Canada Trip – Leg 3 – part 2

More of Salt Spring:

Our original goal of three weeks on Salt Spring has been extended to two months!  The weather for most of July was cool but much preferred to the extreme temperatures back at Pioneer in North IMGP9587Carolina. In August, the days have been sunny and warm – mid-70’s.  We have had lots to do here:  cleaning up the forest around the house with the help of a logger and a chipping machine, staining the outside of the house, having old friends over for dinner, exploring the islands attractions with Ron’s daughter, getting out onto the water for a picnic aboard “Scout” and a dinner on “Omache” and getting into the water with a group of women called the “Lady Seals”.

Thomas perches atop an arbutus ready to cut out the dead branches

The forest clean-up has always been an issue as our house is set on about two slopping acres of Douglas Fir and Arbutus.  Many of these have branches that must be trimmed because they pose a fire hazard or a danger to the house – there were several dead or diseased limbs.  It was amazing to watch the logger scamper up a huge tree, hang on ropes and cut limbs with such precision that he could place them exactly where he wanted them.  He cut up the larger branches into logs for our fireplace and then it was up to us to drag theIMGP9667 leftovers up to a huge pile in the driveway for the chipper and stack the logs in the wood shed for curing over the winter. 

Ron prepares the limbs for chipping and firewood

The small stuff we cut up into smaller pieces and stacked in berms  throughout the woods to act as a moisture retainer.  IMGP9681



Cal, the chipper man, makes short work of our collected brush

The chipped wood has been spread over the garden areas to retain the moisture.  We are also finding that several of the smaller Arbutus trees on our property are dying.  There is an airborne fungus, widespread in B.C., that is killing theIMGP9786 trees.  Luckily the majority of our trees are Douglas Fir but still we have some unique and beautiful Arbutus trees around the driveway leading into the property.  It will be a sad day when we lose them to disease. We did take down one Arbutus that the architect had incorporated in our deck back in the early 70’s.  What a shame it was to lose that tree.  However, we now have a better view out towards Sansun Narrows.  

Gordon takes his saw to the Arbutus that grew up through our deck

Beyond the tree trimming, we have launched into restoring the pathways, stone walls and stone steps created by Judy’s dad in that part of the property just below the house. 



The stone steps are revealed and the plants trimmed!

The wild Broom, Spanish Broom and St. John’s Wort  have taken over down there, crowding out many other less-invasive plants.  The Spanish Broom and St. John’s Wort we have just trimmed back while the wild broom was removed from the area altogether.  The trunks of the broom are so thick in places that you have to use a saw on them!IMGP9674


Judy – help! Lost in the forest as she berms up the broom

At least it will be an easier job if we do it once a year from now on.  The present growth has had six years to mature! Below the house we also have apple and pear trees, planted by Judy’s dad. Surprisingly, they are still alive.  Ron has been pruning off the dead branches and watering the trees to help them through this very dry summer.






Ron trims one of three apple trees below the house




Ron’s ministrations show results as our one surviving rhododendron bursts into bloom!






The Spanish Broom flowers in all its glory – the sweet smell fills the garden!






Cleaning out the garage and storage rooms within!





Ron scampers on the garage roof cleaning up branches






Judy dons her Salt Spring gumboots to wash the bugs off our car







This cheeky little deer stands in the middle of our front garden




Daddy buck relaxes just outside our kitchen window – cheekiness must grow in the family!


One of the highlights of our social life was getting out on the water in Norah and David’s “Scout”.  This is BIG Scout as opposed to our little dinghy, also named Scout. 

Dinghy Still Attached




View from the flying deck to the stern of Scout

Galley Stud




David –the chief cook and bottle washer in Scout’s Galley






One of the many scenic waterfront properties on Salt Spring


Scout is a beautiful west coast fishing boat designed as a cruising trawler.  It is all wood and David keeps it in top condition.  Also on board was Norah’s 95 year old mother and our mutual cruising friends, Elvin and Sally.  We headed off to Tent Island for a barbecue on an perfect West Coast evening.  It was so good to feel the floor moving under our feet again! A few weeks later, Elvin rowed us out to Omache, the sailboat he single-handed down the US East Coast,IMGP9355 through the Panama Canal, north west to Hawaii and then south east to Salt Spring.

Omache on a mooring in Vesuvius Bay







The sun sets on Vesuvius Bay


Elvin and Sally treated us to a meal of Elvin’s special sailing chilli along with other goodies.  Between the beautiful sunset and the warm temperatures it was a perfect evening.IMGP9741


Canada Geese playing follow-the-leader at Vesuvius







Sally and Elvin head to shore after dinner




The Ghost Lady in the garden – yikes!

A treat for Judy was joining the women seals on their Sunday afternoon swim at Vesuvius.  With a borrowed wet suit, swim fins, hood, goggles and snorkel we headed into the water for an hour-long IMGP9569aerobic work out. 




Judy and the “Lady Seals” – check out the feet!


Whew…… was it exhausting and extremely difficult to swim with the wetsuit on!  At least there was no fear of drowning as the suit was so buoyant that it made you feel like the Pillsbury Dough Girl!

Fortunately, Ron’s daughter, Jocelyn, had just moved to Victoria from Australia.  We hadn’t seen her for three years so it was a very special visit worthy of some island adventures! Exploring the island is always fun especially when you stop at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Factory where they make delicious goat cheese.  David Woods, a friend from our sailing days on Salt Spring ownsIMGP9368 the operation and gave us a great explanation of the various and many flavours that they produce.  Needless to say we left with a good supply of goat cheese! 


Judy and Jocelyn check out the sample goat cheeses in the tasting room at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Factory

Equally enjoyable was a visit to the Salt Spring  Winery where we got to taste several wines and then load up on some to bring back to Pioneer.




Yummy wine to take cruising this winter from the Salt Spring Winery





Ron and his daughter, Jocelyn, presently living in Victoria



During Jocelyn’s visit we had a chance to visit the Farmer’s Institute where they were celebrating IMGP9329their Heritage Day.  There are many groups on the island that try to preserve the old ways of weaving, spinning and carding wool.  They gave demonstrations and the products of their efforts were quite beautiful.  In the museum they had displays and many photos of the early settlers on Salt Spring.

The HMS Ganges on display in the Farmers Institute Museum


There was also a very large model of the HMS Ganges on display. In 1815, the HMS Ganges was built in Bombay, India.  From 1858 to 1860 she did extensive surveys of the local waters in the Gulf Islands.  The main town on Salt Spring, Ganges, is named after this ship.

We have had several friends over for dinner – a rare occurrence when you live on a sail boat – and also visits from Ron’s daughter, Jocelyn.  Judy’s mother came up to the house for an afternoon – aIMGP9525 special time that was filled with fond memories. 

Judy shows Phyllis her sea beans and explains how she finds them on the beaches in the Caribbean 


We have been surprised and pleased with the special friendships we have developed here.  The island is beginning to feel like home.  However, we are not even close to ready to give up our Pioneer home nor our life in Minnesott.   Our centre is still Alberta and will be until we move our lives and storage lockers elsewhere!

July here is supposed to be the warmest summer month – not so this year!  The temperatures did not start to hit the mid 70’s until late July and they have stayed there into August. According to our plans to date, we will head back to Pioneer on August 19th.  We are hoping that the temperatures in coastal North Carolina will have eased off by then!

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