After feeling sad saying good-bye to Terreena, Stan, Leigh-Anne and Lyle, we knew we couldn’t mope around too long or else we’d lose our last few days on Haida Gwaii. So, we went back to Cemetery Beach to walk the dogs and beachcomb. Back when we stayed in Prince George, I noticed that Dana has several beach finds around his house. A true sign of anyone who has lived on Haida Gwaii is collections of driftwood, agates, and shells along with some Haida art and jewelry if you’re lucky. I quickly developed some driftwood envy, and was on a mission to find some to bring home with us. I figure…. Stevie has space, right? (OB: not if you fill her full of rocks and sticks.) We had one piece tucked away to bring back for Leigh-Anne, so I was determined to find something for us to bring home as well. About 25 minutes after we started walking along the beach, I spied the perfect piece of driftwood. Jeremy was initially somewhat reticent about bringing it home (JB: you want me to carry that sand-covered piece of wood half an hour down the beach? I don’t think so), but as he stood there looking at it, he began to see the magic and hauled it up onto his shoulders to hike back up the beach. (JB: on the one hand, it’s awkward to carry. On the other hand, it’s more affordable than the bracelet, ring, and paddle she’s hinting around at. OB: those remain on the list. Her birthday is in September.) You know your husband loves you when he’s willing to carry driftwood and chain it to the back of your camper to be hauled across two provinces and then likely put in your living room!
After finding the Big Treasure, we went to have tea with Babs Hageman. Babs is like another mom to me. Her family has embraced me ever since Lisa (her youngest daughter) and I were in first grade together. Lisa remains one of my dearest friends, and she inspires me to live a life that includes spontaneity and joy. We didn’t get a chance to see Lisa this trip, as she is in Vancouver working on her Ravenstail Weaving. Luckily, Babs was in Masset for a few days before heading down south herself, so we managed to have two visits with her. When my dad’s boat went missing at sea in 1983, Babs’ husband, Bruce Hageman, was among the fishermen who took their boats out in the January stormy weather to look for him. Bruce, Babs, and their daughter Shelley always told me stories of my dad. They told me they called Dad’s favourite style of fishing rig the “Tom Jellema Hook” whenever they used it themselves. Bruce passed away about 18 years ago, and he is missed by all of us who loved him. Babs’ kitchen table has been a welcoming space ever since I can remember, and Jeremy and I loved having a visit with her over tea. On this day, Tracy and Daen were also there. Tracy is Lisa’s older sister and Daen is Tracy’s son. To my surprise and delight, Tracy pulled out a very special gift for me, z-twist yarn that she spun herself. Normally, yarn is spun in what is called an S-twist, whereas the Z-twist is spun in the opposite direction – the picture of the two styles may show the difference. The s-twist is the grey and the z-twist is the cream coloured yarn. Z-Twist is used in the Ravenstail Weaving, but this particular wool wasn’t going to work for Tracy’s project, so she gifted it to me. I’m the proud, drooling owner of some z-twist superwash merino wool!! (JB: greeeeat…. yet another avenue to obsess over yarn. OB: speaking of that bracelet….) First I have to love on it awhile and then I’ll have to choose a project to make with it. I have a couple of ideas floating around in my head.
It seems that Day 22 was the day of visiting, as later in the day we met up with Lorne and Missy to return their car and have a coffee together. Lorne, Missy and I have all known each other since forever, and in high school, Lorne and I spent more time writing notes to one another than we ever spent taking notes in class! He was a master at folding the notes up into odd shapes and tossing them to me as we passed one another in the hallways. He and Missy have two beautiful daughters and they generously lent us their car for a few days. I know he would’ve been happy to let us use it the entire time we were on the Islands, but I felt too guilty leaving them with only one vehicle to do that. (OB: you didn’t have too much shame to beg Missy to make pizza while you were home, though!)
Once we gave them back their car, we took Stevie for a little cruise just outside of town to the 5 acre piece of land that was my family home when I was very small. Once upon a time there was a house on the land, but now there is nothing but a slowly disappearing pathway. My mom sold the property a long time ago, and I don’t really know when the house would have been torn down. The forest has reclaimed the land, as it should be.
