Day One: Victoria to Vancouver: (Year 1: 1968) - Grampies Go 50 for 50 - CycleBlaze

September 21, 2017

Day One: Victoria to Vancouver: (Year 1: 1968)

In our first year we both attended McGill University in downtown Montreal. We could not afford a place in the city, so we found a little country cottage. The rent was $50 per month. By Fall we did move to the city, and joined all the others in the cool and groovy "student ghetto" beside the university.

The Grampies intended to live in the country and bicycle into university. But married in November, they quickly ran into that Canadian bugaboo - snow! so here they are not on bikes but on a snow machine lent by Steve's brother!
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At this time we discovered Leonard Cohen, the Montreal native poet, writer, and singer. We played his song "Suzanne" over and over. As sheltered kids from the suburbs we found in the song references to exotic and adult topics that were new to us. After all, Leonard was 14 years older than us and therefore a real man of the world.

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Since the flights to Amsterdam are in the afternoon, we decided not to make it a race to get there from Vancouver Island. Instead we booked overnight at an airport hotel. Even so, we had to plan for the possibility of a long cycle ride through the outskirts of Vancouver, from the ferry terminal to the airport hotel. That ride would happen if we could not get the bikes on a bus after the ferry. So we reluctantly got up and got going at 5 a.m., 3 hours earlier than what has been our usual time lately. We paid for it, of course, by feeling spaced out all day. By the time jet lag gets done with us tomorrow, we expect to be pudding.

It's time to pedal off on this latest trip. We have been nervous in anticipation for the last day or two, so it will be good to actually get going.
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The bike ride from Victoria, however, was lovely. That is, after we got mostly out of the city. Near the city, the bike path was in heavy use. Normally that makes us happy. But a culture of unsafe passing seems to have taken hold. Fast moving commuter cyclists, just like motorists, were too impatient to wait until the path was clear for them, and insisted on passing when that would create a three abreast situation on the path, designed for two. We decided there was no use shouting at these abusers. We alone can not reform the world, even the cycling world.

Victoria's inner harbour and waterways are fun to cross.
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The bike path is quite heavily used close to Victoria.
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There is no real danger, but some oncoming riders seem pretty tough.
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Once the commuters were safely behind us, we enjoyed the Lochside Trail. This is the very path we have repeatedly taken the grandkids on. Except on those occasions we were trying to draw out the experience. Now we were just making for the ferry terminal. That did not stop us, however, from stopping to gawk at the giant pigs, to admire the Fall pumpkin scenes, or to stop for a treat at Mitchell Farm.
Even though this is familiar territory for us, we have never actually ridden our bikes all the way to and onto the ferry. It was exciting to be directed onto Deck 2, with all the other "big rigs", and then to park right at the front of the boat. And when we arrived, we got the unaccustomed view of the boat pulling up to the bridge that lowers from the dock, and then being the first off.

The Lochside trail has great bridges and scenery.
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Here is another part of the Lochside
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We stopped as always to gawk at the big pigs.
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As the trail gets more North, into the Saanich peninsula, there are Fall scenes like with these pumpkins.
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Waterside housing nearing Sidney.
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At the ferry terminal, we are guided to a place among the big trucks.
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Our ferry ticket is a little puzzling. Yes we are BC seniors, but "Cougar" is slang for an older woman who seeks sexual relationships with much younger men. BC Ferries could not possibly have made that assessment, right!
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We take our place among the other "big rigs"
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Goodbye once again, beautiful Vancouver Island.
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Our worry about finding and getting on to the bus turned out to be unjustified, at least this time. The bus was right there waiting for us, and the kindly lady driving it showed us the operation of the two bike rack on the front. The rack is similar in principle to the one we have on our car - with cradles for the wheels and a ratcheting hook that grabs the bike from above. The only thing - the ratchet for my bike was broken/missing. The bus driver was reassuring, saying she had not lost a bike yet, but my pulse rate definitely rose as we pulled out onto the highway. I asked Dodie to keep talking to me to keep me calm. In the end it was ok, and my bike did not jump off the rack and under the bus wheels. Maybe I can credit the fairly overloaded rear panniers for keeping the bike grounded.

If anyone else wants to give this ferry and bus way of getting to and from Vancouver Island/ Vancouver Airport a try, check this web page from the bus company - Translink.

Our airport hotel, the Travelodge, was overpriced - charging about $200, just as they all do here. On the other hand the room, as they all are, was huge by European standards, and we just rode our bikes right in. Sitting here at the large desk, I can not even see the bikes here in the room, let alone be cramped by them.

Since we did get on the bus, we are in the hotel early. Maybe we will try out the pool. For real excitement, there is even a Dollarama across the street!

Tomorrow we will sample the free breakfast at the hotel, from which we expect nothing. That's ok, because otherwise why set off to Amsterdam!

Arrival at Vancouver.
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Mounting the bikes on the front of the #620 bus to Bridgeport Station, near the airport.
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Steve worries that the bike mount is not secure.
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Bridgeport station. This is a SkyTrain stop, and in theory we could have tried to board and get to the air terminal. In practice we will just cycle there over a bridge (tomorrow).
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The view from our room at the Travelodge. This features a Laz-Boy furniture shop, a Cash Advance joint, and a submarine sandwich shop. The much more interesting Dollarama is around the corner!
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Epilog: Brief visit to Asia.

The hotel here is located in the city of Richmond, which is something of a phenomenon because of the number of Chinese people that have moved here. Within the hotel most people are Chinese. We assume these are people flying to or from China before or after visiting Canada and maybe relatives in Richmond.

We went out into that area visible from our hotel window, looking for a restaurant we were told about. We first came across a storefront "school of fine arts" which contained mainly kids, all Chinese, painting what looked like classical European subjects. They were very good, I thought.

The restaurant was Korean but was patronized by people who seemed to be Chinese. I don't think Koreans are actually a big category here. Certainly we were the only ones there of European extraction. We split a plate of braised noodles with cabbage, carrot, and some very black and strange but yummy mushrooms. I might say it sure wasn't Amsterdam, but actually we have an ambition of finding some their own famous Asian/Indonesian food once we get there!

Sampling the delights of Richmond
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Today's ride: 38 km (24 miles)
Total: 38 km (24 miles)

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