About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Leaving Haida Gwaii


A wrecked boat resting beneath a pier in Masset. Richard Wright photo. Nikon D800.

It is raining. A grey drizzling rain beading on windows, pouring out of the clouds that hang in the mountain forests pierced by cedar snags and hemlock spears. We are hunkered down beside the Skeena River is a town called Terrace, forced to catch up on email, Facebook, blogs, image editing etc. while we wait for our Creekside 22-foot trailer's brakes to be repaired.

It has been some time since I blogged - life just got in the way - but this forced down-time out of the office and off the road seems like a good opportunity.

We have been on Haida Gwaii, the remarkable islands off the west coast of B.C., for most of a week, and it was a remarkable week: Remarkable weather, that is five days of sun, remarkable scenery and remarkable people. For example we stayed in a B&B run by, and had dinner with, a poet and a bank robber - twice convicted, three times escaped, only recently paroled. The irony that one of my sons is a banker and the other has a degree in criminology did not escape me. We talked of many things, but little about banks.

Our reason for visiting was to send the ashes of our friend Finbar McMillian to sea. He had a small cabin here, deep in the forest where it was his intention to retire, but life does not always turn out as we expect. 

Finbar's moss - at least that's how I remember it. Deep in his forest. Richard Wright photo.


In between visiting there was time for photography. And time for eating seafood - lots of seafood.
This is an expensive place to visit. The ferry is the first barrier. It was $335 for two of us (with a 50% discount) and a vehicle. The 22-foot trailer would have been another $800 so we opted for a B&B the standard price of which is $120 a night for two. A motel in Queen Charlotte City was $110. Internet is iffy and discouraged as usage fees are high. Fuel is 40¢ a litre more than at home. Meals are expensive - like $18 for a good hamburger. Coffee to go at a pub was $3.15.
But here's the thing. Finding a restaurant is also a challenge, at least in September. Folks are tired. Tourists are gone. So eateries are often closed. And those that are open like to challenge visitors by limiting the signage, or having confusing signage.
On Friday night we hit a cafe at 7:40 p.m. We would be rushed out at 8 but we could go upstairs to the bar to eat. "Go to the Gas Bar Grill," tomorrow we were told. "They will be open tomorrow night." So away we went on Saturday night out to old Masset. Sure enough the lights were on and a window sign said "Open". But the other window read, "Closed." Contradiction or dyslexia? They were closed. So back to Masset and The Mile Zero, which was also closed this Saturday night. The "Golden Pam" was open though for the quintessential Chinese and Canadian food. I began to feel paranoid, as if the locals were the only ones who were supposed to know where to eat.

The Blowhole on North Beach on an incoming tide. Richard Wright photo.
Five days of sun and now the islands are shut down, the ferry unlikely to run because of heavy seas. We escaped, but now are stalled with our own delays. We have our own food and stove though so we are good.

Now, repairs and then on the north. Stay tuned.






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