Days 22-27 The Haida Gwaii MEGA POST, part 2

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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!

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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*)

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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!

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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:

 

Days 18 – 21 The Haida Gwaii MEGA POST, Part 1

Man have we ever done a lot in the last 8 days.  I will cover the highlights in this blog, but know that even with how long it is we had to cut some things and split it into 2 posts (JB: like it matters, no one will read your drivel anyway!)  Let me start off by saying that Haida Gwaii is an amazing place.  I believe it is truly unique in the world and Jenn and I have wondered aloud several times if moving up here would be a good idea.  Of course, it’s been sunny and 18 – 20 degrees almost the whole time which is simply unheard of.  The rain has finally come back today and reminded us that it rains 300 + days (or so it seems) a year here 😊 .

I encourage everyone reading this to get up here at some point in your life.  This should be on everyone’s bucket list.  So without further adieu, here is the Haida Gwaii MEGA POST part 1!

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When Jenn and I landed off the ferry we immediately drove to Port Clements to see our great friends Terreena, Stan, Lyle and Leigh-Anne.  Three of the four grew up on Haida Gwaii so this was something of a reunion trip for them and Jenn.  Stan was the only first timer in the group and it was fun watching him take in the beauty of this place with his camera.  We had a quick bite, lots of laughs, then set up our campsite and prepared for our adventures.

We had some jam-packed schedules to see all the highlights of the islands.  Our first adventure was a 10KM (round trip) hike to the beach to see a shipwreck.  The Pesuta was a timber carrier that went down along the coast in 1928, and has slowly been disappearing back into the environment.  The scenery out here goes from wild west coast forest to insanely long stretches of sandy beaches.  The pictures really don’t do it justice, and there was no way we could capture things like the Eagles, ravens, and dragon flies that are everywhere.  And the sound of this place, OMG!  The ocean breaking on the rocks, the eagles chatting with one another, the ravens cackling at you, and the wind through the trees.  It’s just simply awesome.  At one point we looked up and saw 5 bald eagles flying overhead.  The only image I managed to capture was on my phone at max zoom so you’ll just have to trust me.  (JBI TOLD you to bring your Nikon, you dumbass.)

 

One of the advantages of living here is that you can drive on the beaches.  And, everyone seems to know each other.  So we were not at all surprised when 2 trucks met us on the beach and they happened to be old friends of Leigh-Anne and Lyle.  We had a good laugh that of all the locals, almost no one had ever walked out to see the Pesuta. (JB: you mean we could have driven?  That would have been way more fun cause you didn’t have a backpack, supplies, food, or enough water.  Some hiker you are.)

After the hike, our friends went to their B&B to shower.  Since Jenn and I have no shower, we drove to the beach for some relaxation and a quick sponge bath. I mentioned that everyone knows everyone here right?  Cause as we were about to get clean, a car pulled in and out popped our friend Alan.  Stevie is a bit of star out here on the Island so everyone knows where to look for us 😊 .

 

After a quick visit and de-odorizing (JByou guys really do stink you know!)  we joined our friends for a scrumptious dinner at the Haida House in Tlell.  The Haida House is a top notch restaurant that is 100% Haida owned, and the food is excellent.  We were very excited to have local salmon, and the food was so good (and reasonably priced) that Jenn and I booked a return visit for later in the trip.

 

The next day, Jenn and I moved our campsite up to Masset, the town where Jenn grew up.  In fact, we met our gang at The Ground coffee shop, which just happens to be in the house Jenn and her parents lived in.  It’s always a treat to have a coffee and a nibble in Jenn’s old living room, or buy a shirt from her mom’s old bedroom!

Our next stop was North Beach & Tow Hill.  Tow Hill is a small mountain located on the north end of the island, and is the anchor for North Beach which is a ribbon of sandy decadence that stretches for more than 10 KM.  Side bar, if you’ve ever been to Long Beach on Vancouver island, you will know why we chuckle when they call it long.  In comparison to here it’s like the kids beach 😊 .  The hike up Tow Hill is a bit steep and somewhat sketchy for dogs, so I took Saela and Pepper to the beach while the rest of the gang hiked to the top.  (OBDon’t believe him, he’s just lazy!)  Jenn got some excellent shots from the top.

