We got up at 6am to quietly take down the tent and pack the last few things. Unfortunately as is always the case, we seem to be going home with more than we left with and thus the kids are buried in the back seat. We got to the ferry terminal in plenty of time to get the ferry. It can be difficult to get off the island on a holiday weekend without a reservation. The rules had changed from the last time and now the direct ferries where 100% reserved. It used to be capped letting you get on if you got there early enough. It forced us to go back to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island and then on one of the big ferries to Tsawwassen.
The orange, old timey look to the photos is due to the many forest fires that were burning in the province at that time. I can’t remember the number but it was close to 200 and the area burning was bigger than Rhode Island. It smelled like you were right next to a campfire the entire trip home.
We ate breakfast at a food truck at the Pender Island. It has been there for as long as I can remember and it has great breakfasts. It was a frequent stop for me when I worked at the marina next door. I had to convince Philip not to add a burger patty to his breaky bun. Since the breaky bun contains two eggs and tons of bacon and cheese he wasn’t going to finish anyways.
We managed to make the connection at Swartz without having to wait a sailing. Again there was a National Parks presentation on board and this time we ended up talking to her the entire trip. Her presentation was on the Great Garbage Gyre in the Pacific Ocean.
She started off telling us about a container that got knocked overboard along with others in a storm. This one however contained thousands of bath toys including yellow rubber ducks. This became an opportunity for scientists to track where they went. At one point finding one was worth money. She had the kids pretend to be a piece of garbage caught in the gyre, going around and around. Basically the currents in the ocean overall make a giant loop and trash gets trapped in the center.
I wrote an article on it years ago for another website. The blog portion of the site is down so I can’t find it but I told her about it. She told me about a 18 year old fellow, Boyan Slat, that has come up with a way of getting plastic out of the oceans. His plan is ambitious and the video is well worth watching both for the solution and a great description of the problem.
She also pointed out some wildlife on the way. The first was seal island. It is a small rock with a beacon on it and dozens of seals. In the background you can see a whale watching boat getting a closer look. The second was a tiny island with hundreds of birds. The white, well it is not rock.
She also told us that there were lots of herons on the causeway leading to the ferry terminal. We stopped. There were a couple dozen and it was well worth stopping.
The rest was the five hour drive home. We stopped for lunch which made it six hours. As always with these long camping trips the kids fell asleep on the way home. Philip claims that he wasn’t actually asleep. I let you be the judge.
Our day started out with the kids playing with the kids from the next campsite. The other kids had been building a fort up above the campground. My kids helped finish it up (I would say the other kids did most of the work over several days) and played in it. It was quite solidly built.
We have plans for dinner with my mom tonight at a restaurant and a ferry in the morning so we took the morning to grab another round of showers over at my mom’s. That took all morning so we relaxed and enjoyed the view.
We had a picnic lunch out on the deck and then went down to the beach to explore. Tide pools can be so much fun. We saw all sorts of critters: crabs, limpets, barnacles, snails urchins, sea anemone and far fewer starfish than I would have expected. It turns out there is a disease running through the populations that appears to be linked to raising ocean temperatures.
Margaret found this really cool ‘Fish rock’. Clearly it flaked off a bigger rock in a nice fish shape. The eye I’m not sure about. It could be natural as a lot of the area has rocks with large holes. The rocks are a mixture of two types and one erodes much faster. This doesn’t really look like that. The other is it was drilled long ago for an anchor point for some structure.
In the late afternoon we went and did the Pender Island museum. This was your typical small community one room museum but it held memories for me. One of the pictures was of a building that burned down after I had moved. It had been through a lot of uses. The most recent was a wonderful coffee shop that I have great memories of. The location has been redeveloped now and is the restaurant that we will be going to tonight.
We also went there to try to track down prizes my kids earned for completing the National Park Explorers Program. They were the first to do it for this park and we got print outs of a PDF some printed for us back in Victoria. The metal tags with the park name on it hadn’t arrived yet. The first people we talked to turned out to be the maintenance team. They were very helpful and started calling on their cell phone people that might have the answer. As they were calling another truck pulled in with the people that we met on the hike the other day and he knew that they didn’t have them yet. He took our information and they were mailed to us. We got them just after we got home.
We had dinner with my mom and Tony. It was excellent food. After dinner we walked along the dock and Ian was a typical homeschooler. He asked a boat owner what type it was. He got an answer that I have now forgotten. I think it caught his eye because it was a beautiful wooden boat.
We went back to our campsite and packed up everything that we possibly could. We have to be at the ferry terminal a 7am and that means a 6am wakeup call.
Ian – duels with sticks
Margaret – Playing Monopoly with Ian (During the showers)
Mom – Dinner with my mom and Tony.
We started with a breakfast of Bannock, another camping tradition. There was a geocaching course in the campground so we took the time to do that. There were a series of four GPS coordinates where you had to find the previous to get the next coordinates. Each location also corresponded to a habitat of a local animal and each had information and questions to answer. The last one also had coins that were limited in supply.
Next we went to another part of the National Park call Roesland. It used to be little resort dating back to 1920s. It operated until 1990, soon after a local group with the provincial government took it over. Later it was consolidated with lots of other place into a National Park.
It has an islet that is only accessible when it is low tide. We walked out to the end. We spotted a bald eagle and the tree she has her nest in. I think we also spotted 2 juveniles but I couldn’t get a close enough look.
We also saw some cool conglomerate rock on the coast. Looking it up online it is something called Puddingstone. Basically it is about 84 million years old mixture of fine sediment and larger pebbles and then compressed.
We spent half an hour sitting on some comfy chairs over looking the bay with a cool breeze blowing. From there we went to the local bakery for some lunch. Everyone one had the Banger Roll (giant sausage roll) except Philip who had a Samosa.
In the afternoon we played the last nine hole at the disc golf course. We came across a really cool tree. At first I thought it was a nurse log with three trees growing out. That though only lasted a second as the ‘log’ was clearly not rotten and would be barely visible for the age of the trees. It is a tree that got knocked over, probably in a wind storm and survived. The three ‘trees’ are actually branches.
The last hole is the same as the one I played years ago. It is 66 meters (216 feet) up a very steep hill. You have to work your way up while going forward and hoping not to slice it back off the hill. It is steep enough to require putting your hands down and scrambling up some parts.
We went back to the campsite for dinner and relaxing. The kids got playing with the kids in the next site over and had a great time.
Ian – Geocaching
Margaret – Everything
Mom – Geocaching
I think they are getting tired of answering this question every evening.