Home Again, Home Again

Near the end of March we returned home, packing all our accumulated belongings into bags that just cleared the airline weight restrictions. The flight was long, but finally we landed at Victoria International where my sister Ruth met us. The fresh air, wide open spaces and lack of people seemed strange. We went to 3rd Street Cafe in Sidney where we consumed huge, North American breakfasts.

Crabby Benny, 3rd Street Cafe, Sidney, BC
Yummm! My Fave Brekkie

Yep, Crabby Benny! OK, I don’t want to dwell on how good that is.

We caught the ferry home and went to sleep for a long time. But the next day we were up and out for walk on Medicine Beach.

Medicine Beach, Pender Island, BC
Strolling on the Beach

The weather was gorgeous. The air pristine. The water beautiful. But we knew it was way too cold to swim in. Surprisingly we were not chilled despite coming from 30 degree Hanoi heat and humidity.

A week or so after we got home Sue’s parents came for a visit. Her dad being an aviation fan we went to see my cousin George’s immaculate P-40 Warhawk, stored in a hanger at the airport. This plane only has a few hundred hours flying time and was used as a demonstration model during WWII. There aren’t many in this condition left.

Sue in George Maude's P-40
Sue in the Pilot's Seat

With Spring comes gardening. Although I was only to be home a few months I attacked the garden, ripping out fencing that divided it in two, adding compost to the soil and generally having a good time mucking around in the dirt. I started  lettuce, arugula and  peas in a cold frame and then as the soil warmed planted directly. Not an incredible variety but at least I got to eat some of the produce before leaving again.

the garden in early Spring
Readying the Garden

While some things were growing others were taken down. We’d had a tree that leaned over the house topped, but it was dying so our tree guy, Grant, came by and finished the job. One more chore checked off our list of home improvements.

Grant Hobbs up a tree
Grant Takes Down a Dangerous Tree

Although I spent most of the summer on-island I made a couple of trips to town. I love to drive along the waterfront. I guess it’s one of those things we do as we age: the familiar drive, noting what’s the same and what’s changed. The Chinese Cemetery has long been one of my favourite spots to watch the waves.

Chinese Cemetery, Victoria, BC
Chinese Cemetery, Victoria

But really I’d sooner be on the water and so when Jay asked if I’d like to join him and some friends for a day paddling around the island I leapt at the chance. We stopped in the canal between North and South Pender for a break before heading out into rougher waters.

The Canal, Pender Island, BC
Kayaking in the Canal

An another opportunity to get out on the water came up when Sue, now back at work, asked if I’d like to volunteer to help with a clam count for ParksCanada. I boated to Tumbo Island on a beautiful sunny day with a parks crew and spent a couple of hours setting up quadrants, digging for clams and weighing them before returning them to their wet homes. In the distance you can see the Coast Range behind Vancouver.

Tumbo Island, BC
Beach on Tumbo Island

Late in June Sue’s cousin Corolla and her friend Ulla visited with us. They live in Germany and were touring the West Coast, spending a few days in several spots rather than rushing around. The gals kayaked over to Beaumont Marine Park and camped out for an evening. Here we see them enjoying the sun on our little front deck.

visitors to our Pender home
Sue, Ulla and Corolla

My sister Ruth also came by for a visit. We took our little skiff over to Saturna Island and visited the winery. Unfortunately their restaurant wasn’t open that day but we had a nice walk to the winery and back to the beach. In the background is South Pender Island.

Saturna Winery, Saturna Island, BC
View from the Saturna Vinyards

We also visited with friends and neighbours. There’s nothing like hanging with friends, enjoying good food and beverages.

Enjoying the good life, Pender Island
Kristin, Joe, Maureen and Sue

The Spring was rather damp but finally Summer arrived and most of July was sunny. However, there were days when the fog rolled up Haro Strait. As we live just across the road from the waterfront properties we had wisps of  fog drifting overhead, chilling the summer air. While scootering home one day I noticed the fog drifting across Magic Lake, making it look… magical.

Magic Lake, Pender Island, BC
Fog Rolling Across Magic Lake

I played disc golf almost every Sunday at the regular ‘Church’ gathering. I took photos a few times so as to update the images on the Disc Golf Island’s website. Below is a shot of my cousin Ginny driving on one of the longest fairways. Somewhere out there amongst the distant trees is a chain basket.

Golf Island Disc Park, Pender Island, BC
Ginny Driving

And here we see Pender’s oldest (80 and going strong) disc golfer, Chuck, putting out on #9, one of the original tone poles.

Golf Island Disc Park, Pender Island, BC
Chuck Putts Out

It wasn’t all socializing and fun and games though. Things did get done around our little home. We got a load of shale from Peter and Steve and Bob came over with his BobCat to spread it around. Sue’s ’64 Pontiac Laurentian is now sitting on blocks on nice dry, firm shale off to one side with our boat and two cars can park in the driveway without sinking in mud.

Bob Blenner-Hassett does the driveway
Bob BobCatting

We also got half a 10×16 shed. While disassembling it Brian and I lost control of one half of the roof. Unfortunately I was on the downside. When I saw it coming towards me I knew it could be bad so I dove back, landing between a rock outcrop and a pile of shed panels. Fortunately the roof landed straddling the pile and the rock. Other than some gouges, scrapes and bruises I was fine. And now we have a new woodshed.

woodshed, Pender Island, BC
Our New Woodshed Going Up

OK, I never finished the roof, but Sue’ll take care of that :o)

Part of Sue’s work this summer was helping with our local Orca Day. She actually started prepping for this way back when we were travelling in Feb/March. Below is a photo of two local volunteers (and good friends) Jodie and her daughter Cora.

Orca Day, Pender Island, BC
Jodie and Cora Volunteering

Before I left we made one final trip to Victoria to see my daughter Clover and do a bit of shopping. Here’s Sue wandering over to chat to our friend Marti on the car deck of the Mayne Queen.

Mayne Queen
Sue on the Mayne Queen

We met Clover at the Rooftop Surf Club at the Stathcona Hotel on a fine summer late afternoon.

Rooftop, Strathcona Hotel, Victoria, BC
Clover and Sue

Then we went out to see the summer blockbuster Inception on the big screen.

The big family event was a reunion on South Pender with about 150 people joining in over the whole day. Here we all are on cousin Rich’s deck. Using my camera’s timer I managed to get in the photo too…

Family Reunion, South Pender Island, BC
Family Reunion

That was on the last weekend before I flew back to Vietnam.

The last few days were a blur of trying to finish projects and packing. But we did manage a picnic with friends on Mortimer Spit. Below are Ethan and his daughter Sitka paddling one of our sit-on-top kayaks. Then both of them swam for awhile; Brave Souls!

kayaking, Mortimer Spit, South Pender Island
Sitka and Ethan Paddling

But finally it was time for me to leave…

Derbi scooter, Pender Island
Me on the Derbi

No, I didn’t ride on over. But I asked Sue to snap a photo of me on our little Derbi scooter so I could show Vietnamese friends what my ride looks like. I look fairly fresh here, at about 7am, just getting ready to catch the ferry, to meet Ruth for one more brekkie at 3rd Street (yup, Crabby Benny again) and then to the airport for the 23.5 hour flight.

Next up: Saigon!

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