Escape from the Gulf IslandsAugust 24 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 14 °C
I am now sitting in Victoria airport waiting for my flight to Edmonton. WestJet has a direct flight which is very convenient. We will be home in an hour and fifteen minutes. Previous non direct flights on Air Canada ended up taking all day to get home. At least there is someplace where one can fly directly to from Edmonton.
The last days of my trip went well. I arrived in Long Harbour on Mayne Island on Monday just after lunch. It was a pretty gentle ride into the town of Ganges. Norma and Rob live at the end of Bedis Road. There is quite a steep hill leaving Ganges after the Emco bakery, not as bad as the Scharf hill on Pender but I got off and pushed to save my legs. Once I got to Bedis Road, it was much easier riding until the final hill to Norma's house. Norma and Rob's house sits at the top of a very steep hill which reduces the bikeablity but commands spectacular views of the Ganges harbour. I can sit for hours watching the boat activity in the harbour. It is very relaxing. Rob was away for work so I had alot of opportunity to visit with Norma. It felt like she was the first person I had talked to in 2 weeks.
On Tuesday, I did a very long bike tour of Saltspring Island including Ruckell park, Fulford harbour and then looping around by Cusheon lake road. With a little hike at Ruckell park, I was gone for about 5 hours. Was I ever tired when I got back to Norma's. I had brought my bike out to the Gulf Islands about 5 years ago but I had forgotten how steep the hills were. Of course I was 5 years younger then. Norma goes to bed every night at 8 so I wasn't under any pressure to stay up later. I must have fallen asleep by 8:30. My wife makes me stay up until 10. It will be tough when I get home having to stay up so late.
Obviously I was up early Wednesday morning. I wasn't looking forward to the fully loaded bike to Fulford harbour to take the ferry to Schwartz Bay. I also realised when I woke up that it was raining very hard. Fortunately Norma offered me a ride to the ferry. I was surprised that my bike could fit into her Prius but it did with room to spare. Norma had to work on Wednesday so we decided it would be best to get the 7:45 ferry. There was lots of traffic waiting for the ferry and by the time we arrived, trucks and cars were already disembarking. I don't know how Norma did it but she managed to drive between the flow of disembarking traffic and the traffic waiting to embark getting down to the terminal. Thank god for small cars. Thankfully as a walk on or bike on I got preferred boarding so unlike with a vehicle, there is never a concern about not getting on the ferry. The pedestrian board after the cars. I was quite surprised that all of the cars waiting but the very last one squeezed on. There was an angry exchange between the driver and the ramp attendant that I couldn't hear. When he backed up one of the other pedestrians told him they didn't feel it was fair that they hadn't let him on. He told us that he had missed the ferry last night resulting in him missing his flight to Edmonton and his ongoing connection. He was now going to miss his flight again. Talk about a hassle. It was so bizarre that he had left things too late to arrive at the ferry in a timely fashion. Just a few minutes earlier and he would have made it on.
I biked from Schwartz bay down to our BnB in Victoria. It was raining moderately hard. It is usually so dry out her in the summer that they are probably pretty happy for the rain. The ride was really easy after all of the hills on the Gulf Islands. The trail is known as the Lochside trail. Previous years, we have rented bikes with the children and biked the southern part of the trail. I had always wanted to bike the whole thing. Interestingly the southern part of the trail was the most scenic so I didn't miss out on anything.
The Lochside trail connects with the Galloping Goose Trail which goes to Sooke and beyond for a total of 55 k. Much of it is an old railway bed so again no big hills. On Thursday I biked out to Langford and beyond on the GG trail stopping at the 25 km mark before returning to Victoria. I wish I could have said that I had done the whole thing but I think it would have killed me. With a bike around Royal Roads university, 50 km was enough. Wow is there ever a lot of building going on in Langford. I think everyone in Canada must be retiring here.
My last day in Victoria was reserved for a bike through Oak Bay ,Uplands and the University of Victoria. It rained pretty hard by the time I got to Cordoba Bay so I took a coffee shop break. I checked out U of Vic and their bookstore. I felt a little nostalgic for the start of the school year and University. In the afternoon I toured the Royal BC museum. They had a great traveling Mayan artifact exhibition. I also took in their extensive West coast natives exhibition. I love all that potlatch stuff, totem poles and masks. By then it was time to swing around the YMCA to collect Andrew who was returning from Camp Thunderbird. We were so happy to be reunited. After there weeks of solitude one really starts to appreciate one's friends and family. We ate supper out and later that night my son Christopher showed up for a visit. He seems to have really matured as a camp counselor this summer. Andrew and I were quite tired so he left for his friends house where he has been couch surfing all summer after hitting me up for some cash.
All in all I enjoyed myself on my solo bicycle trip. Despite the marketing,some of the Gulf Islands because of their hilly nature don't lend themselves to a bicycle trip. Mayne Island and Saturna were bicycle able, Pender and Saltspring were not conducive to biking. It took me a while to accommodate to the solitude. Over the last 17 years since starting a family I have sometimes yearned for solitude and certainly on this trip my wish came true. Sometimes one has to be careful for what one wishes. People were quite friendly and I enjoyed all of the people I met and chatted with. I accomplished a lot of reading which was pleasureable. I think people on the Gulf Islands quite enjoyed talking books. It is much more enjoyable then talking about politics.
This will be my last blog for my Gulf Island trip. Until my next trip as Rick Steves likes to say 'Happy travels'.