Monday, August 18, 2014

Squamish Music Festival

So last weekend at the ripe old age of 40 I finally went to my first ever Music Festival!! The Squamish Music Festival! Woo hoo!

Squamish is a 3 day festival, but due to other calendar commitments we were just looking at Sunday. Enimem head-lining along with the Arctic Monkeys, Pete Tong & John Digweed (and obviously dozens of others that we'd never heard of!) Tickets were $150 for a day pass. Which at first glance seemed expensive but then I reasoned that we'd be paying that for a concert in BC Place in Vancouver, or even locally here in Kelowna. And for that money we get a whole day of music and entertainment! Really it was a steal!

Gates opened at 1, music started around 3pm. We made the 6 hour drive on Sunday morning to get there in time to collect our wristbands and parking pass from the gate. (If we booked in advance these would have been sent to us, but actually it was an efficient pick-up system and saved us another added fee for the courier delivery!)

The weather was amazing. Temps in the early 30's and wall-to-wall blue. The festival grounds did lack shade which was hard going, but Squamish is surrounded by giant mountains so the sun dips below the horizon earlier here than some places. It was an instant and welcome relieve when it did!

The Stawamus 'Cheif' was a pretty magnificent backdrop to the stage!
Night-time the sky was filled with strings of glowing balloons and the smoke from the DJ stage

We loved the whole experience! There were 4 stages - 2 'big' ones, a DJ arena/stage and then a smaller stage for more alternative stuff. We hovered between the Tantalus, the Stawamus stage and the Blueprint arena. We listened to Phatogram & Atmosphere whilst laying on our picnic blanket in the late afternoon sun, then cruised by the DJ stage and chilled out to tunes from Project 46 (was one of my favs from the event). We checked in on the Arctic Monkeys but it's not really my taste. Back to the other end of the grounds for some awesomely varied music from the Theivery Corporation.

You can see the man....just!! Eminem played an awesome set!

Eninem was the day's big draw for most people, and he was on the Tantalus Stage at 9:40 - it was packed!! We worked our way through to a spot nearer the front for the first half of his show, then moved back for a slightly more relaxed time for the second half - with less crowding around us you could actually see more! (just further away obviously!). he played an awesome set - some older stuff mixed in with the new and he had an great singer accompany him, taking the place of Rhianna in several of those tracks - she sounded fantastic! His encore was 'Lose Yourself' which had the crowd erupt! He was done around 11:20 and we headed back to end our night listening and dancing at the Blueprint arena and a bit of John Digweed

I was surprised and impressed how organised the festival was. Obviously great weather helps things enormously! But the line-ups for our tickets at the start of the day and then food, merchandise and porta-potties were never long. They were efficient and staff were jovial, professional and knew their stuff. it was altogether well organised and a slick moving operation. I was never overcome by the crowds and mass of people - and of course there were lots of people - but there really was space for everyone and no-one was bitchin'. Even the RCMP roaming the grounds were friendly and seemingly enjoying themselves, chatting to festival-goers as they went. I didn't see or sense any bad vibes. It thankfully wasn't as 'hippy and young' as I thought it was gonna be - quite the relief for this old dog! Aside from the music there were plenty of vendor and sponsor tents to browse - most giving out freebies of some kind - we had free slushies, Kind bars, Jerky and Hawaiian Tropic had a stand doling out sunscreen and after-sun samples! (pretty handy given the weather!) I missed out on getting a free caricature done, but we get some groovy sunglasses and a beach ball! (which Meli loved destroying! - and then still loved as she tore around with a deflated ball!).

At the end of the night we drove the 1/2 hour down the road to our camp-ground at Porteau Cove (one of our favourite BC Provincial parks) and woke the next morning to the sound of the water lapping the shore. A morning paddle-boarding and yoga session before getting back on the road for the drive home.

Linking up this fine Monday morning with Katie's 'Marvelous in my Monday' linkup - celebrating all that is good about the beginning of the working week!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Savary Island - BC's 'Tropical' Paradise!

We've lived in BC for nearly 5 years. Until a few weeks ago we'd never heard of Savary Island, and we'll be forever thankful to the Powell River taxi driver who told us about this hidden gem! On doing research for our trip I realised there isn't much visitor information out there about Savary Island - I think those that know like to keep it to themselves!!

Savary Island is a small island in the Strait of Georgia just off the BC coast near Lund on the Sunshine Coast. It's only 7.5 km long and less than a 1km wide. There are no paved roads, no electricity and no mains water or sewage systems. 

