Falling for the Sunshine Coast – Part 1

When I was working, the Fall season always seemed like a glass half empty.  But, now that I get to play all year round, I have time to appreciate its true beauty. I find myself looking forward to its approach, knowing of the opportunities to  capture its many colours…  like these golden leaves floating with some kelp in the bright, low lying sun… Continue reading

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Summer Days on the Sunshine Coast – your first day

The Sunshine Coast is an easy and affordable option for anyone needing a few days away from the daily grind. Imagine taking a stunning ferry ride to another world where the pace is slow, the scenery is breathtaking and the people are friendly.  The  Sunshine Coast is on Vancouver’s doorstep, and it’s only a scenic 40 minutes away, waiting to welcome you to BC’s best kept secret. In this series of seven blogs we’ll unlock the secrets and share some of our best insider tips to help you get the most out of your precious time away.

BC Ferries – Mini Cruise

Our first piece of advice is to get an early start to the day. There’s less traffic on the early morning ferries and you’ve just gained some extra hours for your getaway. Once you’ve boarded the ferry, grab your camera and head up to the outside deck. You’ll get some great pictures as the ferry winds its way through several small islands.

Lower Gibsons is our first destination, so break away from that pack of cars, turn left at the traffic light and follow this quiet country road. Lower  Gibsons was originally a fishing settlement and still holds some of that maritime charm.  There’s a good variety of galleries, coffee shops and some great gelato. Mike’s Gelato was recently named by Vancouver blogger 604 Pulse, as one of the Ten Best Places to get Gelato in the Lower Mainland.

Smitty’s Oyster House

Hungry for lunch? Head down the stairs beside Molly’s Reach where you’ll find Smitty’s Oysterhouse.  They offer the freshest of seafood and you’ll be seated at a communal table just a few feet from the salty brine. After lunch, walk along the boardwalk or head out onto the wharf to look at all the boats. There’s even a floating garden.

Sechelt is only a 25 minute drive from Gibsons so you’ve still got lots of time before your 3:00 check-in. You might even want to pick up a few supplies before-hand so that you can fully relax on our waterside deck after you’ve checked-in. There’s an IGA store along the highway, and a good wine selection at the Lighthouse Wine & Cold Beer store, just as you come into Sechelt.

dinner at the Lighthouse

Keeping with the relaxation theme, our dinner recommendation for tonight is casual and there’s no need to get dressed up. The Lighthouse serves good pub-style food and has a large variety of seating areas, including two large waterside decks offering great views of the busy little harbour and Sechelt Inlet beyond.

After dinner head back home and return to your favourite seat on your other waterside deck. As the evening sets in you’ll be treated to an amazing display of stars set against the dark, dark country skies. Are you starting to feel relaxed…. wait till you see what we’ve planned for tomorrow.

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Hummingbirds at Coracle Cove

As a novice birder, I’ve approached this new-found interest with enthusiasm, and one of the great things that I’ve learned about birding is that it has a season. Migratory birds set off from distant points south, and arrive here on a schedule that has been in place for eons. The arrival of the Rufous Hummingbird is a much anticipated event among local birders here on the Sunshine Coast.

Hummingbirds are of course, are extremely hungry after their migration, which could have been up to 9,000 kilometres long. They’ll stay for most of the summer, providing us with lots of entertaining moments and opportunities for taking pictures like these. It’s one more reason why you should bring your camera when you come to stay at Coracle Cove.

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Spring Birding at Coracle Cove – Part 2

Spring is here and as you can see from this image, we’re having a little trouble keeping our bird feeders filled here at Coracle Cove.

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spotted towhee at feeder

I took this photo from the outside deck off the suite and caught this Spotted Towhee in the act. He’s a bit bigger than most of the others and has a real preference for these black oil sunflower seeds.

Song Sparrow belting it out

We have a large variety of LBJ’s (little brown jobs) mostly from the Sparrow family. This male Song Sparrow has one of the most beautiful mating songs which they sing upon arrival in the Spring to establish territory and attract a mate.

White-crowned sparrow

I think this White-crowned Sparrow is a particularly handsome chap with his black and white stripes, and he’s a pretty good singer as well.

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This is another of those LBJ’s that are sometimes difficult to identify. It looks like a sparrow but the yellow wing and tail feathers ID it as a Pine Siskin, one of the flock of Siskins in the opening image of this blog.

All of these images were taken just a few feet away from our feeders so be sure you bring your camera when you come to Coracle Cove.

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Summer Days on the Sunshine Coast – a day for relaxing

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When I hear the Vancouver traffic report on the radio, I often chuckle, thinking how fortunate I am to be on the Sunshine Coast. This morning, as I was enjoying my coffee down on the dock, I thought it might be fun to send out my own traffic report, and this is the picture that I posted to my Facebook account.

As you may have guessed, today’s blog is all about relaxation and taking time for yourself. This is the fifth in my blog series, Unlocking the Secrets of the Sunshine Coast, where I share my best insider tips to help you get the most out of your getaway.

