Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by squonker, Jun 13, 2018.
Looking forward to the next installment
sorry I missed you on the way south Ben, looks like a great ride!
on another note, I have stayed at Mary's Hotel in Golden! a buddy and I on our "old guy" bikes stayed for a few nights there back in 2015. cheapest place in town lol
in this photo, we're sitting outside of our room at Mary's having tea (twisted variety) and he's giving me shit for waving at everyone we meet on two wheels. I tell him I don't give a fuck about what he thinks of it, I wave at everyone with their knees in the breeze.
our "old guy" bikes parked outside our room at Mary's
after we left Golden we hit the Icefields Parkway. it was cold and he asked if I had a warm pair of gloves he could borrow. I said "sure, but you have to wave at every fucking bike we meet...even if it's a scooter." so he did, in the most over the top way...left arm fully extended straight up and waving like a lunatic. I still laugh when I think about it.
Lol sounds like a great ride, Troy! I always crack up when people do an over-the-top wave, just too funny. And I'd stay at Mary's again any time - was really impressed with that place (for what I paid)! I'll call again when I'm next out your way, likely over the winter (maybe you and your Dad couple use some help from a guy who only works two weeks a month ).
Sunday July 29th I was up early - 4am - for my flight back to Victoria, and my bike. Flying from Victoria to Edmonton (where I changed planes) on my way home from the end of the previous leg I had been blown away by the beauty and ruggedness of some of BC's mountainous areas. Glacier fed lakes, glaciers themselves, incredible hiking areas, boating areas...what an astoundingly beautiful province British Columbia is. And I was fortunate enough that this morning it was clear again and I had the opportunity to marvel at it once more. (On the way home from this most recent leg of the trip I snapped a bunch of pics from the plane. Stay tuned for them...)
In the meantime, on the walk back from Victoria airport to Mikey's place where I'd left the bike I did manage to snap a couple of wholly uninspiring shots.
Just to the right of centre in the shot above is a yellow and red water bomber which I'd put money on being an ex-GNWT (Government of the Northwest Territories) plane, operated by Buffalo Airways (of Ice Pilots fame). But I've been wrong before...
All the land in the two photos above I used to farm.
Below, the last leg of the walk to Mikey's.
I made a quick stop at Jaki's (from the last installment) and then went to find my camping spot. I'd booked a place at the Federally run McDonald Campground in Sidney for the week. Despite never having even set foot in there before I wasn't too worried, it was a good location and as long as they had a toilet and drinking water I'd manage comfortably. When I had booked (over the phone) I'd been asked which campsite I wanted and replied that I didn't know one from the other so any would do. Walking around the campground that lunchtime I realized that I had probably been given the worst site there, but it wasn't bad and I had no reason to complain. I did make a note of the numbers of half a dozen better spots that I'd request in the future.
My friend Sean came over to visit on his bike and we discussed a ride for later in the week. One possibility was Tofino, Tofino is one of my favourite places anywhere and the road out there is like bike porn, but my buddy Pat manages that stretch of highway and a call to him informed me that the road was in fairly rough shape, breaking up in places and they'd put gravel down in some spots and that there were cars in the ditch every day. Not what I wanted on one of the best roads I've ever ridden, and that combined with the fact that Pat had a busy week was enough to persuade us to come up with a plan B.
Sean and (one of) his bike(s):
Next, I rode through Cordova Bay to Cadboro Bay and along Dallas Road, the famous oceanfront road in Victoria.
Look at the size of that stump!
I had an invitation to supper with a friend in Esquimalt, so picked up a bottle of wine and had a great evening with great company and good food. I hadn't seen Terry and his wife in a couple of years so it was good to be able to catch up. And in such fantastic weather - it was still 25c at 9.30pm when I left the city, and 21c in Sidney. I fueled up on the way home and my range indicator read over 350kms which was a first (usually it's around 310, 320kms - something to do with the gas)? I arrived back at camp to find the battery in my headlamp was dead, it must have been switched on in my dry bag while I was away at work, and then the lamp that I hang in my tent also appeared to be suffering from the same problem...until I hit it with my head and it sprang to life .
I went to bed very content - a common theme for this leg of the ride because I had glorious weather all week, not a drop of rain the entire time. I love my tent and my sleeping bag and sleep like a baby in it and by the end of this week I felt as though I'd had a month off. Very content...
Just found this... very well done.
I need a job with your schedule. Nice report.
Thanks Grizz! (everyone should have a job with my schedule. I still have to pinch myself to see if it's real.)
The next morning was kicked off with breakfast, with Sean, here:
In all the years I lived in Victoria, and worked within walking distance of this place, I never once went there. The very first job I had when I left school was on a farm owned by a mega rich chap who collected WW2 aircraft. He had one of the worlds only flying two seater Spitfires, a two seater Mustang, a Polartis, a Messerschmidt and probably more that I forget. Actually about two weeks before I started work there he crashed his single seater Spitfire and died, but there were two runways on the farm and it wasn't uncommon to be trundling around in a tractor and see one of these fantastic aircraft taking off or landing. And the sound of those Merlin engines... But I digress.
