Marja-Leena Rathje
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island hopping


Last weekend we finally, after many years since, revisited Hornby Island, one of our favourite places on BC's west coast. Creating our own five-day long weekend beginning Friday morning (August 28th) we caught the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, always a lovely ride over the Georgia Strait (or Salish Sea). From Nanaimo we drove north on the Island Highway to Buckley Bay to catch another but much smaller ferry to Denman Island, followed by a pleasant drive across that to catch the ferry to Hornby Island.

Our dearest friends have a lovely treed property with a cosy one room cedar rondavel (eight-sided cottage) which they always so generously give to their guests while they sleep in a tent trailer. Otherwise we spent all our time outdoors with an outdoor kitchen and picnic table where we lingered over many meals with much conversation. Across the road is the path to one of the rocky beaches. The roads and paths are lined with bushes heavy with blackberries.


We were blessed with very good weather, even the nights were pleasant. Our days were filled with long walks on a variety of beaches, each with its own kinds of weathered rocks. There are also several sandy beaches that are great for swimming though this time we didn't make it to them. Hornby Island belongs to the northern group of Gulf Islands but I believe they are all noted for their sandstone formations. We took numerous photos that I've barely sorted through yet, including the petroglyphs that we'd seen long ago and I'd used in some of my work. It's amazing that we even saw a beach we'd not seen before with dramatic cave and hoodoo formations that were wonderful to photograph. As some readers know, my photos from past visits to Hornby have appeared here as well as in many art works, see some links below. I hope to be posting some of these new ones in the near future.

Too soon, Monday morning we packed up, took the two ferries back to Vancouver Island, then drove south to Victoria, then north to Saanich to visit my sister-in-law. The next day we drove back south to Victoria to visit with a cousin and his partner over coffee at the Royal BC Museum's cafe. We had planned to see the exhibition from the British Museum but with only a bit more than an hour left the $27.50 per person seemed too steep. Instead we walked around Victoria Harbour, had a bit of lunch, then went to visit my 81 year-old aunt. That was heart warming for we hadn't seen her since my uncle's funeral nearly two years ago. Back to sister-in-law's for a bit then onto the ferry line up and the journey home. All that driving left us tired and happy to be home again in our own bed. It's taken all week to recover from the holiday, what with catching up with chores, getting my prints together for an upcoming group show and attending a memorial service for a departed friend.

This Labour Day long weekend our eldest daughter is here to visit her sister and nieces one more time before they return to England. We have been worried about the forest fires raging in BC, especially near their home east of Kamloops. Her partner stayed home to keep watch in case of an evacuation call if it gets too close. The good news now is that rains have helped to reduce the dangers, and some families that had evacuated another area have been able to return home. Yes, it's a rainy long weekend here, much needed, so we were very lucky taking our mini-vacation last weekend. Anyway, it's a busy happy family time...

Related links:
my favourite rock, now gone
my petroglyph photos in a book
a petroglyph
Hornby rocks
another rock photo
and another

Marja-Leena | 06/09/2009 | 19 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Canada and BC


Good weather in September, you guys really were taking a risk? Glad it paid out. Sounds like a good time was have by all.

I do like the sound of all those ferry rides and the round house sounds delightful.

interesting post! Your trip to Hornby Island sounds wonderful. I look forward to seeing more images. I liked the link to the sea change name to Salish Sea. Hornby Island is probably on the list, too.

I hope your eldest daughter's home stays safe. Those fires are terrifyingly huge and hot. Let's hope for the best.

Lilalia, we did keep an eye on the weather forecast before leaving, and it panned out well. It can get very hot in midsummer but it was perfect at this time.

Herhimnbryn, yes, boats and the water and everything was delightful, thanks.

Taina, glad you liked! It's been raining very heavily since last night so it is looking much better, thanks for your concern.

edited later - daughter corrected me on the fire situation - actually the rains are not enough and the fires still burn heavily - keep good thoughts with these folks!

Do I detect the smell of salt spray on my computer screen or have I been looking too long at those photos of the Salish Sea. What a striking name for a sea!

Wonderful photo of the voyage! Even more wonderful that you got to spend time with family. Hope the fires are out near Kamloops. It has been brutal for fires on the west coast, hasn't it?

Your photographs brought back sweet memories of the six years I spent living in Vancouver and the many delightful journeys taken to the islands. We plan to return to Canada soon but I'm afraid BC has become too expensive for our limited retirement budget. Then there's the fact we've never lived in the Maritimes.. How hard could the winters be if we don't have to commute to jobs?

I hope you've enjoyed a good weekend. Thank goodness for rain.

Travel by boat and you don't leave a carbon footprint (or only on the ocean bottom). You should have bitten on the bullet and seen that BM exhibition. The museum has a new director who has been fantastically successful (former director of the National Gallery). To the point where Mrs BB and I can't stand the rugby scrum there any more. All those young faces eager for instruction. Why aren't they knocking on their neighbours' doors and running away?

Joe, yes, I love that name, based on the First Nations of the area. I think many use it already but would like to see it made more official on maps.

Maria, the fires unfortunately aren't subsiding for apparently they would need enough rain to soak the ground down to about 18 inches. Impossible in that dry interior so the firemen have their work cut out! There are a lot of large dead trees killed by the pine beetle. Yes, those fires have been brutal even down in California, haven't they?

Susan, yes, it's too bad BC is so expensive, especially in the south, even for our children. I've never been to the Maritimes (except when we travelled by train from Halifax to Winnipeg when we emigrated from Finland) but it's supposed to be lovely. Gets a lot of rain and snow though.

BB, it's hard to travel without a carbon foot print, except by bike or foot or canoe or rowboat! How much carbon from horses, I wonder? Yes, I was disappointed not to have had the time for the museum but seeing family came first. The Royal BC Museum did a stupendous job mounting the exhibition, I read. Don't knock them for trying to teach the kids, though I agree about the crowds.

How gorgeous!! Your photos always make me long to be where they are.

FYI, I've given you a Honest Scrap Award for blogging. You can learn more here: it's a kind of pay-it-forward award.

Lovely photos and writing about your journey. Your photographs remind me of what it is I love about the PNW.

What happened to the fetus rock?


Martha, I found what I called the fetus rock sometime in the 90's. I would look for it in subsequent visits and each time it had gotten smaller and eventually could no longer be found. Such is the powerful weathering action of the wind and sea! But new forms are always emerging and it's exciting to find more treasures. This observed metamorphosis was one of the inspirations for the series of prints by that name. Must get more photos up here....

Kate, thanks so much for the award! (sorry I almost missed it -- I just retrieved it from my new spam screener, oops. Gosh, what do I say and who should I pass this on to? hmm, so many deserving bloggers out there...

Your island sojurn sounds blissful. I hope to visit that region some day.

Hattie, I'm sure you'd love the islands here, being an island person yourself!

Sounds like a wonderful trip - so much island hopping! And so much time to spend outdoors with the beautiful sights and among friends. I look forward to more photos!

Leslee, thanks, it was a wonderful trip, I don't know why we don't do it more often.

This is a part of the world that I'm longing to visit. That second picture looks rather lunar.

Bee, I know I'm biased but it IS a fabulously beautiful area and I feel lucky living here! Yes, some of thsoe rocky beaches do look lunar, especially on a cloudy day.