So, this trip was a logistical nightmare, much like most of my trips. I had to land and catch a ferry within an hour. I knew it would get screwed up, but the rest of the trip was depending on it because if I did not catch that last ferry I would not make it to Vancouver Island that night and I had to catch a bus first thing the next morning (I would not catch it if I took first ferry of the morning). If I missed that bus, the bus does not run again until 2 days later.
Well it turns out that I did not have to worry about the flight getting delayed cause when I got up to leave for airport, the flight was cancelled! I was supposed to fly through Chicago to Vancouver and there were weather delays. The problem being that they rebooked me on a flight that did not leave until the following day. And if that was not enough, the flight went from Detroit, to New York, back to Chicago and then on to Vancouver. WTF!
I waited on hold for United Airlines agent for 1 hour because so many people were calling due to Chicago weather, which I did not understand as the weather reports were fine, but that is a separate discussion that I will not focus on. While I was on hold I started brainstorming scenarios. I found an alternate flight that left Detroit for Vancouver at 5am the next morning. It was still too late to make all my ferries and buses, but at least it was not going through NY and it got in at a decent hour (The flight they wanted me on had me travelling for 20 hours and getting in at midnight). I also looked at flights that flew a couple days later out of Vancouver. I was hoping I could just shift my whole plan forward 2 days to accommodate the key piece of the puzzle (The trail bus that only ran on odd days). By the time I got through to the agent, he was able to make switches for free which was good. I made up some story about how the delay would cause me to miss my Alaskan cruise and that I needed to book new dates. It was basically the same issue I had run into but it was an easier story to digest I figured.
Now it really felt like the Amazing Race as I was scrambling to change hotel reservations in 3 different places on 3 separate dates. I also had to adjust bus dates, ferries, trail reservations and rides to airport. I got it all sorted and took a bus from Ann Arbor to Detroit airport at 3am. The flights into Chicago and on to Vancouver went along pretty smooth.
Now for a primer on the trip
While reading one those lists of the greatest hikes I came across the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island near the British Colombian capital city of Victoria. As I usually do, I searched Google Images: “West Coast Trail” to get a feel for the views and beauty of the hike. It looked amazing. There were all these manmade ladders, cable cars, beach campsites, wild animals. Basically I was hooked because not only was the trail amazing, I had not yet been to Vancouver before, stopping just short on an earlier tour of the Pacific Northwest.
Here is map of where the trail is located
The rough idea was to fly into Vancouver, catch a ferry to Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria. Spend a day there and then catch a bus to the West Coast Trail. Take roughly 5 days to hike the trail South to North and catch a bus back to Victoria for a day of relaxation. Then take the ferry back to Vancouver and explore the city for a couple days. And surprisingly, it pretty much worked out like that.
Here is the itinerary
When I landed at Vancouver Airport I gathered my pack and took the tram to a station south of town where I was to catch a ferry over to Vancouver Island.
When I got to the bus station, I asked a bus driver if he knew where the 620 bus picked up. He said with a smile, “There it goes right there” It seems I had just missed it and it did not run for another hour. Why was he smiling about it? Sadistic prick. I sat down and waited. It was around noon and the ferry runs until 9pm so I was in no danger of missing it. Then a couple sat down next to me and when they learned that the bus did not come for another hour, alerted me to the fact that it would cause us to miss the next ferry and would have to wait 2 more hours there as well. They walked to the taxi stand and I scampered after them as fast as someone with a 50lb pack and another 20lb pack can. As they were shutting the cab door I kinda just threw my bag in and asked if I could split the fare. We arrived at the ferry just as it was about to leave. It was like a movie as we raced along the dock to jump on before the gap got too large that separated the boat from the dock.
I walked the deck and settled in for a 2 hour voyage. After getting the requisite pictures I headed off to the buffet to stuff my face in hopes to make the $20 charge last for approx 3 meals, including stuffing my bags full of fruit. Gotta get your money’s worth
When I got to island I raced along with everyone else to catch the only bus that ran from the ferry station on the island into Victoria (45 min away). Of course I was in line and the bus only takes coins. I not only had no coins but I also did not have all those crazy coins Canadians use. Although to be fair, on a side note. I do like that they use coins for any denomination through 2 dollars vs the US having dollar bills. Of course we tried to switch over to dollar coins about a decade ago but that was an epic failure. Anyway, I was able to trade money with someone in line or I would have been screwed.
I got to Victoria and checked into my room at the Strathcona Hotel .
