Fri. Aug. 28, 2015:
Salt Spring Island, BC:
During the night it had rained but thankfully by the morning it had slowed down a bit- although the weather report called for rain later in the day too. I awoke with a flurry of excitement. I had read in the binder that in the morning, around 7:30am, the staff leave you a basket of muffins at your door. I checked the clock and bolted for the door. MUFFINS!! They were not in a basket, but they were still warm which more than made up for it. I devoured it right there by the door, still in my pajamas. Breakfast was in the main dining room where we had dinner the night before. I had come to expect my name on the place setting but it was just a menu. I did not feel like having eggs or bacon. Granola, yogurt, toast and were fruit sounded much more appetizing-housemade granola no less. It was amazing, but I could have done without the dried bananas. I felt similarly about the honeydew melon and pineapples.
It was still lightly raining out so we headed back to our room for Netflix and to plan out the day, see if maybe there was a movie theatre in town. On the TV I found a USB input which made me feel like a genius: I could just plug the iPad in and we could watch Netflix on the TV! So simple and yet somehow (for some technological reason) it would not work. All I could do was display photos. I instead resorted to watching The Price is Right and yelling at the contestants. As I sat there with my feet up I suddenly had an odd sensation… something warm on my arms… coming from the window… could it be?! The sun was out?! The weather was improving and we wasted no time getting outside. We stopped in again downtown to grab snacks and check out the liquor store (again). I found another BC cider, Rock Creek, which was made with Okanagan apples. There was another cider too, but it was in a giant swing top bottle which posed two problems: the first was that it would be too much to drink (as I still had one of a similar size in the fridge) and the second was that having to lug two swing top glass bottles around just seemed impractical.
Driving back to Ruckle Park (there had been two trails and we had only been on one so far) we passed signs for Mt. Maxwell. We decided to reverse the order of our plans as it made more sense to go to Mt. Maxwell first. The plan was to try hiking to the summit and depending on the state of the trail, see how far we could make it. The road was not in the best condition, not quite a dirt road but not paved either. It was incredibly bumpy the whole way up. Near the top there was a sign warning us that the road ahead was bumpy. We looked at each other, “oh god!”, how much bumpier could it get?! We got to the parking lot only to find out that this was the summit. So much for hiking it. There was a ridgeline trail we walked along with absolutely stunning views of the valley, oceans and a marina way down below. Because it had been raining there were some low-lying clouds adding to the “we are so high atop this mountain” feeling, even though the elevation was not actually that high. The lookouts along the path provided stunning views of the landscape. All this and still no eagles.
It was a slow drive down the steep, curvy, bumpy road. On our way into Ruckle Park we saw another deer crossing the road. At this point we had seen so many deer we were no longer fazed. It was like “oh look, another deer.” We walked along the other trail in Ruckle Park, heading in the opposite direction than the previous day, but still along the coast. We could see where we had been hiking the day before. Still we saw no eagles. We did see some kingfishers and a lone seal swimming about. Every time he went under we wondered if he would resurface or if we should keep walking. I almost stepped on what appeared be animal guts being eaten by wasps. Walking back was a lot faster because we were not stopping every few minutes to take in the view. Despite the earlier rain our hikes were a success, the paths were not muddy and easily traversable.
We got back to the hotel 5 minutes before afternoon tea began, which was just enough time to grab a drink at the hotel and eat some snacks. The jalapeno cheddar Doritos were so good, it totally hit the spot. I sort of regretted having finished off the Oh Henry! bites in the car, because now I was craving chocolate. The selection of desserts at tea helped satiate that craving. It was nice to sit by the fireplace eating mini cookies and drinking tea from a fancy teacup… for about 5 minutes. Back in our room we had Netflix and more ciders!! The Salt Spring wild cider was well worth the price, it was delicious.
We were having dinner again at the hotel, but this time at the more casual bistro. Out of all the dishes we ordered the appetizer was the clear winner: house-smoked salmon adorned with quail eggs. My main course was better but Brent’s side was tastier, it’s too bad we could not just switch sides and keep our mains. Gnocchi is so much better than shredded potato. The dessert also fell a little bit short. It was a vanilla caramel flan but there was no custard! We did find out from our waitress that there is a bald eagle nest near the parking lot next door and another one near a lumber yard. There was still hope!
Back in the hotel I finished off my cider while we finished off an episode of Lost. As part of turn-down service I found the cutest travel memento of all time on our pillows. A little sheep made of local wool with a tag reminding us of our stay at Hastings House. I was seriously falling in love with this place.