Once you drive all the way up the Sunshine Coast, the paved road ends in the tiny community of Lund. From there you get the Lund Water Taxi across the water to Savary. The water taxi is $11 per person each way and leaves every hour. You generally need to book ahead since it gets pretty loaded up with people and luggage. It's just a 10-15 trip across the water landing you at Government dock on the north east shore of the island.

We were staying at the island's only campground. It's very informal, and I'm not even really sure what it's called! We found out some information ahead of time online with it called 'Savary Camping & Cottages' but I think the locals more commonly refer to it as 'Pascal's Campground' (surprise, surprise it's run by a guy called Pascal! and really, since the information online is sketchy the safest, easiest way to connect is by good old fashioned phone - 604-698-8745) Thankfully it's on the eastern end of the island and a manageable walk from the dock - maybe 10-20 minutes depending on how much luggage you're hauling. Alternatively there are people at the wharf with trucks so you can pay someone for a ride. From the dock turn right and head up the hill. At the junction keep left onto Anderson Road and follow it around to the left until you see the camping. The campsite had around 10 sites all with nice wooden tent pads, picnic tables and lots of shade. There's a very basic outhouse with a flush toilet, dish-washing sink and a cold (really cold!) water shower. It's rustic to say the least! There's also a covered picnic shelter which would be a perfect escape should the weather be bad. The campground is in the middle of the island so it's a 10 minute walk in either direction to get to public beach access. We had gorgeous weather for our weekend stay on Savary but the campground is so heavily shaded by the lush green trees it actually gets quite chilly so bring a sweater if you're hanging around camp!

The first evening we explored the south shore beaches near the campground. There's quite a cliff to get down to the beach and it's mostly lined with private houses so you need to pick your spot to get down to the beach, but there are a couple of marked trails. The beach is strewn with driftwood and a fun place to beach-comb for sand dollars and I found some smoothed-out coloured glass fragments which I like to collect

Our second day we spent our time on the north shore beach, near the dock. With the tide out its a huge wide, flat, beautiful white sand beach with shallow waters and you can people watch the comings and goings on the dock! Our second night we ate at Riggers Pub & General Store. A small, simple menu but the beer flowed (at only $6 a pint) and it filled a gap! I was more than impressed that the general store next door were only charging $1 for a small bottled water - totally reasonable when there was easy opportunity to gouge their captive audience! Hat's off to Riggers! (and if you're a patron of the pub they have super lovely clean toilets!!) We rounded out our evening by heading back down to the beach for the sunset - just gorgeous!

I explored the island a little on the second morning with a 'sight-seeing' run. I ran the full length of the island. The road runs through the middle of the island so in truth there wasn't a lot to see. Savary is heavily wooded with lush, old growth evergreens - it really does have that rain-forest feel to it and it was lovely to run through this 'enchanted' forest! It was fun to glimpse all the little cottages and homes buried away in the woods - some tiny and shack-like, others quite elaborate mansions! There are a few businesses on island - a small bike rental place (near the dock & Riggers on the east end), a few B&Bs, a couple of art galleries and a kayak rental place. If you can spare the luggage space I think taking a bike would be super handy - it's the most popular way of getting around!

We loved our 2 night stay on Savary Island. It really was amazing to disconnect, kick back and relax with no distractions. It was a perfect, lazy 2 days with some great company. The showers were challenging to say the least (the upside to a 9 mile run for me was that I was hot and sweaty so a cold shower was quite refreshing, the others were cold from hanging around camp for too long so being cold and then getting into an icy shower was pretty shocking!) Whilst there was in fact cell phone service there was no electricity and my poor iPhone is old and doesn't last long without some juice. I turned it to airplane mode and saved the battery just to take photos. (though you can pay $2 at Riggers to charge up your phone!)

And the beaches really are tropical-like white sands and the waters really are warm (the warmest north of Mexico some say!)

Also very worthy of a mention is Nancy's Bakery in Lund. It was the perfect place to grab some last minute goodies to take with us and something to look forward to on our return...the most incredible place serving up breakfasts, fresh baked goods, sandwiches, paninis and more. Their speciality blackberry cinnamon buns converted Chris (not a cinnamon bun lover) into an addict! They were amaze-balls! And all  served up with a lovely view overlooking Lund harbour.

Savary Island, we will be back!
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