We arrived late on a Saturday evening at Queen Charolotte City after a long day of windy, rainy weather. As we were slowly making our way to the marina a large rainbow, end to end could be seen and then it slowly turned into a double rainbow, surely a sign of welcome and good things to come.
It seems we make a habit of arriving when most places are closed or it is a long weekend and we really, really need to restock. I had been able to connect to the internet prior to our arrival and found that two places would be open the next day, a Sunday, for us to get something to eat.
We took ourselves to see the person in charge of the wharf and we asked if there was a restaurant nearby. We were told in quite a serious voice, sadly shaking his head, that this is Sunday and nothing but nothing is open on Sunday. We thanked him and continued up along the road to where we could see stores. There to our great relief was a very nice place called OV Pizza with a sign clearly stating OPEN.
We arrived a little after it opened and already it was beginning to fill up with people. Service was excellent. The person who served us liked to memorize each order and it became evident that maybe you will not get exactly what you ordered. I ordered my meal with bacon and received oodles of ham and the Captain ordered the special sausages and received bacon. We giggled. The food and surroundings we perfect.
While we were waiting for our meal I was looking out the window which looked up a long road. The sun was already up and strong and down this road I saw the most brilliant golden orb or square or something. As it moved closer I could then see a person walking and it was a sight to behold. She was wearing the most dazzling gold top that literally glittered and danced as she walked. I told the Captain to look quick, he smiled, I smiled and we giggled some more. Now there was a person who was comfortable in their own skin.
Later, we put the bicycles together and had a little ride about and then checked online to see if there was a car rental place. Captain said we should drive up to the top of the island. Yippee! A road trip.
There was a Budget Rental but sorry we have nothing available but you could try Gracie’s Hotel, sometimes she has cars to rent. We walk over to Gracie’s and across the road from the hotel we see an older van with a number on it and stating RV rental. I call and Gracie answers, she is still in bed she states and really doesn’t even know what time it is but give her an hour and come back then. We go back to OV Pizza and enjoy another great meal.
Gracie is a delightful woman who owns a small hotel and had worked for Budget for 30 years. She is planning a trip to Italy in September and we talked about places to see. She is going to Florence and I told her about the main street that is literally paved with gold. Store front after store front are jewelry stores that sell only gold. I did not mention the golden woman we saw earlier, not even Florence, Italy could compare.
The trip to the top of the Queen Charolottes would not have been the same had we rented a shiny newer car from Budget. This van had character and without a doubt has had many a character in the driver’s seat, I should know, Captain is driving.
By the time we drove up to Massett and back the odometer clicked over at 331,000 km. I found a small handbook for the car in the glove box along with a mouse trap, no mouse attached. The van was a 1995 Aerostar. It was the perfect vehicle, although I could do without the old car smell. We must have looked like locals as we received numerous hello waves from other drivers but it is more likely that this was Queen Charolotte friendliness.
We went as far as the road would go and that road led us to Tow Hill. Absolutely stunning! Mile after mile of hard packed sandy beach with little or no vehicles or people. Yes, you can drive on the beach and that is what we did. Stopped and had a picnic lunch. I now have bruises, I keep pinching myself.
The next day we spend going through the small main streets before heading out. One place we wanted to go to was Carlyles. We wondered where people purchased clothing as we could not see anything that looked like a clothing store. Carlyles is part Hallmark, part clothing boutique and part department store, it has all the basic needs and more. You would not know it from the outside as the store front is small and looks like it might be a souvenir shop. Such a nice surprise when we walked in. I purchased a warm fleece pullover for the early mornings. The owner was very pleasant and said she had several people to call due to the town’s power being shut down. I said, Shut Down? Yes, she said but maybe only for half an hour, the hydro people must do that sometimes but normally everyone is notified. She was quite concerned for other business owners as it seemed no one knew about the shutdown at 1:30.
We go down to the boat, unload more supplies and head back up the road to main street. How about a coffee, Captain asks, great I reply, let’s go to the Queen Bees. This is a small café and has that instant feeling that you would like to sit, relax and maybe stay all day and no one will tell you to move on.
Oh, no the hydro shut down. We went anyway and yes it was still open. We thought the shutdown hasn’t happened yet. It was one of those moments when everything was wrong but right at the same time. You could barely see the order counter but people were standing in line chatting, someone had lit a candle on their table, ate and looked at their iPhone, others were sitting outside enjoying the day. Except for the woman behind the counter letting people know what was still hot, nothing was out of the normal. I love this normal.
Before leaving we had to refuel and we found out that refueling takes place at the dock for the float planes. The person who was attending to the refueling hailed from Ontario and being from there myself we began talking about why we moved away. He and his wife had visited Vancouver Island over the years and then I believe he told me they went to the Queen Charlotte’s and made their decision to pack up and leave. No regrets. They live a simpler life style but a better one. They have lived here now for six years and love this community.
Queen Charlotte City was and is unique and I was sorry to leave.