How to beat the winter blues – get up there to Dakota Ridge

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Grab your gloves and toque, winter is here and Dakota Ridge is a winter paradise just waiting to be explored. West coast winter rains mean fresh snow higher up on Dakota Ridge, and you’ll find world-class cross country skiing and snowshoeing right here on the Sunshine Coast.

snow shoeing on the Sunshine Coast

IMG_6935This 1,500 acre plateau features 20 kilometres of world class groomed and track set cross country ski trails (classic and skate) and another 8 kilometres of snowshoe trails, plus acres and acres of backcountry terrain. The winding trails pass through old growth forests and open areas in a beautiful subalpine setting.

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Topping out at 1,200 metres, you’ll get amazing views of the Coast Mountains, Vancouver Island, and Georgia Straight capturing the magic of the Sunshine Coast.

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Dakota Ridge is located off Field Road in Wilson Creek, 14 kilometres up the forest service road. The access road is plowed on a regular basis. However, at subalpine elevations, winter conditions should always be expected on the road and access is restricted to four-wheel drive vehicles with chains.

Alpha Adventures is your “go to” place for equipment and shuttle services.  They have a great selection of cross country skis and snow shoes, and can provide a safe and convenient shuttle service to get you up the mountain and onto the snow.

Check out this Facebook link for daily up-dates on road and snow conditions up top… what are you waiting for??

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Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #11 – Hidden Grove & an amazing set of trails to explore just 5 minutes from Coracle Cove

How good is this… a walk through a beautiful forest and a chance to do some photography – sounds like the perfect outing for me!! Hidden Grove is just five minutes from Coracle Cove and I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately.

Google Map for Hidden Grove1

A series of wonderful trails has been created over the past few years and a second, widened trail with a good smooth base has just been finished by the hard working crew of volunteers. Both are perfect for the wheels of your choice – a wheel chair or a child’s stroller – providing increased access to a broader spectrum of users.

There’s a cultural history component to the trail system as well. Shortly after entering the trails you’ll notice several trees which have undergone bark stripping. The shíshálh Nation who have settled the area for several millennia, continue to harvest the bark of the cedar tree to make traditional baskets, regalia and clothing. The bark is relatively thin and grows back quickly.

The history of Hidden Grove is also one of survival… survival from natural fires of several centuries ago, which left charred bark up to a foot thick on the largest Douglas firs. More recently, the area was scheduled for logging but the local community rallied together  and Hidden Grove has been saved again.

Today these precious 125 acres have been set aside solely for recreation and less than 5 minutes away from Coracle Cove, they provide our guests a nearby opportunity for both solitude and a re-connection with nature.

View from Hidden Grove

The main trail rises gently, passing rocky outcrops and mossy plateaus and I branched off to the yellow trail to take this picture. The trail wound its way around a large outcropping of rocks and the view from the top was outstanding. It shows the very narrow stretch of land upon which the town of  Sechelt sits  and how it got it’s first name “Land Between Two Waters.”    We could just make out Vancouver Island in the distance across the Salish Sea

Hidden Groves near Sechelt

The extensive trail system loops through some interesting micro-climates and vegetation. Coming down from Pine Bluff, I picked up the Red Trail and as I followed it further, the change in vegetation was dramatic with a profusion of low growing ferns and moss covered tree trunks.

Hidden Groves near Sechelt

The network of trails is well marked with signs like this at each intersection, and it’s impossible to lose one’s way. Today,  it seemed as if I had the trails completely to myself, with the exception of a a couple of woodpeckers who kept me company with their rhythmic tapping on the trunks of the trees.

Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com

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Walking Tours on the Sunshine Coast – #7 – A tasting tour of Gibsons

Catch our Drift is a new tour company with a novel approach to helping visitors connect with the Sunshine Coast by providing them with unique local experiences. I went along on the Taste of the Landing Tour  the other day, and while I’ve lived here for almost 40 years, I learned quite a bit about my own community and met some pretty interesting people.

smitty's outside plank table

Our first stop was Smitty’s Oyster House where we had a sampling of fresh raw oysters from Gorge Harbour on Vancouver Island. The large plank table that you see in the image above sits just a few feet from the salty brine and we were encouraged to toss our empty oyster shells over the railing to help seed a new oyster bed. The table has an interesting story. When the restaurant first opened, the municipal council of the day were only prepared to allow a single table for outside seating. I guess you can fight City Hall!

taste mikes

We walked a few steps down the street to Mike’s Gelato where we were greeted by an impressive array of 64 varieties of gelato. It was tough narrowing my choices down to our allotted three but with a little help from our affable and engaging server I choose the Chocolate Snickers, Radical Rolo and Twisted Sweet & Salty…. yumm!!

taste black bean

We walked a couple of blocks further to the Black Bean Cafe, a coffee shop that uses only organic, fair trade beans, which they roast themselves. I had a caramel macchiato and sampled some strawberry-rhubarb muffin… what a great combination. They do all of their baking on-site and have a very loyal customer base.

taste daffodilly

We crossed over to the other side of the street and were welcomed inside by the owner of Daffadowndilly, which offers an eclectic collection of work by local artists. The building was built in 1928 as apartments for loggers and fishermen and has a colourful history. When we commented on the slanting floor, the owner shared the story that the building had been partially knocked off its foundations by a runaway truck that had careened down the steep hill some years ago.

taste grammas

This is the impressive view from Gramma’s Pub, our next stop, and another business with an interesting story. The pub was the first licenced marine pub in the province, opening over 40 years ago. A family owned business, it was named after the mother who had a penchant for the cool amber fluid.  We were served a glass of Landing Lager, which is the house brew and made by Russell Brewing specifically for Gramma’s.

taste blackberry

The Black Berry Shop was our next stop and as you can see from the image and guess from the name, they offer a lot of blackberry products. We had a sampling of an interesting  blackberry/garlic jam over cream cheese on a cracker and it was delicious.  There was also blackberry chutney, syrup and vinegar as well as some straight up blackberry jam. The store is a cooperative for over 65 local artists and food producers and offers a wide variety of wonderful products.

taste gypsy cove

Gypsy Cove is right next door and we were able to sample some of their food products as well. We started with a refreshing glass of iced tea made from one of their many specialty fruit teas. They offer over 35 different teas for a variety of tastes and needs, including a good selection of “wellness teas” to help with energy, relaxation or jet lag. We also sampled some of their infusion sea salts with some raw veggies – my two favourites were the Spanish Rosemary and the Salish Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt.

What a great day!! I was able to sample some very tasty food products made right here on the Sunshine Coast and I heard lots of interesting stories. All in all it was a very entertaining day and provided me with some unique experiences that helped this long-time resident connect even further with the community.  You can find more information about Catch Our Drift on their website.

Follow this link to return to our Coracle Cove website.

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Favourite Fall Memories at Coracle Cove

Fall Colours at Coracle Cove

I’m celebrating my 100th blog with a look back at some of my Favourite Fall Memories. I call September the “endless summer month.”  Maybe it’s because I’m retired that I have the time to really enjoy and appreciate the blue sunny skies and warm temperatures, but it still seems like a bonus.

September at Coracle Cove

The hot days of August are behind us so there’s less thermal wind during the day. The morning water is flat, creating beautiful reflections.

Fall sunrise 2012 - Version 2

As each day passes, the sun rises and sets a little further south and is lower in the sky. This can result in the most amazing sunrises that make you want to jump out of bed and grab your camera.

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Sometimes there’s a little mist in the morning, hanging gently over the calm, flat water.

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And then at the end of the day, the low setting sun repeats its amazing colourful display over our western shoreline.

I’ve put together a video of some of my favourite Fall Memories – I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

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Sunshine Coast Annual Art Crawl 2015 – it just keeps getting better

How often do you get to visit an internationally acclaimed artist in their own studio and watch them working at their craft? I’ve got my own dance card filled in for this much anticipated weekend of creativity and I’ll be updating this blog on my Facebook page as the weekend progresses. Follow me as I visit an amazing array of creative talent.

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

 This is a great weekend getaway where you can take a scenic coastal tour of 135+ galleries, artist studios and more. You’ll have a chance to meet the artists in their studios and experience the vibrant arts and culture community on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no pressure to buy, just a weekend for you to see some new art, talk with the artists and most of all, to enjoy the experience.