Over breakfast I found myself thinking about storage lockers, and how I should find one to keep my bike in in Victoria over the winter.
It was a gorgeous morning, and having eaten I went back to Sean's place where we cleaned the chain on my bike and fiddled with the TPS on Sean's new daily driver.
Despite the centrestand on my bike being OEM, it doesn't lift the rear wheel off the ground (and I don't think that it is possible to install incorrectly), so we used a tool Sean had that I had never seen before.
Another of Sean's bikes
There's an Australian Shepherd that lives where Sean does. It might just be the friendliest dog in the world. Meet Shelby.
And while there I asked Sean whether he had a 3A fuse. When I jumped on my bike at the beginning of the season I plugged my mini compressor into the 12V outlet and it didn't work. A blown 3A fuse was the culprit, and you'd think that that would be no problem to replace, right? I did too. I went to Canadian Tire and bought some 3A fuses, mini ones, but they didn't fit. So I tried regular ones, and also no fit. A lots of head scratching later and it turns out that the Strom takes what is called an ATM Low Profile Fuse. Fair enough, now I know what I need to get, but...do you think that I could find a 3A one? Stay tuned!
Sean getting serious!
It was very hot. Too hot, and eventually I needed to go to my campsite, which was heavily shaded, to cool down. I don't do well in the heat, anything over 20c and I start to feel it. But having sat in the shade for an hour or so I was off again, first to call in at a trucking school that I used to instruct at, and then at my buddy Red's mechanics shop. Parked over the road were some funky vehicles (that were nothing to do with Red).
Red and I went for a coffee in Brentwood Bay where it was 32c (just shoot me), and then I went to visit inmate Cowgirl, with whom I've been friends for years. But I also hadn't seen her since she got herself one of these...
Glad to see that I'm not the only one who realizes that British is Best!! It was great to catch up again, but it was also still far too hot for my liking, and it was back to the campsite again for seconds of shade.
While there I had a strange conversation with the volunteer host at the campground. He lived in Yellowknife for five years and we were comparing the island and YK. He said that in Victoria the sun always comes out for a couple of hours each day in winter, and I couldn't disagree more - winters in the Victoria/Vancouver area are brutal because you can go days and days without seeing the sun. He then said that in YK the sun rises at 10am and sets again at 2pm, which again I'd disagree with - even on the shortest day of the year you're going to get about 5 hours of daylight. It struck me as odd that we could have had such different experiences of the same places.
Another oddity. The campground had this sign up as you drive in:
I don't know about you, but to me that says that the campground is full. I.e. no room at the inn, go somewhere else. But a closer look revealed this:
It wasn't full at all, there were still half a dozen spots open. Why put out a sign saying 'Campground Full' when it isn't? Cue Scully and Mulder.
On the previous leg of this journey I camped with my best friend Simon and his family for a few days...it was off to supper at their place (which was a surprise because I was expecting only a cup of tea), and I was in bed snug as a bug in a rug in my tent shortly after 10pm. Very content.
The next morning I was up early to enjoy the peacefulness while everyone else was still sleeping. I took the time to chill, and wonder around the campground checking out peoples' rigs. One day, if I'm ever no longer able to ride a bike or too delicate to sleep in a tent I'll need a plan B. Perhaps something like this:
That's odd, I know that I took photos of several set-ups, but this is the only one I can find.
I had breakfast with my friend Sarah in Sidney. It was quiet there (it pretty much always is!), and there was a pleasant breeze coming off the ocean. After eating I went back to the campground to grab a set of clean clothes and my wash things. I had arranged to have a shower that afternoon .
And hmmm, odder still - I know that I took photos later in the day but they are also nowhere to be found. Well, not much I can do about that and I'll just have to tell you the story instead.
First stop was Adrenalin Motorcycle Co-Op, which I can't recommend highly enough. They are wonderful folks who do wonderful work and I dropped in to say hi, it having been a few years since I had been there. There were so many bikes parked outside I couldn't figure out how they'd all fit in the shop at night. Glad that that's not my job! While I was there a very shiny Victory rolled up and the owner said that he was there for an inspection. The owner, Glen, was an HD convert and bought this Victory only to be told by ICBC when he tired to insure it that was a write-off. Bloody hell, the thing looked like it had just come off the showroom floor! I got talking to Glen when he noticed my polar bear license plate and it turns out that he used to live in the NWT - as did two of the owners of Adrenalin. Small world!
*Missing photos - Glen's bike, and all the bikes there for work parked outside the shop.
