- Created: 08 August 2011
As an annual event my family drove back to British Columbia to visit my wife's family and also to spend some time on the property we have on Cortes Island, in the Northern Gulf Islands. We have a small hybrid car and my family is growing. Also we now have a dog. It is amazing that we could be stuck for ten days together in this little car. On the way there we stopped at Glacier National Park and our kids jumped into the ice cold waters of Lake Macdonald.On the way back , for the first time in this annual trip, we decided to visit Mt. Rushmore. Our daughter had done a research project on the site in her school last year, so she wanted to see it. Honestly, I didn't want to got and our son decided to stay with the dog in the car in the parking lot. He is 15 after all. But it wasn't as bad or as touristy as I had thought. The best view was actually when we were driving toward Mt. Rushmore and happened to see the faces peeking through the forest. I could not really believe that the government approved this carving into the side of a mountain, actually a kind of environmental destruction. But since the goal was to get people to visit South Dakota, well they did it, and it has become a destination for all kinds of people celebrating America - bikers, immigrants, international visitors and all sorts of people. I could see that the facility was as discreet as possible though they haveto accommodate an enormous number of visitors. I have a mixed feeling - impressed by human achievement, but at the same time so sad at the distortion of the landscape.
One of the highlights was joining a kayaking tour of the Van Donop Inlet in support of the local museum. There is limited land access to the northern half of the island so this was a way to see the land from a new perspective. We took the schooner Misty Isles loaded with kayaks around the island to the north and lauched them from there. One surprise was to see that there were so many big yachts anchored in the inlet. Since it is so remote I wasn't expecting to see as many boats as I did and it was a bit of a shock. On this tour there was a long time Cortes resident who grew up in one of the former small logging camps set up around the inlet in the 1950's. It was wonderful to hear the stories from his childhood and his memories of the inlet. The tour was also led by two experienced guides who spoke about the natural history, botany and background to the area. We ate some plants growing off the rock, called sea asparagus and got to see starfish and barnacles up close. Our kids did very well with the kayaking keeping up with the adults, especially our daughter who is 10. Toward the end of the trip the winds picked up and it was quite hard to paddle. But I could see the determination in her face. And I realized that I don't need to give her any extra help because she has it all inside her.
Each year my feeling for Cortes Island grows. More and more I feel like this is my final place for my life. I would be happy to become old on this island.