There was a great deal to organize before I could leave home for the 2015 Galiano Literary Festival, not the least of which was organizing a dogsitter. “Could she bring her dog?” she asked before she came. She arrived with four, and two days later drove 2 hours to her home to fetch a fifth. So she spent the whole week juggling 7 dogs! (I’m glad I wasn’t there!) (In the picture, Harry is visiting with 3-legged Bear.)
I left early the following morning. -15C, and there was ice on the truck windshield. About the time I got to the highway, the truck was warm. But the truck was going to sit at the end of my ice road with its chains on, and I loaded the last items into the van – then had to scrape the van’s windshield and start driving in another cold vehicle. All this in the dark.
First light happened in less than an hour, and the morning was gorgeous with the sun peeping in and out of layers of mist.
A bit of business in town, and then south to the interior desert country near Ashcroft. I had left the snow far behind and was marvelling at all that bare ground – and green grass!
My host lived above a little lake that was still frozen. The willows were a lovely pink colour against the bluey-grey ice.
A walk by the pond revealed a rock thickly plastered with lichen.
and two old cottonwood trees.
The next day started dull but the sun came out in the Fraser canyon.
A few spits of rain later, but mostly it was dry. The lower mainland was redolent of dairy farms – it must have been manure-spreading season. The gardens were already in flower.
A day of shopping – new glasses, computer accessories, miso – and on Friday morning I caught the ferry to Galiano. It is a very old boat that putters between the islands. It is due to be scrapped very soon. I hope the bell is saved.
I was met by hosts Terry and Irene Trueman.
Terry had been a client at Nuk Tessli; when he had seen my name on the author list he invited me to stay. That afternoon, he and Irene took me on a short walk. I love to visit the Coast (but couldn’t stand to live there!) The arbutus trees are always stunning.
Someone had made this interesting driftwood sculpture beside the trail.
We saw a lot of birds. Black oyster catchers.
And Barrows Goldeneyes waiting to go up north and breed in my neighbouring mountains.
The next day I had to work! The festival was held at the Galiano Inn with its dramatic view of Mt Baker behind the ferry dock,
and its beautifully landscaped gardens.
First I was supposed to join a panel discussion about writing and the environment with 3 very politically motivated writers, Andrew Nikiforuk, Arno Kopecky, And the Green Party’s Leader, Elizabeth May. I am definitely not politically-minded. I gave a little speech about solar power and how people should not take such luxuries for granted. Towards the end, the discussion veered towards the idea that the only way to save the world is to wipe out people. I was asked what I thought. I had no idea what to say! (In the 30 seconds that was left.) So I said: “Well… I am a spinster and I’m too old to have kids so I’ve done my bit.” At least everyone had a laugh.
I gave my slide show later that day.
Just before I left for Galiano, I got a couple of books out of the Tatla Lake library. They were by John Vaillant, who wrote The Golden Spruce, which I have and love. This was creative non-fiction and won lots of awards. He recently had a novel published, and it and a book called the Tiger, about an amazing ecosystem in the far east of Russia, were my companions for the journey. I had been so busy organizing my place to get away that I had not bothered to research who was speaking. The first person I saw was John Vaillant!
Another excellent speaker was Ian McAllister. He is practically a neighbour, living on a small island on the other side of Bella Coola. We have heard of each other for years but never actually met. His main subject is the ecosystem of forest and sea that has become known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Ian of course is concerned about the terrible threat to the ecosystem should the pipeline from the Alberta tar sands go through. Up to 3,000 tankers per year are proposed to ply these remote and very difficult to navigate waters: many animals rely on sound communication in the deeps – their ability to communicate would be severely compromised, and of course, one spill would be an absolute disaster. I cannot believe that our Prime Minister, Steven Harper, would even consider selling this absolutely priceless ecosystem just to put a few figures on paper. He belongs to a narrow religion that allows him to manipulate a natural world that he knows very little about. Ian’s books and talks, however, are not heavily laden with politics – he just wants to show what is there. The audience was rolling with laughter over the story told by his fantastic photography. Do try and see his talks.
Saturday afternoon Terry and I fitted in another hike. The cedar forests have wonderful shapes.
This is all second growth. Several of the old stumps have the notches cut into them for the springboards that the old hand-loggers stood on.
A precious gleam of sun highlighted a bit of moss.
We walked up to a lookout. That is the Sunshine Coast on the mainland in the background.
The ferry left at 5.00:pm, and for the whole hour crossing, we had a spectacular sunset. First Mt Baker turned pink!
As we drew into the channel, we could see the sun setting behind us.
The changing colours were wonderful. I was still snapping pictures when they told us to go back to our vehicles.
Off early the next morning, I drove back up the canyon. The weather, again, was wonderful.
Soon I was back in the dry country.
After Clinton, the land climbs considerably, and soon I was seeing patches of snow on the shady side of the road.
I spent the night near Lone Butte, which is not far from 100 Mile. My host was a self-published author who writes detective fiction. Her character is Hunter Rayne, a truck driver. Her first book is Slow Curve on the Coquihalla. She is now working on her forth. If you like mysteries, these are good ones. A bonus to the stay was meeting her partner, Gilbert Roy. An ex-Quebecois horse trainer, he had wonderful stories about his life and his horses. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my dogsitter had to leave so I had to go home.
So yesterday I drove back into the snow country of the Chilcotin.
This was an amazing trip. Only 8 days from start to finish, and the first shopping trip since early December. I planned a great many meetings not mentioned in this blog post. And everything went like clockwork! I even found my way from Burnaby to the ferry and back, without a hitch either way, something I have never done before. I also made MONEY!
When I left home, I wore longjohns, and winter boots with ice grippers on the bottom. I shed the ice grippers when I started my van. I shed the boots in Williams Lake, and the longjohns in Ashcroft. Now of course, I had to put all these things on again in stages. The last were the ice grippers when I reached my road. I had hoped to take the van home as there was a great deal of stuff in it, but I decided not to risk it. So everything had to be loaded into the truck.
Who needs to go to Hawaii? Just going down to the Coast at this time of year is like travelling to a different planet.