Sunday, September 2, 2012

Adventure 34: Gabriola Island

Loaded rig
This adventure was some weeks in planning. Trying to organize 15 odd people to gather for a BBQ when all involved are very busy took some pre-planning and commitment from the participants. We were to bring our bicycles to Gabriola Island and ride with my step dad Brian's brother and his family. Neither Natalie or I have had a chance to visit with these new additions to our family and the day promised to be an interesting adventure.
Sandstone cliffs
We managed to load five bikes, a cooler, a turkey deep-fryer and the five people all in Mandy's pick-up. Good thing it is full sized and has four doors, that made for a more comfortable ride for all of us. We left at 8 a.m., and in shock that our mom was out the door and ready to go when were planned to leave. Sorry mom, I couldn't resist. Before long we were in Naniamo and waiting in the line up for the ferry boat across to Gabriola Island. We saw an absolutly massive barge pulled in by tug. It was loaded with crushed cars, by the thousands. No one could decide on where it was going? The tug tied the barge off and left. One can only assume.
Natalie on the single track
My initial observation of Gabriola is the huge white sandstone cliffs that are very visible once we departed the harbour. These cliffs remind me of Tow Hill in Haida Gwaii. Very cool. The ride to Gabriola is about 20 minutes and the crossing is very busy, with the mainland run for B.C. Ferries, pleasure craft, paddlers, fishing vessels and commercial traffic all intermingled in this water way. Brian noticed that the captain, who piloted the ship out of the harbour, handed the rains off to a guy wearing bright orange coveralls. Yikes! A deck hand driving the ship. We made it unharmed obviously so I guess he knew what he was doing. We off loaded and hit up a local coffee house to re-fill our various cups with coffee and tea before continuing to Glen and Leslie's house. Apparently the shopping center, Folklife Village, was bought after Expo 86. It was a pavilion at Expo called Folklife Pavilion. They are eye pleasing timber framed buildings including the coffee shop, real estate office, supermarket and a drug store.
Arbutus tree
Five minutes from Folklife Village we arrived at the "McMahon Compound". They have named it so because  the whole family lives on the ten acre parcel, Glen, Leslie, daughters Carly and Robin, spouses Dave and Peter, plus the four granddaughters. The property is surrounded by a deer diverting wire fence. Like all the Gulf Islands, deer are a real hassle for gardeners and property owners in general. The only way to combat this problem is to fence them out, which can be a very tricky operation. A deer can jump a six foot fence, and can also crawl under with not much more than a foot of clearance. Sneaky buggers, but what can you do?
The whole crew
Natalie made quick friends with Carly's oldest daughter, Ailen, and they went off to play in the "Secret Place" We chatted and Glen showed me a collection of arrow heads that he has found in Arizona. Every winter they snowbird down and camp at a National Park. He has found over a dozen beautiful arrow heads. It is magical to see how these artifacts were skillfully flint knapped into a tool that was skookum enough to take down game. Primitive man had it all figured out. We had to get out for our ride. Ailen had to go to a birthday party and she really wanted to ride the trail with us. Glen's rear tire had seen better days. He joined us briefly, but soon the side wall was giving out and bulging, a flat would have resulted with certainty. He doubled back and Mom, Brian, Mandy, Natalie, Leslie and Ailen carried on. The trail was a nice blend of single track track, an old road with just a slight bit of up and down. Arbutus trees lined the way, which are just so beautiful. They really are peeling bark at this time of the year. The ride was shorter than expected but that was okay. Natalie and I stopped on the way back to visit with some goats that were in a neighboring property. How can an animal be so cute and so ugly at the same time? They have the longest ears, and sideways pupils. Just bizarre. They were very friendly and we fed them some grass and weeds.
"Hey Goat"
Back at the Compound steps were underway to get the turkey fried set up. Brian has been a gourmet for years and deep frying turkey has been a fun thing to do for big groups. Taking only minutes per pound so a 14 pound turkey cooked in just 50 minutes. Now that is fast cooking. As the the adults watched the turkey pot, Natalie and Rowan played in the woods and the swing set. I soon was goaded into playing tag with them, chasing them on my bike around the property. They tried to get me on their bikes with not very good results. The remaining guests showed up for the meal and we sat down for turkey tacos, salads, vegetables, and cheeses. I wrapped my tacos with lettuce instead of corn tortillas, and that worked really well. I sat with the other parents and we chatted about camping, bike riding, paleo eating, and mushroom picking. I have a lot in common with Carly and I hope that Natalie and I can spend more time with her and the family. We planned on a snowshoeing trip this winter.
Vista from the ferry
One of the guests mentioned that a ferry was leaving the island earlier than we expected so we quickly packed up and loaded the truck. We bid a genuine farewell and a gracious thanks to our hosts for having us for the day and taking time to ride with us. I will return, and maybe next time will bring camping stuff and spend the weekend. Find Adventure.

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