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Everything Salt Spring: 20+ Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, Minus the Market

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Salt Spring Island has a huge piece of my heart. It’s where Kyla grew up, and the first time I visited I got to meet her family AND their new baby goats. We ate homemade goat cheese, fresh eggs laid by their chickens, and veggies from their substantial garden. I’ve been back over a dozen times since, and every time, I feel like we do something that’s Uniquely Salt Spring(TM).

On the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland, it doesn’t really matter if you know a local or not. Whether you’re there for the day or staying for a while, you’re almost guaranteed to have a genuine Gulf Island experience on the island home of hippies, farmers, artists and artisans (and summer vacationers).

If you’ve heard of Salt Spring, you probably know about the famous Saturday market; many tourists love it; many locals – understandably – don’t: it clogs up ferries and roads, and brings hordes of people to the island. I personally LOVE the Saturday market: you can sample and buy anything from kale chips to cider, check out local artisan products, and then hang out in the park watching (or joining) free spirits drum and dance. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Raffi– yes, Raffi, the singer of your childhood faves like Baby Beluga and Down By the Bay! He lives on the island, and he’s often there selling CDs. The market may be on your West Coast bucket list, and in many ways it’s worth the hype! 

HOWEVER, I’m here to argue that you can have an incredible time on Salt Spring without seeing the market. If you go on a summer Saturday, you’ll encounter massive crowds, potentially extra sailing waits for the ferry, tricky parking, and you may miss the bulk of what the island has to offer. 

No matter what, aim to see MORE than the market. Here are some things to do, see, eat and drink around this magical island:

Around Fulford Harbour

Around Ganges

Pride

Around the Island (Food and Drink)

Hikes and Walks

If you DO go to the market…

Overnight Accommodation

Continue reading “Everything Salt Spring: 20+ Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, Minus the Market”

Happy New Year!

What an incredible year! It started with fireworks over the harbour in Victoria, and I’ll be ringing in 2018 in the Vinales valley, in Cuba! I have some great posts in the works for the new year, plus you can expect some Cuba-heavy content once we get back!

2017 was full of close-to-home adventures, and some big celebrations:

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead

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Day 4: Payzant Creek (km 40) to Botanical Beach Trailhead (km 47)

Read about our hikes from China Beach to Bear Beach, Bear Beach to Chin Beach, and Chin Beach to Payzant Creek.

Our last day on the trail was a short one: we only had 7kms to go! We woke up to misty treetops, and quickly packed up all of our gear, not minding that it was wet and muddy. Off we went!

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 3: Chin Beach to Payzant Creek

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Day 3: Chin Beach (km 21) – Payzant Creek (km 40)

Read about Day 1 and Day 2

This was the day I tried to get eaten by a bear!

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Day 3 started out like the others, only a little wetter. We got up early, and headed out towards Little Kuitshe Creek, where we were planning to camp that night.

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The hike from Chin Beach to Sombrio Beach started out with some steep ups and downs, similar to the previous day, but this time they didn’t go on forever. There was a flat bit! And a few creek crossings with ropes, but these were fun and we made them look more dramatic in photos than they really were!

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Since it had rained the night before, the day brought a new challenge: mud! We’d encountered muddy spots before, but for the most part, we’d been able to manoeuvre around them, using rocks and tree stumps and packed down patches.

But today, we got the gaiters out! We knew we’d packed them for a reason! We couldn’t really avoid trekking through deep mud just east of Sombrio Beach, but at least the gaiters helped keep it out of our shoes. (Unless you have brilliantly designed boots with a breathable mesh front, like mine! Mud for days!)

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As we made our way onto Sombrio Beach, we met a woman who told us that there was a bear on the beach! “Don’t worry,” she informed us, “it’s a local, it’s friendly, and it won’t come too close”. We were delighted to see the black bear, looking for snacks on some rocks in the water.

We stood watching – at a very safe distance, with other campers – and I decided that this would be a good time for lunch. “Not here!” Kyla whispered, her expression incredulous, as she gestured towards the bear. “Oh, duh! Silly me!” I laughed, taking a half-eaten Cliff Bar out of my backpack. “I just needed a quick snack though,” I explained, shoving the remainder of the bar into my face. She shook her head at me, as we both continued snapping shots of the gorgeous bear.

