Archive for British Columbia

Canadian Rockies – Part I

Day 17: May 1 – Vernon to Golden

This was another non-riding day for a few reasons:

1) We had some mileage to make up if we were going to make it to Calgary for mom and dad to catch their plan home in less than a week

2) The chillier conditions take a drain on the body, so I was ready for a rest day

3) The lady at the tourist info centre cautioned us that cyclists ‘get hit’ riding on hwy 97 north of Vernon (however while driving we found this stretch of the hwy to be as cycle-able as the rest of the hwy)

4) I was a bit nervous about the likely increased volume of traffic on Hwy 1, the terrain (I much prefer flat cycling over hills!) and whether the shoulder would be wide enough for cycling safely (turns out that although traffic was heavier, there is a very wide paved shoulder through all of the mountains on hwy 1 – totally cycle-able!  There are a few tunnels between Revelstoke and Golden however that get very narrow – these are probably the ‘riskiest’ spots)

Knowing that I didn’t have to get bundled up to start riding, I instead enjoyed some relaxing time in the campgrounds outdoor hot tub!

Relaxin' in the Swan Lake campground hot tub!

Relaxin’ in the Swan Lake campground hot tub!

Morning view from the Swan Lake Campground

Morning view from the Swan Lake Campground

A family of Canadian Geese at the Swan Lake Campground

A family of Canadian Geese at the Swan Lake Campground

We made pretty good time to Revelstoke and enjoyed a picnic lunch with a mountain backdrop:

Picnic lunch in Revelstoke

Picnic lunch in Revelstoke

Mountains in Revelstoke

Mountains in Revelstoke

After visiting the tourist info we were informed that the majority of the trails and parks in the area were still closed for the season, regardless they suggested we check out a couple trails just east of Revelstoke ‘at our own risk’ of course.

We also inquired about a helicopter ride over the mountains, but at about $200/per person for half an hour, it was out of our price range.

So, after lunch we headed to the skunk cabbage trail (named after the rather putrid smell):

Flowers in the skunk cabbage trail

Skunk Cabbage

Boardwalk on the skunk cabbage trail

Boardwalk on the skunk cabbage trail

Dash and I on the skunk cabbage boardwalk

Dash and I on the skunk cabbage boardwalk

Followed by another boardwalk trail (I can’t remember the name of this one…)

The tall trees on our 2nd boardwalk east of Revelstoke

The tall trees on our 2nd boardwalk east of Revelstoke

Now that we had adequately stretched our legs and gotten our walks for the day in, we headed back to the RV and onwards to Golden where we did our normal nightly routine: had dinner (I’m savouring the last few nights of having the luxury of a fridge, a cooktop, stove and microwave accessible), did the dishes and went for a walk checking out our surroundings.  It has also been nice having my own personal chefs with me to date.  Mom and dad cooked all the breakfasts and dinners.  For lunch we stayed more to snacks (cheese, crackers, beef jerky, cold cut sandwiches, fruit, etc).  I’m not envying the days ahead where I will have to setup camp after a long day ride AND make my own meal!  I’ve been spoiled to date! lol!

Standing inside a partially hollow tree

Standing inside a partially hollow tree

Rocks embedded in the root system of a fallen tree

Rocks embedded in the root system of a fallen tree

A snow covered boardwalk - I see know why this trail is still closed for the season

A snow covered boardwalk – I see know why this trail is still closed for the season

Mountains!

Mountains!

Day 18: May 2 – Golden to Athabasca Glacier to Lake Louise

After a day of rest, I was itching to get back on my bike again!  However I also had a mission in mind – I wanted to take the bus ride that takes you out to walk on the Athabasca Glacier.  Knowing that this was far too far to ride in one day, I decided to bum a ride in the RV from Golden to Lake Louise and then from Lake Louise I started cycling north on the Icelands Parkway, asking to be picked up at 2pm so we could still make it to the Glacier for the last ride of the day (which headed out at 4:50pm).

We got to Lake Louise around 11:30am, so I only had about 2.5hrs of cycling.  The first 10km or so was pretty slow going as it was mostly uphill – although the grade wasn’t as steep as the uphill climbs in the okanagan valley.  The scenery was phenomenal!  And the parkway had a decent paved shoulder and such little traffic.  I imagine in the summer this road is a cyclists DREAM!  The 27km I rode today would be my highest altitude of cycling at about 1,700m.

Golden campground - what a view to wake up to!!

Golden campground – what a view to wake up to!!

My bike on the Icelands Parkway in front of a still frozen lake

My bike on the Icelands Parkway in front of a still frozen lake

Me infront of the same lake

Me infront of the same lake

Icelands Parkway

Icelands Parkway

Proof of being on the Icelands Parkway with my bike :)

Proof of being on the Icelands Parkway with my bike :)

Icelands Parkway

Icelands Parkway

I couldn't take enough pics of the views from the Icelands Parkway

I couldn’t take enough pics of the views from the Icelands Parkway

Dash playing in the snow on the Icelands Parkway

Dash playing in the snow on the Icelands Parkway

Mom and dad on the Icelands Parkway

Mom and dad on the Icelands Parkway

 

Before getting to the Athabasca Glacier we pulled over for a quick jaunt to the Mistaya River Canyon – it was pretty cool to see how the water has formed the rocks around it in whirls…

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Mysta Canyon with the whirl rock formation

Mistaya Canyon with the whirl rock formation

Mysta Canyon

Mistaya Canyon

And now the highlight of the day – walking on a glacier!  The Athabasca Glacier is located on the Icelands Parkway half way between Lake Louise and Jasper.  There are two options for getting on to the Glacier, you can either take the bus which is about an 80 minute trip with about 30 minutes to walk on specific are of the Glacier or you can hire a guide to hike and explore the glacier.  This second option was not yet open for the season, so the bus it was.

