Monday November 19th, 2007: All good things have to come to an end and today was the end of this excursion. Unlike my adventuresome journey here via the train, the return trip would be much more mundane (and quicker).
I was awake at 5:30 and soon up. I had a quick breakfast and packed up my gear so I’d be ready for my ride at 9:20 to the ferry
I had a few minutes for one last look around the place I’d called home for 7 days – Fridas Villa, the wonderful Frida Kahlo themed B&B.
After a short ride to Fulford Harbour, I was soon on the ferry for the trip to Swartz Bay.
After the uneventful ferry trip, I took a taxi to Victoria International Airport. There I had a few hours to kill before boarding for my 1 hour flight back to Edmonton. It was sad to be ending this wonderful trip but it was very satisfying to be headed home to family.
Well here I was, Sunday November 18, 2007, the last full day of my vacation/painting excursion on Salt Spring Island. I wanted to make the most of it but I had so many thing that I wanted to do, places to discover and revisit, that I didn’t know where to start. I did start off leisurely though – sleeping in a bit more than was normal, then having some hot chocolate beside the fire and cooking up some scrambled eggs for breakfast.
It was not raining this morning so I was definitely heading outside but I was unsure what to do. On the one hand I would like to do some painting on the other hand I could go out with my camera, cover a lot more ground and collect reference photos to use later for paintings back in the studio.
Photo taking is what I did – with a vengeance. I finished off my second memory card (started a 3rd) and depleted all of my batteries (again). I followed what were becoming familiar paths – heading down to Beddis Beach and then continuing on to Cusheon Creek. Wanting to explore a bit of new territory, once down by the creek I took the trail to the right, east, towards the ocean rather than starting my trek upstream as I had been doing.
I never did reach the ocean outlet on this hike. The trail seemed to fizzle out but like they say “it’s not about the destination, its about the journey” and the journey this day was good – good for photos and good for the soul.
After the journey in the valley I was back to Beddis Beach (yet again):
It was at this point that I had filled my memory card so I headed back up Beddis Road to pick up a new one from “home” before continuing my photo gathering walk up Beddis Road.
Heading back to Fridas Villa , I couldn’t help but go right past it down to the beach again for one last visit. By this time it was getting dusky but that just lent yet another mood to this favorite place.
It seems I should end the story here and with that serene last photo but it was still only 5 pm on this last day. That evening I did take one more shot at painting (inside of course, at the kitchen table).
I worked on a variation of the abstracted piece I’d done the day before. I wasn’t too happy with it though – the light didn’t seem right. Finally I painted a quick little landscape, just to use of the remaining paint on my palette, then cleaned up my painting gear and packed it away. I spent the rest of my last evening with a soak in the hot tub and some time beside the fireplace – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Saturday November 17th – ahhh the weekend. Well actually not that big a deal after a relaxing week. It was raining pretty heavily this morning so I hung around the Villa for awhile, thinking and writing. Before long though I could stay inside no longer so I walked down to Beddis Beach. After 6 days on the Island with daily visits to this beach I wasn’t growing at all tired of it – partly because of the many moods it presented. The mood on this rainy morning was one of peace. There was something very picturesque about the way the distant islands fade into the clouds, the clouds into the sea. I also found some interesting trees on the beach with some great forms. The photos taken that morning were some of the most inspiring of the trip and resulted in a few paintings back in the studio.
After an hour or so in the rain, I walked up the road to the Villa to dry out in front of a nice fire
The rain continued through the afternoon so I just stayed inside and painted, working on three small pieces. I also had the opportunity to visit Carl and Tracy’s studios to see their art work. Tracy Harrison and Carl Borgstrom are the owner’s of Fridas Villa, the B&B where I was staying. Tracy’s work included abstract paintings and some wonderful works in clay (she also had a couple of kilns o-site to fire her work). Carl is a masterful woodworker.
That evening I was able to catch a ride to the Fritz Movie theatre at Salt Spring’s Central Hall. Playing that evening was “Across the Universe”. With a great soundtrack of Beatles music, I really enjoyed the film. It was also such a treat to attend a movie in this small community theatre, where everyone seemed to know everyone and the popcorn was served with ral butter. Also delightfully unique was what showed before the main feature – instead of the usual loud trailers, there was a wonderful slide show of photos of the Island.
Once back to home base. I still had time for a soak in the hot tub – and the water was good and hot this night and the stars were wonderfully bright. So nice…
Although it had been a mostly rainy day, I managed to have a good one, with a variety of experiences. I ended up taking only 30 photos all day but those rainy morning photos ended up inspiring a mini-series of paintings back in the home studio, including this one:
6 AM – Monday November 12th, 2007 and I am awaken by the sound of the power going out. It is back in a few minutes, then out again and it would remain off until around 8. Fortunately I was warm in bed and had no place to go and no time commitments. Listening to the radio (hand-cranked rechargeable battery powered) I learned that the storm had knocked out power all over southeastern British Columbia and the worst was yet to come. The winds were supposed to peak around noon and total rain accumulations to be 100 mm (4 inches) – probably not ideal conditions for plein air painting.
