After Whistler we headed for Vancouver Island to one of the Northern Gulf Islands, Cortes. Cortes is part of the archipelago known as the Discovery Islands, and lies on the far side of Quadra Island from Campbell River. Our friends Colin and Desta have lived in this remote paradise for the past decade, and we had been looking forward to exploring it with them for just as long.
My little friend Seren was eager to show me her favourite climbing tree, the faery hole, and the fort she helped build on the beach that would give rivaling Survival contestants a run for their money.
We easily fell in to the island’s summer vacation way of life – sleeping in, cooling off with an afternoon swim, and staying out late at one of several nearby beaches, where friends would gather for potlucks and campfires.
Friends of all ages enjoy each others company here – from babies to elders, there are no generational boundaries. Just like in Italy, families go out, eat, and play together. It was lovely to see.
Our second day on the island we ventured out for a long hike through old cedars that led us to secluded Carrington Lagoon.
Afterwards we met friends at Seren’s favourite climbing tree for SUP with seals and potluck with friends at dusk.
Hollyhock is a really unique place, a not for profit learning centre with exquisite gardens and nightly dinners. One evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner there. It was a rainy night, but we walked through the gardens to get to the dining hall entrance. I made sure to return with my easel a few days later…
There were so many beautiful and unusual flowers, and the sun was so bright and hot, I felt too overwhelmed to be able to focus on framing a composition into a painting a small 9″x12″ area. I tried to paint hydrangeas, but soon wiped the painting off into a mauve mess. Not every painting ends well, but I always learn from the experience. I hope to take plein-air painting lessons at some point along this journey.
One day we walked the gorge while the tide was way out. There were millions and millions of shells everywhere. In the little tide pool we found healthy starfish. Desta told me that the starfish here had also been affected by the disease along the west coast that was killing starfish species from Alaska to California, turning them to mushy jelly. She was relieved to see that they were looking strong and healthy again. We even found a starfish eating a crab!
The nightly campfires and beach potlucks promised great conversation, laughter, and spectacular sunsets.
We had parked our truck camper in Colin and Desta’s driveway under the cool shade of old cedars. We set up the awning and table, and I made the most of our days working on my part-time product label text copy-writing gig, and by painting the last two skate decks I had picked up from Home Grown Skate Decks in Lahave, Nova Scotia.
My original hand-painted skate decks are available in my online ship HERE. Imagine them hanging from a clear finishing line hanger on your wall. You could put trucks on them and ride them too, but they’re best to show off as fine art to enjoy at eye level rather than underfoot.
The sunsets on this island were different every night, every time more beautiful than the last. Probably the most incredible experience we had, one that will forever be burnt into my mind, was the magic of swimming at midnight through the bioluminescence, and SUPing while Stefan swam under my board.
Desta pointed out these tiny little wild flowers on our way to Hag Lake. They grew beneath the shade of an old cedar.
One of the constant joys we’ve had while traveling is pulling out the SUPs and teaching friends and strangers how to paddle. We often joke that we should be reps, making some extra cash on the side as we sell tons of these awesome Riviera boards.
We almost got sucked in to the Vortex that is Cortes Island. We could have easily stayed another day, and then another. We arrived with the loose plan to stay for 3 days. A week and a half later it was time to say goodbye, and we drove on to the ferry.
Next we headed for Nitinat Lake, Sproat Lake, Tofino, back to Nanaimo and Victoria before our last Canadian stop in Vancouver City.