Sure it got a bit wet at times, but if that’s what you’re expecting and prepare for then it doesn’t seem too bad. And if I have to wait for better weather there is a change I need to wait until halfway through next year.
So I geared up, put on my rain clothes and climbed on the bike to take a ferry across. No spectacular sights of whale or other wildlife,
but I rode along the perfectly manicured bicycle lanes towards Victoria and onto the galloping goose trail. Another old railway line conveniently converted to bike trail.
I still severely dislike rain. And do try to avoid it the best I can. (Like cycling Vancouver Island in November…)
So when I passed the Kemp Lake store just outside the small town of Sooke I called in and was pleasantly surprised by a whole bunch of friendly folk playing music and eating cake.
Since I had left my tent in Vancouver and now just travelled with my glorious new hammock I asked around to find a nice place to string it up. Gary over heard and invited me to come and stay in his cabin by the lake. Kemp Lake.
I parked my bike near the cafe where it sure was well guarded.
The forecast wasn’t very good for the next few days.
But my luck would have it that the one sunny day got me all the way to Port Renfrew.
Stopping at the only one little coffee shop along the way where the friendly man behind the counter paid for my coffee & scone! He supported my cause he told me. I still need to figure out what the cause is exactly. But it’s lovely to hear I am supported!
born in Belfast but a fisherman in Canada for many many years now. These days he works at the docks and stays at the PR Hotel. When he heard I was planning to string up my hammock he would have non of that so took me to the hotel where I was given a room all for myself at no charge (!) -if I promised to leave it as I found!
So I did exactly that.
Six days later…
It was a good thing I did have shelter as a storm swept through, knocked over a bunch of trees that closed the roads and cut off power lines.
But Don, the manager and his son Chris, over for a holiday, took wonderful care of me.
We played games, went for walks, listen to music and both men are, with their Italian background, excellent cooks! Lucky me 🙂
Check out Don, with his accordion. He puts a smile on my face.
The Coast and surrounding areas are gorgeous no matter what the weather is like. The giant old-growth red cedar and Douglas fir along the Gordon river makes for a magical scene.
And that sunset wasn’t bad either.
Chris found a Matsutake or pine mushroom.
I really like the place. But with a turn in the weather, the temperature dropping but clear blue skies I couldn’t do anything but get back on my bicycle and make some tracks. Right after Don gave me a wonderful warm wooly garment.
When I wore the half-sweater/half-dress people commented that it’s a ‘Stanfield‘. The typical island uniform for fisherman, loggers and miners. And although mine is about 25 sizes too big it’s so comfortable I lived in it for about a week.
I got this Facebook message just before I left Port Renfrew.
And true to his word David showed up that evening at Cowichan lake with his motor home stuffed to the brim with food. He’s a keen bike-tourer and got with him two touring bikes and a shop-worth of gear.
When he saw my hammock in the trees;he didn’t think that was good enough and gave me one of his five tents! I didn’t have the right isolation and have to admit it was rather chilly. So that was extremely appreciated!
Not just that, he pulled bag after bag of food from the van, there was steak, pie, apple crumble, cookies, chips, dips, cheeses, meat, bread, eggs, lemonade, juice, etc, etc…
He doesn’t do things by halves.
I’ve had some real good maps on the mainland, but for the amount of time I was going to be here I didn’t think buying this map book would warrant the cost.
So I asked a fellow if I could take some picture of the pages.
In this area with a million logging roads it seems easy to take the wrong one.
And so I didn’t get lost.
You can’t tell from the pictures, but the temperature had dropped below freezing.
When I spotted a fire, I rode towards it to warm my hands and feet.
For the last 11 years they take a week and go camping. There were another 14-odd men to join them. Not particularly ‘manly’ they assured me. But only guys none-the-less.
After getting up early that morning to attend a remembrance-day ceremony high up in the hills, where a Lockheed Ventura Coastal Patrol Plane crashed in 1944, they’d seen me riding along the road.
The guys have been friends a long time. From Newfoundland originally and now based in Victoria.
I was happy to share stories around the fire and check out their camping set up. Things are done differently in different part of the word. But everywhere sitting around a fire and drinking beer discussing sausages is enjoyable.
I have the dubious honour to be the first-ever girl on their ‘men camp’. It was good fun. (it just made me cycle a little bit slower the next day)
I was impressed with a nifty candle holder that pushes the candle up as they burn and can heat up a small space (tent) Jay donated his to me! And it has come in very handy since.
Stew gave me a pair of warm wooly army socks that I later complimented with a pair of suiting boots. The owner at the army dump-store gave me an awesome discount. He had fond memories of Dutch girls. His first girlfriend (1960) happened to be one. He still carries her picture in his wallet…
Dry & dusty are not words I would’ve associated with Vancouver Island, but this is exactly what the logging road into Port Alberni was, a fair amount of vehicles use the road so I was happy to get a warm shower at Kevin’s place.
I had decided I needed some more warm clothes if I’m gonna hang around over winter. So I visited some thrift stores, and bought a skirt…
Ah yes. Practical and warm it may not be. But hey. Something could be said for a skirt (don’t ask me what exactly)
and over a small hump -they call it a pass, Sutton Pass- towards Tofino.
Just over that pass I found a lovely little camp spot at Marian creek
Where I made sure to hang my food high in the trees so the bear I spotted earlier wouldn’t get to it
Bring it on!