 

After the hike up, we all walked out along the beach, or at least we started to.  We were cut off by more friends in their trucks 😊 .  Man I love this place.  We all hopped in to the vehicles and drove 6 km further up the beach.  I know for sure it was 6 km because our friend Neena was doing a 6K run.  Of course we aren’t sure if Mike – her husband – stretched her a little further than that!  Jenn and I hopped in with Derek and Christina, and Saela immediately made a new best friend!

 

We all went our separate ways for dinner and Jenn and I had the best Chinese food in Masset (JB: dumbass, it’s the only Chinese food in Masset!)  By bed time, I believe we had broken our dogs:

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The next morning, Jenn was in the washroom and heard the following exchange:

Child:  Look mom, I’m washing the shower

Mother:  What are you doing?  Stop that…….  Give me my Loufa!

OBJenn was certainly amused.  She was so amused she left her damned cell phone in the washroom! That’s twice now with the phone…

Jenn:  Hey, I remembered and got it before we left for the day.

JBI think we need to get you a fanny pack!

We took the dogs to the beach for the morning to do some agate hunting.  Agates are volcanic based crystalline rocks that when polished are bright and shiny, and they are ALL OVER the beaches here.  A popular past time is to go “agate hunting” on the beaches.  You will see people slowly wandering the tranquil stretches of sand and rock with their heads pointed down to their feet.  Jenn was saying that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone from here for 5 minutes, 5 years, or 5 decades, if you’re back home on the beaches, your head is down and you’re agate hunting.  Needless to say we have collected more than our fair share!  More importantly, we discovered something on the beaches of Haida Gwaii we never expected.  Our prairie raised rescue dog Pepper is completely at home and in love with the ocean.  We have never seen her so mellow before, she absolutely loves it here.

 

Our next set of stops were for the local food truck, and then a visit with Miche, a great old family friend of Jenn’s mom and one of the most lovely ladies I’ve met.  She is originally from Quebec just like my dad, so we always enjoy sharing stories of what it was like way back when.  Of course she has been a fixture on Haida Gwaii for over 40 years now.  We lucked into a fun visit and a few warm cookies, fresh from the oven.  Miche is a great cook!

 

By this time our gang was up in Masset, so we all decided to hit the local Masset Museum.  This isn’t just any museum, it’s a small house with artifacts from the history of the town, including the time when Jenn, Leigh-Anne, and Terreena lived here.  We had a riot looking at old school photos, family history, and pictures of Sam’s (Jenn’s stepdad) tow truck and Chicken Shack.  Yes, Jenn’s family once owned a Chicken Shack.  They have also over the years owned a bakery, a pizza place, and an automotive shop!  The caretaker of the museum said she had never heard so much laughing in the museum 😊 .  There were many memories and photos of Terreena’s family as her grandfather was the first doctor here, so her family has quite a history, and her brother lives here still.  His name is Shaun, but most people around here know him as Bonehead.  Thankfully, he is well known in the community, as Jenn’s driver’s license had fallen out of her pocket (OB: maybe that fanny pack IS a good idea….) and the people who run the museum were able to track Shaun down.  He picked it up for Jenn and got it back to us safely.  Thanks, Bonehead!

Terreena and Stan had plans for the evening, so the rest of us went for supper on the beach.  On our way to the grocery store, Jenn and Leigh-Anne saw a friend of theirs drive by with 2 huge dogs in the back.  One of the dogs is called Handsome Gus (he’s Instagram famous!), so the ladies started calling out to him as the vehicle drove by…. But the truck didn’t stop.  We found out later that the driver was thinking “damned tourists!”  Turns out other folks have randomly learned his dogs name and say hi all the time, so he didn’t stop and missed a chance to see some old friends 😊 .  We finished the evening with hamburgers on the beach and visiting with another good friend, Melanie.