The Athabasca Glacier is a very small area (about 2%) of the Columbia Icefields.  The Columbia Icefields are located on the other side of the mountain range you see from the Icelands Parkway and is only accessible by hiking – although this is only recommended for experienced folks as there are many crevasses in the ice.  The Athabasca Glacier is 6km long, 1 km wide and about 300 meters thick.  I’ve never been on (or even seen) a glacier before, so this was a cool experience that I’ll definitely remember and our driver on to the glacier was quite entertaining!

A steep decline to the Glacier - as per our driver, it's 'all about the angle when going down steep slopes'

A steep decline to the Glacier – as per our driver, it’s ‘all about the angle when going down steep slopes’

Our bus on the Athabasca Glacier

Our bus on the Athabasca Glacier

Dad, me and mom standing on the Athabasca Glacier

Dad, me and mom standing on the Athabasca Glacier

A view of another glacier in the mountains behind us

A view of another glacier in the mountains behind us

The blue tinge is a glacier in the mountain

The blue tinge is a glacier in the mountain

'the waterfall' this is where the columbia icefields feeds into the athabasca glacier - it's hard to imagine this ice waterfall is moving!

‘the waterfall’ this is where the columbia icefields feeds into the athabasca glacier – it’s hard to imagine this ice waterfall is moving!

Another glacier in the mountains!

Another glacier in the mountains!

The moraines - these are the land formations the glacier leaves every year as it recedes and expands

The moraines – these are the land formations the glacier leaves every year as it recedes and expands

 

By the time we finished the glacier tour it was about 7pm and it had started to snow.  Our original plan was to camp in the parking lot of the Icefields Parkway centre (as the campgrounds in the area were not yet open for the season), however not wanting to get stormed in, we decided to make the drive back to Lake Louise and camp there for the night.

 

Okanagan Valley

There was too much to see and do while crossing the Rockies and only 2 weeks to do it with RV support from my parents, so I haven’t been great with updating the blog.  Now that I’m settled in Calgary for a few days I’ll update the events of the past week and a half in a few posts over the next couple days…

Day 14: April 28 – Osoyoos to Penticton

After a restful sleep with no trains in sight or sound at Nk’Mip campground in Osoyoos we set off for our first destination of the day – the Osoyoos Desert Centre where we took a self-guided walk along a 1.5km boardwalk through ‘Canada’s only desert‘.  We had to look closely, but we managed to see several cacti.

Low growing cacti in Osoyoos

Low growing cacti in Osoyoos

Osoyoos' desert landscape

Osoyoos’ desert landscape

Deer at the Osoyoos Desert Centre

Deer at the Osoyoos Desert Centre

 

Calm waters at Lake Osoyoos

Calm waters at Lake Osoyoos

The next destination was FAR more interesting and what I believe the Okanagan

My kinda capital

My kinda capital

Valley is known for – a WINERY!!! :)

The lady at the Osoyoos visiter centre suggested Tinhorn Creek, as they are pretty laid back and allow you to walk through their vineyard.  With a relatively flat ride on hwy 97 I made good time until taking the turn off to the winery.  What looked like a pretty innocent grade turned out to be the start of a pretty steep hill.  When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to ride up the hill I tried to unclip my shoe from the pedal and just barely got my foot released before coming to a halt.  My first almost topple!  I’m pretty new to riding with clipless pedals and at this point am thinking that they are better suited for the prairies where the terrain will be flat! lol!

Now on to more important business – the winery!

Tinhorn Creek winery

Tinhorn Creek winery

After walking up the remainder of the hill (we even left the RV near the bottom of the hill ‘cuz we weren’t sure what kind of terrain and parking/turning around room we would have at the winery – turns out there is a decent sized parking lot that is relatively level):

Well worth the walk up to the winery

Well worth the walk up to the winery

We were greeted at the entrance of the winery by a pleasant lady who quickly poured us a rose and showed us where we could start exploring the winery.  They offer a self-guided tour with plaques placed around the showroom, the vineyards and barrel facilities, allowing you to wander (with wine sample in hand) at your own pace.  Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area!

A sample of the vines

A sample of the vines

The inside of a wine barrel

The inside of a wine barrel

Tinhorn Creeks' barrel facility

Tinhorn Creeks’ barrel facility – about 900 barrels in total

The view from Tinhorn Creek winery

The view from Tinhorn Creek winery

Dad and I at Tinhorn Creek winery

Dad and I at Tinhorn Creek winery

As we left the winery our friendly greeter (being aware of the fact that I was on bike) forewarned me of a ‘bugger of a hill’ heading into Okanagan Falls.  I usually take these warnings with a grain of salt, because everybody’s impression of a hill on a bike is different, but in this case she was spot on!  If I were hauling all my gear there is no doubt I would have walked the majority of this 4km stretch, but given the gear was in the RV and it was just me and the bike I was able to cycle the whole hill.  Having my parents along for these two weeks as a support vehicle has certainly come in handy!

Mom, Dash and I

Mom, Dash and I

Scenery along Hwy 97 between Oliver and Penticton

Scenery along Hwy 97 between Oliver and Penticton

 

Scenery along Hwy 97 between Oliver and Penticton

Scenery along Hwy 97 between Oliver and Penticton

One of the many, many fruit stands between Oliver and Penticton (majority were closed this time of year)

One of the many, many fruit stands between Oliver and Penticton (majority were closed this time of year)

With 62km under my belt for the day, we stopped for the night just south of Penticton on the north end of Skaha Lake.  Looking across the lake, we saw a road on the East side of the lake that looked relatively flat, had we taken that road from Okanagan Falls I probably could have avoided the 4km climb!

Dash protecting us from the duck at the campground

Dash protecting us from the duck at the campground

Day 15: April 29 – Penticton to West Kelowna

The theme of today was – cold!  While having breakfast it actually started snowing!  Weren’t we just in the desert yesterday?  How can we now have snow?

The chilly morning sky

The chilly morning sky – you can’t see it, but that is snow not rain!

Nevertheless, I was determined to get back on the bike, so after layoring up and getting instructions from mom and dad about a trail they had found on their evening walk the previous night, I was on the road!

