Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Queen Charlotte, Skidegate and a rather unfortunate incident …

Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii
Queen Charlotte is the largest town in Haida Gwaii, but it still feels pretty small.

We were staying close to the harbour, which also had the large and helpful tourist information office, the Ocean View Restaurant with the great pizza, a lovely little café called Queen B’s, where we failed to resist the nice looking – and equally nice tasting – cakes, and a few other little shops and eateries.

Volunteer celebrations, Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii

This is also where the ‘town square’ is, complete with a small stage. We were quite pleased to discover that there was due to be an event on; it was a celebration of the volunteers in the community, and it was to have live music, food stalls, a cake, and a presentation to a specially honoured volunteer. It sounded interesting, and we were told everyone was welcome, so we decided to stick around to check it out.

Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii
Well, a few dozen people turned up. There was a band, and they were OK, at least until the vocalist let another band member have a go at singing, when it went a bit south for a few songs. There was a food stall, and there was a cake. They couldn’t cut the cake though, because that honour was for the person being presented to, and she hadn’t arrived. I don’t know whether or not she knew that she was supposed to be receiving something, so had to turn up, but an hour and fifty minutes into the two-hour event and she still hadn’t arrived. Oops.

Skidegate, Haida Gwaii
Further down the road, was the supermarket, and a few more places to eat, including a nice little shop/café/ice cream place called Junebug. That is pretty much it, but it covers all the necessaries, and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality in the places we tried.

There is no public transport on the island, and as you’ll know from my post about our arrival here, taxis are few and far between, so hitchhiking is commonplace. That would probably have been how we would have got between Queen Charlotte and Skidegate had we not managed to hire a car.

We had saved Skidegate and the nearby museum for our last day, as before we knew we were getting the car, it seemed easier to just make one trip in this direction, and then we would be in the right area to get the ferry from Skidegate in the evening. Having the car made things much easier though, as it’s a reasonable distance between Skidegate town, the museum and the ferry terminal, and as it turned out, there wasn’t a suitable café in Skidegate, so we still ended up driving back to Queen B’s in Queen Charlotte.

Model of old Skidegate, Haida Gwaii Museum, Haida Gwaii

Skidegate is the second of the two sites that the Haida people moved to when they abandoned their villages. The Haida Museum has a great little model of what the village would have looked like then, and while it is certainly very different now, you can still see the basic layout of the properties around the bay.

Skidegate, Haida Gwaii
There isn’t much to do in Skidegate itself, but then that wasn’t really a surprise by now, based on everywhere else we’d been. We checked out a couple of touristy shops, looked at a couple of totem poles, and that was about it. Our favourite thing in Skidegate was probably the old rusting fire engine that was sat on the grass, gradually disintegrating, with a tree growing out of the top.

Old fire engine, Skidegate, Haida Gwaii

We had also been told, by someone we’d met at the Airbnb the previous evening, to sneak a peek into the shed next to the fire engine. It was locked, but there was a small opening at the back that we could peer through. Inside, were the blackened remains of a totem pole, which had presumably been rescued from a fire at some point, but were now lying forgotten in this shed.

The main thing to do here though, is to visit the Haida Gwaii Museum and Haida Heritage Centre. We did, but I’ll talk about those in the next post.

Burnt totem pole, Skidegate, Haida Gwaii

For now, I’ll leave you with the rather unfortunate incident that happened to Nic, as we were about to leave Queen Charlotte. We were walking back to the car, and passed under a lamppost. Just as we did so, Nic got splattered with bird poo. But this wasn’t just any old bird poo, this was courtesy of a bald eagle that was sitting on the lamppost.

Now bearing in mind that a bald eagle is generally between 70cm and a metre tall, with a wingspan of around two meters, you can imagine that they produce quite a lot of poo. It wasn’t pretty. Thankfully, because we had the bags in the car, Nic was able to grab a change of clothes and go and use the tourist information office loos to clean up and change. The eagle just sat there.

Old fire engine, Skidegate, Haida Gwaii