 

Tag in Jenn cause this post is looooong…

The following day was the last day that Terreena, Stan, Leigh-Anne, and Lyle were on the Islands.  In the morning, 4 of us zipped down to Skidegate to visit the Longhouse Gift Shop to find matching hoodies for the three ladies.  Terreena and Leigh-Anne had been scoping out the other gift shops along the way, but hadn’t found any that we loved.  So, Leigh-Anne and I were on a serious mission to find them!  And – success!  We found Haida Watchmen hoodies in the right style and they are super comfy.  Insert requisite matching shirt group photo on the beach:

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We also stopped at the Balance Rock on our way back north from Skidegate.  It was BUSY!  Normally there may be one or two cars, but, this time there were several vans full of people.  I had to take a picture of all the people there to prove it 😊  We took our own photos and quickly got back on the road.  Back in Port, the 6 of us parted ways so that each couple could get a few things done prior to meeting back up for coffee at The Ground (yep, my old house) in Masset.  After grabbing a drink, we went back out to Cemetery Beach.  There is a beautiful cemetery there, and some of the group spent time wandering through to look at the headstones.  The beach is also gorgeous, and is close to town, so easy to get to when you have places to be but need a quick beach injection.

 

That evening, we were invited to Candace & Christian White’s Tluu Xaadaa Naay Longhouse in Old Massett.  They were hosting a group of visitors to learn a little bit about Haida culture, Christian’s carving (he is a Master Carver), and to see and learn about Haida songs and dances.  It is always moving to hear the drums and see the dancing, and I am always brought to tears.  Although not my culture, growing up here demands that the drumming and music become a part of your heartbeat.  It was such an honour to have received Candace’s invitation, to get to see her “in action,” to learn some of the stories behind Christian’s totem poles, and to visit with them afterwards.  She even convinced their cousin, Lisa White to open her gift shop after hours for us.  The Gin Kuyaas – Haida Art Studio & Gifts is a beautiful gift shop housed in a long house near the start of Old Massett.  The smell of the cedar longhouse alone should bring hordes of people in!  Once you’ve inhaled that gorgeous smell, bring your eyes down from the ceiling and look at the many beautiful art, clothing, and jewelry pieces available.  Jeremy and I were thrilled to find a gorgeous Jordan Seward print to bring home for our walls.  If I’d had my way, I also would have left with a paddle and some pieces of jewelry.  (OB: yah, but remember how your husband is unemployed now?  Simmer down on the spending, lady!).  This gift shop is a “must see” when you’re on Haida Gwaii.  My advice?  Don’t spend all your money on BC Ferries or in the first store you find as you get off the ferry!  Take your time to see all that is available as you visit throughout Haida Gwaii.  There are some great hidden treasures to be found.  The six of us spread our shopping between the Longhouse Gift Shop (Skidegate), Crystal Cabin (Tlell), and Gin Kuyaas (Old Massett), and Jeremy and I are still here for another day or so.  (OB: nice try, you’re still not getting a paddle, ring or bracelet.  Jenn: dammit.)

My other advice?  Definitely take part in the dinner, dance & culture evenings hosted by Candace & Christian White.  Keep your eyes and ears open for dates, times, locations, and pricing – ask around and someone will likely connect you!  Word of mouth is often the best way to find out about what’s happening here.  Be respectful, be willing to learn, and be prepared to be moved and inspired.

Another friend I grew up with, Leslie, participates in a cultural teaching and dancing group called The Davidson Descendants.  Again, if you’re visiting Haida Gwaii, ask people you meet about local events.  You’ll no doubt stumble across an amazing experience.

 

We will have part 2, days 22 – 26 up soon, we promise 🙂

Days 15 – 17 (sorry for the delay, Internet is spotty!)

After two relaxing nights in Smithers at a campsite alongside the river, we packed up Stevie and the dogs and continued on to Terrace.  Once there, we booked a spot at the Ferry Island Campground and then headed to town for supplies, and, oh!  What’s this….. another brewery??  Why, yes indeed, it is. (OB: greeeeat, now you’re going to be loving beer as much as you already love wine.  That’ll be awesome for both your wallet and waistline!)  We dropped our laundry off at the laundromat, where they offer a wash and fold service.  We were more than happy to spend a few extra dollars rather than having to sit around the laundromat watching machines.  (JB: you might wanna be mindful of that carefree spending habit, Jer…. you’re unemployed now, remember?  Jer:  yes, but beer…..   JBok, you win!)