Trail along the channel between Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake

Trail along the channel between Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake

Due to the chillier conditions today, there were no side trips of significance today, but here are some pics that I took along the 58km ride from Penticton to West Kelowna:

Hwy 97 between Penticton and West Kelowna

Hwy 97 between Penticton and West Kelowna

View along Hwy 97 between Penticton and West Kelowna

View along Hwy 97 between Penticton and West Kelowna

 

Evidence of snow across Lake Okanagan from our campground

Evidence of snow across Lake Okanagan from our campground

Day 16: April 30 – West Kelowna to Vernon

Happy the snow is at least on the other side of the lake

Happy the snow is at least on the other side of the lake

As it looked like Dash was going to be running out of food soon (she is eating WAAAAY more here than back home, I think it’s because of all the activity every day), our first stop today was a vet clinic to pick up more food.  We researched a place in Kelowna that was en route, so mom, dad and I agreed to make that our first meeting point for the day.  Immediately when leaving the campground I was headed for another 4km climb.  Which I probably should have been able to bike the whole way, but I’m blaming the coldness for having to walk a good portion of this hill where I was passed by two pedestrians:

Passed by the ladies in pink and white on the right

Passed by the ladies in pink and white (behind the garbage bin) on the right

A final vineland shot...

A final vineland shot…

Getting to the top of the hill in West Kelowna which would lead to Hwy 97 to cross over to Kelowna, I received a phone call from my parents giving me a heads up that there was a bike trail across the bridge (good news), but that the stretch on Hwy 97 before picking up the bike trail had very little shoulder and traffic was busy (not so good news).  While enjoying the downhill ride I started to see just how busy Hwy 97 was and before getting on to the Hwy I noticed my bike GPS recommend that I make a right hand turn before the highway.  Thinking this might take me on some side roads until I could pick up the bike trail and thereby avoiding the busy highway I decided to follow it.  How disappointed I was to find myself 15 minutes later back at the top of the hill I had just come down.  Another circle!

It felt like a good time to take a break, so I found a bus stop bench, took a seat and re-strategized.  After consulting my iPhone I identified that there were no through roads between me and the bike trail, there was however a ‘relatively’ small green stretch dividing me from the bike trail.  Hoping this was some kind of park that would have a trail, I decided to head that way and see what I could find.  Turns out, the green stretch was a fairly steep ridge.  This wasn’t looking promising.  Not losing hope just yet, I stopped a gentleman who was flattening his cardboard recycling and asked if he was aware of any trails that would get me to the bottom of the ridge.  Much to my relief, there was a trail!

Trail down the ridge - this would have been a tough one with the gear and trailer...

Trail down the ridge – this would have been a tough one with the gear and trailer…

A look up the ridge that thankfully had a trail!!

A look up the ridge that thankfully had a trail!!

Lake Okanagan from mid-ridge in West Kelowna

Lake Okanagan from mid-ridge in West Kelowna

Once getting across the ridge, the bike trail was very easy to find and I was finally on my way to Kelowna (2hrs and 10km later….it appears as though crossing bridges is my nemesis.  Score so far – Bridges 3, Tami 1).

Traffic on this bridge heading into Kelowna was busy, it took 5 pictures to get an unobstructed pic

Traffic on this bridge heading into Kelowna was busy, it took 5 pictures to get an unobstructed pic

My bike on the bridge between West Kelowna and Kelowna

My bike on the bridge between West Kelowna and Kelowna

Bridge and West Kelowna

Bridge and West Kelowna

After picking up Dash’s food and taking a lunch break we headed north out of Kelowna via Glenmore Rd.  This road turned into a nice country road and was a pretty pleasant ride to Winfield.

In Winfield we lost the country road and were once again back on Hwy 97, where I took a ride in the RV until the tourism info in South Vernon.  Heading into the south side of Vernon on the sidewalk of Hwy 97 (back on my bike again) I came across a lady struggling to move (or steal?) a couch so I stopped to give her a hand.  She was quite funny insisting that she wouldn’t be defeated by a piece of furniture.

With 51km cycled (and about 30km driven) for the day I arrived at our campground on the north end of Swan Lake.

My first round about on a bike!

Vernon – my first round about on a bike!

 

Dash chillin' in the RV

Dash chillin’ in the RV at Swan Lake

 

3 for Bridges:

1) Richmond to Vancouver

2) Crossing Hwy 99 in Delta

3) Crossing West Kelowna to Kelowna

1 for Tami:

1) Crossing Fraser River to Mission – that one was seamless!

The Ride Has Begun!!!

Day 7: April 21 – Vancouver to Victoria

Today was my first real day on the bike, cycling just shy of 98km from Vancouver to Victoria.  I headed out around 8:30am (the plan was to be on the road around 7, but it turns out I’m not an early riser, nor am I quick packer).  So 8:30 I was on the road and given it was the day of the annual Vancouver Sun Run, vehicle traffic was quite light heading out of the city!

I’m happy to report there was NO difficulty re-finding the cyclist/pedestrian P1010446P1010445bridge connecting Vancouver to Richmond!  However for my own validation, I did take a couple pictures when I reached Richmond.  The picture to the right is the view of the sign and bridge that I had when I originally approached (and circled) the bridge a few days ago.  The sign below is what you see when approaching from the other side of the road.  I think it was reasonable that I missed this turn off the first time.

Now that I was safely across one bridge and in Richmond, I had to now cross the Fraser River over to Delta.  Given my previous experiences trying to cross bridges in Vancouver I thoroughly researched this route beforehand and came up with two options.  1) Cross the Alex Fraser bridge on the sidewalk (adding about 20km to the trek) 2) Head to Hwy 99 and take the bicycle shuttle through the George Massey Tunnel.  I opted for option 1, mostly because I feared getting to the shuttle service and finding they wouldn’t take my trusty companion Dash on the shuttle.  Heading east along River Road to get to the Alex Fraser bridge was a flat ride with many other local cyclists out for a ride.  At one point I noticed that the cyclists turned off of River Road and after another kilometre of riding I found out why: the road

That doesn't mean me, does it?