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 3: Chin Beach to Payzant Creek”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach

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Day 2: Bear Beach (km 9) to Chin Beach (km 21)

Read about Day 1 here.

The 12 kilometres between Bear and Chin beaches are some of the hardest on the Juan de Fuca trail; almost the entire section is a series of steep ups and downs! We started out early, after filling our bellies with oatmeal and chocolate.

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach”

Five Things to Do on Hornby Island

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Last month I got invited to join Kyla and her family for a long weekend of camping on Hornby Island (I’ll ‘b’ careful not to misspell it). We spent five days there, so I was prepared for lots of lazing around, which – don’t get me wrong! – is a fantastic way to spend a vacation. What I didn’t realize was that there’s tons to do and see there! So while the island’s laid-back vibe meant plenty of recharge time, it was balanced out with lots of time exploring cute spots in town, gorgeous beaches and coastal bluffs, and checking out the bottom of many glasses of mead! Here are 5 suggestions for things to see and do while on Hornby Island:

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Camping Like a BAMF on Mayne Island

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Kyla and I spent a long weekend camping on Mayne Island last month and it was badass! Mayne is one of the Southern Gulf Islands, which sit in the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and Vancouver/mainland BC, and are home primarily to hippies, artists, and retirees (based on a mix of casual observation, anecdotal evidence, and census data). These quiet little islands can’t really be the site of much badassery, right? WRONG! (No, you’re right, but I lead a pretty tame life, so humour me with this one!)

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Being a badass.

Here are some reasons why our weekend rocked, and tips so that you can have a badass-as-you-can-get-in-the-Gulf-Islands weekend too:

Continue reading “Camping Like a BAMF on Mayne Island”

Mystic Beach: Sunday sun day

This past weekend was the first in a long while that I didn’t have to do any school work. (Master’s complete! Woooo!) Naturally, that meant having a to-do list that’s been steadily growing since, ooh… September 2015! But after prioritizing filing our taxes on Saturday, Kyla and I decided to take advantage of a sunny day yesterday and go for a hike. Luckily, our friend who owns a car was free to join us, which meant we had way more options to choose from! We decided to head out to Mystic Beach, on the Juan de Fuca trail on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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Queer Travel: Victoria

 

The thing about Victoria is that regardless of whether you hit up any gay events while you’re in town, it’s a beautiful, safe city* to explore with your same-sex partner, or to meet up with a group of queer locals. It’s also a great jumping off point for exploring this magical island, and a short ferry ride to both Seattle and Vancouver. There’s a lot to be proud of in Victoria! Victoria’s public school board recently passed a thorough new gender identity policy, the city explodes with rainbows during Pride, and hey – our wonderful mayor is an openly gay woman! Tourism Victoria even created an awesome map of all genders washrooms in the city and surrounding area.

      Hold on, you might be thinking, I heard that Victoria is a small city with a disproportionately high retiree population?!? You heard right! But there are way more people living here who are below retirement age! It might seem quiet at first, but have no fear if you’re young and queer: there’s lots to do in this city, if you know where to look!

Lez Go to Victoria:

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10 Rad Things To Do in Victoria in the Fall

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It’s been a little rainy lately, but I’ve learned that when you’re living on the Wet Coast, you pretty much just have to suck it up, put on some rainboots (*note to self: buy rainboots), and find things to do until at least December when it’s more acceptable to to start hibernating. Plus, the big crowds of tourists are gone, there’s still lots of sun and blue skies between showers, and there are so many amazing things to do in and around the city this time of year! Here are 10 ideas:

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Vancouver Island Camping: How Did I End up Here?

Note: this story takes place on First Nations traditional territory. It’s a fun one about a recent overnight trip, written in response to the prompt: “How did I end up here?”

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“What should I name my pee-zee?”

We were a group of mostly lesbians, gathered around a campfire at our campsite on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. My friend was obsessed with her new toy: a device that allowed her to pee standing up. Every so often she’d gleefully shout: “Be right back!”, and frolic off into the woods. We were excited about it too; a little jealous, even. We were also a little buzzed. Naming it only seemed natural.

Continue reading “Vancouver Island Camping: How Did I End up Here?”

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