Our last days on Vancouver Island were amazing. As we headed for the ferry terminal in Crofton, we traveled from Parksville through Nanaimo, Ladysmith and were about to go through Chemainus when we stopped for a snack. We had decided a few days before to go to Salt Spring Island and avoid the Malahat which is the monster hill right before Victoria on the Trans Canada Highway #1. We had heard stories in both directions: do it, don’t do it. People drive like crazy heading into Victoria it is said. So we heeded whatever advice that was and decided to detour over to Salt Spring.
Our stop in Chemainus was neat. We stopped the bike right at the railroad crossing and a place called the Pacific Rim Artisan Village. I was overcome…a village for artists??? How cool. But it didn’t look like much, so I Googled it on my phone (finally service!) and read about the very interesting town of Chemainus. It is a town that has succeeded where others have not by the vision of Karl Schutz. You can read more about it here. Our interest was piqued so we committed to a downhill coast into town and checked things out. It’s pretty cool what is painted all over this neat town. You will have to check it out. For us, tired as we were from a long bit on the bike, we just wanted a place to park and have a cold beer and a meal. The tourist bureau there said we could go to the RV park to tent camp but I asked about a hotel instead. She gave us a couple of options, one that she said was very interesting, but not for everyone…of course, that’s the one we picked! The Horseshoe Bay Inn is wild. It was built in 1892 and is still standing. The guest register has Vanderbuilts and Rockefellers in it as well as Zane Gray and some other quite famous folks, and now us. We were the only ones checked in at that time so it was very quiet. The gals had us park the bike in the lobby of the hotel which I thought was a crazy shame, but whatever… It was a comfy place to stay and apparently haunted, though we didn’t have any experiences, to my great relief!
We hit the ferry to Salt Spring at the perfect time the next day and I really had high expectations due to the very enthusiastic gal at tourist bureau who talked on and on about the peace of the island, the artists, etc. We got off the ferry and had a brake problem…that continued…to Ganges. We fixed it and moved on (check the Captains Chair for details). We had a nice lunch and decided to head out to Ruckle Park to camp for the night. Daren had identified an alternate route to take so we made our way…to a STEEP hill, one that was the toughest of all that we had seen to this point. We got to the alternate route just in time…before our hearts and legs gave out.
Ruckle Park is right on the edge of the Straight of Georgia and is simply a beautiful place to camp. We got a spot right on the water and enjoyed every minute of it. The hills before faded into the distance and we were at peace. We went over to the fire ring and met a few folks from Victoria, plus got to tell some really young folks to turn off their techno! The next morning heavy dew covered everything as we readied to leave. We were on our way to the Fulford ferry terminal to take us to Sidney, BC and Victoria. We were in no particular hurry, dreading more of the insane hills that make up Salt Spring Island. Imagine our surprise then, to run smack into the ferry line after a very pleasant ride. We moved right to the front of the line (the benefit of being a “walk on”) and we were back on Vancouver Island by 10 a.m. and right on to the amazing bike paths that lead from the ferry into Victoria and beyond. It was a welcome relief to ride on the bike paths instead of the roads…so much quieter and full of bikers!
Sidney and Victoria are the most killer places to ride bikes. Paths everywhere, and where there aren’t paths, the roads are friendly enough and the drivers give you room. There are some very big trails, the Lochside Trail and Galloping Goose Trail that take you right into downtown Victoria with ease. We enjoyed every second of our day there. We stayed the night at the Corbett House B & B run by a fellow named Darren who is about our age. It was well appointed and quiet, plus right in downtown Sidney. An excellent place to stay if you are ever in Sidney.
Until we ride again, Ciao!