That doesn’t mean me, does it?

slowly became smaller until I arrived at a gate.  Ugh.  Not wanting to turn around I scoped the area out and found a gate with a little trail.  Quickly scanning around to make sure nobody was watching, I opened the gate and pushed my bike and trailer onwards.  About 5min later, having crossed through a mill and several more unlocked gates, I arrived on the road again!  Phew!

Unlocked gated mill

Unlocked gated trail beside mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that I was on the road again, I made good time to the Alex Fraser bridge and was able to find the path to the sidewalk with very minimal circles!

Turning bridge along River Road heading to Alex Fraser bridge

Turning bridge along River Road heading to Alex Fraser bridge

View of the Alex Fraser bridge (hwy 91) - this time I'm on the highway legit!

View of the Alex Fraser bridge (hwy 91) – this time I’m on the highway legit!

Heading along River Road on the south side of the Alex Fraser bridge I once again made pretty good time along flat land until getting to Hwy 99.  Hwy 99 at this point runs east/west, I was north and heading south.  My GPS and previous research sent me to 72nd st., however when I got there I found to my dismay that the overpass was under construction and impassable.  Mere minutes after finding out this news it began hailing, raining and the temperature dropped to about 5 degrees.  How’s that for weather reflecting your mood?  I headed back from where I came and crossed Hwy 99 via Hwy 17 (fortunately it had a wide shoulder).  About another hour of riding and I was at the ferry that would take me to Vancouver Island.

They ferry was incredibly efficiently run.  Departure time was 3pm and arrival in Sidney (about 35km north of Victoria) was 4:35pm.  Unfortunately because I P1010567was traveling with Dash I wasn’t allowed in the passenger area, however they did have designated ‘pet areas’ on the car decks with a couple heaters (good for drying running shoes after cycling in the rain!).  After making friends with 2 couples travelling with their dogs I pulled out some dry clothes and asked if they would attend to Dash while I got into dry clothing.

Fortunately the rain had not made its appearance in Sidney, so when we landed on Vancouver Island it was to dry weather.  The 40km ride to Victoria was quite scenic and for about 20km quite hilly (lots of walking for me).  With all the hill walking I was quickly losing daylight so I didn’t stop to take any pics on this stretch.  Arriving at my hotel just before 9pm I quickly settled in and ordered a pizza for delivery which was probably eaten in record time! lol!

 

Day 8: April 22 – Victoria

No riding today!  I contemplated taking my bike to Mile Zero and getting the ‘kickoff’ picture, but decided that could wait until tomorrow.  Instead, Dash and I set out on our feet and walked through the downtown core of Victoria, past the BC Provincial Government buildings/grounds, Fisherman’s Wharf (where I had my second delicious fish and chips of the trip), along the waterfront (where we sat and mingled with some of the locals for a while) and up to Castle Craigdarroch.

The two highlights of the day would have to be Fisherman’s Wharf.  Very touristy, but also very interesting.  They have a community of 33 ‘floating homes’, very much like Granville Island, but a larger community.  They also have a couple restaurants that float, so you can eat your meal on a floating sidewalk while watching the seaplanes land and harbour seal’s play near by.

BC Government Buildings

BC Government Building

Floating Village

Floating Village – this is where the Harbour Seals hung out

 

Floating Village

Floating Village

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There were also 2 Harbour Seals that were hanging out here (at least they did until Dash barked at them):

Harbour Seals at Fisherman's Wharf

Harbour Seal at Fisherman’s Wharf

Harbour Seal at Fisherman's Wharf

Harbour Seal at Fisherman’s Wharf

 

The boat that floats - Hippo Tours has these land/water tours in a couple cities

The bus that floats – Hippo Tours has these land/water tours in a couple cities

The second highlight of the day was having a seat on some rocks by the water with the view of the mountains in the distance.  I sat and took the landscape in for about an hour, meeting a local (Don) who’s birthday is the day before mine and has cycling across Canada on his bucket list.

Mountain view from Victoria

Mountain view from Victoria

Dash looking up to Terry Fox statue

Dash looking up to Terry Fox statue

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria

 

Day 9: April 23 – Victoria to Sidney

Heading out shortly after noon, I loaded up my bike and trailer and headed to Mile Zero.  I had actually walked passed Mile Zero in my walk the previous day, but it didn’t feel right to leave Victoria without a picture of me, my gear and the mile zero sign!  When arriving at the sign, I hung out for several minutes trying to figure out how to get a picture with me, the bike, Dash and the sign.  Fortunately somebody across the street saw my dilemma and came over to take my pic!

MILE ZERO!!! :)

MILE ZERO!!! :)

I then headed East along the water to do the ceremonial ‘dipping of the tire in the ocean’.

Dipping my tire in the Pacific

Dipping my tire in the Pacific

From here I kept to the scenic route heading along the water East and North back to Sidney.

A deer eating in the Victoria suburbs

A deer eating in the Victoria suburbs

Stopping at Mt Douglas Park for a quick break I met an older gentleman who has biked across Canada twice!

Mt Douglas Park

Mt Douglas Park

Toy airplane field south of Sidney

Toy airplane field south of Sidney

 

Day 10: April 24 – Sidney to Fort Langley

The alarm went off at 5am this morning.  How I would have loved to hit

Vancouver Island from the ferry

Vancouver Island from the ferry

snooze, but I did have a 7am ferry to catch.  Grabbing a quick continental breakfast at the hotel and packing up my gear I was on the road by 6:10 for the 7km ride to the ferry (I have routinely underestimated how long it takes me to pack up my gear and get ready for the day of riding, this is about an hour long process that I hope to make more efficient in time! lol!).  Cutting it perhaps a little close I arrived at the ferry at 6:45am where they had already started boarding the buses and transport trucks.  Nevertheless, they let me on, so all is good! :)

My bike on the trailer with the buses and transport trucks

My bike on the ferry with the buses and transport trucks

Dash in the Pet Area on the ferry - we were the only pet riders for this crossing

Dash in the Pet Area on the ferry – we were the only pet riders for this crossing

Arriving on the mainland promptly at 8:35am, I hung around the ferry terminal to allow traffic to dissipate so I wouldn’t have to share the 3km ride on highway 17.  On the East side of the town of Tsawwassen I found a trail that runs along the water (mud bay and boundary bay trail).  This was a flat, loose gravel trail.  The flat part was great, but loose gravel slows things down a bit with all the gear I’m pulling.  Nevertheless, it was a much more pleasant ride than the highway or roads and Dash was able to get out of her trailer and run beside me for about 12km.