Last year there were several opening night receptions taking place up and down the Coast. Goldmoss Studio in Roberts Creek was definitely “the place to be”

Artist: Brett Varney

Artworks in Sechelt celebrated with more food and music and a demonstration by contemporary artist Donna Swain. It was a magical experience watching this image emerge on her canvas.

 

Saturday morning broke with unexpected sunny skies and I was really looking forward to visiting my “best of the best” list of Arts Crawl participants in the Roberts Creek area.

This is it. Design, a glassworks studio, is tucked away deep in the woods of Upper Roberts Creek, and this modernistic studio, filled with treats both inside and out, is now on my official visitors’ must see list.

Further up the road, as I drove deeper into the forest I found yet another hidden jewel, just down a roadway behind this interesting street marker.

Andrew Dunkerton came to the Coast in 1975 and has lovingly crafted his beautiful post and beam studio from the trees on his small acreage. Andrew’s love of wood carries on into the studio where he has created beautiful Northwest Coast style masks and bentwood boxes.

 

My next stop was filled with more surprises. Goldmoss Gallery, with polished concrete floors, high ceilings and large windows offering magestic ocean vistas beyond would not be out of place in an urbane setting were it not for the majestic tall cedars surrounding the gallery. Goldmoss, which opened in 2010 provides a mix of work by local artists Bon and Lee Roberts as well as others from afar, and their goal is “to provide original fine art to established and emerging collectors.”

Artist: Sally Michener

 

 

Sunday brought forth another sunny morning. It was going to be a perfect day for a drive up the Coast to visit a special studio in Halfmoon Bay. But first I wanted to re-visit the studio of Laurie Rolland. Laurie’s small tidy studio in Davis Bay belies her status as an artist whose pottery has been displayed internationally and held in both corporate and public collections (as well as my own)

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

 

George Pratt’s studio was the last on my list and I was looking forward to my visit.  Like many artists that I had met this weekend, George was drawn to the Coast as much by its lifestyle as its beauty.  His work is widely collected in North America by private individuals and corporations and several large works have been commissioned for public display in Canada. Some also  have been presentation works for foreign dignitaries including Prince Phillip and Bill Clinton. I was greeted by several of his creations as I walked up the driveway.

His home based studio, set on five acres of rock and trees offers inspiring panoramic views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Island. More recently, this talented artist has turned to painting and coming inside his studio of vibrant colours was like a fine dessert to end this wonderful weekend.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Art Crawl. The studio guide has just been published and I know that I’ll be in for a very full  weekend.

Follow this link to return to my website at www.coraclecove.com or to read some of my other recommendations for the Sunshine Coast.

 

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A guide to the Farmers & Artisan Markets on the Sunshine Coast

Markets on the Sunshine Coast

The relaxed lifestyle and natural beauty of Sunshine Coast has attracted an eclectic mix of people, many of whom are both creative and talented. Coasters also like to know where their food comes from, and a trip to the community market is a regularly scheduled event to pick up freshly picked supplies for a special dinner, and often to see what your favourite potter has just fired in her kiln.

Sechelt Farmers Market

Fortunately for locals, as well as those visiting the Sunshine Coast there are plenty of markets to choose from. Here’s a guide to help you experience the full flavour of Farmers & Artisan Markets on the Sunshine Coast.

Wednesdays Farm Gate Market: until October 28. Locally grown produce and organic food, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Roberts Creek Hall. Insider tip: ask how the ancient Maya used these raw cacao ingredients to treat a variety of ailments.

