Week 11 // Cortes Island, British Columbia

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.

Climbing Tree with Seren

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.

Sunset canoe

Sunset at Smelt Bay

Smelt Bay sunset geese

Smelt Bay Desta supping

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.

Smelt Bay Music

Party at Smelt Bay

Our second day on the island we ventured out for a long hike through old cedars that led us to secluded Carrington Lagoon.

Journal - Carrington Lagoon

Afterwards we met friends at Seren’s favourite climbing tree for SUP with seals and potluck with friends at dusk.

Silhouette sunset gathering

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…

Hollyhock sign

Flowers 2

Flowers 3

Flowers 4

Hollyhock flowers

Hollyhock flowers 2

Flowers, lillies

Hollyhock gate

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.

Cortes lagoon

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!

Starfish eating crab

Starfish dancing

Shellfish hunting

Seren's shells

Dried shell bed

The nightly campfires and beach potlucks promised great conversation, laughter, and spectacular sunsets.

Potluck meal

Potluck friends

Potluck beachfire

Potluck stories

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.

Acrylic paints

Daina painting skate decks, horizontal

Skate deck in progress, blue

Paint water pot

Pained skate deck (green.yellow.pink)_profile, Seren

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.

Pained skate deck (green.yellow.pink)_ground

Pained skate deck (green.blue.orange)_door

Painted skate deck, green

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.

Potlatch sunset 2

Potlatch sunset 3

Potlatch sunset 5

Potlatch sunset swim

Potlatch sunset 7

Potlatch sunset 8

Potlatch sunset 1

Potlatch trees

Potlatch sunset 4

Desta pointed out these tiny little wild flowers on our way to Hag Lake. They grew beneath the shade of an old cedar.

Woodland flowers

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.

Seren & Stefan paddling sup

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.

7 Comments on “Week 11 // Cortes Island, British Columbia

  1. You drag us, kicking and screaming, into your journey through Paradise and beyond. A few times I can Feel that I am actually There, with your descriptive words, poetic photos, the story-telling journalism. I could see this being published someday, just as is. Absolute Wonder. xo

    • Hi Mom & Dad! I’ll call you this week, maybe today? We’re heading in to Baja in a few days and will have a new Mexico phone #. Have you been getting my text updates? I’m hoping to post another blog update today while we’re in Arroyo Grande with wifi. It’s a chilly grey day and I’m sitting in a comfy seat under a veranda at a garage where we’re getting an oil change and tire rotation and a couple other things done before heading in to Spanish-speaking country where we’ll be clueless illiterate gringos ;) We’re having such a great time, living a simple yet rich life, loving each other’s company, and meeting incredibly kind and generous people everywhere. I haven’t had much time to paint since it has been quite busy, but when we find a nice place in Baja, life will slow down, the awning will come out, and I’ll set up my studio and start painting. I have some real gem photos to reference for new work. All along this journey I keep thinking of our road trip around the US when we were kids. I’m telling stories to Stefan about it as memories come back. I will always be grateful to you and Dad for instilling such a sense of adventure and love for travel. Everyone keeps telling us that if they went on a road trip with their significant other they would strangle each other the first day. For us it’s the opposite. We’re happiest when we’re on the road again. It’s a wonderful, simple, rich life. Big Love and Hugs, Daina

    • Daina,

      You are doing what we all want to do…follow our spirit into the wind and spend all of our precious days being fueled by our passion. So envious yet so happy for you and Steph. Thank you for keeping us all updated and letting us go on a “virtual” adventure with you. Such serendipity that I ran into you at the market that day, just before you left. I love your soul and your God-given talent. Keep on and be safe. xo Shauna Leigh

  2. Oh, I am so envious – you are seeing and doing so much more than we did. Your photos are magnificent! We did have a wonderful time the 3-1/2 months we were on the road and we did and saw a lot and were still speaking when we arrived home (ha,ha). I would have gone again, if possible. We are so enjoying following along on your blog. Thanks for sharing and do take care. Frances and Jim

  3. This is so great Daina ! Look forward to hearing about it all in person!

    Amalia and Ty

  4. Finally got all caught up reading your posts; you guys look like you’re having the time of your lives! I love following along online and can’t wait to read about your newest stops. Summer in NS has been lovely and is slowly making the transition to fall now – the daytimes are cool & crisp, but mostly sunny. There’s been a juvenile bald eagle hanging around Seaforth Beach the past few days – I’m always on the lookout for her now. Travel safely – your faces are missed around here! xx

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