By the time I got up the next morning in Port Hardy the rain had stopped, but I didn’t feel much like hanging around to let my tent dry. I just stuffed my wet tent in a bag, loaded it on my bike and headed south.
The ride down the length of Vancouver Island was just as spectacular as everyone had told me. Lots of mountains, forests and rivers, and an occasional view of the channel between Vancouver Island and the mainland. For the first two hundred miles there were only a couple small towns, but the last fifty miles to Victoria was just the opposite. There were cars and people everywhere.
While in Victoria I was told that the top three things to do was tour Butchard Gardens, visit the museums, and take a hike in one of the nearby parks. And that is exactly what I did. I will not attempt to describe the gardens, I’ll just show you some of the pictures I took. It was a pretty awesome place.
While in Victoria, I visited two museums: the Maritime Museum and the Royal British Columbia Museum. The Maritime Museum was small but had an excellent collection of scale model ships of historical significance to Canada.
The Royal British Columbia Museum was significantly bigger and covered a wide range of topics in its displays. One of the things that impressed me the most was how they refrained from glorifying individuals. Instead, they touted the accomplishments of communities and groups of people. Several large sections were dedicated to the First Nations. They also had a great display about Terry Fox, the guy who ran across Canada on an artificial leg. He died of cancer but kept pushing to the very end.
Other sections presented the history of the European and Asian immigrants. One really creative display recreated a typical frontier town with all of the shops and businesses you might expect over 100 years ago. Each store front was furnished just like they would have been 100 years ago.
My last excursion on Vancouver Island was a terrific hike on a forest trail in the East Sooke Park. The hike was along various sections of trails that eventually routed me to the craggy rock outcrop overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. My reward for hiking three miles were stunning views in all directions.
I want to again comment on the warm welcome I got from the citizens of Canada. A good example is the reception I received from two guys I met when exiting a coffee shop. They asked me the normal stuff. Where are you from? Did you really ride all the way from Arizona? How is the BMW running? Then Jim invited me to join him and his friend Jamie for a cup of coffee. Free coffee, well that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. We talked for 30 minutes or more about all kinds of stuff. Amongst other things I learned that Jamie had been in a serious accident on his motorcycle. He was rear-ended. Recovery was difficult and slow, but he is now riding again. That is how these Canadians are. They buy you coffee and freely share their life’s stories.