Our First Weekend on Galiano - as Owners

My last post ended up being one of the most popular ones I’ve done. Seems the news spread fast! So last weekend, now that our ownership was confirmed, we head over to Galiano to spend the full weekend and see what we got ourselves into…

Welcome to Sturdies Bay – the ferry dock at Galiano Island!

Welcome to Sturdies Bay – the ferry dock at Galiano Island!

We booked the late afternoon ferry on Friday and headed over to the island to spend our first weekend. The plan was to explore – both the island and our new property – and hopefully get a better feel for the place.

The cottage we spent the weekend at, on Galiano Island. 

The cottage we spent the weekend at, on Galiano Island. 

We had rented a place through AirBnB for the weekend, with was a cute little cottage, not far from the ferry dock. Not long after alighting in Sturdies Bay, we were into the cottage and all settled in. The location was great, the little cottage worked well for us and we were ready to head out to our new property for the first time!

After getting settled, the first thing we did was drive up to our new property! I had made a sign that we wanted to post on the property, to let everyone know where they were. It’s a fun little play on our names that has stuck, and it seemed appropriate for the new place.

We were a little surprised how much everything had grown in over the month or so since our last trip! The grass had seriously grown up, to the point where we “lost” the picnic table that we knew was there. We had brought a bottle of bubbly with us, and so we sat on the picnic table, enjoyed the view and toasted this new adventure.

After sitting and enjoying the quiet for a while, we noted that we were getting hungry and decided we needed to find some dinner. We headed back to the “civilized” part of the island and grabbed some dinner from a small restaurant/food truck near the main grocery store. We quickly learned that things shut down early – we got there just before 8:00 p.m., which was closing time. Something we’ll have to get used to.

Saturday morning, we slept in a bit, then started into our very busy day. There is a Saturday farmers market that we had heard about that we wanted to check out. It was walking distance from the cottage, so we decided to head over there. As we were a bit early, we decided to walk over to Bellhouse Park first.

A view across the rock face at Bellhouse Park

Exploring the tidal pools. The tide was way out, and this purple sea star was sitting up on the rocks

After exploring the park for a little while (it’s quickly becoming our favorite spot), we wandered over to the market. It was pretty good – despite it being early in the season and there not being a lot of fresh produce yet. We chatted with a bunch of the vendors – everyone was really nice, especially once they found out we had bought on the island. We bought a few things, grabbed some snacks and headed back.

The Saturday Farmer’s Market on Galiano

After visiting the market, we got dressed for bush whacking, and headed up to the property. We wanted to explore as much of it as possible and see what is there and how much work is ahead of us.

Our new sign, mounted to near the drive way.

We started easy, walking around the top part of the property. It’s pretty good, as the previous owners had started doing some clean up. There are some dead tress that will need to come out, and some downed trees that need to be cut up – looks like I’ll be buying a chainsaw…

Galiano June - 10.jpg

We noticed that our neighbors to the left (northwest?) of us were home, so we wandered over and introduced ourselves. It was only part of the family, but they seem nice and gave us lots of helpful information. They have built a beautiful house and will be very helpful as we sort out this little adventure.

From our discussion, we got some helpful advice about getting down the hill to the bottom of the property, and over to the trail leading down to the beach. So we worked our way down the hill, seeing what’s there. There’s lots of broom, some of which is so dense it’s impossible to penetrate through it. There are also a few piles of logs from when they cleared the land that will need to come out. That’s going to be interesting. We eventually made our way down and got past the huge log pile at the bottom. We made our way through the forest at the bottom and eventually out to the road. We’ve got some work to create a more permanent path.

We went down to the beach for a little while. The tide was out so we could explore the shoreline. When the tide is in, it’s supposed to be pretty good for swimming, and our neighbors mentioned that in the winter, seal and sea lions end up on the beach. That will be interesting to see.

The beach near the end of our property.

Full zoom on my big lens - you can see Vancouver from our new place.

We climbed back up and had some lunch, then went out for a road ride. The road at the bottom of our property ends in a gate, but we were told that the road continues on for a ways, which seems perfect for road riding.

A Google Earth map of our ride

Our ride took us up to Dionisio Point Provincial Park, at the far north end of the island. The park is rated as boat access only, but the road is in good shape and the ride up there is actually pretty easy. The Park features rocky headlands flanked by sandy beaches and picturesque bays. Overlooking Porlier Pass, this park is accessible by boat only and provides opportunities for walk-in camping, fishing, boating, kayaking, wildlife viewing and scuba diving.

The forested uplands at Dionisio Point are rimmed by a varied and unique shoreline that includes sculpted sandstone shelves, pebble and sand beaches and colorful wildflower meadows. Fast flowing tidal currents have created a rich intertidal life – sea-stars, nudibranchs and chitons can be seen in the tide pools, and at times large quantities of swimming scallop shells can be found on the beaches.

This Gulf Island park has a rich human history. Large mounds along the shores mark the shell middens (refuse heaps) that indicate native occupation dating back more than 3,000 years. Castaway shells left by centuries of harvesting formed berms on the foreshore of the park. These middens contain many of the archaeological clues that help to unravel the history of earlier cultures. The park also contains well documented archeological sites previously used by the Penelakut First Nation. These sites are fenced to the public and identified though interpretive signage at Maple Bay. And yes I stole this from the web site.

The beach is really nice – sandy on one side, pebble on the other and it looks like the water is pretty nice. We did not think to bring a bathing suit with us, but we’ll definitely be headed back to spend some time at this one. 

Sunday we only had about a half day, as we had to be at the ferry around 2:30 p.m. We had a relaxed start to the day, then packed up the car. There are something like 3,500 deer on Galiano (as opposed to only 1,300 permanent residents…) and we had seen lots of them on this trip. As I was packing the car, a mother and her fawn walked right up the driveway and past me, onto the property next door. No fear at all.

It's a pretty bad iPhone photo, but here's mom and her little one.

It's a pretty bad iPhone photo, but here's mom and her little one.

We had decided to check out the 9-hole golf course and play a round before heading home. It was a beautiful day, and the course was pretty much empty. It’s short – all par 3s and 4s, with some weird layout issues, but very charming and will be fun for Justine and I to do every once in a while. The 4th hole is very cool – you have to climb a trail up to the tee box. Justine did really well and we had a fun time. 

After the round we sat on the patio and had some lunch. The food was excellent, but the real treat was their bird feeders! In the hour we were there, there much have been a half-dozen different hummingbirds, a pair of pileated woodpeckers, a pair of what I think are hairy woodpeckers, and for Aunt Tracy, a number of chestnut-backed chickadees. There were a ton of other little birds as well, but they were the highlights. It bodes well for birding on the island!

After lunch, we made another quick run up to the property to sit and admire the view for a little while. It’s amazingly peaceful – the only noise is the odd float plane – and the amount of activity is really fun. We had another mother deer and her fawn; tree swallows diving about all over the place; huge dragonflies and about a half-dozen turkey vultures floating in the currents above the place. We think we’ve made a good decision…

It was time to head home...

It was time to head home...