We’re staying in a little lakeside cabana (if ever there was a good example of marketing, this must be it – in England we’d call this a “shed”, but by calling it a “cabana” you create all kinds of cutsey images). It’s got a bench downstairs, which the children sleep on, and then a suspended deck above which makes a double bed for us.
The view from the window is amazing – we look over a peaceful freshwater lake, and a tree filled landscape. Somewhere amongst the view are a few other wooden houses, but they are pretty unobtrusive, so waking up in the morning is an amazing experience! The cabana has a small cooking stand outside, with a gas stove, and round the corner a small washing up stand,
with the tap fed with water directly from the lake. It creates a pretty idyllic living environment, very similar to camping but without the confinement you get in a tent (and none of the sounds of childhood like “ZZZZzzzziiiippp” as somebody went to the toilet in the night). We’d have been pretty pleased with this place if we’d chosen it as a holiday destination, let alone as one of our backpacking stops.
The children have loved the grounds – with boats to paddle the lake in, swings and a beach to swim from. It’s very “Swallows and Amazons” stuff. It has been very relaxing for us, because we’re in a park area, where we don’t need to worry too much about the children – they can wander off to play without us having to watch them every second. We have made sure that Emily understands not to go near the water, and despite her willingness to break every rule we’ve ever created, she does seem to be following this one (phew!)
The other people staying here (there are 7 more cabanas sleeping 4, two cabins sleeping 6 and 10 camping spots) are Canadians, plus a couple of American families. This is great, as it means we can find out more about Canada, and we’ve had some good advice about the rest of our trip (DON’T ASK about the evening that one couple gave us good advice about making sure the children are safe from cougars and bears in the Rockies). Most of the people we’ve spoken to are here again, and some have been coming here for 10 years or more. That says something about how magically relaxed it is, and how nice it is to be alongside a lake. I guess we’d hope to find other places like this as we travel around the world, but I don’t hold out much hope of finding anything as idyllic.
The only difficulty has been transport – we’re on foot, and as there’s no transport on the island, and no shops nearby, I’ve been hitching to town (about 6km) to get provisions. That has allowed me to meet people living on the island (tourists don’t pickup, but locals do) and so far I’ve met a Californian who moved here last week, a lady who runs a holiday home rental agency, somebody who makes rammed earth houses, a South African couple who moved to Canada 16 years ago (but still sound like they stepped straight from the Bush Veld), a washing machine repair guy, an artist and a carpenter. One lady even went past her turn to drop me here at the campsite, before heading back into town. It’s certainly been a good experience, and when we leave tomorrow we may well hitch down to the ferry terminal at the other end of the island (possibly a bit more tricky with four of us, but we’ll see).
Overall, Salt Spring is a great experience, and one that the whole family has loved, and we’ll be sad to leave tomorrow to head off to the hustle and bustle of Victoria on Vancouver Island. But we’ve got things to do, places to see, and the Orca’s await.