With the laundry being handled, we drove over to Sherwood Mountain brewery for some samples.  The beer was excellent and partnered well with the snacks we brought from Stevie.  We both agreed that the best brew was their Skeena Sunshine Saison so we left with 2 large bottles, 2 new glasses to drink from, and a new sticker for Stevie!  The sticker count continues to climb, thanks to several of the breweries!  And one yarn store, of course. 😊 We took the dogs for a stroll, picked up our laundry and then headed back to the campground for a pleasant evening. (OBreally?  That campground was creepy AF.  Jer tried to tell ghost stories, the jerk!)

 

The next day (Day 16), we set out for Prince Rupert on a gorgeously clear and sunny day.  Most of the province and into Alberta is bogged down by smoke from the many, many forest fires burning throughout BC, so it was such a reprieve to be driving through a clear area.  We have seen several of the fires along the way, and been caught up in the smoke, as Jeremy mentioned in his last blog entry.  But, the stretch between Terrace and Prince Rupert was clear the day we drove.

 

While visiting Dana in Prince George, I had mentioned to him that Pepper was having a difficult time settling down on our driving days. She was always cramming her way between Jeremy and I in the front seat and seemed to just stand there staring at his feet while he drove.  We figured she was trying to determine how his feet were making her house move!  So, Dana grabbed a scrap piece of plywood and cut us a dog-gate to put between us and Stevie’s living quarters while driving.  We’ve named it “De-Fence by Dana” and so far it’s working well.  Pepper seems less stressed and now sits on the couch looking forlornly our way.  It’s a step up!

 

As we drove towards Rupert, Saela jumped up on De-Fence by Dana, which is out of character for her, so we figured she probably needed a bathroom break.  Luckily for us, there was a rest stop just 400m up the road.  As Jeremy turned Stevie into the rest stop, we heard a really strange noise.  At first, I thought it was some train track machinery I’d seen, but we quickly realized the noise was coming from Stevie.  As we’d made the turn, one of the outside storage hatch doors came unhinged (JB: not unlike you, Jer!) and was dragging along the pavement.  The wood and screws holding the door onto Stevie have seen better days – showing some signs of wear and tear, earning the name Stevie maybe from Steven Tyler and his hard-core livin’ back in the day rather than Stevie Nicks???

 

As I dealt with the dogs and their bathroom break, Jer jury-rigged the door back into place (JBold stupid piece of shit camper that’s falling apart while we are driving I mean really wtf were these morons thinking that they could just travel across the country in a vehicle almost as old as them and everything would be fine I mean come on that’s just pure stupidity and I bet…  Jer SHUT UP JB!) and we kept a close eye on it as we finished the ride into Rupert.  Once there, we stopped by Home Hardware and he came up with quite a clever solution!

 

After Stevie was dealt with, we went into my favourite part of Prince Rupert – Cow Bay.  We’d read online reviews about Dolly’s Fish Market so we bee-lined it there for lunch.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  It was so damn good.  I had the crab mac & cheese and Jeremy had a 2 piece halibut and chips.  He says it’s the best fish and chips he’s ever had – even did a Yelp review!  And…. the mac and cheese had 4 kinds of cheese and huge chunks of fresh crab meat.  Yes, that’s crab spelled with a  ‘c’ not a ‘k.’  I’ve seen so many restaurants, especially sushi joints that offer “krab rolls.”  (OB: that shit is “krappy krab!”)  We were so impressed with Dolly’s that we’ve already made a reservation for dinner the night we get back to Prince Rupert off the ferry!  (OB: y’know there are other good restaurants there, right?  You could have tried a different one.  *eyeroll*)

 

After lunch, we wandered over to…. wait for it….. another BREWERY!!!  (Jer & JB:  Yay!) The brewery in Prince Rupert is called Wheelhouse Brewery.  Jer and I both love the nautical theme.  I tried their Trade Winds (ginger beer), Flagship Pale Ale and Scurvy Dog Spruce Ale, but I think my favourite sample was the Gillnetter Golden Ale.  We love that their beer is served locally, including at Dolly’s and on the BC Ferry route.  And guess what?  Sticker Butt!!  The Wheelhouse Brewery sticker has us up to 8 stickers on Stevie’s bumper – five of which are from breweries!  We also had a great chat with a lady we met there by the name of Sandy.  She just happened to be the sister of someone Jeremy worked with in Nanaimo for a number of years – small world, eh?

