spring Island is an interesting community. It markets itself as a "tree-hugging community" but there is a sizable portion of "tree-killers" on the island as well. The property next to Neptune Farms had a sign up in the yard saying, "Please Chant Louder. I Can Still Think." On another part of the island we saw a sign that was a little less subtle: "Private Property! No Trespassing! No Fucking Hippies!"

There were 18 farms taking part in the Apple Festival and there was just no time to see them all. Our final stop (after a quick stop at another lemonade stand) was AppleLuscious Organic Orchard, where they grow something like 200 varieties of apples, and many of which had samples laid out for the tasting...
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We made our way back to Fulford Harbour...
Fulford Harbour 2 await the ferry to carry us back towards Victoria.
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And what sort of sea kayaking blog would this be without at least one picture of seals?
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