Backpackers Pantry, China Beach, Copa Libertadores 2015, Cowichan Lake, EL mas grande lejos, Horseshoe Bay, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, Juan de Fuca Strait, Mesachie Lake, Nanaimo BC, Pato Fillol, Pemberton BC, Port Renfrew, River Plate, Route 99 BC, Sea to Sky Highway, Sooke BC, Vancouver Island, Victoria BC, Whistler BC
Canada 2015. Days 13, 14 & 15 (Aug 11, 12 & 13, 2015). We left the Nairn Falls Campground relatively early because we wanted to catch the 10:40 ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo in Vancouver Island. The road from Pemberton to Horseshoe Bay is really pretty but there is a lot of traffic, especially after the town of Whistler, BC. Logging trucks, regular trucks, cars, motorhomes, cars pulling trailers and campers, motorcycles, bicycles; all kinds of vehicles come down from sky to sea at high speed (Route 99 is known as the Sea to Sky Highway). We arrived at the ferry station right on time. The ferry ride took approximately two hours and was very pleasant. From Nanaimo we rode to Lake Cowichan where we stop for gas and Gatorade. From there we went to Port Renfrew on a very pretty road that goes through areas with major logging. It was a bit sad to see so many hills covered by a single species of conifer rather than with a real forest. In the few places with older trees, the plant diversity was much higher and the understory was much wetter. In fact, most of the creeks that we crossed in the logged areas were dry or nearly so. The road from Port Renfrew to China Beach Campground was very pretty. After we set up camp and ate dinner we hiked down the 1.5 kilometers to the beach. It was a very pretty and red sunset. On the other side of the Juan de Fuca Strait we could see the Olympic Peninsula in the US.
One day 14 we spent the morning doing laundry. We then rode back to Port Renfrew where we got gas at a very old pump. As we were reaching Port Renfrew we noticed quite a bit of smoke in the air. The lady that pumped our gas told us that there was a fire under control near Lizard Lake and that the road to Lake Cowichan (our destination) was open. We decided to continue but the smoke became thicker and thicker the more we drove into the hills. The sunlight attenuated by the smoke in the air made everything appeared yellow. It was hard to breathe. At a given point we got to a logged, trees-less field where we could see the flames. There were several helicopters carrying bags with water coming probably from a nearby lake. By the time we got to Mesachie Lake (near Cowichan) the air was much cleaner. We were feeling adventurous that day so we decided to go around the lake on dirt roads. Close to the town of Caycuse, BC, I saw a little bear (the size of a large dog). The cub run for 10 meters on the road and then got back into the bush. I immediately screamed “Un oso” into the intercoms. I wish Adrián had seen the bear too. We had travelled so many miles in the US and Canada and he had never seen a bear. At a campsite on the north shore of the lake we stop for lunch and to fix Adrian’s GPS cable. By the time we got back to the town of Lake Cowichan the air was thick with smoke so we have to go back to our campground on Route 1 (way too many cars). At Sooke, we stop to get some beer for dinner. The lady at the liquor store recommended Phillips Hop Circle IPA, which we enjoyed very much. For dinner we had Backpackers Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken. Yum!
On day 15 I could not start my bike in the morning. The previous night I had run the battery down charging my computer. We tried pushing the bike on the gravel but it would not start. So, we tied the two bikes with a rope and Adrían pulled me towards the road. As we were going through the entrance to the campground, Adrián lost control of the KLR and went flying to the side of the road. I wish I could have filmed the jump. It reminded us of “el pato Fillol”, a goalkeeper who played for River Plate, the most important football team of Argentina. We finally got the bike to the asphalt but we could not get it to start there either. A man who was walking his dog on the road offered to bring his truck and give us a jump-start. As soon as we connected the the two batteries my motorcycle started immediately. We got all my luggage into the back and rode to Victoria to checked in at the Days Inn. The hotel is in front of the ferry terminal to Port Angeles that we wanted to take the following day. We spent the afternoon visiting the lovely city of Victoria while Adrián did some shopping. For dinner Adrián had a salmon hamburger and I had a dish of flat noodles with shrimp, scallops, and clams.