The trip ended as it began with me arriving by plane in a rainy city in the dark. This time at least I knew my way home and didn’t get lost like in Vancouver. And after all the dust of California the smell of humid air and soil was so pleasant.
The entire trip was 3570 km plus those I did not record when cycling through the cities, of the elevation I have no record.
There are two maps (google does not allow enough layers to have everything on one)
one for the Canada/Washingtion loop
and one for the Oregon/California part
Red flags are the places where I stayed overnight.
My bike never let me down. The only thing I had to do once in a while was fasten the screw of the kick stand, put some oil on the chain, top off the air and do some cleaning. And somewhere I lost the screw of the Shimano clickies in my shoes. Otherwise zero zero punctures or other misfortunes.
I kind of liked the Pacific North-West more than California. It’s hard to tell why. Maybe because it was less dry, maybe also because it was at the beginning of the trip, when everything truly felt new and different. Maybe they simply are nicer up there. Who knows? Also there is not much tourism that is there are many American road travellers but almost no international tourism compared to CA.
And I put Canada on my places to-go list.
When you carry a Trangia stove it is quite easy to find fuel once you know what to look for. In the States there is an antifreeze called HEET which comes in reasonable sized bottles (ca 400ml) and works very well. Also it is really cheap maybe $1.50. You find that in Hardware stores and even in some small gas stations. Other burning alcohol they sell per gallons which is not a real option…
The other possibility is rubbing alcohol which is sold in farmacies in 500ml bottles there is isopropyl and ethanol type. The isopropyl variance is more common but you should try to avoid it. It produces lots of soot.
Food is a big issue. You get everything and real top quality food in bigger places. There are food coops and farmers markets with lots of fresh organic produce. But once you leave the areas frequented by hippies and hipsters the problem starts: There is nothing fresh. Expect to find too much sugar in everything you buy and certainly don’t expect to find anything which deserves the name of bread. I have been living on a diet of Beef Jerky (tastes good, needs no cooling and you get it everywhere) and banana chips for days. I will never forget that British cyclist who pulled over in Yosemite to my side such that I could not pass by him. His first question was: “do you also find food to be a problem?” And he was British mind you.
I met so many nice people here. There was Keith whom I met on a Vancouver bike route. He was good company at tasting Storm beers, and took me to that funny Italian store in Chinatown. Where else do you have to ring the doorbell first to be let into a giant, but a bit dusty shop to buy a bag of Barilla?
There was Derek who took me across all the dangerous crossings on the way to the Tsawanassen ferry terminal and gave me his phone number in case of emergency.
And then there where Mark, Cathy and Luke my Warmshowers.org hosts in Victoria who opened there home and garden for me and made me feel welcome. Thank you so much! Canadians on bikes seem to be really nice folks.
The Coho ferry for Port Angeles leaves in an hour but I will put Canada back on my travel list. Next time for more than one week…
Yesterday evening I went on a Whale watching trip. Despite all the fuss with the big and fast motor boat and the excited tourists, I found it to be a kind of mystical experience to be following a group of orcas.
I hardly can think of anything more beautiful and calming than the slow rhythm of these animals coming up to the surface to breath and dive away again. Imagine a quiet ocean, no other sound than the orcas coming up emptying their lungs with a loud pffffff.
I set off this morning towards the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, just south of Vancouver. The ride there was as unspectacular as I expected, a Canadian suburbs sightseeing tour. First through some nice residential areas in South Vancouver all along one of these lovely bike routes: Trees, two storey houses, cars and pickups in front of them, almost no traffic on Sunday morning. Once you reach the first branch of the Frazer river all loveliness ends. I crossed it on Knights bridge on a sidewalk hardly the width of my handlebars.
Bike/pedestrian Lane on Knights Bridge
After that there is Richmond: Shopping malls, commercial areas and Ikea, lovely Spreitenbach of Vancouver, only that everything is way oversized.
The second branch of the river can only be passed through a tunnel where bikes are not allowed. There is a small bus shuttle that sets you and your bike over. It runs once every hour. Road No. 5 leads you there. You have to turn left shortly after crossing Stevenston Hwy into a side road that doesn’t look like leading anywhere. There is a sign…
Road No. 5 is reasonable to cycle and you must be well guarded from all evil. It quite shows off all major religions you could possibly imagine: starting with a Tibetan monastery, next to it there is a Vedean temple, at least one church, a mosque, some other Indian temple, some more Chinese thing, a Jewish school. You name it, it’s there. One after the other, like pearls on a necklace. Big colourful buildings, mostly gold plated. We should get a similar upgrade to Spreitenbach.
The ferry to Salt Spring Island takes roughly three hours. Lovely cruise between the Southern
Golf islands. I even saw my first orcas!
If you look for them in the Salish sea, just follow the whale watching boats.