Taking ‘dog friendly’ to another level

 Our waterfront suite is dog-friendly!  As former dog owners ourselves, we understand the problem when you really need a weekend getaway but have the hassle of finding somewhere for Fido to stay. It’s never easy and it used to break our hearts when we had to leave our Sophie at the kennel.

We have only the one suite, so it’s really easy for us to accommodate a variety of needs,  be it parents with kids, couples &  pets, or just a quiet, romantic place to getaway for a few days.  Our guests don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone else – whether it’s excited kids or a barking dog – because you are our only guests.

But back to the dog friendly part…  what we’ve really noticed is that the dogs who come with their owners are really well behaved and it’s fun having them around. Now these two pups… talk about well behaved – check out their YouTube video . They’re welcome to stay with us anytime… as long as their owners behave themselves.

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My perfect morning Om!!

Today I’m writing about two of my favourite activities – yoga and food – and they came together yesterday morning like a perfectly pitched Om. Thursday mornings I have a class at Yoga by the Sea and I’m really enjoying the Energizing Flow sessions which provide a good mix of both physical and mental activity.

Yoga by the Sea is located in downtown Roberts Creek and as the class was ending around 11:30, my thoughts gently drifted toward  lunch… and that’s when the second part of the perfectly pitched Om chimed in.

We wandered over to the Gumboot Restaurant just as it was beginning to fill with a lively lunch crowd. I started off with an Americano, well pulled with a nice,thick crema floating on top. Then I ordered the Buddda Bowl… it seemed appropriate for the morning, and I wasn’t disappointed. A large mounded plate arrived, piled high with steamed greens, shredded raw carrots and beets, baked tofu slices, and brown rice with a rich and flavourful peanut sauce. There was way more than I could eat so I got to take home a doggy bag –  next time I’ll remember to order a half-bowl.

My yoga buddy ordered the Tostada Breakfast, which was equally large-proportioned – a couple of eggs, over easy, laid on top of a corn tortilla with smokey pinto beans and a tangy/spicey chipotle mayo… mmm good!

The Gumboot menu is not large but with a couple of choices like this, you can’t go wrong. They’re open all day – breakfast, lunch & dinner.

The bottom line:  Definitely two thumbs up!!

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A Taste of Sechelt – where to eat & where to shop to eat later

Recently I was invited to join a group of visitors on a guided walking tour, A Taste of Sechelt.  As a long-time resident I have to admit that I learned a few things on this tour, but I also came away with an appreciation of just how valuable such a tour would be for anyone visiting Sechelt.DSC02128

If you’re looking for ideas on where to go for lunch or dinner, or what to pick up for dinner back at Coracle Cove, this is a great introduction to Sechelt’s food scene.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.40.30 AM

 

So much to see! So much to do! So much to taste! We stopped in at nine shops and restaurants to sample some of the finest foods Sechelt has to offer.

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Our first stop was Ty’s Fine Foods, which has always been one of my favourite spots for lunch. We sampled two of their in-house soups: a zesty carrot-ginger and a savoury split pea, together with a lovely flakey spinach scone. All of their products are made from scratch – no “heat and serve” soups here, and yes, they do take-out.

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Half a block down Cowrie Street we stopped in to meet Dean,  the new owner of the Sechelt Fish Market. Dean provided us with his sampling: salmon pate with a caper aioli on a delightful biscuit-style cracker. All of the ingredients were available in his store, together, of course, with a good selection of fresh, local seafood. I picked up some seasonings for my own kitchen, some Old Bay and a small tin of Maldon Sea Salt.

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Further down the road and around the corner we stopped in at Lucky’s Smokehouse where we sampled some pulled pork sliders on a fresh baked biscuit. Wow, not just a feast for the eyes, but mighty tasty as well. Here’s a picture of our happy group. In the background you can see a few of the old classic movie posters which have been used to decorate this great little spot. While there, I learned that Lucky’s also delivers, so I’ve picked up a few of their menus for my guests.

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Our next stop was the Butcher Block where we had a very interesting presentation on their products, the farms they come from and what makes them different from the mass produced products we find in supermarkets. Once again, it was an eye opener for this local boy. I was given a couple of links of their in-house Italian sausage to take home with me, which I added to a spaghetti sauce that night. Yes, there is a difference!