I had a couple of hours to kill and went tooling around town. Ended up in Esquimalt and stopped in at a Suzuki dealer that I thought would be bound to have that pesky 3A fuse that I couldn't find anywhere else. (I guess that I didn't think to ask at Adrenalin - that's me, smart like a horse and hung like Einstein). Anyway, the parts girl at the Suzuki dealer tells me that my bike takes a regular mini-fuse. That's not true, but to be fair she was just going by what her fiche told her, and sure enough the Suzuki parts catalogue showed a picture of the wrong fuse. In frustration I went and got a fuse off the bike and showed it to her. She said she'd never seen one like that before. Ugh, you can't just go to the back and ask one of your Suzuki mechanics? Grrr.
Next I went to meet my friend Tara for tea. Tara is an old friend (I've also known her for a long time ). She has always been excellent company and isn't fazed by my sarcastic and dry British sense of humour. Tara also rides, but has recently hurt her thumb and has trouble with the clutch lever so is hoping to pick up a bike with DCT. Tara has a room mate who spends his summers away and I was able to use his bathroom for a shower (which felt soooooo good)! She was telling me of her disappointment with a
Victoria bike dealer that sells German bikes. It begins with their charging her just under $1000 for an oil change (lots of things charged for twice, parts charged for that she had provided herself, etc). She has an....F650GS? The photos of it are missing so I can't be 100% sure, but I think that's what it is. She advertised it and a woman came to take it to the dealer to be looked over. They gave her a list of things wrong with it that was more than one page long! But it's also bullshit - they pointed out that the signal lights aren't original. Big frikkin' deal. They mention a "massively errant routing of clutch cable", "improperly connected wires on the front signal light". They say that the "gas tank has been damaged and will no longer align with mounting points". "Linkage bearings are all damaged", "battery is very low on acid". Crickey, just how much detail did they go into checking over this bike?! Quite a lot actually, or so it would seem, because they even measured the thickness of the rear brake rotor and say, "rear rotor is way below spec. Min 4.5mm actually 4.14mm." They finish it all off with - and all of these phrases in quotation marks are direct quotes that I'm taking from the copy of the report that I have in front of me - "Unit is unsafe to ride!" (exclamation mark is theirs). So I rode this bike around the block a couple of times, I'm no expert but it seemed just fine to me, and no I didn't measure the rear rotor to see what I made it. But I wonder what's worse, to pan a bike that someone has brought in for an inspection so badly, presumably in the hopes that this woman would buy a new bike from them instead, or, having declared it unsafe to ride (in writing), to then let her ride away on it. I don't think that that particular dealer will be seeing any business from me any time soon. And I have the report scanned, it even has the name of the technician on it - if I wasn't worried about possible legal ramifications I'd post it up right here. I bet they've never heard of a 3A ATM low profile fuse, either!!
* Missing - photos of Tara's bike. And of me in the shower
Having showered we sat on the deck (where it was mighty hot) and I charged my phone (stupid hard to find 3A fuse) while Tara regaled me with horror stories about that dealer. When it was time to go I saw that I had had a text from Sean saying that Canadian Tire carried the fuse I need. Or at least all the branches did other than the one I was passing on my way back to Sidney! Something about that seemed odd, though - Canadian Tire carries these fuses yet I'd never seen one before, Sean had never seen one before, the Suzuki dealer had never seen one before...stay tuned.
I also had a text from Jaki saying that she and her boys had rented the spot next to to mine for two nights starting that night
That evening I went to a gathering I had been looking forward to for a long time. Previously in this thread I have mentioned that I used to farm in the area, and the crew that I worked with were all top notch blokes. I missed that job pretty much every single day for the first two years after I left it, and we had all agreed to meet at Mary's Blue Moon for a beer. ('A' beer? MY math has never been that good)! Paul that I visited in Kelowna earlier in this story is one of the crew, as is the Mikey who kindly let me leave my bike at his place prior to this leg of the journey. I have known Chris (and Mikey) for something like 20 years, and met the others when Chris ended up managing the farm and I moved back to Victoria. One afternoon he called me and said that he needed someone who knew how to drive a tractor for the rest of the day. I stayed working there for 6 years. Anyway, despite having seen the majority of the crew individually we hadn't all been together, and ironically Chris was the only one that I hadn't seen for the three years since I left Victoria. We had a great evening, several beers were consumed (a few too many by some folks!) We toasted Paul, who I know would dearly have loved to be there, and agreed to do it again the next time I was down. I.e. next month
* Missing - the photo I took of my rockstar parking at the pub, and the one of us all having a grand old time.
After that it was back to the campsite to hang out with Jaki and the boys before my sleeping bag called, and once again I went to bed content. Very content.
Slowly a plan had been coming together over the last couple of days...I mentioned how Sean and I had thought about riding to Tofino but hearing how the road was in rough shape had put us off...well now we were going to go to Bamfield instead, meeting someone neither of us knew on the way. That adventure was to start the next day.
