Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Out of the Wild: Prince Rupert to Vancouver (15th - 20th Aug '10)

Jules and I spent a night in Prince Rupert in the middle of a heat-wave, a bit different to when we had left there two months before in the pouring rain! The next morning we jumped on the ferry heading south and had a beautiful trip down to Vancouver Island. The weather was great and we sat in the sunshine, with our eyes peeled for whales, chatting to some nice backpackers we met on the boat. We also made friends with the other cyclist on the boat, Angelo from Venice.  Angelo joined us camping in a town park, adjacent to the boat-launch, when the ferry docked on Vancouver Island late at night. We awoke in the morning to find ourselves surrounded by parked cars and fisherman.
Our first day on Vancouver Island we headed into Port Hardy for coffee and then started south on the highway. Around lunchtime we decided to do a detour into the little town of Telegraph Bay, 15kms off the highway. The ride in was pleasant with just a few steep hills that got us sweating. However, as soon as we arrived in the town we felt like turning around and riding out again. We were feeling a little overwhelmed with the busyness of it all, and it is not even a large town (all of 30 permanent residents) - we were definitely not ready for cities yet! On the day that we were there it was filled with tourists and we found that there were few places to camp, only private RV campgrounds that did not fit into our miserly daily budget! We managed to calm ourselves down, breathed into a paper-bag a few times and spent the afternoon wandering around the town. We had a picnic out on the jetty, checked out the historic stilt buildings surrounding the little bay, and had a look through the awesome whale museum, all of which was nice but we still decided to try our luck with the hills and left town late in the afternoon. We have obviously been very spoilt by the quiet and wilderness of the north if we are finding little towns like Terrace and Telegraph Cove (not exactly massive metropolises) overwhelming!
There is definitely something about the simplicity of life travelling by bike. Our days are filled with the questions like “what shall we eat?”, “when shall we eat?” and “where are we going to camp tonight?”. It forces us to live in the moment and enjoy whatever it is that is in front of us at that time (particularly if what is in front of us is food.. and lots of it).
Down the island Jules and I did some bush camping, where we found quiet spots off the side of the road to set up camp. We were quite particular about not being seen as we pulled off the side of the road, so we would always wait until there were no cars coming and then quickly head into the woods. One evening we found a good spot to camp, and it was quiet enough for us to head off the road, but just as we were about to wheel Norma and Betty into the trees a road repair car came creeping around the corner with lights flashing and a line of traffic behind it. The workmen then pulled to a stop right in front of us and a bunch of guys leapt out of the car and started putting down cats-eyes, and chatting to us. The roadworks and flashing lights were bringing traffic to a halt right in front of our planned camp much for being inconspicuous!|
One night in a bush camp Jules freaked herself out by hearing noises outside, a rustling in the bushes around the camp. She then heard a growling noise very close by and was near panic, having images of being attacked by wolves or cougars. Luckily before she ran screaming from the tent she heard the growl again and realised the noise was coming from me, sleeping soundly (and supposedly snoring) beside her. At the time I refused to believe her version of this story, as I do not snore (really!). However, further down the road I too was startled from sleep by a roaring sound close by. It was only when I was fully with it that I realised it was my snoring that had frightened me awake (in my defence I had a bad cold at this time...)
The north end of Vancouver Island is remote, mainly forests (with a lot of logging) and only a few tiny towns. It was interesting to see the progression into the more populated areas about half way down the island. We headed into farmland first, then a few houses, then we started seeing more people around.. including one guy peeing on the side of the road who didn`t hear us coming. I don`t know who was more shocked him or Jules!!
South of Campbell River we followed the coast through lots of small coastal towns and pretty beaches. We camped at Miracle Beach, which was a nice campsite but expensive and full of children... enjoying themselves in a very noisy fashion. We were definitely having trouble dealing with sensory overload along this section.
Our last night on the island we stayed with my cousin and his gorgeous family, ate super-scrumptious food, chatted over wine and played board-games with the kiddies. A great way to end this part of the trip. The next day we ferried back to Horseshoe Bay and then rode along the coast, past the fancy houses perched out overlooking the bay, over the Lions Gate Bridge, through Stanley Park and into Vancouver... back to where we started a couple of months ago – older, no wiser and definitely more bedraggled.

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