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Now I don’t have a dog, but if you look a little closer at this picture you’ll see why our next stop was so much fun…

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If you do have a dog or have a special friend with a dog, then you must stop in at Three Dog Bakery. They use all natural ingredients to make their special dog treats. Coracle Cove is a pet-friendly vacation rental and many of my guests like to travel with Fido when they stay with us, so I’ll be sure to recommend a visit. DSC02139

 

Our next stop was the newly opened Angelo’s Greek Grill. It was late in the day but we still had some room for these Gyro sampler’s – shaved pork on pita bread… yumm!!

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And finally, just to round out our geographical sampling, we ended the tour at Saffron, for some East Indian cuisine. The pakora was perfectly cooked with an interesting blend of spices, and sitting inside the restaurant magically transported us to another land.

Like I said earlier, so much to see, so much to do, so much to taste. A taste of Sechelt is offered by Earthly Journeys. Check out their website for other tours and give them a try.

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Spring is here – a little bird told me

It may not feel quite like spring but the birds are on to something. The other day I heard the sweet singing of a Song Sparrow. While personally, I’d like it to warm up a bit more, I’ll put my trust with these feathered weather forecasters – after all they’ve been doing this for eons.

Ornithologists have learned as days lengthen in the Spring, the longer hours of light trigger the release of hormones in birds, and these hormones prompt the male birds to sing. Male birds – like this Song Sparrow use their melodious song to attract mates and fulfill nature’s imperative to engender new life. Spring… song... romance.  Have you heard this song – listen now 

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Restaurants in the Sechelt Area

Sheila & I both love to cook and when we go out for dinner the bar is pretty high.  These are the restaurants that we will always return to and we’re very comfortable recommending them to our guests.   While I’ve included TripAdvisor ratings to add a more measured perspective, I often find that one mediocre review can really skew the results. So take the ratings with a grain of salt… perhaps a good quality sea salt from the west coast of Sicily.

restaurants in the Sechelt area

 

The Blue Heron specializes in fresh seafood. Located on Sechelt Inlet. Wonderful food, great service and an incredible view of Sechelt Inlet all work together to make a memorable experience. It’s on the pricey side but well worth the splurge. Reservations are recommended 604-885-3847  TripAdvisor #1

Lighthouse Pub offers food that is casual but good, and in a great location. The outside deck looks onto a busy little harbour with boats & seaplanes coming and going, and an incredible view looking up Sechelt Inlet. Anything with seafood is great, especially their warm seafood salad. Live music Sundays 604-885-9494  TripAdvisor #2

Basted Baker is my new “go to” place for coffee and/or lunch. They have a very creative menu of amazing soups and biscuit sandwiches, decadent desserts and great tasting breakfast sandwiches (aka Bennies)  Their cappuccinos and lattes are the best, hands-down. There’s a great atmosphere inside. 604-885-1368 TripAdvisor #3

Daphne’s offers an extensive and varied menu with lots of authentic Mediterranean specialties. I love the slowed braised lamb. The service is warm and friendly and the outdoor seating affords good opportunities for people watching 604-885-2008 TripAdvisor #4

Ty’s Fine foods & Bistro is a great place for lunch, offering a selection of interesting soups, sandwiches and fabulous flat crust pizzas for an incredibly reasonable price. Open Friday evenings for tapas and wine 604-740-9818 TripAdvisor #6

Pebbles Restaurant is located on the Sechelt waterfront with beautiful views of Georgia Strait, Vancouver Island and the cruise ships heading up the coast each night.  Seafood is a favourite and they are famous for both their chowder and seafood salads. Fridays night is a very popular fiesta night with a Mexican theme 604-885-5811 TripAdvisor #8

Sushi Bar 5517 – This is the place to go for sushi. They have an extensive menu using the freshest of ingredients. It can get busy at lunch time- a true testament from locals who know where they can get a good meal at a reasonable price. Dinner time is quieter  604-885-0220 TripAdvisor #11

The Old Boot Eatery – the food is always good, the servings plentiful and lots of action. Great pastas, steak, and seafood. Live music on Thursdays 604-885-2727 TripAdvisor #14

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Romance is in the water at Coracle Cove

I love this time of the year. The days are getting longer, and old friends are returning to Coracle Cove…like these Goldeneyes with their beautiful markings and a most interesting courtship ritual.

Barrow's Goldeneye at Coracle Cove

 

Coracle Cove is located at Four Mile Point on Sechelt Inlet,  a beautiful, pristine environment, and this is the time of the year when wildlife begins to return, with new sightings waiting to be seen almost every day.