This day began with breakfast at Jaki's campsite, and it was nice not to have to rush anywhere to meet anyone. I went straight from breakfast to Timmies for a steeped tea fix, and was then going to go to Chris' place where I had arranged to leave my bike while was next at work. But Chris kept being delayed so I took the time to go to Lordco in Sidney and look for those elusive 3A low profile fuses. No dice. Then I tired Beacon Auto and they also didn't have any, but unlike Lordco who had insisted that there was no such thing as one of those fuses in a 3A, they made a call and offered to order some for me. I said yes, because this was the only place so far that had even acknowledged their existence!
Then I went down to the water to chill while waiting to go to Chris' place.
I have always loved Arbutus trees
It was beginning to get pretty warm by the time I got to Chris' place. While I was there Rich showed up and we had a coffee, it was just like old times with the three of us (only instead of sitting in 'The Rat Hole' at the farm we were in Chris's garden), and Chris showed me where I could leave the bike when it was time to do so, he wouldn't be there that day.
Next I went into Victoria to meet a beautiful woman for lunch. Kim used to live in my building in Yellowknife and had moved to the island about six months earlier. I wasn't meeting her until 1pm, and that gave me time to go to the big Canadian Tire at Hillside Mall to see whether they had any of the almost-impossible-to-find 3A low profile fuses. And wouldn't you know, 5A was they smallest that they had.
I arrived at the restaurant where I was meeting Kim at 1pm and couldn't find her there so I waited a few minutes and then sent her a text, to which she replied that we had arranged to meet at 12! Oops! She had had to go back to work, but was gracious enough not to sound pissed off when I called her to apologize, and even agreed to re-arrange lunch for when I was next down. I don't know why I had it in my head that we'd said 1pm. Anyway...
There was a beautiful breeze down by the water, it was lovely there and I didn't want to leave, but I had arranged to see other folks, too. First I had the time to pop into a m/c dealers that I have always thoroughly disliked, but thought that they might at least have a fuse. No. And they really didn't care either (in fact I'm not sure that the parts person even knew what a fuse was, but then again I wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't know what a motorbike was, either).
I have mentioned my best friend Simon many times in this thread, and next I went to visit his parents and say hi. His Mum is sort of a Mum to me too, (whereas his Dad, being Irish, is always up for getting pissed and telling outrageous stories - nothing wrong with that!) and chatted on their deck for an hour or so.
Heading back towards the campsite I had arranged to call in and see Rich and have a proper tour of his farm now that he's been there for a while and is beginning to get things set up the way that he wants. That ended with a beer on his deck, and then it was back to 'home' to hang out with Jaki and the boys for their last night at the campground
The following day I would leave for Bamfield with Sean and Kody, but in the meantime I was able to go bed relaxed and content.
The following morning I had a cup of tea while I broke camp, and chatted briefly with a lady who had turned up the evening before at the campsite next to mine. She seemed very pleasant and I mentioned how I had been told that for the coming weekend (a long weekend), the campground was booked solid. Today was Thursday and I was going to be in Bamfield that night and was a little concerned that I'd come back on Friday and find someone else in my spot. She kindly said that she'd keep an eye on it for me.
I met up with Sean, and after breakfast he and I rode to Costco for gas. As we were pulling out of the parking lot back onto the road a minivan was between us. Sean turned left onto the road but the minivan had no signal on so I couldn't tell which way they were going to go. It ran the stop sign and then tried to turn left into oncoming traffic before realizing at the last second that it was meant to go the other side of the concrete divider and swerving to make the correction. I don't have a very high opinion of the standard of driving in southern BC.
It was finally cooler today, between 20 and 23c which made for a pleasant change, and we rode out to Port Alberni to meet Kody. Firstly, you can go from Lake Cowichan to Port Alberni on gravel but we were going to do that on the return. Sort of. And secondly neither of us had met Kody before, a mutual friend had suggested that we'd all get along well and Kody had the week off, so...we met at Timmies in Alberni.
We introduced ourselves, fueled up, grabbed some groceries and hit the road.
It's all logging roads between Port Alberni and Bamfield, and the way was very bumpy and very dusty.
My friend Pat (who is the mutual friend that put me in touch with Kody) used to deliver fuel to logging equipment all over the island, and knows the logging roads like the back of his hand. He had told both Kody and I that we should turn off the main road and take a lesser traveled but much more scenic route, and we were all up for that but we only had verbal instructions as to where to turn off, and we weren't really sure. It wasn't obvious. I'll put the maps up now.
God damn it, I would if they had uploaded properly. Like all those photos from the other day, these ones are missing.
Anyway, we turned off the main road onto Coleman to visit an old log sort.
A little way down this detour road had been a smaller road off to the left, and somehow we got the idea that this is the road Pat had wanted us to take. Only it became narrower and narrower, the piles of bear scat became more frequent and larger, and it was obvious that not only had no-one been on this road in years, but that even when it was in regular use it was too narrow for a fuel truck to have used. We had no idea where we were really, or where we were to supposed to be, but we were having fun and that's what it's all about. That bear scat, by the way - it really was big. The road was narrow enough that a large bear would have blocked it and the stuff was all over the place but funnily enough we never saw one animal.