Mud Bay Trail

Mud Bay Trail

Man walking a dog on mud bay

Man walking a dog on mud bay

According to the signs, Mud Bay and Boundary Bay are very popular for birds and bird watching folks.  It is a along the pacific coast migratory path and is a place that many birds use to rest while making the trek from Alaska and North Western Canada to warmer climates in California and Mexico.  Reading on these signs that Bald Eagle’s and other birds of prey are commonly found in this area, I found myself constantly watching the sky to make sure an Eagle didn’t mistake Dash for lunch…

Keeping a watchful eye on the sky!

Keeping a watchful eye on the sky!

After stopping to chat with a fellow cyclist who regaled me on some of his Victoria to Vancouver touring (ie. long bike trip) stories, the next destination was a boarding place for Dash.  I would be boarding Dash for a few hours while I met my parents to pick up our rental RV for the next two weeks to get through the Rockies (pets are not ‘technically’ allowed in the RV).  The plan is that I will cycle as much as I can, but the RV will lug my gear and Dash through the Rockies, offer accommodations at night (given how early in the season I have started this trip, some campgrounds have yet to open for the season) and will also allow me to hitch a ride if I’m finding the mountains too difficult to cross.

These knocked over bike route signs can be hard to find sometimes....

These knocked over bike route signs can be hard to find sometimes….

Pedestrian/cyclist tunnel under Hwy 99

Pedestrian/cyclist tunnel under Hwy 99

 

After picking up the RV with minimal hiccups we were on our way back to pick up Dash, grab some groceries and on to our first campground in Fort Langley.  This section of the trip I didn’t cycle.  Altho, with how busy it was (rush hour traffic), I may have made better time on my bike!

 

Day 11: April 25 – Fort Langley to Kilby

We had a late start to the day as a fellow RV camper was showing us how to hook up our water.  This was the main hiccup we had the previous day when picking up the RV – we were told by the customer service rep that given the colder temperatures through the Rockies that we ran the risk of freezing the waterlines, damage that we would be held accountable for.  With our lack of RV experience, we believed them and decided (at their strong recommendation) not to have water service in the RV.  After speaking to a few people, we were instructed that this would only be an issue if we reached temperature closer to -10 degrees.  After ‘de-winterizing’ the RV unit we were on our way shortly after noon.

Canadian Geese perched on a pole

Canadian Geese perched on a pole

We were warned heading out of the campground that there was a really steep 12% grade (and long) hill about 10km in to the ride, so my parents followed me in the RV and waited for me at the bottom of the hill where we popped the bike on the RV and mom and I walked up the hill!  Awww – the convenience of having a support vehicle!!! :)

Otherwise, the 68km ride for the day was a combination of rolling country hills

Llama's on rolling country fields

Llama’s on rolling country fields

and trails heading into Mission and then fairly flat terrain weaving through the foothills from Mission to Kilby where we set up camp for the night.  Kilby campground is a 28 site campground tucked a couple kilometres off of Hwy 7 and is deemed a historical site, located on Harrison River (although the river looks much more like a lake where the campground is located).  Given that it is still slightly off-season, we were not able to tour the local museum or historical inn or general store but we did stroll around the small community and read the signs giving some history on the town of Kilby.

Trail riding with view of Mission bridge through the trees on the left

Trail riding with view of Mission bridge through the trees on the left

View from Mission Bridge

View from Mission Bridge

Close up of the train tracks

Close up of the train tracks

Kilby General Store

Kilby General Store

Kilby Inn and Oil Shed

Kilby Inn and Oil Shed

The train is coming!

The train is coming!

Beach at Kilby campground

Beach at Kilby campground

Train crossing bridge over Harrison River

Train crossing bridge over Harrison River.  These posts where placed intentionally to create a channel and prevent larger boats from running aground

 

Day 12: April 26 – Kilby to Hope

Heading East from Kilby there was about a 5km stretch that became quite hilly.  Thankfully as I was not lugging all my gear I was able to bike up the hills!  Thanks parents and RV! :)  Today’s 53km ride was very scenic, for the most part cruising along flat terrain around the mountains.  At the juncture of Hwy 7 and Hwy 9 we took a two hour side trip putting the bike on the RV and headed North to the town of Harrison Hot Springs to soak in the Hot Springs!  There is a resort that owns the rights to the hot springs (and have owned the rights since the late 1800’s), however they have taken one source of hot springs and made it community accessible.  The hot springs are actually cooled to a bearable temperature and fed into this community pool:

Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs

Even though the hot springs are very soothing and my body certainly did appreciate the detour, it lacked a bit of the natural atmosphere!

Heading back to Hwy 7 & 9, I hopped back on my bike and continued the ride East/North to Hope.

View of mountains north of Aggassiz

View of mountains north of Agassiz

There IS Hope!

There IS Hope!

 

Downtown Hope

Downtown Hope

A lumberjack in Hope

A lumberjack in Hope

 

Day 13: April 27 – Hope to Osoyoos

Before you google the distance, let me be the first to say – I took full advantage of the RV today and did NO riding!  Hope to Osoyoos is about 250km and on this particular day the temperature was a bit milder with rain in the forecast.  The route from Hope to Osoyoos is very remotely populated, especially this time of year when many of the privately owned campgrounds and Manning provincial park campgrounds have yet to open for the season.  This seemed like the perfect stretch to get a ride. :)  As we left camp, my mom  bumped into a couple who was riding across Canada and headed in just our direction.  They were aiming to get to Alison’s Pass where they would set up camp, they were anticipating today to be their toughest ride – I certainly didn’t envy them as we rolled away in the RV.

