A short but fine adventure by Roch & No Cheese
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  • 31kilometers
  • Day 1

    Feelin’ Alright

    September 7, 2021 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Seems I've got to have a change of scene.
    Every night I have the strangest dreams.
    Imprisoned by the way it could have been.
    Left here on my own or so it seems.
    I've got to leave before I start to scream.
    Won't someone lock the door and turn the key.

    OK, that’s a little dramatic, but the fact is I haven’t posted anything on this app since March 6, 2020 when the whole world shut down. Since then, the only traveling Brenda and I have done was to Whistler last October to celebrate our anniversary. Needless to say, as accustomed as we were to frequent trips away, staying put in Vancouver for eighteen months has left us with an itch that wasn’t being scratched. Well, this week we decided to quell that urge and have a little cycling getaway to Salt Spring Island.

    This is my first trip to any of the Gulf Islands and Brenda’s first attempt at cycle-tourism since our rather disastrous 2015 Portugal trip. Early Tuesday morning we strapped on our backpacks, jumped on our folding bikes and rode to the nearest Skytrain station. From there it was only a few stops to the bus that would take us to the Tsawassen Ferry terminal. We took the milk run ferry that stopped at Mayne, Galiano and Pender Islands before arriving at our destination at about 1:45 PM. The crossing was fantastic under a clear blue sky that allowed us to enjoy the entire trip seated on the upper sun deck. We were even treated to the sight of a humpback whale breaking the surface not far from the starboard side of the ship. The islands themselves are beautiful: thickly forested and dominated by steep rolling hills.

    In fact, upon our arrival we quickly realized that this cycling trip was not going to be a ride in the park. Leaving the ferry we immediately came to a long slow climb before rapidly descending into the town of Ganges where we stopped for lunch at the Tree House Cafe. With our bellies filled with food and beer, we made our way towards our accommodations, about 5 kms away. Although GoogleMaps assured us the route was mostly flat, it is anything but. As I arrived at the top of our first steep 40 metre climb, I realized I had forgotten Brenda’s Berkey water bottle in the restaurant. Back down the hill, retrieve the bottle and up again to re-join Brenda. With all the ups and downs, we climbed 91 more metres, with full backpacks and repair kit on board, before we arrived at our room. Under bright sunshine and 26 degrees, I was literally melting.

    While in town, we bought a couple of salad kits which we ate for dinner while seated on the deck overlooking St Mary Lake and enjoying the sunset.

    Feelin’ alright, mm, hmmm.
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  • Day 2

    Mount Erskine

    September 8, 2021 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We awoke early Wednesday morning after a very restful night’s sleep and with a plan to be out the door by 9:00 to hike the Mt. Erskine loop. This 3.9 km trail features a 218 metre elevation gain and several hidden fairy doors to try to locate. We couldn’t find any information about bike parking at the trailhead and, after yesterday’s traumatizing hill climbs, decided we’d walk the 6 kms to get there. It was a little cool with a fine mist in the air when we departed, but I soon found myself shedding my rainshell as the Salt Spring hills once again reminded me that I’m not eighteen anymore.

    It took us the better part of 90 minutes to arrive at the trail, but we immediately set off in search of the elusive fairy doors. As soon as we set foot on the forest grounds, the ascent commenced, although at this point the trail was wide and relatively free of obstacles. As we climbed higher and higher, Brenda began wondering if we would ever find any of the fairy doors. It didn’t look good.

    Onward and upward, the trail became more and more difficult and we had little time to look for fairy doors as we had to continuously watch the placement of each step. Then suddenly, on the upper side of a tree stump, there it was: fairy door number one. It isn’t a myth! After paying our respects and taking some photos, reinvigorated we continued our march to the summit. And our efforts were handsomely rewarded by the beautiful views and panoramas Mother Nature offered us.

    After spending some time at the summit, we began our descent down a much steeper, but shorter trail. Our progress was slow, but we eventually made it back down to the trailhead and then hiked a further 4.4 kms to Dagwood’s Restaurant (apparently,”where the locals dine“) where we devoured a veggie burger, fries and a Blue Buck Ale.

    By the time we walked back to our room, we had covered 19.85 kms and gained 612 metres in elevation. According to Strava, all that exercise burned off 1215 calories, more than enough to cover my burger and beer.
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  • Day 6

    New Friends and Old Friends

    September 12, 2021 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    On Friday morning we went for a relaxed 15 km ride out to the Fernwood Pier and back along the coastline. The ride along the water was quite flat but we had enough ups and downs to have us climb about 175 metres in elevation. And it was a good thing we burned off some calories as the rest of the day was far less healthful.

    In the afternoon, we met up with Cynthia, a woman who used to volunteer with us at Safeway on Tuesdays. She and her husband sold their Vancouver home in the spring and spent the summer in a rented home on Salt Spring. She had offered to be our tour guide for the day and we happily accepted her kindness. Brenda and I had planned to visit the Island’s two wineries on our bikes, but when we realized how hilly the ride would have been, we jumped at Cynthia’s suggestion we go wine tasting together. We did full tastings at both Salt Spring Winery and Greg Oaks Winery before moving off to Salt Spring Distillery where we sampled a variety of Mead-based spirits, all of which were outstanding. Cynthia also brought us up to her favorite bakery, located high on a hill in a very secluded area on the northern part of the island. The bakery opens only on Fridays and by the time we got there, most of the shelves were already empty.

    After our tour, we went back to Cynthia’s place where we enjoyed Kir Royale made with a bottle of the Salt Spring Sparkling Wine and some of our hostess’s homemade blackberry liqueur. In the meantime, I prepared a vegan meal of Coconut Curry Lentil Soup and Brenda made her GF banana bread. The food was accompanied by more wine and some of the fresh-baked bread we purchased earlier. At the end of the evening, our host, Diran, was kind enough to drive us back to our accommodations.

    Saturday morning greeted us with much cooler temperatures and the promise of rain throughout the day. That was unfortunate because we wanted to attend the much-touted Ganges Saturday Market. As a bonus, we got a message from our friends Rob and Nicole saying they were coming to Salt Spring for a visit. They’ve been living in Nicole’s late parents home on Thetis Island since last year. Despite the rain, they ferried over and joined us at the market where they picked up a bottle of the local distillery’s mead-based gin. Brenda and I joked that we weren’t sure if they came for us or for the booze. We went for lunch at El Loco Taco for some excellent Mexican food and reminiscing before bidding farewell to Rob and Nicole.

    Our ferry home to Vancouver left the Island at 3:30 and we had time to go for a long walk in the morning and another veggie burger at Dagwood’s Diner before making our way to the dock. The crossing home started out basking in the sun on the upper deck of the ship , but after we sailed away from our stop at Mayne Island, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and we had to take cover indoors.

    We arrived home at 7:30, rested, a little hungry and well rested. It was a brief break from our routine, but it did us both a world of good. I am so fortunate to have Brenda in my life . Not only do I love spending time with her, but she’s always thinking of, and planning, ways to make our lives fun and complete.
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