Monday, September 2, 2013

Keeping in Touch While At Pender Island

The BC Ferry Queen of Cumberland toot-tooted its arrival. ‘We’re here!!!’ I squealed, clapping my hands. The truck full of men I was in didn’t mimic my girlish excitement. Let me clarify – the truck of men including a 17 and 13-year-old. Yes, they were excited to be on our adventure, but I’m the minority, and my antics sometimes embarrass them.

The ferry wobbled and shook as it docked at the Pender Island Ferry Terminal. It was evening, so all we could see, other than the cars waiting to board to leave the beautiful island, were rocky beaches flanked with Douglas firs, cedars and arbutus – everything the Gulf Islands are known for. I was anxious to explore the beaches – I hoped to see pods upon pods of Orca whales.

There are no skyscrapers, no office-buildings, no big-box stores lining the streets of outdoor shopping malls. Yes, there is a little shopping area, Driftwood Center, complete with grocery store, pharmacy, bookstore and little cafes, to name a few necessities, but we were there to slow-down and get away from it all, and to ‘be one with nature.’ Oh, and of course, to be together as a family without any outside distractions. We were kind of looking forward to being ‘cut-off’ from the world as we knew it, for a bit.

Ahem – saying all that, however, the three men in the car were actively texting from their cell-phones as fast as they could. We weren’t sure what kind of cell-reception we would get on the island, never mind at our campsite.

To be fair, the island isn’t completely cut-off from the e-world as we know it. Business’ I had looked-up online have, obviously, a website listing email addresses and phone numbers. They aren’t totally behind the times as many might think.

But like I said, we were there to get away from it all, to explore one of the Gulf Islands we had heard so much about, and to disconnect and be together as a family, if only for a few days.

We made our way down the winding streets of North Pender Island looking for our campground. It was dark and with only a few streetlights to guide our way. We had never been there before, so even looking for the campsite was an adventure in itself.

‘Look on the bright side - lucky for us it’s not raining.’ I chirped to my now quiet men-folk. We knew we were going to have set up camp in the dark.

We found the campground, wound our way along the gravel campground path in the pitch-black of night, and found our campsite – the same campsite I had reserved online. We couldn’t see much - the morning light would show us what kind of site we had. We set up without much angst; our Coleman lantern lit the way. And after me jumping up and down and clapping my hands, ‘We’re here, WE’RE HERE!’(I’d like to note that my three men, in their cool, aloof, macho way truly WERE excited, as well), we crawled into our tents. The fun was about to begin!

The next morning while all three men snored the tarp right off the tents, I crawled out of ours with only one thing on my mind – outhouse. And yes, when in nature ‘do as the deer-do’ and all that, but...

And not that I was overly ANXIOUS to experience the wilds of an outhouse, but....

The morning light revealed the most perfect campsite - never mind campground - there was to see. I knew there was cold running water from a tap, perfect for washing my hair, and other than outhouses, I knew we were going to be roughing it – despite being only a few minute’s drive from the Driftwood Center (the bakery was also calling my name). I guess you can’t fully take the ‘city’ outta me...

So I made my way around the campground, most anxiously looking for the telltale little hut with only 4-feet within which to move around. No wonder they make them so small – who wants to spend a lot of time in there, anyways?

Business quickly done – thank God – I explored the grounds a little further. There was so much that we didn’t see when we first pulled in the night before: fir trees covered in Grandpa’s beard moss, Shelf mushrooms happily multiplying on the sides of cedars, and the red bark of Arbutus trees peeling away to reveal younger red bark underneath (I wish that would happen to me).

Ahhhh, sweet bliss: to be away - from everyone and everything, I sighed.

(I also wondered if I could make it to the Driftwood Center for a coffee and bakery treat before the men-folk woke up.)

My meanderings found me at the campground entrance, and by then I figured I better head back.

But then....BUT THEN!

What is that? I sure as heck didn’t see THAT when we first pulled in the night before!

A payphone! A REAL LIVE PAYPHONE! With a digital screen displaying dialing instructions – yes, I guess those are needed nowadays. And what’s that? $1 per 15 minute call!? What the heck happened to 25¢ a call and blab forever? (It should be noted here that it took me forever to find that ‘cent’ symbol – even THOSE are going out of style!)

Cities like Victoria, where we live, are a maze of busy streets. The sidewalks are laden with folks bustling about - with their heads down. Their cellphones, iPhones, iPods, or iPads – whatever gizmo is the trend du jour – have them crashing into lamp posts. And with all the electronic means of communication able to fit into pockets, purses or briefcases, one thing has become almost extinct in many parts – the payphone.

Okay, let’s be honest – the near extinction of the payphone is not only due to the advent and social rush of social media on social-impeding gizmos. Illegal activity is partly to blame for the extinction of the seemingly archaic invention of communication. Rarely do I see a payphone anymore. I’m sure my kids have never even used one.

I knew it was there for emergencies – smart thing to have. But wow! I truly didn’t expect THAT when ‘roughing it.’ I hadn’t seen one for years!

Still musing about the payphone-sighting, I did, indeed, go to the bakery and sit with a coffee - I was on vacation, after all, despite ‘camping.’ I was relaxing - being away from it all - and marveled at the rare sighting (I never would see any whales).

And low and behold, I got cell-phone reception.


  1. Hi Lisa
    I enjoyed your post immensely. I loved the image of the men snoring the tarp off the ten, and your awesome photograph. We live in paradise.
    Best Wishes

    1. Thank you, Jo-Ann! And you are right, indeed, we DO live in paradise! Thanks for reading - Lisa

  2. Wow, I'd never stop to consider there are people walking this earth who have never used a payphone, but then why would they?! Startling concept! Loved your photos and your blog. I can picture it all so well it in my mind...

    1. Thank you, Ros! Yes, it saddens me to know my boys will never know the 'joys' of many things... :) Thanks for reading! Lisa