Was starting to think the Canadians might send me back across the border. I got stopped at immigration in Victoria after the ninety minute ferry ride from Port Angeles. I was sent to a secondary area where I was asked a whole bunch of questions about my travel plans. I tried to keep it fairly honest and admitted I wasn’t really sure where I was heading or when. This led to more questions about how I was supporting myself and a thorough inspection of all the stamps in my passport. Another guy asked me to start listing all the items I was carrying, pannier by pannier and then asked if he could look through my food pannier. They seemed to be satisfied with that, and after 45 minutes, finally let me out into the streets of beautiful Victoria city. A bit of a shock, being the first big city I’ve been in since leaving Oakland. Was a bit apprehensive leaving my bike outside a busy supermarket and when I returned with my shopping an old guy with a bicycle came running over.

“Ah, there he is!”, he cried with excitement, “I want to ask you a few questions!”.

I was immediately on the this-is-a-crazy-man defensive and kept packing my food into my panniers, only giving him the briefest acknowledgements to his babbling.

He eagerly told me that he’d seen so many bicycle tourists and had just done some small trips himself but he had never, never seen anyone carrying as much stuff as me. I started talking with him a little and pretty soon I got to like having this funny conversation with this frothing-excitedly-at-the-mouth man whose name turned out to be Ed. Ed and I talked for a half hour until he wished me well on my way, concluding that I was indeed an extraordinary person. This conversation with Ed left me smiling for the rest of the day.

Followed an easy, interesting bike path up to Schwartz to catch a twenty minute ferry over to Saltspring Island. Headed straight to the state-owned campground nestled closely against the east coast of the island from where it was possible to see the large ferries pass by. Just after I finished my dinner of beans and rice the lady camping next door donated their leftover zucchini for my desert and five plums that her grandsons wouldn’t touch.

It’s good to be back in a country with Queen Lizzie gracing the coins.

These Canadians are a strange mob to work out. I’m sometimes not entirely sure if people are being sarcastic or just plain arseholes. My bike was resting near a telephone booth in town this morning and a guy walks up and bluntly says,

“What is this? Your office? I need to make a call”, with no hint of humour in his voice at all.

I didn’t stay long in town, nor on the island, instead I headed back to Vancouver Island. A few miles from the dock I was heading quickly down a hill when a speeding semi-trailer decided it would pass me. From around the corner at the bottom of the hill, another truck suddenly appeared. The truck overtaking me pulled back sharply towards me and time seemed to slow down as I saw its second trailer get closer and closer.

I had no choice but to ride onto the loose dirt shoulder, resulting in me quickly loosing control and landing in the bushes. I was shaking and I thought my heart would burst from beating so fast. I was pissed off as well but consoled to find that nothing seemed damaged on the bike. My camera was unhurt, even though it had been in the pannier that first made impact. I was too scared to check on my guitar. Might have to wash my bike shorts particularly well tonight.

Found a great private campground beside a large lake and had my second shower in twelve nights. My next door neighbours, Rudge and Charlotte have been living here in a caravan for the last six weeks because it reduces their commute to work from forty minutes to fifteen. They invited me to join them for a drink and also dinner.

It’s B.C. day today, a long weekend so the campground is full. Rudge persuaded me to stay another night and so I moved my tent behind their caravan to share their site. Rudge reminds me of a Bryan Brown sort of crook wearing thongs and chain smoking cigarette after cigarette. We went into town in his old red Ford 150 pickup to check out a house he’s thinking of buying, a “do-her-uppa”. We didn’t talk much but Rudge is definitely a “yup” sort of person, keeps his answers short and sweet and ends the majority of his sentences in “ay?”. After looking at the house we stopped at a pub in town for a double shot of gin and tonic. On the way home we stopped at another bar and Rudge got another double shot of gin and tonic. I’m sure if the trip back to the campground had been any longer, we would have stopped several more times for more drinks.

After my dinner of canned beef and instant rice, Rudge and Charlotte invited me over for a second dinner of beef steak, corn-on-the-cob and some more gin and tonics. The more time I spend with Rudge and Charlotte, the more I like them. Their unselfish generosity towards me always seems to be a little out of character with what my first impressions of them had been. I’m learning to ignore my first impressions of people more and more. Usually if a stranger offers me unsolicited help, I’m immediately cautious and suspicious of their intentions. But on this trip I’m learning to let my guard down more and more, and starting to instantly trust strangers rather than immediately distrust them. Maybe it’s something from childhood, how we’re all taught not to take lollies from strangers. I like this new trusting side of me, it’s certainly a lot less stressful.


Vancouver City (Cambie Hostel)[MAP]

Cambie Hostel, Vancouver (Day 76)

Cambie Hostel, Vancouver (Day 76)

Rudge and Charlotte gave me a lift into Nanaimo this morning and I boarded the ferry to Vancouver. I’m here in Vancouver to meet my friend Herman who is flying in early tomorrow morning. A few weeks ago he offered to come out and ride with me for a while, and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since.

I negotiated downtown Vancouver and finally found the Cambie hostel, situated above a punk bar with a number of colourful characters inside. I explored the surrounding city for a while and also joined a crowd of thousands down on the foreshore to watch an international fireworks competition.

International fireworks competition, Vancouver (Day 76)

International fireworks competition, Vancouver (Day 76)

Herman showed up at about 6am this morning. We explored the aquarium which was pretty fantastic.

Beluga whales and a jellyfish exhibit, as well as a bunch of fish from the Amazon that looked as they were straight out of a prehistoric anthropology book.

Vancouver Aquarium jellyfish (Day 77)

Vancouver Aquarium jellyfish (Day 77)

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