Wednesday, 10 June 2015

One Island, Two Ferry Rides and Freeloading

Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
The wet night at Mora meant that the tent was damp while we packed it away. Wet mornings are frustrating because everything takes so much longer and is not quite as easy. After the sluggish start we cycled back east towards Port Angeles to meet up with our Warm Showers hosts before getting the midday ferry over on the Tuesday.

Since this was all retracing our steps with light rain and a slight tail wind we raced along the highway towards our destination. There was a bit of frustration when I realised I dropped a glove when we stopped for a snack break and had to do an unwelcome 5 mile round trip to find it outside the post office but better than wasting money on new gloves. Before we knew it we arrived in Port Angeles and had to just chill in the town because our hosts were on a Memorial Weekend hike so we headed down to the sea front to watch the boats in the harbour. We chatted to some folks that had just retired and sold pretty much everything they own to travel for as long as they could around the US. Then we talked to a British couple that were on holiday and just enjoying the sites. After swapping stories Sophie and I headed down to a bar to enjoy of a jug of ale while waiting to meet our hosts in a restaurant round the corner.

The evening with Sarah and Zane was fairly fitting for our last evening in America. Good food, tasty beer and great company. In the morning we picked up some burritos recommended by Zane and headed for the noon ferry across the water. As we watched the land melt into the sea Sophie and I felt quite emotional about leaving this country that had been so wonderful to us during the last 3 months and wondered what was in store for us in Canada.

Our few worries around the Canadian border officials were unfounded and we sailed through customs and landed on Canadian soil. We were quickly met by Sophie's Great Aunt Vita and Great Uncle Thor. A short car journey later had us arrive at their home and we used the glorious afternoon sun to dry out the tent and gear that had got so drenched in that seemingly far off land.  The next few days with Vita and Thor were great. We rested, got all our equipment sorted and were given guided tours around Victoria and along the coast to visit Vancouver Island's many beaches. We also heard about Peter (the cycle tourist we had met in Port Townsend) arriving onto the island and decided it'd be great to meet up again.  Sat in a bar Peter asked us if he could interview us about the trip.  We said yes and here is the result.  Saying goodbye to Peter we headed back for a Chinese meal to be introduced to Sophie's extended family.

Before long we were driving north to Rathtrevor Provincial Campground to spend the night before the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland.  After a farewell ice cream with Thor we set up camp and wandered down to the local pub for a very British Ploughmans for our dinner.  The morning ride from the campground to the ferry was fairly standard highway riding which meant we raced along and managed to catch the earlier boat across.  When we arrived on 'Canada Proper' we made our way to our host's for the next few days.  John and I used to play Ultimate Frisbee together way back in our University days but, to our memories, had only played on the same team a couple of times; we normally ended up opposite numbers.  Anyway, John had contacted us a couple of months ago when he had seen about our trip and invited us to stay for 3 nights in North Vancouver.  Staying here was fantastic. It was great to see a friendly face, granted one I hadn't seen for a number of years and just to catch up with somebody without telling our whole life story.  Most of the conversation we have these days follow a very similar track and, although it is always great to talk to new folks, it was great to talk about "the good old days" and to fill in the gaps between then and now.

Since John was working full time it gave us time to turn our attention on the bikes.  Our Rohloff hubs need an oil change every 3105 miles.  It sounds rather precise but since they are made in Germany they advise 5000km a much neater, round number. Reading the manual and watching a YouTube video made the process really easy and hassle free.  We also switched the tyres around, changed break pads, oiled the Brooks saddles and cleaned the chains, spockets and chainring.  After some further, rather dull, admin duties that seem to always crop up (banks, student loans etc) we just chilled out and had a walk up Quarry Rock to check out the view.

After the three nights with John we headed into the city, we met up with Morgaine for lunch, a friend of Sophie's from the village she grew up in, Hartland.  Then headed on to meet friends of Sophie's sister who'd offered to put us up too.  Staying with Hamish and Sara gave us a great location to check out the city and to eat some amazing Chinese noodles.  We also met up with a distant relation of mine that lived just outside the city.  Marilyn and Zolt drove us around the city and showed us some of the different areas before heading to their house for a barbecue to meet the rest of their family. The following day they drove us along the waterfront and out to Steveston to have fish and chips.  Again it was nice to just hang out and experience a bit of city living but I think almost 2 weeks without being in the saddle both of us were feeling like we wanted to get back on our bikes. In a serendipitous situation we bumped into a cycle tourist who, with his wife, has cycled a lot of Northern British Columbia and had lived in an around the areas we were wanting to cycle through.  On top of this they had cycled from Argentina and up through South America so also had loads of information to pass on.  After an afternoon talking and route planning through the next couple of weeks we headed home.

On the way home we were reminded of the dangers in a city and why we shouldn't spend too much time in them.  It was like any other warm afternoon in the city.  The two beers had gone to our head and we were just window shopping back to the flat.  The sun was high and bright but even in full daylight, this is when it happened.  Sophie was walking along admiring a dress in the a nice boutique without a care in the world when, out of nowhere BANG the scaffolding slammed into Sophie. The ensuing laughter made passersby take note but still the scaffolding was unmoved,  seemingly unphased by the entire incident.  This whole interaction made us very wary of other Canadian cities that we may visit in the future.


  1. More great hosts to enjoy your downtime with! Mr P

    1. Yeh it was really nice to met up with your distant relations Mr P, thank you for putting us in touch with them. We would have never had got to see of Vancouver without their help.