The rooms were shit, but I am not one to care too much about that kinda stuff. The hotel was like an adult playground. It had 3 bars on site, a sand volleyball court on the roof and even a liquor store. I got settled and walked down to the store on the first floor and grabbed a six pack and bag of ice and headed back to the room.
Although I had my cell phone, it was really not working for anything in Canada and that was fine for me. The one downside was that none of the apps worked so that hindered me as far as searching for nearby attractions and bars. After sorting my stuff and downing a few beers I strolled through the town.
Victoria is a tourist town to some extent, but also retains a quant charm and retirement community. A lot of people come here to see Orcas or other whales so there are plenty of companies that run boat tours as well as float plane excursions
As well is being a tourist spot for Alaskan cruises heading north from San Diego. Victoria is also the capital of British Colombia, so there are some government operations. I think the city has around 250K residents, so a decent size.
I walked out of town and got a bit lost in the neighborhoods, which was fine as I had no agenda. People were all out enjoying the weather on a beautiful spring night. I should say that it is one of the fittest cities in North America and it also gets very little snow. It does get some rain, but not really any more than most towns. Hence the title of my blog is a reference to a Credence Clearwater Song. It actually only rained 1 day on the entire trip, which was quite amazing as I will discuss when we get to the hike.
I headed back to the hotel around 930pm (it does not get dark till around 10pm and gets light at 5am) and sat on the rooftop for a bit but there was not much of a bar and I looked weird standing in the corner by myself taking pictures of people.
I made some friends and checked out a few local spots before calling it a night. Tomorrow was another day of exploring.
I am bolting on this days entry here since it did not amount to too much excitement. Because the trail bus only ran every other day I still had another day to wander around Victoria. I thought I might go whale watching or something. I gorged myself on the complimentary breakfast and headed out to see what was going on in the city
I started walking along the inner harbor to see what I could see. I decided not to whale watch. Although I desperately want to see an Orca, I feel they would be annoyed by me buzzing around them in a speed boat.
Below is a raccoon. They are kinda newer to these parts, but I am quite familiar. They are often found along the water as they like to clean their food. But don’t let that sanitary nature fool you, they have no problem pilfering through your garbage at 3am and leave without putting all the trash they don’t eat back in the can.
When I got to WestBay I really could not walk too much farther so I chilled out at the marina and waited for the water taxi to take me back towards town
A cool little service as they bounce all around the harbor. It is like an airport there. There is a tower with a controller that monitors all the sea plans landing, taxis, pleasure boats, cruise ships, etc. I really don’t know what else the “etc” would represent but it makes it sound more complex. They use lights to indicate to the boats when the main landing area must remain clear.
I had the taxi drop me off at Fisherman’s Wharf . Well, really he dropped me off there cause he had to get gas and I accepted. A cool spot where people pay about 200K for the ability to live on houseboats that are all chained together. Since it is also a tourist spot with fish ‘n’ chips spots, the residents like to dress up their places.
Apparently Barb’s fish n Chips below is the best around, but I was still full from my buffet.
The highlight is the Harbor Seals. They are very domesticated. You are not supposed to feed them but I guess that it’s too late for that. Here are some nice shots with one of a seals just lounging on his back.
I continued my walk along the outer coast to where the cruise ships dock and a cool sundial was located
There is a incredible trail running along the coast. I saw tons of people taking advantage and thought it must be nice to live here with no winter and be able to enjoy this year-round
Below is a very cool sign…in my mind
It is mile zero of the Trans-Canada Highway. It runs 5K miles from one coast to the other and this is the start, or the end. I think it would be a great road trip to follow this road either by hitchhiking or car. I ran into some girls on the trail tomorrow from France that hitchhiked from Quebec to here…pretty cool.
This next monument is equally as impressive
You can read the plaque above about Terry Fox, but basically this is a guy who got cancer, lost his leg, and set out to run the highway to raise money. Unfortunately he passed away while trying to make the trip. If you have the time I recommend watching this 5 minute clip. Video
I circled back into town
I stopped by a gift shop. I am obsessed with Pacific Northwest Indian Art. Every time I enter a store I want to buy everything. I tempered my enthusiasm knowing that a lot of this was probably made in china. I was hoping to pick something authentic up without breaking the bank, but could not purchase until the end of the trip as I had to carry everything on my back for the next 5 days.
I got back to the room with a bag of ice and had to laugh at the description on the outside of the bag; keep frozen.
I met up with a friend for a drink and was in bed relatively early as I had to catch the trail bus at 6am.