There’s nothing better for relaxing than a Yoga class and my favourite studio is Yoga by the Sea.   The drop-in rate is only $15 for a two-hour class and they’ve got all the gear you need. The instructors always provide a great mix of both mental and physical activity; the classes are small; and you get as much attention and help as you want. So don’t worry about anything – give it a try.Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.12.46 AM

My dinner recommedation for tonight is the Old Boot in Sechelt.  This is an easy and relaxing dining experience – the food is good, the servings plentiful, and the prices reasonable. The menu is just the right size with a selection of pastas, steak, ribs and seafood. After dinner head back to Coracle Cove and down to your favourite waterside seat on our dock. You’ve had a good day, feeding both the body and the mind, so take some time to remind yourself of how much you have to be happy about.

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The Birding signs of Spring on the Sunshine Coast

We’re hearing lots of old familiar sounds these days, more signs of Spring. This Song Sparrow is one of the earliest singers and also one of my favourites. He has a beautiful song, with several bright notes followed by a sequence of warbles and trills . Listen to this recording – you may recognize it as one you’ve been hearing recently.

In nearby Sargeant Bay, the red-wing Blackbirds have been singing for a couple of months. It’s the males who sing in the birding world,  to both announce territory and attract their mate. The blackbird not only has a distinctive song but also flashes its brightly coloured shoulder markings while issuing its territorial call.  Red-wing Blackbirds can be found in marshy areas, often perched upon the furry seed heads of long cattails. 

 

The woodpecker family doesn’t sing but that doesn’t stop the males from drawing attention to themselves as they seek their mating partner. Instead they use their beaks to drum on trees and snags in the early Spring to announce their presence.

The most obvious is the drumming of the Northern Flicker with its impressive red slash across its cheeks. This common species inhabits our gardens at Coracle Cove and has discovered that drumming on chimneys and metal flashing produces a louder sound.

While homeowners ofter worry that these birds are drilling into the wood of their houses, this isn’t the case, but rather an ageless courting ritual that does no damage.  One way to get a closer view of these colourful and interesting birds is to hang a feeder filled with a suet mixture, as we’ve done here. Be sure to have your camera ready.

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Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Smuggler Cove is our destination this morning – a half-hour drive up the highway, just past Halfmoon Bay. This morning’s walk should take no more than an hour and will give you a great introduction to the pristine beauty of the Sunshine Coast.

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Bring your binoculars, as the first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small marshy lakes, and offering good birding opportunities. Later the trail opens to  sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Islands, and at this time of the year, you’re also likely to see several sailboats moored within the protected confines of the cove itself. Follow this link for more information and pictures.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 8.52.08 AM

For lunch, drive back toward Sechelt, but turn right at Redrooffs Road, and then follow the signs  to the Halfmoon Bay General Store. Next door you’ll find the Upper Crust Bakery with a good selection of Paninis and baked sweets. Between the two stores you can put together a pretty good picnic lunch. Then carry on down to the end of this little one-lane road to the Government Wharf for the best “restaurant” view you can imagine.

After your leisurely lunch, it’s time to hit the road again, but we’re not going too far.  Continue driving along Redrooffs Road for about ten minutes and you’ll find another Sunshine Coast Secret.

Sargeant’s Bay has been a favourite of mine for a long time – a perfect horseshoe-shaped cove with piles of driftwood stacked haphazardly along a pebble beach – and most likely you’ll have the whole area completely to yourself. If you’re interested in birding, this is a rich habitat with over 150 species. Spend as much time as you like here – with benches and lots of logs on the beach, pull up a seat, relax and soak in this pristine setting.sushi bar 5517

Our dinner recommendation for tonight is Sushi Bar 5517 in Sechelt at that address on Wharf Street. If you are a sushi afficionado you will not be disappointed but they also have a great selection of other Japanese dishes. The menu offers a very broad and creative selection of sushi – one of my favourites is the Alaska roll with salmon, crab and avocado. Be sure to order the Gomaae, a wilted spinache salad with sesame-peanut dressing.

If you’re not into sushi, there are two other restaurants nearby – The Old Boot and Daphne’s. After dinner, it’s time to head back to your favourite waterside deck to watch the stars come out. Keep an eye out for those of the shooting variety.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

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Spring birding on the Sunshine Coast – March 31st

These LBJ’s (little brown jobs) are doing a pretty good job of taking over our feeders right now. There’s generally a dozen or more perched in the branches of the big Fir tree next to the B&B feeder, waiting for an opportunity to swoop in and feed. They’re actually Black-eyed Juncos, called that because… well they have black eyes and bird names are usually that way.

This is a great time for birding, with lots of new species arriving each week. There’s a friendly little contest going on between some of our local birders, with the current leader having just passed the 100 mark for the year.  I’m quite a bit off that mark but I do enjoy the annual spring parade of returning species, and I really enjoy trying to take their pictures.

The Juncos are pretty tolerant of human activity, especially when they’re bulking up for mating season, as they seem to be doing right now. I took these two pictures from our B&B deck.  By positioning the feeder just off to the side, I was able to catch them in a natural setting, perched on a branch, waiting to move on to the feeder.

Happy Birding Everyone!!

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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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