 

Once we’d indulged our foodie and brewsky habits, we grabbed the dogs and went to walk through the Pacific Mariners Memorial Park.  A few years after my dad’s boat went down in 1983, the Lions Club in Prince Rupert was working on establishing this Memorial Park, which includes monuments and a commemorative wall.  Families of loved ones lost at sea were able to purchase a brick for the wall with their family member’s name and details.  I remember, at the time, not really caring one way or another if my mom purchased a brick in my dad’s memory.  At that young age, I thought…. we don’t live in Prince Rupert, why bother?  But, now I’m so grateful that she did it.  I have such respect for her thinking of me, of my memories with my dad, and for doing it for me, even though I was non-committal!  While I don’t get to Rupert often, if I’m there, I go and see the park and my dad’s brick.  Jeremy appreciated being able to see the space as well.

 

After a beautiful afternoon wandering in and around Cow Bay, we went to camp at the BC Ferry parking lot.  On their website, they say you can camp overnight the night before your sailing.  They fail to mention that the parking lot is gated and you have to be there before they end their shift.  That happens to be at 4pm the day we drove up at around 7pm! (OB: mastering your homework, once again, I see.)  So, with no competition in PR, we drove 1km up the hill to the only local campground.  They WAY overcharge for their spots, and as you drive along the road, keen eyes notice that the campground is pretty much beside a landfill.  They try to pretend the trees hide it, buuuuuuut…..   Needless to say, we came, we slept, we left!

We spent much of Day 17 on the ferry.  The last time we were on the ferry to Haida Gwaii was about a decade ago when Jer and I took the Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and then across to Haida Gwaii.  Back then, we camped in the Port Hardy parking lot and the next morning as we waited to board the ferry, I grabbed the binoculars and said, “I wonder who I know waiting to walk on the boat.”  Jeremy answered in JB’s voice, “you’re not going to know anyone.”  Three seconds later, I’m naming about 5 of the people I see.  That story has become one we laugh about and share when trying to describe for people just how small a place I’m from.  This time, OB stood in my way: “No one knows you.  No one cares you’re heading home for a visit.  It’s tourist season.  You’re now a “tourist” when you come here.  You’ll know no one.  You hear me?  NO ONE.”  And yet, as I took the dogs for a walk before we were to board the boat, who do I see but the dad of someone I grew up with sitting in a truck with the brother of another friend returning home from a golfing trip.  We walked upstairs to get our cabin key, and whaddya know, there’s someone I went to high school with whom I haven’t seen since the early 90s.  Take that, OB!

One tidbit we haven’t shared thus far is that we are meeting friends on Haida Gwaii, several of whom also grew up on the Islands.  They haven’t told anyone they’re traveling up there, as they’re hoping to surprise a few friends upon arrival, so we’ve kept “mum” about it to help keep the cat IN the bag, so to speak.  As I was sitting in the ferry cafeteria enjoying a cup of coffee before I lost internet service on my phone, I received a Facebook message.  It was from my friend Lorne who lives in Masset.  His words to me: “is that (mystery friend name #1) I see in Sandspit?”  I tried to fake him out by spilling the beans that Jeremy and I were on the ferry from Rupert and I was hoping to see him in a few days and order some of his wife’s famous pizza.  After a couple more exchanges, he asks, “Is that (mystery friend #2) as well?”  I was texting, FB messaging and even tried calling to let my two friends know, “You’ve been spotted!”  It’s not very often we’re happy to be out of internet service range nowadays, but drifting off the grid helped me keep my poop in a group!

OB: doesn’t matter, they’re still gonna think you ruined the surprise.

Jenn: no, they won’t.  We’re FROM here, we get it.  You can’t hide here!  Plus, I didn’t ruin anything.  They’ve remained nameless, even in this blog.

OB: nobody is reading your damn blog.  I bet blogging is sooooo 2012.

We are close to docking in Skidegate as I finish this, and I’m so excited to be home on Haida Gwaii shortly!