Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Long time no post (or T minus 48 hours)

Two weeks since my last post! That's Vancouver taking its toll.  Between translating, collecting receipts to file a tax return, never-ending car trouble, I didn't really have time for anything that would have been worth posting.  But things are about to change.  My tax return has been filed; my car will be towed to be scrapped this afternoon, there is a short-term moratorium on translating work. And I bought an airline ticket.  
To where?  Not telling yet. All that shall be revealed right now is that I'll be having a well-earned (yearned?) cigarette somewhere in the area depicted by this map on Saturday between 4pm and 6pm local time before catching my next plane.

Hint: It's in a country where wasting rice on one's plate is frowned upon

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A dyke in Delta (or Sidney to Vancouver)

Saturday 9:30 am and it's time to leave Sidney and hit the Lochside Trail again to get back to Swartz Bay for another ferry ride.

Bird in tidal river bed along Lochside Trail
Lochside Trail
Swartz Bay

Yet another bus on the horizon ;-)
When the ferry arrives, it is packed with cyclists !

Leaving Swartz Bay

Meeting the ferry going the other way in the tightest location along the way
One last look at Vancouver Island
Tsawwassen Terminal

From Tsawwassen Causeway
Now I am faced with a bit of a problem.  Taking a car from Tsawwassen to Vancouver is easy. Just take Highway 99 through the tunnel under the Fraser River. The fact that bicycles are not allowed in this tunnel does not make things easy!
I have the choice between River Road, which runs along the northern edge of Delta along the Fraser River, and a road that runs along the southern edge of Delta, along the water. So I turn off the main roads, and proceed along a road that has free-running guard dogs and signs mentioning video surveillance, private use only, etc etc. Destination is the Delta Dyke road.
Where local blueberries are coming from
My gut feeling was right again.  I reach the dyke road, offering views of the US in the south across mud flats and water alive with hazy reflections.

I must look like easy prey because it keeps circling over me

A last look along the mud before heading North
Both sides are utterly fascinated by each other ;-)

Then I make another discovery. Instead of having to cycle North along some dirty loud main road, I discover that there is something called a Regional Greenway (see insert in map), which would get me from here to New Westminster along even terrain (almost everywhere) through nice scenery !

Then I follow some ill-placed bike-path signs (actually: I trust Google Maps on my cell phone) to very suddenly emerge from the greenery and stare flabbergastedly at the Alex Fraser Bridge looming ahead and above.

As if I wasn't tired enough already, this jumper bouquet disperses any remnants of energy I might have had.
I make it across 3 bridges to 22nd Street (Avenue?) Skytrain Station in East Burnaby (West New Westminster?).  Skytrain takes me to Burrard station for $2.75 (It's a weekend ;-), and after cycling through Stanley Park and over Lions Gate Bridge I am home again !   

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sidney evening and sunrise (or Pleasant but just a tad boring)

I can't really say too too much about Sidney.
 Just because I don't know too too much about Sidney.
 I can only present first impressions.
 And even these first impressions are a bit vague.
 Sidney is one of those 'pleasant' towns
 Just as the word pleasant itself, these towns don't really have an edge or a particular feature.
 But these towns are very popular with elderly and retired people.
Prices are just a tad higher than normal and there are MANY stores catering to that clientele ...
 ... in those ' pleasant' towns.

No, a Sidney Sunrise is not another fancy umbrella drink. Much to sharp-edged for such a pleasant town.  And this is a pleasant post!  Offending people is bad for business!  So here is a sunrise in Sidney.

Pleasant, eh?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Saltspring Island by velo & two ferries

Friday morning: I am reasonably well rested and the outside, even though cold, looks brighter.  So the snap decision (usually the best ones) is made to head south.

I leave Ladysmith with its quaint coffee shop and its pride and joy, the 49th parallel ;-0

The trip to Chemainus I travelled yesterday already, but south of that it is terra incognita ! I also get a second look at Chemainus and this time see why they are or want to be known as the world's capital of Murals ;-)

That's a name I haven't heard in a while ;-)

Between Chemainus and Crofton, I start believing that I've found a region in which I might want to live

This dream  evaporates very abruptly when I completed cycling around a bend.  Unfortunate ;-(

At 10 am I am moderately early for the 10:50 ferry from Crofton to Vesuvius, but that gives me an opportunity to take a break and take more pictures ;-) 

Saltspring in the distance
here's my bus

looking back warily ...

... afraid of turning into a pillar of salt

In a conversation on the ferry I learn that Saltspring Island is not a Hippie Paradise as I had assumed, but rather could be seen as an insular West Vancouver, where people in "Hoodies and Jeans" are a rare sight, as I am informed.   . 

 Accordingly I can't get too excited about the first half of the island trip and the town of Ganges (but then by not stopping I don't really give it a chance). I keep cycling and the closer I get to Fulford Harbour, the more I like the island.
Are they aligned with the solstices?

so cute

Fulford Harbour

It is quite hilly but my first battery takes me all the way to the ferry terminal and switches off at  40+ kms. The I arrive at 12:15 but the next ferry is not scheduled to depart until 2pm, so I look for something to eat and am extremely FORTUITOUS to discover Rocksalt CafĂ© & Restaurant, where I start writing this post using their free WIFI.

As usual for ferry waits, I order mussels and white wine ;-)

I conclude from all the orange safety vests in the restaurant that the BC ferries terminal crew is also eating here, so I don't have to look at my watch all the time to ensure catching  the ferry.
the second bus

  The ferry ride from Fulford Harbour to Swartz Bay is gorgeous and peaceful.  After de-boarding a fellow luggage-carrying cyclists fortunately directs me away from the highway and onto the Lochside Trail, which lets me complete the 5 kms to Sidney without too much road grit between my teeth.