Markets on the Sunshine Coast

 

 

 

Thursdays  Gibsons Night Market: to Sept 3.   Food, live music, crafts, chocolate, lotions, art, clothing, and more. 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, 626 Shaw Rd, Gibsons (behind Petro Can),

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Friday Farmers’ Market at the Gibsons Public Market:. Pick up locally grown fruits and vegetables, seedlings for your own garden, frozen seafood, fresh flowers, fresh bread, local honey and preserves, local chocolate and other ready to eat foods. Listen to live music while sipping one of Persephone’s fine craft beers. Afterwards, enjoy a stroll through Gibsons Landing. 1:30 PM – 6:00 PM, 473 Gower Point Rd (every Friday until Oct 9th)

Sechelt Farmer's Market

 

 

Saturdays  Sechelt Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market:  The original and largest market on the Sunshine Coast – always local – always fresh – and an extensive collection of local artisans.  Insider tip: ask Farmer John for a jar of his hidden supply of Highland Marmalade. 9:00 am – 2:30 pm at the end of Cowrie Street by the Library. Every Saturday to Sept 26.

Sechelt Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundays  Roberts Creek Heart Market: to September 20. Local, organic farm produce, artisan wares and crafts. Live entertainment. A co-operative venture between the Roberts Creek Health Food Store, The Heart Gardens, and Heart of the Creek Holdings, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Markets on the Sunshine Coast

Sundays  Gibsons Landing Sunday Market: every Sunday to end of September. Locally made crafts, baked goods and fresh produce.  10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Holland Park, across from Winegarden Park in Gibsons Landing

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The Roberts Creek Mandala – an amazing undertaking

The Roberts Creek Mandala Project is an amazing undertaking having evolved from a humble creation of five friends who came together one weekend to paint over some negative graffiti. Eighteen years later it has become a week long community event, bringing together over 500 painters.

The overall design is laid down in white latex paint by the mandala’s crew of organizers and then the community gathers to paint a specific “canvas” and share their artistic vision.

Paint, brushes, and all other necessary implements are supplied and creativity is encouraged in this sacred space of focused intention. Children of all ages bring the Mandala back to life each summer.

There was definitely a festive mood when I visited the mandala a few years back. It was the final day of painting and the sun was shining brightly, music filled the air and several vendors had set up booths. Later that day there would be a celebration with more music and dancing.

You can find the mandala at the foot of Roberts Creek Road, at Chak Chak Point overlooking the gentle waters of Roberts Creek as they flow into the beautiful Salish Sea.

Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com

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Festival of the Rolling Arts getting ready to roll out the memories – August 7, 8 & 9

Most of us remember our first car – mine was a ’51 Chev, which I bought for a hundred hard-earned bucks. I worked part time pumping gas and the mechanics in the back were always pretty good about helping me to keep it running. I learned a lot about fixing cars.

1951 Pontiac Chiefton - not much difference between Pontiacs and Chevs back in the day

1951 Pontiac Chiefton – not much difference between Pontiacs and Chevs back in the day

A few years later, after working all summer in a remote fishing cannery, I came home with enough money in my pocket to pay for my next year of university, and became the proud owner of a 1961 Chev Impala Hardtop. It was sky blue and I’ve got lots of great memories of driving around in that beautiful car.

1961 Chev Impala  lots of memories in this baby

1961 Chev Impala
lots of memories in this baby

The Festival of the Rolling Arts, also known as the Sleepy Hollow Rod Run and Show’n Shine is coming up soon. It’s an all weekend event where we get an opportunity to walk down memory lane, remembering the cars we owned and those we once dreamed of owning.

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Old classic cars usually start showing up in our community during the week, and on Friday the Rod Run rolls out at 6:15pm. Last year’s run had 416 classic cars winding their way for 30km, through 3-4000 spectators, lining the highway on both sides from Sechelt to Halfmoon Bay and then along Redrooffs Road.

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The drivers are always amazed at their warm welcome from the enthusiastic cheering crowds. They make signs, dress in costumes and place couches/ lawn chairs in their driveways, with a number of barbecues and house parties in full swing. I’ll be gathering on Redrooffs Road, just before the Halfmoon Bay Fire Hall, where I’ll watch and party with my my son’s in-law’s. One year my two sons from Vancouver jumped in at the head of the parade in their old vintage motorcycles.