Our morning started with a quick visit to the Othello tunnels at Coquihalla Provincial Park.  Unfortunately this was a quick visit because they were closed due to falling rock hazard.

Dad, Dash and I at the closed Othello Tunnels

Dad, Dash and I at the closed Othello Tunnels

Othello Tunnel

Othello Tunnel

 

Some history on the Othello Tunnel

Some history on the Othello Tunnel

History lesson continued...

History lesson continued…

Bear signs are becoming more common

Bear signs are becoming more common

Mom and Dash at entrance to Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park

Mom and Dash at entrance to Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park

About 70km into the day’s drive we reached our highest point of the day.  Alison’s Pass at 1,342 metres.

RV at Alison's Pass (1,342 metres)

RV at Alison’s Pass (1,342 metres)

The air was much brisker and given the amount of snow still around, let me just say I was happy I wasn’t on my bike for this section!

Snow covered house at Alison's pass

Snow covered house at Alison’s pass

Mountain view East of Alison's pass

Mountain view East of Alison’s pass

About 170km into the drive we came across the small town of Hedley, which was once a gold mining town.  After a walk around town and a bite to eat we continued on our way.

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Hedley

Hedley

Some background info on Hedley

Some background info on Hedley

A picture of the mine entrance in Hedley

A picture of the mine entrance in Hedley

A view of Hedley

A view of Hedley

Our next stop was our destination for the night – Osoyoos!  Getting to camp at a decent hour (4:30) and having the luxury of a rest day, I took the opportunity to update the blog.  Hopefully my next update will be less than a week away, but in the mean time, here are some pics of my home for the next week and a half:

RV with slideout open

RV with slideout open

My workstation for the afternoon, otherwise our dining room

My workstation for the afternoon, otherwise our dining room

Kitchen and fridge - such luxury!

Kitchen and fridge – such luxury!

The master room

The master room

Cab and my room :)

Cab and my room :)

Vancouver

Day 4: April 18 – MEC & Vancouver Aquarium

Waking up to an overcast day I decided I would take this opportunity to head to MEC and pick up some bear spray (this is probably the only item I would be perfectly content lugging across the entire country and not having to use!)

Although it was overcast when Dash and I headed out for our walk to MEC, it wasn’t raining so I decided to take the long way (the direct route was about 3km one way, the long route was closer to 5km).  I’ve never purchased bear spray before, there is a form you have to fill out giving your personal information and declaring that you won’t use it as a weapon on humans – no problem there – this wasn’t even a use I had considered! lol!  They also give instructions on how to use the spray and how to clean up after using it (ie. washing your face, hands, change clothes and wash, etc).  For those who don’t know – bear spray becomes an attractant after it settles, hence the cleaning after use.

Posing penguins

Posing penguins

By the time I got back from MEC in the early afternoon it was raining with no clearing in the sky.  Seemed like the perfect afternoon to head to the Aquarium!  Breaking out my rain jacket and leaving Dash in the hotel, I started the 4km walk to the Aquarium.  The two animals that I enjoyed watching was the beluga and the penguins.  I must have spent about 15min watching the beluga swim its loop.  All aquarium pics can be found here.

Beluga swimming on its back

Beluga swimming on its back

Day 5: April 19 – Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park

My original plan today was to visit that Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and then head a few kilometres north on the same road to Grouse Mountain to hike the ‘Grouse Grind’ (a 2.9km 853m climb).  However, research the previous night showed that the Grouse Grind was not yet open for the season.  So instead I decided to head to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park (a free alternative to Capilano Park) – thanks Justin for bringing this one to my attention!

I waited until about noon to let most of the rain clear out, then set out on myP1010380 bike for the Seabus, a ferry that links Vancouver with North Vancouver.  It was about a 10km ride one way which doesn’t sound like much but the climb in North Vancouver for the first 3km was TOUGH!  I opted for walking this stretch while trying to calculate in my head how long it would take to push my bike across Canada instead of ride it.

The main attraction of the Lynn Canyon Suspension

Dash and I on the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Dash and I on the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Bridge Park is (you guessed it) the suspension bridge!  This bridge is within 100 metres of the entrance to the park.  There are also trails in the park heading both north and south connecting with other parks in the area.  The terrain in the park was very hilly with lots of stairs to allow for easier walking.  Most of the trees within the Lynn Canyon Park are relatively young (around 80 – 100 years).  Most of the foliage was very consistent to what I saw in Stanley Park, but the biggest difference was that there was a great deal of moss in this park.  It was on the rocks and hanging off the trees!  There is also a 30′ deep natural pool beside a cliff which I’m sure is quite an attraction in the summer months.  Even though the weather was a bit brisk (about 10 degrees), a girl did suit up (in a wet suit that is) and jumped in!  I spent about 3hrs walking in the park before heading back for the much quicker (downhill) ride back to the hotel. :)

Below is a sampling of pictures, for the full set click here.

Moss hanging from trees in Lynn Canyon Park

Moss hanging from trees in Lynn Canyon Park

View of canyon from suspension bridge

View of canyon from suspension bridge

 

Waterfall in Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park

Waterfall in Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park

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Moss everywhere!

Moss everywhere!

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge

 

 

30' deep pool

30′ deep pool

Me at Lynn Canyon Park

Me at Lynn Canyon Park

Dash in her carrier with Vancouver in the background

Dash in her carrier with Vancouver in the background

The tail end of a police escorted motorcycle ride

The tail end of a police escorted motorcycle ride

Day 6: April 20 – False Creek Trail

My last day in Vancouver was a mellow one.  The goal was to walk the pedestrian Seawall trail that goes around False Creek (about 10km) and grab an ocean fresh fish and chip somewhere along the way.  I was successful in accomplishing both of these goals!