We continued on to Tlell for our second dinner at the Haida House, where we enjoyed a delicious salmon chowder along with the rest of the amazing meal. After filling our bellies, we drove a little further along the highway to a pull-out alongside the road. We had scoped it out a few days prior and thought it would make a great camping spot. Apparently, we are not the first, nor the last, to think of this idea, as there was already a camper set up when we arrived. Not to worry, there is enough room for two, so we tucked Stevie in and enjoyed a walk on the beach before bed. In the morning, we took our coffee (OB: and Baileys… don’t forget the fact that you’re a fish, apparently) to the beach. There is nothing in the world to complain about when you’re sipping coffee on a gorgeous beach, listening to the waves roll upon the shore.
We also drove into Jag’s Beanstalk for breakfast. Truly…. It was so that I could meet up with Mare Levesque of Laughing Sea. Mare hand-dyes yarn, and one of my favourite things to do whilst traveling is to look for (OB: and purchase) locally dyed yarns. Mare has some lovely colours to choose from, and while I took my time picking a few skeins, two other tourists stopped by and one of them made a purchase as well. (OB: of course, Jenn immediately wanted THAT skein as soon as it sold). Turns out, one of the two visiting ladies was from Powell River and had worked in the classroom of one of my close friends. I snapped a quick selfie with her and texted it to Sylvia. I love those small-world moments! I made my purchases and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast sandwich from Jag’s. We also grabbed a pastrami sandwich for the road to share later. On our way to the ferry the morning we left, we stopped by Jag’s again to grab our coffee and breakfast to eat in the ferry line-up. I had their avocado toast that second morning, and it was SO good!
After our night in Tlell, we drove back to Masset and stopped to buy some blueberries from the local Mennonite farmers. Their blueberries are delicious, and we also bought some sweet cherry tomatoes. Upon returning to Masset, we met up with our friend, Allan Davidson at the carving shed in New Town. Allan has been carving a few years, and was working on a small pole, about 3 feet or so. It will look beautiful in the home of the person who commissioned the piece when it is finished. The shed is Jaalen Edenshaw’s working space, and we were very fortunate to get to see him in action as he is completing a pole to be shipped to Whistler. Jaalen’s work is breathtaking, and we enjoyed listening as he shared the stories of the pole. I asked Jaalen if I could take a few cedar shavings from the floor, and his apprentice, Tyler York, joked that we could trade some ketchup chips for cedar chips! I wish I could’ve taken a big bag full of the cedar chips. (OB: Jaalen would have let you, but where the heck do you think Stevie has room for a garbage bag full of cedar chips?). We returned a few days later and left a box of ketchup chips for Jaalen and Tyler to enjoy. Be sure to check out Tyler’s acting in the upcoming Haida film, Sgaawaay K’uuna Edge of the Knife. The film is co-directed by Jaalen’s brother, Gwaii Edenshaw, and Jaalen was part of the writing team.
We left the carving shed, picked up a few groceries and then went out to Agate Beach for two nights of camping at the provincial campground. While a windy camping site, the spots do look directly onto the beach, and that is excellent! We spend two nights there, and probably clocked over 10km in one day walking along the beach. More agate hunting, of course. You can’t camp at Agate Beach and not look for agates! One of Jeremy’s favourite things was hearing the sound of the ocean waves rolling back and forth over the rocks. The water is strong enough that it pulls rocks as the waves ebb and flow, creating a unique sound of rocks rolling over one another in water.
On our second night there, we had a wonderful surprise when Lori Holt drove out to our campsite. She stopped by for a quick chat, and four hours later we were still laughing together. This is a repeat of the last time I was home, when Lori and I met up “quickly” so I could give her a couple of things, and we wound up sitting in her car visiting for over two hours. I love that lady!
After our two nights at Agate Beach, we came back into Masset for the next two nights. It was a bit drizzly, so we stuck close to the campground on our first day back in town – mostly to have showers and get some laundry done. YAY, LAUNDRY! You really come to appreciate clean clothes when you’re limited to what you can wear and have to go several days between washes. The Hidden Island RV Park in Masset has good machines and we found that the dryers do a great job for the $3 you pay per load. Their showers are the most expensive we’ve found on the trip so far, though. $4 for 4 minutes – you become VERY efficient! Of course, the first 30 seconds or more are a write-off as the water heats up and it’s too cold to jump in. That would be my only feedback for them – give 5 minutes or even 4 and a half minutes for the $4 so that the water has a chance to heat up before you start shampooing.
