Vancouver’s Stanley Park sits on a forested peninsula a few blocks from the city centre and its on around 1000 acres. Therese and cycled around the park. It is 27 kms of spectacular ocean views, gorgeous gardens and remnant forest: Big Douglas firs, cedars, hemlock and Birch. It’s spring here so the daffodils are in full bloom, the fruit trees are blossoming, with the azaleas and rhododendrons not far behind.
We stopped at a part of the park where the local indigenous Salish Coast people have made beautifully carved cedar totems. I particularly loved the colourful thunderbirds. In the park you can smell the cedar, the water, the earth. It is all recognisable but different, just like the Canadians themselves.
From Stanley Park we rode across the impressive Lions Gate Bridge to prosperous West Vancouver, then further on to Horseshoe Bay where we had great fish and chips while waiting for the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
As is our custom, we take back roads where ever we can. Friendly locals are only too happy to help suggest alternatives to the Trans Canada Highway (I still can’t get Gene Pitney out of my head). Back roads are just that, often poorly maintained with no verge, but full of beautiful scenery. It’s hilly here but not oppressively so. Chilly, but not freezing. We have seen squirrel, deer and bald eagles. We are still waiting on raccoons, coyotes and bears- I can wait for the bears!
We stayed on a farm a few kilometres south of Nanaimo with another very hospitable Warmhowers host Cory. We were hoping for a dry place to set up our tent but instead we were provided with a room, then nourished by lentil soup and pizza. We talked a lot about touring and loved Cory’s stories of her own cycling journeys around the world especially her adventures in India.
A foggy start to the day today, with more back roads, past small farms, timber mills, birch groves and maple forest. We had breakfast in the delightful town of Ladysmith, a former coal mining, come timber and fishing town which is now having a renaissance with coffee shops and antiques etc. Cory had recommended the cinnamon buns from the Old Town Bakery and it was good- yum!
More back roads to Chemainus, a town of murals and Aboriginal history (Native Indian) where we briefly stopped at the small folk museum before cycling to Croften with its deep water port, massive pulp and paper mill and ferry terminal.
Our island hopping in the gulf continued today as we took the 20 minute crossing to Vesuvius Bay on Salt Spring Island. Evidently each island has its own character. Salt Spring is know for its eclectic creative artistic community. This afternoon we rolled into the town of Ganges, named after the last British ship of the line. It was funky and relaxing on a sunny afternoon with lots of interesting cashed up old hippies sitting around drinking coffee and talking politics.
A hipster asked me how many gears I have on my bike and when I said 27 he said “I bet you don’t use them all?”
I replied “On some days 27 doesn’t seem like enough!”
We set up our camp early, now it’s raining and we are snug in out tent.