Monday, 6 February 2012

Salt Spring Island, Whistler and Vancouver Canada


The Alaska Ferry from Haines to Bellingham, Washington was awesome, so glad I did that for a couple reasons.  One, I rode up to Alaska on the same road I would have taken back down, and I usually don't like doing the same road twice.  Secondly, it got me south nicely to avoid riding through the bad weather.

However, when I arrived Bellingham, I knew there was something missing.  I've missed seeing Vancouver and Whistler, Canada, so I got off the ferry, turned left and went back over the border to Canada!

I put out a message on Horizons Unlimited to figure out the best route and I can say that I got more responses from riders in this part of the world than anywhere!  Many ideas and many offers for places to stay..   So the little loop I decided from talking to everyone is up to Vancouver and on to the ferry to Saltspring Island, Vancouver Island, ferry back to mainland to Whistler and a visit to Vancouver City.. easy!

First job is to take the ferry to Saltspring Island to meet the absolute host with the most, Steve!  I know, I just got off the big Alaska ferry, and I turn right around and get on another one.. it's just the way this part of the world works!


On the way, I spotted this little guy all on his own ;-(



It just watched our ferry go by so slowly, and I never saw a Mom around. It was so hard to look at it's eyes, I really wanted to save it assuming the Mom was a goner.  A local man on the ferry said that rescue doesn't even pick them up anymore because there are too many already at the rescue house.  Urgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I decided in order to cope the rest of the ride that the Mom told this little guy to wait there while she dove deep to get some extra fish.. ???!!! ;-)  Possible?? I hope..

So on the island, I meet Steve!


Steve and his wife Colleen own the local drinking hole (appropriately named "The Local") on this very cool little island.


Next stop from Saltspring Island is another ferry ride to Vancouver Island, one of the most popular destinations.  I have a very bald rear tire and we are hoping to find a replacement in Victoria.  Steve offers to take me there and show me around a bit.

So...!  On to ANOTHER ferry!!






We met this old guy riding his even older (not really) BMW.  He was super cool, bought that bike brand new.. which now has a bizillion kilometers on it.. Today is just a day trip for him.. good on him!  He's in his 80's!  The love of riding never fades, hey?


Off the ferry onto Vancouver Island, Steve takes me to a rescue center, knowing my other love is for the animals.  They have quite a collection of beautiful birds here..  I kept watching this Bald Eagle as I think he is watching the sky in hopes to fly.. Unfortunately, he was a permanent resident, not able to fly again.


The keeper brings out a totally cool barn owl for us to see on his way for a weigh in..


How good looking is this guy! 

Next stop is Victoria.. and the BMW shop who might have my tire..

and they do!  Hallelujah!  On my way here I nearly lost it on the corner when the old rear tire skipped pretty bad,  so I was only too happy they could help me with exactly the tire I wanted.


Oh man, that is so much better having that new tire on.. now for a quick little tour of Victoria town..




Views across to America.. we need to get a move on and catch the ferry back to Saltspring Island..


I really enjoyed my tour of this part of the planet.. a great time at Steve and Colleens house, nice big room, yummy food and my love of the washing machine.. clean clothes again.. biggest thanks for that too!!!

Next morning on to the ferry to mainland again to ride up to my next destination Whistler, Canada..

I know you've seen enough ferry photos, but this one was funny.  My bike is right up the front as usual, and I'm just standing up there taking some photos when I hear a message over the loud speaker.. "Lady with the motorcycle, please come to the bridge for an important message".. I was thinking, message?  Only person who knows I am on this boat is Steve, maybe I left something at their house?


I get up to the bridge and the Captain and Driver (not sure her official title), just wanted to meet me.  Ok.. cool!  Geez, if they hadn't said the message part, I wouldn't have needed to panic.. But anyway, they were nice and really just had a ton of questions.  They kept me up there the entire ride.


Back on the mainland again, some views on my way to Whistler, where another great host has offered a place for me to stay.. From what I hear about Whistler, it's a must see place, however, super expensive too.  So I am most grateful for the offer.




Most road signs here have the Native language as well.. Squamish I can sort of see the translation, but native Whistler is a tough one! ;-)  Ok, technically the Squamish word with the '7' in it might have been a bit tough without the English version as well... ;-)

One thing my hosts Jayson and Dorie say I must do is the Whistler Blackcomb - Peak 2 Peak Gondola ride.  There's no snow here yet, but they tell me it's the highest and longest gondola ride in the world.  http://ww1.whistlerblackcomb.com/p2pg/

It  holds the wold records for:  1) Worlds longest unsupported (free) span for a lift of this kind.. 2) Worlds highest lift of this kind 3) Worlds longest continuous lift.. OK..Gotta see it!


I didn't think it would be much of a problem getting into an enclosed gondola, however on the ride up,  I didn't look out the window much. I was in that little car alone and it was swinging in the wind, and.. and.. it felt like it was going to fall off.  I am a wussy, what can I say! I made it to the next station in that little car where I need to transfer on to the super size, super long, super high gondola over to Blackcomb Station. I really wasn't going to get on the next one, until a local guy I met totally convinced me I would regret it.

First stop on the Peak 2 Peak ride in Whistler

Luckily I got into a gondoloa car that has 2 other people, a couple visiting from England.. thank God!






Maybe because of the people, this one was far less scary then the little ones coming up.. makes no sense, but that's how it is.

Truly fascinating that we can ride this far on a string from mountian peak to mountain peak.



Nearly there, and a great view of the ski runs that will be super busy again in no time..

While I was up there.. it was very cold.  I definitely should have brought the winter jacket!  So I stopped into the cafe for a super size hot chocolate.. yes!  and even better, a large piece of banana bread.. well worth the trip!

Shortly after a little bird seems quite interested in my banana bread.. do I have to share?!?


Gee whiz, save me some!!

Must be a Mom, she shoved as much in her mouth as she could, took off and came right back.. this time landing in my hand.


No worries, little birdy.. take my bread and fly away without even a little thank you! ;-)  Too cute.


I was really impressed with the whole day really.  I ended up loving the Gondola ride, being on the mountains and seeing how much of Whistler is used by the mountain bikers when there is no snow.  And one last special treat before arriving back to town.. bears!


I saw those 2 little black dots in the distance and I wasn't sure, but when I got closer,  it was a Momma and baby bear! 

Next day, I'm off to Vancouver.. where I have yet another fantastic host waiting for me, Todd!  As soon as I arrived, he realized that he saw me speak at the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Canada about a month before.. I was embarrassed as it was my first presentation, but he was super cool.

Todd and his wife live in a highrise right in Vancouver.  I have heard so many good things about this city, but I simply don't have time to explore.. I need to make my way quickly down to California for my second HU presentation coming up shortly with many stops along the way.. so I just stayed the night and left in the morning, doing no justice to Vancouver at all. I'm glad I stopped here though and got a quick view.. very impressive town!


View from my bedroom in Vancouver

Sorry for the supersize blog post.. need to make up a bit of time where I can.

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