All I know is that we went from the main road to a side road, to a side-side road, back onto a side road and at some stage we popped back out onto the main road again.
Eventually we did make it to Bamfield, though...
...and went about finding a place to camp. Right as you hit pavement there are signs to the Pachina Bay Campground, so we pulled in there. The girl in the office gave us the run down, but even though as Sean correctly pointed out she was indeed very cute, the place was also pretty expensive. There was a map there which gave us another lead...
...and we went to see the Centennial Park Campground to compare the two. The latter won the day, and we pitched our tents on one big spot.
This place was cheaper and much closer to town (i.e. within walking distance), so having got ourselves organized we went exploring.
This stuff is really cheap, but not half bad.
We told tall tales until it was time to hit the sack. Oh, and the campground had signs up warning us about bears but they also provided quality bear proof lockers for you to put your food in. Cool.
If you had asked me that evening whether or not it was going to rain overnight I'd have put money on it - and you'd have been wise to take that bet because you'd have won. Despite being heavily overcast, not a drop of rain fell. It didn't look any clearer in the morning, and the mosquitoes were out, but still no rain.
It had been a noisier campground than the one in Sidney with some folks up late chatting and laughing loudly. A drunk guy stumbled into the campground just after I went to bed, I heard Kody talking to him, and then of course there was Sean's snoring in the tent beside mine The fishermen (i.e. most of the other campers there) were up early too, but I don't mind being up in good time. Heck, there were even two beers left over from the night before, and not wanting to carry them out with us Kody and I drank them for breakfast. We had left town by 8am, I think, but first we went for a little look-see around town.
Holy crap, that's me!
So, Bamfield is in two parts, and to get to the other part you have to take a water taxi. While we were on the docks a boat that we were pretty sure was the taxi arrived, and the woman running it said that if we called on the radio (the radio was provided at the dock - that's how you call the taxi) her son would come and get us. When he got out of bed. Hmmm...There were some guys on a commercial fishing boat and we had helped them carry some stuff down to their vessel, in return for which they offered to take us over there, but we didn't know how we'd get back. The woman I had spoken to first even said that there was a small barge we could take our bikes across on. I asked her how much road there was there and she said that there were two miles. We opted out (even though one of those miles lead to a beach, it was hardly beach weather).
As we left town we went by the gas bar figuring that if were going to get as lost on the way out as we did on the way in, we'd need it. (We had decided to ride out to Lake Cowichan rather than Port Alberni, where we had come from). The gas bar was closed, so we pushed on.
We hadn't gone far when I pulled over having spotted these:
I love those big old off highway logging trucks that used to be commonplace on the island, the Hayes and Pacific rigs that put highway trucks to shame. Because they come down the sides of mountains, logging trucks have water cooled brakes (the driver just turns a tap down beside his seat). Clearly we were on an active haul road.
At pretty much the same spot, Kody said that he was going to investigate a track that lead off into the woods. I'd seen it too and something about it also made me want to check it out, so having taken the above photos I followed him. This is what we found:
The most idyllic campsite in the known world? Possibly, if it wasn't for this:
Ok so that doesn't really show you the mess, but there was garbage everywhere, and in the photo above are used diapers for heaven's sake. There was even litter in the lake. The site was ruined because if people are ignorant enough to leave used diapers behind then what else is there? And what did they do in the water? It blows my mind that someone could come across such a perfect site and then leave their shit, and their literal shit, behind. Jesus, I hate people!
While Kody and I were admiring the litter and the view, we had heard Sean start up his bike on the main road and ride away. I guess he was impatient! When we got going again he was only about 200m down the road at a turn off, waiting for us. We stopped to shoot the shit and heard a noise. Ah! A logging truck! Could it be, would it be an off highway one?
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Does that not want to make you ejaculate?
I had to go and have a cold shower...
When we took off again Sean was leading and he went off up the side road we'd parked at. I have no idea why because it was obviously not the right road - any road to Lake Cowichan would be signed out there - but I didn't care and went along for the ride.
When we got to the far end of it, looking back I saw this!
If I remember correctly that was the Flora Main, and it was a pretty road. Shame that we shouldn't have been on it!
A few Kms later on I came to an intersection to find the other two long gone and I had no idea which way to go (still no signs), so I just waited for them to come and collect me . Only they didn't! I turned left for the hell of it and within a kilometre came to another (unmarked) intersection. There was nothing else I could do but to go back to the first one and keep waiting.
It was likely late morning by the time we made it to Lake Cowichan...which is usually a fairly quiet place but, this being the Friday of a long weekend during which they they hold the annual Sunfest music festival the place was packed solid. We stopped for gas (one KLR took 14L of fuel (as did my bike), the other KLR took 15L), and then went to Timmies for a fix and also to say goodbye to Kody. Timmies was positively humming with all the music festival crowd, and some more observant men might have noticed an abundance of young women with plenty of tanned skin showing. But not me, and I especially did not notice the brunette in the red sun dress with the cowboy boots. Oh la la! I could have stayed there all day!
