Day 31 CCR: The End is in Sight
I think the BC Ferry we took from Vancouver to Vancouver Island today was appropriate: The Coastal Celebration. I have now ridden coast to coast across Canada, from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, to Victoria, BC, in celebration of my 75th trip around the sun. I’ve recorded 8,300 miles since leaving Maggie Valley in beautiful western North Carolina, and I still have to ride back home. No, really, I have to ride home. Marilyn says I have to. I can’t keep riding around Canada, despite my strong inclination to do so. Well, maybe one more day. Tomorrow. When I explore part of Vancouver Island. But after that I’m really heading home. 3,200 miles away. On the way home, though, I’m going to plan my next ride.
Today’s ride from Hope to Vancouver, only 125 miles, folllowed the Fraser River through the wide Fraser Valley, lined with hundreds of fruit and berry farms, dairy farms and several extremely fragrant saw mills where the pungent odor of spruce, fir and cedar filled the morning air and lit up my olfactory sensors. Light Sunday morning traffic made for an easy and relaxing ride, and we arrived at the Tsawassen Ferry Terminal just before the 10 a.m. ferry sailed, giving me an hour more in Victoria than I anticipated. The ferry ride among the many heavily forested islands in English Bay between the mainland and Vancouver Island, where Victoria, the capital of the province, is located, took an hour and a half. The time on the ferry gave me a chance to relax, enjoy the short cruise and meet several more VNC (Very Nice Canadians), including John Schwartzburg, a retired foreign service official and now professional photographer. John and I talked about photography, Canada, and history for a brief time and, once again, I was reminded that it’s Canadians who make Canada special. (If you want to see some of John’s beautiful photos, including some from the same Viking River cruise Marilyn and I took, click here.)
A slight haze (smog?) obscured distant points from the ferry, but here are some photographs I took along the way. (None of them nearly as good as John Schwartzburg took, I’m sure.)
Because we sailed on an earlier ferry than I anticipated, I had several hours to spend in Victoria. I expected I would ride there, look at mostly empty streets, and check out some pre-twentieth century architecture. What I discovered instead was that downtown Victoria is vibrant and packed with people, even on a Sunday afternoon. Before we arrived, there had been a large Pride Parade, and many participants and supporters remained downtown, enjoying the sunny Sunday. But thousands of other people were also walking the streets, shopping at stores advertising support for the LGBTQ community, and stopping for a brew or two at elegant pubs and bars in beautiful old buildings. I even stopped in a real bookstore just to smell the unique ink-on-paper smell only a bookstore can offer. I don’t think today was special in Victoria; I think it was an average summer Sunday in a very vibrant and beautiful city. Why, I wondered as I enjoyed the sights and sounds, are most downtowns in the States empty and depressing on a sunny summer afternoon?
I didn’t take many photos downtown because (1) it was 85° and I was still wearing riding pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt and (2) I was enjoying visiting the stores, coffee shops, ice cream stores, etc. as much as everyone else and forgot I was lugging my camera. Nevertheless I took a few pictures. Here are some of them:
I had considered taking a walking tour of Victoria during tomorrow’s scheduled non-riding day, but have decided instead to ride through the southern tip of the island on my non-riding day, which, I guess, makes it a riding day after all. Victoria is yet another place I want to return to when I have a week, or a month, or a year to spend enjoying the life and views it has to offer. After the CCR, I hope I live an additional 30 years so I can come back to ALL the places that contributed to the high points of this year’s celebratory motorcycle ride.
Tomorrow is my last full day in Canada. Well, my last full day this trip, anyway. I’m going to try to make the most of it with two wheels, a little gas, and an adventuresome spirit. I can’t wait to get on Canada’s roads again.