This trio were very interested in what was below the water, diving repeatedly to break off the mussels that had attached themselves to the bottom of our dock. This is a handsome male who’s attracted two female companions.

goldeneye mating ritual

 

But it was his behaviour that really got my attention, as I had just read about it earlier that morning. The image above (courtesy of Bird Note) is his signature courting move. He thrusts his iridescent green-black head forward for a moment, then whips it back so that his nape touches his rump and his bill points skyward. Finally, he slings his head forward and makes a high buzzy call while splashing water outward with his feet.

Apparently it’s a genuine turn-on for female goldeneyes.  But he’s a rambler. After she lays their eggs, the goldeneye male abandons his mate and parental duties. It’s common conduct among ducks

It was a real privilege to have witnessed this courtship ritual and I’ll be watching more carefully to see it again, usually just around dusk.

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What’s this blog all about?

Four years ago I launched Insider TipsIt was a logical next step to the ten-years of monthly e-letters that I’d been sending out to my former guests who had stayed at Coracle Cove.  I enjoy sharing my beautiful community, particularly with people who are thinking of visiting for the first time. Blogging enables me to respond quickly to what’s happening, and I think there’s an audience that’s interested in timely, insider information on the Sunshine Coast.

Cliff Gilker Waterfall

In this blog I provide information about the  Sunshine Coast – my favourite places for an afternoon hike, new restaurants and old – where we’ve really eaten and will actually go back;  upcoming festivals and events – when & where to get tickets… all that good stuff that will help you have a better experience when you next visit the Sunshine Coast.  That’s what I’ve been doing since we first opened Coracle Cove to visitors to the Sunshine Coast and it’s one of the appreciative comments I keep hearing from my guests.

Fine Dining at Chasters

Fine Dining at Chasters

But I have a bit of a confession – it’s really just a labour of love. In order to write meaningfully about all of these great Sunshine Coast experiences, I need to research and experience all those experiences myself.  My wife and I moved to the coast in 1974  and this blog is a great excuse for us to continue experiencing all the great things that this beautiful place has to offer. And now that we’re retired, we have a more time to do just that.

I also love the challenge of taking better and better pictures and there’s lots of great opportunities for that on the Sunshine Coast – a picture is worth a thousand words – so for all you speed readers, I’ll include a few pictures of this great place we get to call home. Like this one, taken early one morning. about this time of the year, from the seawall in front of Sechelt – one of my favourite places for a quick walk.

I hope you’ll find these postings helpful and I invite you to return for more timely information on Insider Tips   http://www.coraclecove.com

And for the speed readers, you can find more of my images on Instagram (@coraclecove) and on our Coracle Cove Facebook page.

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Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – what are these birds trying to tell us?

The weather’s been crazy lately – freezing temperatures, wild wind storms… oh, and did I mention the rain? Will will it ever end?  Well, there’s a few signals out there, that better weather may be on the horizon.  Nature is pretty good at reading and sending out its own signals. It’s had a lot of practice.  We’re surrounded by quite a few of nature’s creatures at Coracle Cove and when we slow down long enough to watch and listen, we pick up on those signals.

Barrow's Goldeneye at Coracle Cove

Birds migrate over great distances in search of a steady source of food. They have an amazing ability to know just when to start moving on to greener pastures. Like these Goldeneyes who showed up  a couple of weeks ago. There’s just a small flock of maybe a dozen or so, and they like to feed on the mussels under our dock.  They usually hang around for a month before heading further north to begin their breeding cycle.

Surf Scoter at Coracle Cove

This Surf Scoter showed up a couple of days ago. It was a new sighting for me and it wasn’t until I got the binoculars on its colourful beak that I was able to verify its ID.

Hooded Merganzer at Coracle Cove

Mergansers are relatively common throughout our winter months, easily identified by their crested head. My favourite, however, is this Hooded Merganser with a large white crest which he fluffs out to attract a mate. Hooded Mergansers are a sure sign of the approach of Spring and breeding season.

Eagle at Coracle Cove

Although not a migratory bird, Eagles also travel in search of food and salmon is at the top of their shopping list. Our resident family of Eagles return each year after feasting elsewhere on spawning salmon. Their call is easily identifiable and we first started hearing it a few weeks ago. This year’s family seems to be made up of at least one or two adolescents who still have their brown head feathers and this handsome fellow who is the dominant Partiarch of the family.

Oystercatcher at Mission Point

Oystercatchers search along the shoreline for small mollusks and use their long bills to pry the shells open. Like the others in this blog, they return to our area at this time of the year and when I heard that they had arrived I immediately set out with my camera to take some pictures.

Birds are like old friends who have left our lives and then return. In this case, we’re doubly happy to see them because we know that the warmer days of Spring are not too far away.

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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.

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