**EDIT** I just found the maps I was looking for. I highlighted the roads that I know we took, leaving gaps where I'm just not sure what we did!
Sean and I rode to Duncan with a plan to ride up Mount Prevost where there is a look out with an amazing view, but the road was gated (as it sometimes is during extreme fire danger times). So we also said goodbye, having arranged to meet at 9am at his place to wash our bikes.
I went home through Cowichan Bay, which is one of my favourite places anywhere.
While I was standing here
I dropped one of my custom-fit ear buds off the deck onto the shore below. When I went to find a way down to the shore to retrieve it I realized that all the access was private. Luckily a couple were out and about and when I explained my plight they put this ladder down for me to get onto the beach.
Yes, I'm an idiot (I'm also scared shitless of heights but what was I going to do - ask them to climb down there for me?!) but I managed to find it, and I put their ladder away for them afterwards. On with the sightseeing!
There are two things that you need to know about Cowichan Bay. Firstly, I was once bitten by a crab there. Secondly, and some would say more importantly, they make the world's best ice cream in town.
I have only ever found one other place that sells this ice cream (that's Peppers in Cadboro Bay in Victoria), and I wasn't about to have ridden my motorcycle down from the Northwest Territories and not stop to partake. Mmm mmmm. Yummy.
I made it back to the campsite in Sidney with time for a snooze, after which I made a cup of tea using my camp stove and the Gas Bottle That Won't Run Out. That evening I went to the Stonehouse Pub at Canoe Cove (which I highly recommend) to meet Sarah (the Sarah with whom I had had breakfast in Sidney earlier in the week). I was back in my tent later than I should have been, but as always content. Very content.
Saturday morning I was up in good time to meet Sean for a bike washing session. When I had booked my campsite I had screwed up and not booked a site for tonight. When I tracked down a staff member my site was already booked by someone else, but there was another one available and I noticed it was empty when I got up, so I let Sean know I'd be ten minutes late and moved camp right then thus avoiding having to carry my tent etc around all day.
Another of Sean's bikes:
Next was a truck show. Sean and I are both (sometime) drivers and knew most of the exhibitors there so we went to the Saanich Historical Artifacts Society grounds to see what was happening. The site is on Lochside Drive, a popular cycling route for everyone from spandex-clad Tour-de-France wannabes to old folks and kids. I was coming up behind a line of cyclists (with Sean behind me) and began to pass them slowly, perhaps 5 km/h faster than they were traveling, when a woman on a bike in front of me looked over her left shoulder, saw me coming...and pulled out anyway to pass another cyclist. BC drivers!!!! I gave her the palm up 'wtf' sign although she would no doubt argue that I was in the wrong.
I made a note that it was "soooo nice riding around in the sunshine" :)
An artist had a stall, his work was exceptional and if had had a means to get a piece back home with me I'd have bought something.
This photo taken for the red head more than for the truck
From the truck show I went to see Cowgirl at work to say goodbye, and then took the West Saanich Road back into Victoria to have a Timmies with Terry and his wife (from supper on Monday night fame). There was a cafe racer in Brentwood Bay that was going extremely slowly, down to 15 km/h around the roundabout and I noticed that when it turned off at the gas station its rider was keeping it as vertical as possible. A rookie, perhaps? No problem, I remember those days!
Terry works at...a Federal institution and took me on a tour there.
Penultimate stop of the evening was to see Simon and Tammy and the kids, make use of their shower and be treated to supper again. Lastly, bed back at the campground. Content. And in a tent.
It was gorgeous (yet again) the following morning. I walked to the marina and Nymph Point Park with a cup of tea and enjoyed the quiet.
I went back to camp and packed up with leaving on my mind, then went to meet an old friend for a coffee. After that it was a quick recce on Kilarney Lake which had been recommended as a good swimming spot. I had time to go back to Nymph Point quickly after that, then stopped quickly at the grocery store to grab Branston Pickle and blueberries before dropping the bike off at Chris' place.
At the beginning of this latest leg I mentioned how beautiful BC was from the air. I took a few photos (which of course didn't come out brilliantly), but they give you some idea.
Forest fire smoke
And that's it for another leg. I'm at camp right now, flying home tomorrow and then back to the bike on the weekend. Forest fires, or at least their smoke, might alter my plans for what will be the last leg of this trip for 2018, but I'll be back to post up the story in two weeks time.
Just back from another leg. Updates coming shortly...
Well that was smart of me. It seems that I came back to camp without the notes that I keep on my trips, so I'll just have to try and remember what happened by looking at the photos.
I took a different flight to Victoria, B.C. this time and arrived at 8pm on a Saturday night. I walked back to Chris' place where the bike was, and no-one was around. I struggled a little getting it out of the barn because the barn was already fuller than it had been when I parked there three weeks earlier, plus I couldn't find the light switch. But by about 10pm I was at my campsite (same campground as my last leg) and setting up camp.
