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Stories and photos from Powell River, BC.

A Sourdough on the Sunshine Coast: Kaitie Leah, Part 2 – Stillwater

Posted by on Nov 5, 2016

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A Sourdough on the Sunshine Coast - Stillwater

Stillwater RV park and the Loafing Barn in the background

We have spent ten days, ricocheting from eye specialists to neurologists in the beautiful, but hectic City of Vancouver, B.C. Kaitlin my daughter has gone blind in one eye, with threat of total blindness due to an undiagnosed anomaly in both eyes. She has yellow dye injected into her veins most days, her pupils are dilated most days as well. It is an attempt for the specialists to determine where the damage is, and what is attacking her eyes.

Kait has lost her depth perception because of the loss of sight. The noise and rush of city traffic adds to her confusion. We are sent to the Infectious Diseases clinic at VGH, every possibility is covered to determine the reason for this blindness. I tell Kait not to sit on the chairs, do not touch anything! We stand in the centre of this room that specializes in infection. The population of Vancouver comes from every corner of the earth and transports evil bugs in and on their beings …my mother’s mind tells me so! We are exhausted, it is Labour Day weekend, and with no tests scheduled for a few days, we decide to travel to Pender Harbour and spend the Labour Day long weekend on the Audrey Eleanor our 1948 54’ wooden yacht.

There is much work to do onboard the Audrey Eleanor and we opt to head north on the Sunshine Coast to Powell River instead. We are on the Earl’s Cove B.C. Ferry passing between Captain Island and the north end of Nelson Island; our ship breaks through fog into the brilliance and sunshine in Jervis Inlet. My daughter smiles at me, the first peace that I have seen in days lights up her beautiful eyes. This is a good choice; she doesn’t have to worry about walking off a curb into traffic or being hit by cars with distracted drivers. We will walk into the sparkling sea instead.

Our first stop after disembarking at the Saltery Bay Ferry Terminal is the Saltery Bay Provincial Park and Mermaid Cove. Below the calm waters of Jervis Inlet swims an eight foot bronzed Mermaid. Kait wades in the water, splashing away the grime of the city. The Salish Sea is still warm. ‘Swim down and see if you can see the Mermaid!’ I challenge. ‘Yeah, right mom, she’s 50 feet down!’ She thinks I am silly. I want to distract her. Kait is a certified diver with her life is still in front of her, I want her to remember that.

We need to find a room without air conditioning. The specialists tell us that A/C could expose her to recycled bad air and bugs. (I had not realized that A/C could be nasty, I have never liked it regardless) We find Beach Gardens Hotel just within the City Limits of Powell River located directly on the shores of the Salish Sea…we leave the door open and have fresh salt air to cool us. It stays hot on the North Sunshine Coast well into October.

A wedding is celebrated in the main hotel. I am thinking there will be no solitude this evening. Kait works in a field that exposes her to all manner of bad people in the Yukon. She is forever telling me to ‘pay attention Mom, there are bad people out there, lock your doors!’ Here the door is wide open to the music and laughter drifting down from the wedding party. I look at my girl, her shoulders have dropped, the strain on her face is easing. Golden dusky light shines on her face, I hum quietly, ‘everything’s gonna be all right, rock-a-bye.’

Boats are mooring up for the evening, tourists are dining out on the Ocean side patio. ‘How are you doing honey?’ I ask. ‘Are you OK with the door open, we can just leave the patio door open to the balcony if you like?’ ‘No, she says, I can tell that it’s safe here, it’s nice to hear the music and laughter and feel the breeze.’

I believe that I have come home; a bed has been made up for us in the room upstairs. Shortly we will go down for dinner and join the rest of the family, a reminiscence of my grandparent’s house. I wish I had them to consult with about my baby girl; she does not need to hear my fears.

‘Let’s explore!’ I say. I have been following the Powell River real estate guide for many months. We have to make a decision about continuing our lives onboard the Audrey Eleanor or moving up on to the ‘hard’. There will be no pension, so I have to find something that provides the Captain and myself with income. I am now of the mind that if Kait’s condition (whatever it is) progresses, she may need to be closer to the specialists as well.

Texada Island’s crazy low real estate prices are a huge draw. The Island requires a short ferry ride from Powell River. Gorgeous sandy beaches and solitude are appealing, however I am wanting a little less solitude these days. I like people and need some diversity, a long ways from wanting to build a cabin up the McClintock River in the Yukon and living there forever, a youthful dream.

Returning to Powell River from Texada, we have time to stop in at Stillwater on our way back to the ferry. Stillwater is a community located 17K south of town, it was established in the late 1800’s. A house and acreage in Stillwater has been rolling round in my mind and causing a disturbance for sometime now. We drive up a grass-centered lane and pass a sparking brook. Tree branches hang heavy with red apples. I stop beside the ‘pink’ (I am not a fan of pink) stucco house with surrounding deck. Grape vines are overgrown and cover much of the railings. I wait for the owners to come out and ask what I am doing here.

They do and I say I have no appointment, but was interested in getting a closer look at the house from the outside, I will return with their realtor whenever it is convenient. They say not to be silly, of course, come on in! (My pushy realtor side was hoping for this response) It is not quite a fall down house, but close. There is 2.5 acres for sale with the house, old fruit trees and a barn of course… it is known as the loafing barn (another story). It also has a small RV park at the back of the property! Income producing property, it’s a dream. The Ocean view is spectacular and the sea lions are serenading us, the asking price is $315,000.

We thank the couple and say we will return with John their realtor soon. They tell us to be sure that we take the beach trail down to Frolander Bay before we leave.

Across the road is beach access… really! We walk past a young family picking blackberries. Branches hang low, loaded with glistening black fruit, the perfume so strong in the hot sunshine that you can taste the sweetness on your tongue. The small children have black/blue teeth and big smiles. We turn to the beach access.

The channel for the creek was built up years ago with rock, the brook from the pink house has combined with other small brooks and turned into a rushing stream that runs along this rock-lined channel. Bamboo flanks the north side of the trail and casts lengthy leafy shadows along the short walk, hazel nuts crunch under foot. Ferns line the south rock wall with magenta coloured wild foxglove adding colour splashes against the deep emerald backdrop.

Stepping out of the cool shaded bamboo tunnel we set our eyes on the round pebble beach of Frolander Bay, children splash and swim in the green Ocean, I feel panicked, $315,000 for a house in Whitehorse will get me half a duplex…no Salish Sea, no fruit trees, I have to call the Captain. I think we must buy this house quickly!

My real estate instincts are on full alert. It is surreal, a house by the Ocean with old fruit trees, a barn and a possible income producing RV park, someone has been slipping into my dreams. I can hear the cluck of hens running through the lush grass, eagles scream overhead…any possibility of actually owning something like this has always been shrouded in the money shadow. The Captain is in Whitehorse; I can hardly wait to talk to him.

Kait and I reluctantly head for the car and begin the return trip to Vancouver. Surely this week will bring a diagnosis for my girl!

Sunny Dawn Kostelnik

Sunny Dawn Kostelnik

Author at The White Girl
"Sunny" Dawn Kostelnik is a published author that has written two books, The Adventures of the Audrey Eleanor and The White Girl. She contributes regularly to the Whitehorse Star, A Sourdough on the Sunshine Coast and currently writes The Sourdough Chronicles for North of Ordinary Magazine. She has moved to the Sunshine Coast from the far north and still can’t believe that she lives in this paradise!
Sunny Dawn Kostelnik

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