I did get up around 7:30 and got a fire going in the fireplace. When the electricity returned I made some pancakes and then sat back with some tea and relaxed – a bit of reading, a bit of writing, listening to music and some contemplative staring out of the window.
Around noon, the rain stopped, the winds disappeared and the sky began to clear. It didn’t look bad at all so I headed out for a walk down Beddis Road towards the beach. Before the beach, I stopped off at the community orchard and wandered around taking photos:
I was overwhelmed by the colors I saw, here particularly but on the coast in general – such a contrast to what I had left 2 days earlier in Edmonton. Here the grass, the ferns were so green, the fallen leaves such a rich rusty-orange. I felt wonderful and inspired and was taking tonnes of photos! After the orchard stop, it was across the street and down a short path to the beach. It was less than a day since my first visit to Beddis Beach but already it had changed.
There was not much of a beach to be seen on this visit. Being near high tide the beach was disappearing from the ocean side and after the rain of the last night there was continued heavy runoff that turned the land side of the beach into a stream. Nonetheless was still a beach and it was still worth a visit. Walking back “home”, my camera continues to get a workout as I saw all kinds of wonderful color and textures that I had to capture:
The afternoon of my first day on the island, I walked in to Ganges, the main town in the centre of the island to pick up some cooking supplies. It is about 7 1/2 kilometers from Fridas Villa to the town so it was about an hour and a quarter walk each way. Not a problem though, I love walking, especially to explore new places and I would have an opportunity to take lots of photos. I walked along the side of the relatively quiet Beddis Road past delightful forested areas and farmland (with the last kilometer along the busier Fulford-Ganges Road).
Back at Fridas Villa, as the early evening darkness descended, I warmed up an Indian combo plate for supper and rested my walking-weary feet and legs, while watching a movie. That was the day – a good day but I was starting to feel guilty about not yet painting.
The first day of my November 2007 adventure to Salt Spring Island was the train journey from Edmonton to Vancouver (as described in an earlier blog post). I arrived at Vancouver’s Pacific Central station around 0830 on a Sunday. On this, day 2, I continued on towards my destination of Salt Spring Island. I would need to catch a ferry but first I would need a bus to Tsawwassen. Fortunately the bus terminal is co-located with the train station and the bus travels via the ferry to Victoria, so I buy one ticket that will cover my transportation from the Vancouver train station all the way to the Fulford Harbour ferry terminal on Salt Spring Island.
Fortunately I had an hour or two between train arrival and bus departure so after I had bought my ticket, I had breakfast and then strolled around, enjoying the coastal humidity and greenery, before finding a bench upon which to sit and wait for the bus loading time. The next part of the journey went very smooth – I got my luggage onto the bus, got a seat and rode until we were on the ferry at Tsawwassen, an hour or so later. Once on the ferry it was off the bus and time to wander around the big boat. I headed up to the deck and back to the stern as the ferry began it’s trip across the Georgia Strait, through the Gulf Islands and to Swartz Bay ferry terminal north of Victoria.
As it was November 11th, Remembrance Day in Canada, so I paused at 11:00 to remember. With the overcast skies, cool sea breeze and very few other people around, it was a solemn and memorable moment.
I always enjoy the ferry trip between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, especially as we move through Active Pass, the narrow channel between the Gulf Islands of Mayne and Galiano. After an hour and a half the ferry arrived at Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. Shortly before arrival I made my way down to the vehicle deck to pick up my luggage from the bus. Then I made my way back up top to join the pedestrians walking off of the ferry.
At the Swartz Bay terminal I found my way to another, much smaller, ferry that would take me on a 35 minute journey back over to Salt Spring Island .
As we approached the Salt Spring I was reminded why I love it there. I could see natural beauty of the mountains, veiled by low clouds and there was a touch of autumn color on the shore too. Then of course there were reminders of the quirky and creative nature of this place exemplified by the floating domicile in the bay as the ferry approached the Fulford Harbour dock.
I was met at the ferry terminal by Tracy Harrison and Carl Borgstrom, proprietors of Fridas Villa and given a ride to their home. Attached to their home is Fridas Villa, a self-contained one bedroom suite that I had reserved for my stay. It is located on Beddis Road just a short walk from Beddis Beach and (as I would discover) a number of other wonderful locales
After a day and a half on the rails, waves and roads I was ready to stay put. By the time I got settled in to my home for the next week, it was already mid-to-late afternoon (I was on holidays and not paying much attention to the exact time). There was however a little time (i.e. daylight) left for exploring the “neighborhood”. I headed down the road towards the ocean, past a friendly looking community orchard and down a little trail to the beach. Being late afternoon it was already cooling off and there was a bit of a wind but the beach was very refreshing and comforting. I spent some time strolling up and down the gravel beach soaking in the atmosphere and scouting out possible painting locations. I would return to Beddis Beach everyday over the coming week and come to see it in a variety of conditions.
After this brief walkabout it was starting to get dark so I headed “home”, finished getting settled in and spent the evening resting in front of the fireplace. The next day I wanted to get down to work!