Here are some pics from today’s outing…

Floating homes on Granville Island

Aquabus and floating homes on Granville Island

Aquabus is the ferry transit system that links both sides of Vancouver across False Creek.  The colorful red, yellow, green and blue homes in the background are located on Granville Island and are actually floating on the water!  They are on some sort of Barge that is then roped to land with bumpers for protection (much like boats at a dock).  Here are some closer pictures of these cute homes:

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P1010427

Cycling, rollerblading and walking trail that extends about 10km around False Creek

Cycling, rollerblading and walking trail that extends about 10km around False Creek

Dog in a motorboat leading crew in the dragon boat :)

Dog in a motorboat leading crew in the dragon boat :)

Me with Vancouver in the background

Me with Vancouver in the background

Gentleman in the meticulous process of building a canoe

Gentleman in the meticulous process of building a canoe

Dash with the Telus World of Science building in the background

Dash with the Telus World of Science building in the background

Swimming in False Creek (that's NOT me!)

Swimming in False Creek (that’s NOT me!)

Cherry blossoms in bloom

Cherry blossoms in bloom on Granville Island

Go Fish - outdoor fish and chip hut open year round.  Very yummy!

Go Fish – outdoor fish and chip hut open year round. Very yummy!

The mountains getting lost in the clouds

View of Vancouver from Burrard St bridge with the mountains in the background getting lost in the clouds

 

Arrival on the West Coast

Day 1: April 15 – Flying into Vancouver Airport

Monday started early (early for me at least – 6:30) as dad and I had to walk to the local Home Hardware store to pick up a better wrench to get the pedals off my bike.  With wrench in hand, and several attempts we finally managed to get the pedals off.  Now we were ready to start packing up the bike for the flight!

This was my first time flying with a bike, but I had spoken to a couple people over the past couple months to get the gist of what needed to be done (in particular, Terri, thanks for your expertise in this area!).  High level, you just need to remove the pedals and turn the handlbars so they lay flat and then put the bike in a box.  Bike stores will usually have spare boxes (especially in the spring) as they get new inventory in.  As it turns out, I also had to remove my wheels and seat ‘cuz the box wasn’t quite long or tall enough to hold all of this when assembled.  We were however able to get all these parts (and a couple more loose items) stuffed into the box around the frame.  We then proceeded to fill all the empty space with 125’ of bubble wrap (this part may have been overkill, but having just spent an arm and a leg on rebuilding my bike I wanted to error on the side of caution!)

Bike and gear now packed we were off to the airport for Dash’s first flight!  Dash would be flying in the cabin area with me – every airline has different rules, but most allow pets up to about 15lbs to fly in the cabin and be counted as a carry on item.  The customer service rep was incredibly nice and even closed up her kiosk to give me an extra set of hands getting all my gear to the oversized baggage area.  Now it was just Dash and I!  We made our way through security where Dash had to be taken out of her carrier (with a chorus of ohhhs and awes from the group of ladies behind us) and carried through the scanner with me.  On the other side of the scanner Dash was put back into her carrier where she would stay until we landed on Vancouver soil.  When we boarded the flight, a flight attendant came to introduce herself and explain the rules and safety procedures of flying with a pet.  Essentially her carrier had to remain fully under the seat infront of me when the seatbelt sign was on.  When the seatbelt sign was off, I could slide the carrier closer to me and partially unzip the carrier to pet and soothe her.  The flight attendants would provide ice chips as needed.  I’m happy to say other then about 10min of scratching at the carrier door on takeoff (this may have been partially caused by the lady in front of us eating a very strong smelling beef sandwich), Dash was a trooper on the flight and in the waiting area.  Over the course of 7.5hrs Dash only barked once!  And good thing too – I was quite nervous about what kind of flyer Dash would be given her vocal tendencies.

Beware of silent dogs and still waters ~ Portuguese Proverb

After landing in Vancouver around 4:30pm I retrieved a cart to start gathering my bike, Dash’s trailer and the 4 panniers.  With all gear collected, I headed outside, found a seating area and began unpacking.  It took about an hour to put my bike back together with two relatively minor glitches on my part: 1) My back brake cable had gotten pulled a bit and then got caught causing it to be shortened, which made it incredibly difficult to re-attach the brake.  When I found the issue it was an easy fix.  2) I put my front tire on backwards and only realized after I had started loading the bike.  After unloading the bike, this was also an easy fix.

I would’ve taken some pictures to capture some of the hauling of the gear and putting the bike back together, unfortunately I was having technical difficulties with my camera.

Heading out of the Vancouver Airport shortly after 6pm I was happy to notice that a bike lane opened up almost immediately! :)  I had about a 7km ride to the hotel I was going to be staying at in Richmond.  I booked a hotel close to the airport in case I had any issues getting my gear together or had any glitches with my bike due to potential damage in transit.  Good news!  My bike seemed to come out of its first flight unscathed!!  I arrived at the La Quinta hotel in Richmond around 7pm, spent about an hour unloading all my gear (the bike and trailer required two separate trips to my room) and headed out for some food!  Not having had lunch, I was starving!  I stumbled across a Thai restaurant ordered some Pad Thai, ate and quickly fell asleep.

Day 2: April 16 – Richmond to Vancouver

The Richmond hotel had a pool and hot tub, so I decided to stay until the 12pm

Dash making friends

Dash making friends

checkout time to enjoy every last minute of pool time!  Shortly after noon I began my ride for the day.  I punched in the address of the Ramada Inn, Vancouver into my bike GPS and headed on my way.  Shortly into my ride I came across a dogs off leash trail, so pulled over to let Dash run a bit.

One thing that I immediately noticed upon landing in Vancouver is that it is actually spring time!  With green scenery and jacket free temperature (although long sleeves are still needed).  I know this doesn’t sound like much, but this is not weather we have seen in Toronto yet!  It also meant my first mission when arriving in Vancouver would be to get some allergy medicine! lol!

Here’s my first view of the mountains (I try not to think about the fact that I’m going to be cycling through these):

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And a picture of the mountains with some of the spring time scenery (as you can see, I’ve managed to fix my camera too by swapping out the battery):

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Now for my first showing of being directionally challenged on this trip – what should have been a short 14km jaunt into Vancouver I managed to make a 28km endeavour.  At the crux of this extended riding day was trying to figure out how to ‘safely’ cross the river between Richmond and Vancouver.