We also lucked into a couple of visits with Neena once we were back in Masset when she stopped by our campsite there. She’d tried to catch us out at Agate Beach, but we must have been on the beach walking when she stopped by. Both Neena and her husband, Mike grew up in Masset, and have recently moved home as Mike is taking over as principal of Chief Matthew’s School in Old Massett. Their son, William holds a very special place in my heart. I was in the delivery room when he was born, and having no children of my own, he remains the only baby for whom I’ve witnessed the delivery. He’s now in his 20s and is so handsome! Jeremy teased me when I told that story in William’s presence, by saying (with a hint of JB sarcasm), “I bet you love that she tells that story.” To my delight, William responded by saying, “actually, I do!!” (OB: *sticks tongue out at JB*)
We finally had a chance to enjoy Missy’s delicious pizza for supper our first night back in town after Agate Beach. We received some special treatment when Missy convinced their daughter, Courtney to deliver it to us at the campground. Thank-you, Courtney! If you’re in the Masset area, keep an eye on the Facebook page Made in a Dish for when Missy is making her homemade pizza. It’s worth it! For those of you from out of town, when the Facebook posts include 4 numbers, know that it’s the phone number and the prefix is 626, the area code is 250. You can text those pizza orders in! 😊 We grew up only needing 4 or 5 digit dialing, so the shorthand of giving 4 numbers remains strong!
On our last days in town, we made sure to stop by Charter’s Food Truck for their scallop tacos. Yes, you heard that correctly. Scallops. Tacos. Together!! In total, I think we ate at Charter’s at least three times during our stay on Haida Gwaii (OB: did you even cook once while on the Islands? JB: way to save money, dumbass. Jer: Hey!! I cooked, too. Jenn: Ummm…. Scallop tacos. ‘Nuff said.). One of the days we ate there, we met my friend Leslie Brown for lunch. She had been busy working on halibut when I texted, but made time to visit over lunch. Leslie is one of those friends with whom you’ll share a good belly laugh before too much time passes. She is culturally and community minded and it’s always fun to grab a visit with her. She spoiled us as well – having her husband Tyler bring us some fresh frozen halibut to take on the road with us. How’aa, Leslie!
One afternoon, Jeremy stayed at Stevie with the dogs (JB: FINALLY. Alone time. Can we binge on Pearl Jam now? Jer: GREAT IDEA!) while I walked up town to meet Vanessa Bennett for a coffee. Vanessa and I were on the Masset Eagles Swim Club back in the day, and we would walk to our early morning swim practices together. Sometimes we would see people “sleeping” on the steps of a store we walked by. Often those sleeps were alcohol-induced. One time, we thought we saw someone sleeping on the steps, but it was really foggy. As we got closer, we realized it was a bear. Good thing we weren’t in the habit of approaching any of the sleeping humans, or we would have encountered a sleeping bear instead! It was really nice to catch up with Vanessa – she’s as beautiful and fit as ever, having recently completed the Agate Man triathlon event held on Haida Gwaii.
Speaking of bears, I forgot to mention! We did get to see one bear on our trip to Haida Gwaii – there was a bear along the road as we drove out to Agate Beach for camping. Pepper was pretty sure it was her long-lost cousin. It ran away into the bushes before we could snap a photo to prove our sighting and show the family resemblance between Pepper and the bear. Pepper is like a really small, friendly version of a bear. Kind of like a teddy bear, but without the stuffing.
We loved the spot in Tlell so much that we returned to sleep there for our last night before catching the ferry back to Prince Rupert. Once again, we missed the prime spot that night as two ladies had beat us to it. It’s a popular place for people to camp, apparently! Also for people to park and walk the beach or hike, as there is a hiking trail entrance across the road. After two drizzly days, the sun was out in it’s glory, tempting us to stay longer. We soaked it up as best we could, and I took the dogs for a long walk along the beach, once again finding a few pieces of driftwood to tuck away into Stevie. Our last night on Haida Gwaii coincided with the night that the full moon and Mars were visible at the same time, so we hit the beach for some night sky viewing. As we walked along, two fellows on quads rode by, each with a dog sat behind him. Our girls were sure they were missing out on a good time! (JB: never mind the dogs, where can I get a quad for the beach? We should live here.) The picture does not give any justice to how gorgeous the moon looked, shining it’s orange glow onto the ocean below. We took it anyway. (JB: another moment proving the advice I gave to bring your damn Nikon).
We are now back on the mainland, heading South to visit more friends and family on Vancouver Island. The biggest How’aa (thank-you) to everyone on Haida Gwaii who helped make our visit so special.
Random photos of this amazing place: