Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pyjama Diaries: Vancouver – Victoria (21st Aug - 8th Sept '10)

After two months and 3500kms cycling south from Alaska back to Vancouver we decided to treat ourselves to two weeks of relaxing in Vannie before we migrated further south. We were very fortunate to be able to stay at our friends Bree and Jays' place in PoCo, about an hour out of the city (which was a good way to slowly deal with the culture shock of a big city). We had lots of plans for our time in Vancouver, including starting this blog (!), and catching up with people, but found that we spent most of the time lying on the couch and eating. Jules was loving being able to use the time to catch up on the Blue Jays season (tho' in my eyes nothing appeared to happen on the diamond for the whole two weeks we were there) and I was loving reading crappy books and baking.
It was fun to be back in civilisation, to be able to catch up with friends, go out to yummy cheap Asian food, shop at Granville Markets (the cheap $1 bags of fruit and vegies from the floor underneath the expensive selection of foods!) and get whatever we wanted from the shops whenever we wanted it. However, even though we were back in the big city we still had our camping soul and most days we would head out to the local wild blackberry patches to pick berries. Of course having an oven meant I could make blackberry crumble and we could even have ice-cream. Joy!
We managed to catch up with friends, but didn't make it into the city as much as we planned and only rode the bicycles into town once! And that was only because we had to get them in there to get them serviced by Meshkat at Mighty Bikes (who I think was surprised to see us back in one piece given that we had shakily ridden out of his shop four months prior, scared of riding on the right side of the road and with the mechanical knowledge of only two two- hour lessons!).
The two weeks passed way too quickly and we realised that we hadn't done half of what we had wanted to do in this time. We missed catching up with people we wanted to, we didn't want to say goodbye to the people we had caught up with and we hadn't eaten nearly enough of the food that we wouldn't be able to get on the road (that's my excuse for the gigantic bowls of ice-cream that I was stuffing myself with anyway).
We couldn't hold off leaving any longer, and we were itching to get back on the bikes too, so we were pretty excited when the day we had chosen as our leaving day dawned with beautiful blue sky. We got off later than planned, spending longer than usual packing the bags and cleaning up the house after ourselves. Then we had to face the trauma of trying to ride through the outskirts of Vancouver. Vannie has awesome bike routes but somewhere this has missed the outer suburbs. The area we were riding in had some promised bike routes, but often these would disappear at a major intersection leaving us stranded in the middle of a busy freeway. Or alternatively we'd be happily cycling along along a bike trail alongside the river to find it blocked off with a large detour sign describing the detour that started kilometres back down the bike path. This happened twice on our way through the outskirts and caused me to throw a minor tanty. Jules had to put up with tears and a torrent of four letter words, before she could finally calm me down enough to turn around and cycle back the way we had come, trying to find our way through to the next road. The whole way I cursed everyone I could think of and promised to send in a number of strongly written letters to members of government.
We were knackered by the time we got through the industrial areas, managed to cross the Fraser River and found ourselves in the farmlands of Delta, which were a lot easier riding. But we really had to push ourselves to get to the ferry in time and our legs were questioning our decision to leave the comfort of the couch. We were pretty amazed how much fitness we had lost in our two weeks off. Before we reached Vancouver we had been easily cycling 100+ km days (in very hilly country ) but after two weeks of eating and drinking and napping we were going pretty slowly.
We did manage to make it to Tsawwassen, 70kms from Bree and Jay's house, in time for the 3pm ferry over to Vancouver Island, and settled in for a little rest for the hour and a half ferry ride. Part way across to the island our lovely sunny day turned into rain. After disembarking the ferry we then had another 40 kms (which included a “detour” where we got a little lost and headed off in the wrong direction for kilometres) before we made it to our 'warm showers' host in Victoria. This was our first time using warm showers and it was great; somewhere to dry off, lovely hospitality and nice to be able to share stories. Our host, Hayley, had ridden through Mexico earlier in the year so she got us very inspired for down the road.
We woke to sunshine streaming onto our faces the next morning which inspired us to head out and explore Victoria, cycling along the seawall and into town. One of those happy mornings where people stopped to chat to us, the sun reflecting off the bright blue water warmed us and I sang to myself as I rode along (though my singing does not necessarily add to Jules' happiness.. in fact generally it makes her peddle faster to try and lose me).
After exploring the city we jumped on the afternoon ferry over to Port Angeles, Washington: saying goodbye to Canada (for now - we'll be back I'm sure!) and Hello Continental USA!

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