No hay banda!
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: The Frozen North
Fast Forward Three Weeks
– Months of anticipation reach a peak as I assume-my-assigned on a 6am flight from Minneapolis. Everything goes according to plan and by early afternoon west coast time I’m three miles departed from Ride West BMW, where they popped on my Heidenau rear tire and wrapped up my 6,000-mile service. It’s another unseasonably hot day, mid-90s, mere blocks from the freeway to Canada.
My engine dies at a red light.
Two hours later and I’m again pulling out of Ride West – this time sporting a new battery. When I ask how much I owe, the service manager tells me no charge for the tow and labor, “I figure you’ve given us enough money for one day.”
It’s almost rush-hour, but my mind is floating over the traffic. An hour’s delay at the border (“Sir, are you SURE you aren’t carrying any firearms?”), and then there is no holding me back. I’m on my way north! Yee-haw!
It’s been a long day, but I make it past Vancouver to camp at Porteau Cove Provincial Park off the Sea-to-Sky Highway. I snag the last tent site. Not a lot of room to stretch here, and the neighbors are certainly using their “outside voice” as the evening wears on, but it’s all good. I already feel far away and clear to the horizon all I can see is the journey.
Bringing the Hawtness out of storage
Evening at Porteau Cove beach
Moss Graffiti at Porteau Cove
August 16 – Up in the morning with a camp breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. Last night’s noisy neighbors are sleeping in, so it’s peaceful as I pack up and get an early start buzzing up a nice bit of Sea-to-Sky as far as Whistler. I wander around town to find a few bits and pieces I need, and sample the Canadian coffee.
Wow – lots of beautiful people in Whistler. Hard to write in the journal with all the rubber-necking I find myself doing. Something about that combination of scenery and money certainly attracts the attractive.
But I’ve got miles to cover and places to see that are far removed from this. So, back down the Sea-to-Sky where I catch a ferry across to the Sunshine Coast. I meet David as we board, he on his F800ST. He is a Canadian partisan, and for a while we talk politics and such until he finally decides to make the big reveal:
“Yeah, well, I was born in California. So, technically I’m an American.”
Expressions of surprise.
“But,” he quickly adds, “I’ve lived up here since I was a teenager. I’m planning to renounce my U.S. citizenship and make it official.”
Outside of the relative merits of the U.S. and Canada, David and I are of a like mind on politics, so we have a great chat. He goes on to fill my calendar for the next few days with all of the hikes and detours I need to take along the Sunshine Coast, and they sound very appealing. I wish I could take him up on the ideas, but the further north beckons.
Up the coast, mid-afternoon and it’s hot…again. The road joins the shore of Trout Lake with lots of folks swimming. I pull over, swing my leg over my bike and right away Philippe says, “Jump in! The water’s great!”
What the hell. The water is great. Warmer than I expected, but still brisk enough to refresh.
I chat for a bit with Philippe and his friend Joe. They love the bike and do a bit of riding themselves. They’re quick to smile and offer a beer, “No thanks, gotta ride.” Right here, right now, this is the best way I could imagine spending my time – nothing but the moment.
Eventually we say goodbye and I ride on to the next ferry. From there more gradually-cooling coastal road and forested stretches till I arrive in Powell River near the end of the Sunshine Coast Highway. I set the tent up in the town’s tree-canopied, water-side campground and after ambling around town and a tasty dinner settle in for the night.
Beautiful People of Whistler (I cribbed this photo from a website, but seriously, the place is filled with these hyper fit, attractive yoga types - and yeah, this was taken in Whistler)
Ferry Traffic for the Sunshine Coast - it pays to be a motorcyclist and skip the line
David, the proud Americ... err Canadian!
Philippe and Joe at Trout Lake (I took one pic and Philippe was like, "Wait, wait, I've gotta be holding a beer can!")
Ferry landing treat
August 17 – I cross the Strait of Georgia the next morning on the ferry to Comox on Vancouver Island. From there I wander north up the island, over forested hills and through low valleys. In some I bake under the hot sun, while in others I bask in cool breezes, and I can’t tell what makes the difference.
I reach Telegraph Cove in the mid-afternoon. A tiny historic town nestled on the banks of its namesake water feature. I walk into a shop, “Are you here to see the orcas?”
“Um, I don’t know. Where are the orcas?”
“Hurry! There’s a boat taking off now around the other side of the harbor!”
So, I follow orders and move quickly down the boardwalks, but I’m too late and miss the boat. Still, yeah, I do want to see orcas! So, I buy a ticket for the evening cruise and amble around the quaint buildings, indulge in a beer, and relax for a few hours.
The cruise is great. Orcas we see, and a humpback as well, plus a gorgeous sunset. I chat with Sandy and Eric from New York City, and wouldn’t you know it, about three minutes in we discovered that Sandy’s cousin lives about six doors down from me. This leads to laughter and an immediate sense of acquaintance and warmth.
I also chat with the cruise naturalist, Sarah. Recently graduated from university, she’s unsure what she wants to do with her life. “I was doing some aquatic research down in Central America last winter when I got the call and they offered me this job. It’s great! I love talking to so many people and sharing with them, and everyone is so nice. But, do I want to be doing this in three years? I have no idea.” Seems to me she shouldn’t worry too much about the future, the present is treating her just fine.
The only downside to the cruise was the necessity to ride the last forty miles to Port Hardy in the fading twilight. The decision to put PIAAs on the bike a couple of years ago pays off. Cautious speed and a strong arc of light keep me safely away from wildlife and into town well after dark.
As I get a bed for the night at the local hostel, the manager asks where I’m going. “The Inside Passage and then north,” I say.
“Really? How far?”
“The end of the road.”
She laughs. “Funny. That’s where most people think they are when they get here.”
Queen of Burnaby - the ferry to Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island on the horizon
Chainsaw sculpture park in Campbell River
Scenes from Telegraph Cove
Sandy and Eric
Orca Kid and Mom
Sunset on the water
Seattle to Port Hardy
selkins screwed with this post 09-15-2012 at 10:33 AM