Today was a long, but really great day. We caught the 7:45 ferry to Vancouver Island and even though it is a 3 hour tour with a few stops in the San Juans, it didn't feel like a 3 hour ferry ride. It was a beautiful, scenic trip through the many islands of every size. Some were barely big enough to dock a boat at, and others were larger, inhabited islands where you could hang your hat for a few days and stay a while. The rains held off, and it wasn't stormy (yet). We had to reserve to do the Anacortes-Sidney run, but the deposit actually came off of our fare, unlike when you reserve with BC Ferries. There is a huge gap between how the 2 ferry systems seem to be run - WSF seems to the "get'er done" cousin, offering simple service often. The ferries are older and serviceable, and not all that swank. What BCF seems to offer is more of an "experience" on really nice ferries with good (read overpriced) eating, up to date everything, and just not as convenient. Unless you travel to the island once a year... who needs all the frills?? Give me more ferries, a little cheaper, and cheap eats.
Doing the run between Sidney and Nanny-Mo for my Gran's 93rd birthday party we noticed a lot of seagulls in the Malahat area. The Malahat is stunning, most times that we have driven through here there are tendrils of mists and rain cloaking its' peaks, and you can't help but look in wonder at the moss dropping from the old growth cedars. It is a place that screams out temperate rainforest, and come take a walk in my trees and streams (yes, I am waxing a little poetic today). The posted provincial park signs (how is that for a little alliteration) proclaimed that it was salmon run time, so we stopped at Goldstream to watch the majestic run of the salmon. I had heard that this was one of the best places to watch the beginning of the spawn, and the rumors are true. You could see hundreds of salmon any where you looked at the river, and seagulls were perched on the rocks - a bit macabre - waiting for the fish (and not always) to do their duty.. you could smell the fecundity since there were corpses along the sides of the river of salmon that had already completed their life cycle. It was truly a sight to see, and I was really glad that we stopped. The parking lots were full and it was a bit of a trek down to the river, but it is humbling to watch.
We continued our blitz up island, had a great afternoon with the family, and then it was almost time to head home. The storm that was called for was rolling in with a lot of wind and rain... which made for an interesting ferry ride back to the coast. It was a wild ride - Ken stayed in the car with Brandon (who was asleep as soon as we were out my aunt's driveway) and my brother and I went topside - the wind and rain lashed us, and we couldn't really make it to the front of the boat it was blowing that hard - you could stand, leaning forward, and the wind filled your clothes and whipped the rain in your face like sharp needles. It was a thrill - there were whitecaps, and rollers, and you just knew that the next ferry (if there was one) would be canceled. Several banks of seats were roped off, and sick bags were left in different areas of the passenger decks (which made me laugh, I guess I should be thankful I don't get seasick).
It was a whirlwind trip, we shopped 'till we dropped, got to see some new sights, and it was great to get away. Now it's hard the last stretch of the year....