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Next morning, in downtown Sechelt, the main street is blocked off and lined with cars parked on both sides, stretching for several blocks. This is definitely a walk down memory lane, where you get a chance to have a closer look at these beautifully restored cars.  Check out this great video by local blogger Duane Burnett

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and here’s a sampling of some of our local entries:

1929 Model A Ford

1929 Model A Ford

 

1932 Ford Phaeton

1932 Ford Phaeton

1930 Model A Sport Coup

1930 Model A Sport Coup

1947 Plymouth

1947 Plymouth

1967 GTO - one of the first muscle-cars

1967 GTO – one of the first muscle-cars

If you haven’t seen this show then you’re in for a real treat, and if you can’t make it this year be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s event – it’s always the second weekend in August – and that’s always a great time to visit the Sunshine Coast.

Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite

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Discovering Sechelt Inlet – a highway of rich history for the shíshálh Nation

the totems of Sechelt

The shíshálh have lived on the Sunshine Coast for millennia, benefiting from the rich resources of the sea and the rain-forest, while enhancing their wealth through strategic marriages to foster peace, goodwill and trade.  With a population exceeding 25,000, their vast territory extended from Princess Louisa Inlet through the waters of Sechelt Inlet to their present community chálich (outside waters)

First Nations -  Pulling Together

First Nations – Pulling Together

The shíshálh were semi-nomadic, travelling between their summer and winter camps, in large canoes much larger than the war canoe pictured above. A journey of over 100 miles would involve many days of hard paddling. During the winter months the clans would gather at chálich where they would celebrate large potlatches, often lasting several weeks and sometimes months, as a means of enhancing their strategic relationships.

Talaysay Cultural Tour

Talaysay Tours and Sunshine Coast Tours, have joined together to offer the Sechelt Inlet Cultural Tour, providing visitors with an wonderful opportunity to learn more about the shíshálh culture and to explore this ancient waterway.  Our tour began with a traditional song of ?imash (welcome) sung in a rich baritone voice by drummer Andy Johnson.

Poise Island - buriel ground

Shortly after leaving the Government Dock in Porpoise Bay, we passed by a small island, a site of significant religious significance to the shíshálh which our guide, Candace Campo, was able to share further with us.

Sechelt Inlet

We soon passed out of the settled areas of Sechelt, enjoying the immense beauty of Sechelt Inlet. We stopped again and were treated to another song, the story of a young warrior, inspired by a vision of a two-headed eagle, singing to the elders as they paddled their canoes toward chálich.

Sechelt Inlet

Candace shared stories of her own childhood, growing up on the shores of Sechelt Inlet, saying “when the tide is out, the table is set,” a reference to the rich marine life available for their food supply. She described how as a child she would be sent out with potato sacks to gather shell fish for the evening meal. As she and her brothers passed other families, they would share which areas had just been harvested to ensure that the habitat was properly managed.

ancient petroglyph

With a keen eye for location, we were treated to a rare sighting of ancient pictographs, like this one, which is actually just around the corner from where I live. I’ve paddled past this cliff face more times than I can remember, without noticing this rock painting which has been there for centuries.

sechelt pictograph

And here’s another one, much more intricate, and hidden to all, except those who know just where to look.

Sechelt Inlet Tour

 

The shíshálh are currently collaborating with  the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the University of Toronto to unearth the long-term history of their land.  To date, the earliest artifacts recovered date from between 8,000-11,000 years with well over 600 archaeological sites to be carefully unearthed.

It is obvious that will be many more chapters to be told in this rich cultural history and the Sechelt Inlet Cultural Tour is a good place to begin. The tour is offered daily 2:30-4:30 and leaves from the Porpoise Bay Government Dock.

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Writers’ Festival coming up soon – August 13 – 16

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Any festival that’s been happening year after year for over 30 years has obviously found the right formula for success.   The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts  has been described as “Canada’s longest running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers.

This year is the 32nd anniversary and another full slate of outstanding Canadian writing talent will be here to talk about their books. If you like reading, then the festival is a great place to hear about new work from your favourite authors, but it’s also a great introduction to others whose names are less familiar and a few about whom you know absolutely nothing.

In fact, in previous years’ festivals some of the new names have often been the best presenters and “in some instances, the hands down biggest hit of the Festival.”

The Festival takes place this summer over a four-day weekend, August 13-16. Jane Urquhart and Camilla Gibb are featured speakers this year and you can check out the full program at  http://www.writersfestival.ca/

Follow this link to return to our website.

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