Looking for excitement? I mean like discos and noisy bars?
Dial again. Wrong number. Cross Galiano Island off the list. Chances are you'd get bored here. And quickly.
I mean, unless you enjoy greenery and fresh air and salmon fishing and plucking blueberries off vines that grow wild alongside the road. And then, of course, when the weather warms up the locals go sunbathing and swimming and hiking through the forests.
The trouble is, it's so peaceful it might get on somebody's nerves. Take today. When we got up it was raining. So we touched a match to some lgs in the fireplace and sank back in the sofas at Galiano Lodge and sipped hot coffee and watched from the picture window while the ferry from Vancouver off-loaded passengers.
The group disappeared almost as noon as it came in sight. Galiano - it's 17 miles long - has a permanent population of about 500, and they're swallowed up by the forested hills and the coves with their New England-style cabins. The island is only 45 miles off the Canadian mainland, but it seems a lifetime away.
Galiano Lodge overlooks the Gulf of Georgia and on a clear day Mt. Baker is impressive on the distant horizon. Its kitchen produces heavenly aromas ad some of the finest cooking in all of the Gulf Islands. And Swedish-born Margit Maans turns out Swedish pancakes that surely would win her an Academy Award. And a close second for her butter tarts, homemade apple pie, cheesecake with cherry topping and another specialty: run raisin ice cream.
Her list of entres ranges from salmon steak and oysters to scallops, shrimp, cod and chili that's dished up with homemade bread. Dinners are served by kerosene lamps before a window beyond which auto ferries and fishing trollers pass in the Canadian darkness. A second dining room - no bigger than a small parlor - is a four-table affair with a couple of pot-bellied stoves with potted plants growing on top.
The bar at Galiano Lodge is set up before a fireplace and a couple of old-fashioned Franklin stoves. And anyone can have a go at a player piano in one corner while drinks are delivered to an ancient steamer truck that serves as a coffee table.
Outside the main lodge, Galiano's 15 side-by-side units (they're spotlessly clean) feature oak, oak and more oak. Rates are $24 to $34 for doubles and there's nary at TV set in sight. Not yet, anyway. Not even a telephone. Why destory all this peace with a call from the outside world?
Two other resorts share the island with Galiano Ladge:
Salishan Resort has a sprinkling of housekeeping cottages that rent for $110 to $128 a week and will accommodate up to four vacationers in a woodsy surrounding. Free use of a skiff is part of the deal.
Down a country road not far from the ferry landing, one- and two-bedroom cottages with Franklin stoves are available at Madrona Lodge on Trincomali Channel, Rates are $25.50 to $28.50, and like Salishan, Madrona is sheltered by a forest of evergreens.
Occupants who inquire about the unfamiliar odor emanating from the forest are told to please keep the secret: It's fresh air. Just a few steps away Sylvia and Ken Mouncey serve home-cooked dinners at their Bavarisn-style restaurant, The Pink Geranium.
Fantasy Island? Well, not exactly. But close enough. Only during summer is there a cop on Galiano Island. and just one. This is because there is no crime. Well, almost none. Someone did steal a man's hunting rifle several months ago. And four motorists were cited once for driving without licenses. Other than that, Galiano is a policeman's dream.
Besides only one cop, there is only one school (grades 1 through 7), no bank and no newspaper. By not switching to a radio it's possible never to know the bad news in the outside world.
Galiano is a refuge for the retired as well as the vacationer. Ken Mozley, a former pro soccer player from Darby, England, lives with his wife Jean in a white frame cottage near Galiano Lodge.
"People keep asking us if it isn't boring, living on a little island like this," he said. "They'll say, 'Why aren't you in your rocking chair?'"
The gray-haired Mozley answers by telling about the theatrical groups, the weavers and other craft pastimes, and how he also finds moments to play drums in a Dixieland band.
His wife smiles. "We're busy doing all the things we couldn't do while our children wer growing up."
During summer the Firday night ferry from Vancouver is crowded with weekend residents.
"We call it the refugee boat," said Mozley. "On Sunday night I watch them leave and think, 'You poor devils, going back to that crowded city.'"
Galiano was invaded by hippies once. But the lumber company that owns tow-thirds of the island reacted quickly. Loggers were rounded up and the hippies were escorted to the ferry landing. The loggers waved goodbye and that was that. No more hippies.
If there is a character on the island it is Crawford Twiss, age 96. Before ferries began serving the island he would row a boat 14 miles to Victoria to buy supplies. Now he spends his energies dancing with widows at Galiano's Community Hall. Often until 2 o'clock in the morning.
At nearby Saltspring Island the local character is Bill Wilson, 75, a retired soldier, now gainfully employed as a "sparkwatcher" at Gerry Bourdin's Fulford Inn, a pip of a pub that opened only last December. What does a sparkwatcher do? Simple. He makes certain that sparks from the fireplace don't set the bloody building on fire. Wilson is paid rather handsomely. Not in dollars, but beer. With glass in hand he faces the fireplace from 9 a.m. until the closing hour, 11 o'clock in the evening.
Fulford Inn serves heavenly meals as well as spirits. Lambs and pigs turn on a spit in the fireplace, all of which gives the sparkwatcher a devil of an appetite. Fulford Inn is Saltspring's first bona fide pub. Not only does it look like a British pub, it has the feel of one. Barmaids dash hither and yon with trays of foaming suds while groups sing or gossip or play the piano.
Because Fulford Inn is a pub it must abide by the law and rent rooms, of which there are eight. They're upstairs, priced presently at $24 a night. Proprietor Bourdin figures to hike the rate to about $34 during summer.
A plumber from Vancouver, Bourdin formerly summered on Saltspring Island. Finally he asked himself why he should be living in a city when he could live here full time. So together with a couple of loggers and another plumber he opened Fulford Inn. Now he envies no one, save sparkwatcher Wilson.
Among Bourdin's patrons is ex-Vancouver band leader Terry Elford. Tiring of the tumult, Elford traded his baton for a hammer and saw. Now with his wife Barbara he sells "peace and quiet" at their woodsy Booth Bay Resort that also features clamming, fishing and swimming.
Facing one of Saltspring's loveliest coves, Booth Bay provides shelter at $19 to $29 a night in the rustic main lodge and a scattering of cabins.
Elford is also turning tour operator. He is selling a two-day, one-night package priced at $44.80 per person (double occupancy) including the ferry trip from Vancouver, room and meals. Or there's a four-day, three-night plan for $107.90. (Write to him c/o Box 247, Ganges, Saltspring Island, British Columbia.)
Green Acres, another resort with individual cabins, offers shelter at $22-$23 a night, including linens, dishes, cable TV and use of a boat (alas, the kind you row). Or there's Ceder Beach ($20-$28 a night), with self-contained one- and two-bedroom housekeeping units overlooking St. Mary's Lake.
Saltspring is also the home of painters, potters, woodcarvers, sculptors and weavers. At the Wool Shed; Liliane Johnson charges $20 a day for room, board and lessons in weaving and spinning.