Destination: Desolation pt.1
Getting there has been half the fun!
The Gulf Islands and other areas in Canadian waters are still pretty new to us as boaters so even though Desolation Sound is our ultimate destination this trip, we spent a full week slowly working our way north and stopped off at a few new places.
We left Seattle on a Wednesday evening close to sunset. After spending an entire day prior tending to some last minute mechanical repairs to ISOS, we thought about waiting until Thursday depart, but Wednesday evening came, the boat was loaded, so we decided to clear the locks and get a head start. Since we had little time to navigate before the sun went down, we quickly hopped over to Port Madison (North Bainbridge Island) and anchored for the night. My husband is an early riser, so he got us going early the next morning, set for Roche Harbor, while Totes and I slept in. We arrived in Roche around 1pm and had plenty of time for a trip to the playground and a few rounds of tennis. (See why we love Roche here)
The weather has cooled off considerably from our earlier visits here this summer so we skipped the pool. But even on a weekday, the resort and marina were bustling. Since Roche is one of the closest ports to the Gulf Islands, it's a natural spot to stop and top off provisions.
We spent a lazy morning on Friday getting ready for our next destination and left around noon since we weren't going very far. Sidney BC is roughly 10 nautical miles from Roche on Vancouver Island. This was a fun place to walk around, eat and shop. Totes and I took a quick tour of the aquarium while Papa stayed back at the boat. It was great!
Next Stop: Port Browning
We know Pender Island for its southern most marina and resort: Poet's Cove. Since we have already been there a few times in the past, we decided to check out Port Browning to the north. The bay is very protected and simply stunning. It would have been a great place to explore by kayak, as many visitors were doing. The pool was a little too cold for my liking so unfortunately for Totes, we stayed on the outside of the fence while he longingly looked in at the older kids playing around. Breakfast the next morning at the marina's cafe was delish, worth coming back for!
Ganges on Salt Spring Island has been highly recommended so we booked our stay here for two nights to give us some extra time to explore. It was just the right amount of time too. I mentioned on our Instagram account a memorable experience we had on our first night in Ganges attempting to dine out that I'll detail here. The Hastings House is a local bed and breakfast style hotel that was raved about in our travel guide, so we wanted to try it for dinner. The setting of the hotel and restaurant is out of a fairy-tale and I was just giddy with excitement walking up to the front door. That was until we encountered the restaurant manager. He took one look at our toddler and went stiff. We didn't call ahead for a reservation and he informed us that the restaurant was full, we would be limited to the 'lounge' and the bistro menu, rather than the prix fixe dining room menu. That was fine by us, preferable anyway. However, Totes seemed to be picking up on a few vibes from those around him... my excitement and the managers hostility. We could not, even with the efforts of both my husband and I, get him settled into his highchair. He insisted on exploring the entire restaurant, which was driving the manager even more crazy. After my husband took Totes outside for the third time, I took a quick glance at the menu and realized that nothing I ordered would probably come out before 30 minutes, and I gave up. We left, crushed at our anticipated loss. Just below the hill from the Hastings House lies a pub on the waterfront that looked very inviting and rowdy enough to handle our little guy. Upon walking in, we noticed signs everywhere saying that the pub was "Kid Friendly before 7PM". It was now 8pm. The waitress confirmed, no kids allowed this late.
We dragged our feet back toward the marina and town center. Remembering one restaurant in the shopping plaza area that caught our eye, we headed there, hoping for a redeeming chance, otherwise we'd be three strike outs.
At the Tree House Cafe, they were able to get us in without much of a wait. We scored a table in the center of the room, under the tree. Literally, the restaurant was built around a huge tree and it's so beautiful. We sat down just in time for their live music to start up. They brought out an adorable crayon set from Melissa & Doug Toys. The food was fantastic. Music by Sister Speak was even more fantastic and Totes was enthralled by it all. He clapped enthusiastically after every song along with the crowd, danced and blew kisses to the girls. It was magical and such a great way to end a long day.
We stopped here just before crossing the Strait of Georgia and had a wonderful dinner with the group at Bayshore Restaurant
Pender Harbour, BC
Our first stop on the sunshine coast! I was in awe of this gorgeous inlet with all its nooks and crannies.
We spent almost an hour (yes, we... even papa joined in the effort) trying to get Totes down for his nap. I think the problem was that we spent all morning navigating between Nanaimo and Pender Harbour across the Strait of Georgia. It's not a peaceful, easy ride. We were fighting 4-6 foot waves so the only solution was to keep him in his highchair strapped in with cartoons for entertainment. Not much chance for him to run out the energy he needs to tire out for naptime. It's funny that as adults, the less I move, the more tired I am during the day. All I want to do is lay down when we have days like this. It's the opposite for kids. Our best days are spent with both of us getting a lot of physical exercise in the morning so he's worn out and needs a nap and I have a boost of energy to power through the rest of the day.
We finally gave up the naptime thing for the day and took a short dinghy ride across the bay to the closest market to stock up on provisions. Of course he crashed in the five minutes we were driving over. We turned back and got the stroller so he could continue napping while we shopped.
Getting your baby to sleep is a never ending battle, my friends! But there's nothing more that I love than having him sleep in my arms. Going to cherish these moments for as long as I can... I know it won't be much longer.
We left early the next morning for Desolation Sound. Check out my next post for the rest of the details on our trip!