Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eagles and totems and deer, oh my!

All right, already!

Yes, I have been home from vacation not even two weeks, but I am already at risk of not posting at all, so here goes nothing.

First stop in October - a week in the Gwaii Haanas Islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes. I have always been fascinated by them, although I have no idea where that comes from. Probably the same place that harbours my adoration for Timbuktu, Zanzibar, and Casablanca. Old movies may have played a role, or perhaps my interest is linked to my enjoyment of the extreme graphic component of traditional Haida totem art:

I stayed in the main town, Queen Charlotte City, and rented a suite in a house overlooking the water. A typical morning view:

Love the mist rising from the mountains. Sometimes it was almost like vertical clouds. I should note that I haven't drained the colour from this shot - that's what the morning actually looked like in that crisp light.

Just down the hill from my apartment was the working harbour. This is a fishing town, after all, and the few restaurants in town all seem to have a great view too, like the covered patio at Queen Bee's:

Thankfully, the covered part let me sit out and enjoy the view while it was bucketing rain. And yes, it is raining and sunny at the same time. Awesome.

I spent most of my time driving the limited amount of paved road available between villages, soaking up the views and the wildlife. American eagles always look grumpy:

But that's balanced out by the quirky visitors, like these ornate Harlequin ducks:

Walking along the shore, I'd also stumble upon the most interesting visuals, like this piece of driftwood:

I still am not sure if this was simply wet, or if there was something else going on.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking day was spent in Tlell, visiting what is left of the legendary Golden Spruce. The original tree was revered by the Haida and figures prominently in many of their legends. It was a tree whose branches shone as if lit from within, and it was found in one of the last old growth forests on the main island. Of course, some destructive asshat had to come along and cut it down under cover of darkness a few years back, but thankfully, the Haida managed to preserve several cuttings. Only one is available for public viewing, in a small park in Tlell next to a historic church. Unfortunately, it is kept behind a tall chain link fence. Even so, you can see how different the cutting is, and imagine how majestic a full size, thousand year old, several hundred foot tall version would be:

There is a fantastic book on the history of the Golden Spruce, and in turn the Haida people, that won a Governor-General's award about 5 years ago. I re-read it on my trip and highly recommend it.

I could have posted a great many more pictures from this part of the trip, but instead I will next post from leg 2 - Vancouver long weekend.

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