It was good to be able to sleep in the next morning, but there was a problem. I had a plan to leave that day for the mainland, wanted to ride to Lillooet and take advantage of some of the spectacular riding, and scenery, in that area for a few days before I had to be back in Victoria towards the end of the week for a birthday party. But there was what I can only describe as a strong (actually undeniable) feeling that I shouldn't leave. I tend to put some weight on gut feelings anyway, but as already mentioned this one was particularly strong. So, I'd have to come up with a Plan B...which would also have to include finding a place to crash that night because I only had the spot that I was currently in booked for the one (night.
I went to see Sean (from the last leg), and later found a couch to crash on for the night before setting off the following morning - Monday morning - on an adventure. There are details that I'm not willing to share, but I ended up riding 'up island', i.e. north on Vancouver Island, rather than to Lillooet.
With no time limits or deadlines, I took the Renfrew Loop to begin with, riding to Sooke (and taking the Kangaroo/Gillespie loop on the way), before ending up in Port Renfrew.
The last time I had been in Port Renfrew was with The Darth Peach a number of years ago. Not much has changed.
And two photos from a detour I took off the Kangaroo/Gillespie detour on the Renfrew Loop. Which is itself a detour.
I stopped in Port Renfrew for a cup of tea at a place that I believe is called Tomi's. Cool place, and the weather was fantastic. It felt good to sit in the sun and relax. If I was the kind of guy that judged women by their appearance rather than treating them as equals, I'd have noticed a blonde there who wouldn't have come last in any beauty pageant anywhere in the world. The legs protruding from her cut off denim shorts could stop a fully loaded logging truck dead, too. However I would never disrespect a woman like that, so needless to say her appearance was of no import to me at all .
But I was tired. Not enough sleep the night before and a ride out to where I was that requires a lot of concentration. What else to do but find a spot for a snooze?! I love snoozes, and when on a ride I just lie down fully suited up, helmet on (it acts a bit as a pillow), and pass out for...however long it is. I found the perfect spot by the river, picked a flat patch of grass in the shade away from the road, closed my visor (to keep the bugs out), and then closed my eyes. I didn't even take my hearing protection out. I slept like a log for an hour, and even when I woke up it was several minutes before I moved a muscle. Heaven!
My snoozing spot:
Elsewhere in Port Renfrew:
When you cross the bridge in Port Renfrew you can either turn left and take a gravel logging road to Mesachie Lake, or turn right and take a paved logging road, and sublime riding road, to pretty much the same place. I chose the latter, I needed to ride, and hard and fast.
I think that the following two pics are from the very beginning of the paved logging road. They bear no resemblance whatsoever to what it becomes.
I took a little gravel detour to check out the San Juan Recreation Area. The following photo is from just outside that Rec Area.
I stopped for a Timmies in Lake Cowichan and snapped the next photo. It looks lame, but at the very top of the ridge is a logging road (which you may be able to see if you zoom in). I want to ride it!
And from Lake Cowichan I rode the highway towards Nanaimo. As the day wore on I randomly turned off the highway when a sign indicated a campsite called Zuideree (or something similar). I couldn't find that site, but did eventually come across the Mermaid Cove campsite, and stopped in to see whether they had any spots available. Regular readers of my RRs will know that I preach the theory that the more you pay for a camp site the worse it will be. When I was charged $30 for a tent site I should have just moved on. But I didn't, and although I have been to worse camp sites $30 for a patch of sloping gravel right beside the track that leads to the site, a track that had jacked up diesel trucks driving up and down it late at night and early in the morning is not a good deal. There was a 'beach', only it was in shade. As it was in the morning, too.
Down at the beach:
I was up in good time the next morning, keen to be on the move. A couple of miles down the road I found the campsite I had been meaning to stay at the night before. Meh, it didn't seem much different than where I had been. The photo is from somewhere in the area.
You have two main choices when heading up island, there's the Island Highway or the Oceanside Route. I took the latter, and how grateful I was that every few miles there was a sign reminding me that I was on that particular road. So many times I looked to my right, saw the Pacific Ocean and wondered how far inland I was?
The Crow and Gate pub has long been on my radar. I moved to Vancouver Island in 1997 and was bemoaning the lack of authentic English pubs in...well, Canada. My friend Manfred, long since departed from this world, always told me that I should go to the Crow and Gate in Cedar, that I would be pleasantly surprised. Twice now I had ridden past and not stopped, my excuse this time being that it wasn't open. A pretty good one, I think. (But I was finally to make it there before the week was over).
I really needed to stop for a caffeine fix and kept riding past oceanside cafes for some reason, meaning to stop and relax but never actually doing so. Finally in Campbell River I saw a bike parked at one and pulled into the parking lot, which turned out to be a good move. Fog Dukkers is the funkiest place, driftwood tables on the beach, a way cool room inside, very interesting and very appealing.
I find the mountains up island so appealing, much more jagged and rugged than the gentle hills around Victoria.