I started the day out by happily following my bike GPS which took me East along some nice paved bike paths and making a left turn (heading north) onto Knight Street.  Sounds innocent enough, however before I knew it, Knight Street turned into a 3 lane divided highway.  When it became tricky was when two lanes merged onto this highway at the same time with me stuck in the middle. With transports whipping by on both sides I had to wait about 5min before there was enough of a clearing for me to cross these two merging lanes.  I then biked to the next exit (Bridgeport Rd) and immediately exited the highway.  Getting off the highway and onto a quieter road I pulled over, let Dash out to run a bit and started looking up my options on my phone.  After a bit of research I found a couple options, one was a pleasant sounding pedestrian and cycling dedicated lane across the Canada Line bridge another option was a sidewalk on Knight Street that apparently started at Bridgeport Rd.  Having just come from that area (although I must have been just shy of coming across the sidewalk), I decided I would find the dedicated lane option.  With no address for this lane but an access road identified (Van Horne Way), I made my way NW.

Van Horne Way was fortunately a very short road, however my first trek across  this road I saw no sign of the mentioned cycling lane.  Cycling in circles a bit I eventually came across a major transit station where I stopped to ask a local for advice.  I was immediately instructed that I was in risk of a $450 fine and that although she was aware of this cycling lane she had no idea where it was.  So, heading out of the transit station I continued cycling all of the local streets to no avail.  Heading back along Van Horne Way I stopped another local, she also agreed that she’s heard of this lane, but has no idea where it is. I pulled over and did some more research on my phone but came up empty.  I decided I would simply ride back and forth across Van Horne Way once more, but much, much slower to see if I missed anything.  Getting to the end of Van Horne Way I immediately saw the sign and access point for this dedicated cycling/pedestrian lane.  The sign was quite obvious when you knew where to look!

The mysterious dedicated cycling and pedestrian lane linking Richmond and Vancouver

The mysterious dedicated cycling and pedestrian lane linking Richmond and Vancouver

Once I managed to find this bridge, the rest of the day’s ride was quite smooth.  Vancouver has many well signed paved bike lanes, which made riding feel very safe.  I still had another bridge to cross, but that one was very clear and well signed where the pedestrian/cycling lane was :)

For anybody who wants to re-live the route of my rather embarrassing circular and back and forth trek trying to cross into Vancouver, click here (this will require a free Garmin Connect account to view).

I made it to the Ramada Inn in downtown Vancouver around 5pm and quickly took my bike and trailer up to my room.  This had to be done in two trips and thankfully the elevator was just wide enough to fit my bike!

I will be spending 5 nights in Vancouver, so I was quick to unpack all my panniers and start calling this hotel room my home.  After getting settled in, I grabbed a subway sandwich (again being a bit hungry having skipped lunch thinking today’s ride was only going to be 2-3hrs max).  After eating I went for a stroll down Granville Street and spent some time overlooking the river to North Vancouver and the mountains.  I also picked up some much needed allergy medicine and food (bread, nutella, muffins, beef jerky, powerade) so I would have some quick and easy breakfast and lunch items and wouldn’t have to din out all the time.

Day 3: April 17 – Stanley Park, Vancouver

After taking a look at the local forecast and seeing that no rain was being called for, I decided today would be my day to explore Stanley Park.  Around 10am, I packed up some water, sunscreen, Dash’s water bowl, some light snacks and headed to Stanley Park.  While walking across Park Lane I noticed a sign that advised against parking due to the Blue Heron nests above.  So I stopped for a few minutes to watch and take some pictures.  While I was watching, a couple of the Blue Heron’s were quite active in gathering new twigs and branches to add to their nests, yet I had a pretty hard time catching good pictures of the birds in flight (a photographer I am not).

Blue Heron nest on bottom right and attempt at catching a Blue Heron flying in centre of frame

Blue Heron nest on bottom right and attempt at catching a Blue Heron flying in centre of frame

Blue Heron just landed in a tree

Blue Heron just landed in a tree

Stanley Park has a 9km seawall pedestrian/cycling path that navigates the exterior of the park with a few plaques along the way explaining the surroundings and points of interest (I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, so I read pretty much every plaque I came across).  Dash and I meandered around the seawall trail (with a couple breaks along the way) until about km 7 when we ventured onto some of the paths that go through the interior of the park.  This is where you can see the sheer size and magnificence of the trees within the park!  After a couple kilometres in the interior of the park, Dash and I made our way back to the seawall and headed back to the hotel for an early night in. We arrived back at the hotel around 5pm having been out exploring Stanley Park for about 7hrs and covered approx 17km on foot.

Below is a sample of some pics from today, but to see the full album click here:

Cycling the seawall

Cycling the seawall

View of Vancouver

View of Vancouver

Totem Poles

Totem Poles

Tug boat pulling cargo and view of North Vancouver

Tug boat pulling cargo and view of North Vancouver

Brockton Point Lighthouse

Brockton Point Lighthouse

Looking into Stanley Park from under a bridge

Looking into Stanley Park from under a bridge

I feel compelled to point out other cyclists I see along the way

I feel compelled to point out other cyclists I see along the way

Lion's Gate Bridge

Lion’s Gate Bridge

Different shades of green in Stanley Park

Different shades of green in Stanley Park

The tide line

The tide line

Stanley Park

Stanley Park

Stanley Park with horses on the path to provide some scale of the trees

Stanley Park with horses on the path to provide some scale of the trees

Dash exploring a tree stump

Dash exploring a tree stump

Inside a hollow tree

Inside a hollow tree

Outside the same hollow tree

Outside the same hollow tree

A flower in Stanley Park

A flower in Stanley Park

Some more spring color in Stanley Park

Some more spring color in Stanley Park

Bottom roots of a fallen tree (the root base stood more than 6' tall)

Bottom roots of a fallen tree (the root base stood more than 6′ tall)

Windstorms in 2006/2007 knocked down about 10,000 trees

Windstorms in 2006/2007 knocked down about 10,000 trees

View out to the ocean and ocean liners

View out to the ocean and ocean liners