Today is a lay day in Queen Charlotte City. Well almost. We all have to go to the Gwaii Haanas orientation. Every visitor to the park must do this, get his or her pass and fill out some paperwork.
NW Explorations arranged for a bus to take us to the orientation center 8 kilometers down the road.
All assembled at 9:30 in the orientation room and the park ranger went though a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation of what we could expect and what was expected from us. The Ranger, Kae (who grew up here), was great and the presentation very thorough.
The orientation is held at the Kaay Centre in Skidegate. This impressive set of buildings also houses the Haida Gwaii museum and the Parks Canada Headquarters. Well worth the visit, beyond the orientation. In addition to our briefing and passes, each person is given a 100 page bound booklet about everything you want to know about the Gwai Haanas. It covers various historic sites, weather, tides, wildlife and even rats. We were also given many specialized informational brochures about more timely issues such as the preservation of the Abalone, a threatened species in these waters.
After two hours, the bus came to take us back to Queen Charlotte. Alaskan Dream and Dream Catcher asked the bus driver to take us two more kilometers to the actual town of Skidegate so we could look around and do some shopping for native art.
Kathy and Lance from Dream Catcher joined us as we walked the very small village. There is a gift shop, and some artists’ studios to visit. The walk to the very famous Haida artist Ben Davidson is about one kilometer out of town. His work is impressive and very expensive. For just a picture of one of his famous works, you pay what you would hope you could buy the original carving. To our good fortune, he was in his studio working on a commission and was most gracious to explain his art and craft to us. I’m glad we walked the extra mile.
We hailed a taxi back to Queen Charlotte to have lunch at Queen B’s. All enjoyed their lunch and we would recommend it if you find yourself here. They also serve breakfast.
After lunch we did some provisioning, starting with the closest store and working our way out. Our first stop was the convenience store where I paid $4.79 for a Haagen Dags bar. Next we stopped at the organic and natural foods store ending up at the supermarket about a half mile west on Oceanview Drive.
We picked up a few things we were running short of, such as half and half, coffee, oranges and potatoes.
Dream Catcher was still anchored out and in need of water, so we invited them to raft to us, so they could fill their tanks before we departed for the Gwaii Haanas tomorrow. Lance took Jordan up on his offer to drive the boat given small confines of the harbor.
I (Bob) made a mojito or two on the boat, and then we walked up to Howler's Bistro for dinner, sitting out on the balcony overlooking the harbor. Nachos and wings were our food of choice, along with beer and a piece of caramel chocolate turtle cheesecake.
As we walked back to the boat, we went into the liquor store under the bistro and picked up a 12 pack of Okanagan Springs pale ale. $30! Ouch. But needed!
Queen Charlotte City has good power and good water on the docks and provisioning close by. However, it is first come first served with rafting needed in busy times. The other option is Sandspit. It has a beautiful new marina, but it is a long walk and ferry ride back across to Queen Charlotte City.