Working without my notes here...it seems that from Campbell River I rode north to Sayward. I had been there a couple of times before on bike trips, many years ago, and all that I remembered was the rusted hulls of ships that they used for a breakwater at the harbour. Kind of a neat idea...and kind of fugly to look at now that they are so rusted. My friend Chris, with whom I had left the bike prior to this leg of the journey, had recently bought a few acres in Sayward that we was turning into a campground and I wondered whether he was around. I went to the harbour/marina, shot him a text and took some pics while I waited for a response.
Some history on the rusted hulls:
Chris responded that he was indeed there, and gave me directions to the site. On the way I snapped a couple more pics.
This is the place that Chris and his wife bought (The Guest House):
Plenty of photos of it to come...
...for now, I stopped in to say hi, had a brief tour, and Chris asked me where I was going that night. When I was last in Victoria Chris had (very kindly) been genuinely upset that I hadn't camped at his farm there, choosing instead to stay at the MacDonald Camp Ground. "How many years do we go back?" he had asked. Very touching, but my thoughts were that if I camped at his place I'd be going into the house every time I wanted to use the washroom or fill up a water bottle or wash my hands...he really probably wouldn't have minded (or I'm sure he wouldn't have offered), but a campground is cheap and afford me some privacy too.
So, all this to say that I honestly didn't know where I was going that night but Chris did offer for me to set up my tent there. I told him the truth, that I wasn't sure where I was going, but that I'd get back to him.
I headed out back towards Campbell River, and on a whim turned off the highway onto a logging road to do some exploring.
Sure enough signs informed me that if I went 9.7 km and then turned off to the right, after another 6 or so kilometres I'd come to the Morton Lake Provincial Campsite.
Across the road from the sign. That's a lot of logging trucks that aren't making someone any money.
"What the hell", I thought, I might as well check it out. As soon as I had made the right turn I came across this view and soon realized that I had made the right decision.
Yep, I could handle camping there! I know now that the lake in the pics is actually Mahon Lake, not Morton Lake, but still! I pulled up at Morton Lake and the camp ground attendants told me to pic a spot then come back and tell them which one I was at. I rode in to the site and it was crowded, only two or three spots left open and those were farthest away from the lake. I was surprised to see it so busy, it being a week day and all, and I really didn't fancy staying somewhere so busy that night, wanted a little privacy, so I opted to move on.
I wondered at the time whether this might have been a little foolish, perhaps even a little arrogant. it was something like 5.30pm, I was ready to stop and now had no idea where I was going to go, no map and was out in the boonies where it really wouldn't be hard to become lost and/or run out of fuel. I'm not a religious person at all but I so consider myself to be spiritual and I said a little prayer asking that I find somewhere nice on a lake, but with far fewer people, to camp at. Where the Morton Lake road joins the main road off the highway I noticed a small sign pointing to Gosling Lake and followed it. I soon came to an intersection and had to take my bearings, not wanting to get lost, but soon enough I saw the lake and a track down to it. I rode down the track and there was a minivan there, but no tents, and soon I saw two guys down by the water - one of whom I swear was pulling his swimming shorts back up as if having been busted. I didn't want anything to do with that, merely rode further along the lake and soon enough came to another track down to it. Empty, this time, with a better view, wooden benches/tables, and a perfect place to go swimming. Right on - prayers answered! Welcome to the Gosling Lake Recreation Site.
I couldn't believe my luck - not a soul in site, so I quickly began unpacking my stuff and setting up the tent with a view to going skinny dipping. Five minutes in to unpacking and I hear a vehicle approaching. I see that it is a red neck pick up, the kind you'd see in the movies that bad guys drive who do nasty things to campers in the wilderness. Two guys in their 30s get out, one with a can of beer in his hand. Should I be worried?
No. I can't remember their names now, but they were both genuinely nice guys. They were there to set up some tents in preparation for a few days camping with their families starting the next day. They were setting up the tents now so they didn't come back the following day and find all the spots taken, which you're not supposed to do but I can't say that doing the same thing would never occur to me. They expressed an interest in my bike and my license plate but I didn't get a bad vibe off them at all. Nevertheless, just to be on the safe side I did make a note of their license plate number and write it down.
They were only there for an hour or so and then I had the place to myself again. I took that swim, and I am not exaggerating when I say that the water wasn't even remotely cold. Absolutely bloody perfect.
After supper I set about putting anything that smelled away from the tent should a bear or a cougar catch wind of it, and saw that I had some unwanted company after all.
Uggh, I am petrified of spiders! Travel mug for scale...
Just getting close enough to take those photos gave me the heebiejeebies. I don't know much about spiders, but I know that this one would have jumped onto my face and stuck its fangs right into my eyeball as soon as look at me. Yeesh, I don't like spiders.
My camp site for the night.
I didn't have any visitors during the night, two-legged, four-legged or eight-legged, but there was a little rain.
Thanks for the history on the ships in the breakwater. I’m a sucker for stuff like that.