Friday, May 2, 2014

Vancouver 2014 – Day 6. An (almost) perfect day for scootering.

Ah, nothing like sleeping in. I woke up at 7 am, had a couple of cups of coffee while my clothes went through the clothes drier, had a generous breakfast, and by 9 am I was ready to roll. It had rained overnight, and the sky was overcast and drizzly, so I put on my rain poncho and started on my way back down the peninsula. I made a couple of stops so I could say I had taken a look at the west coast of the island, and finally reached the end of the peninsula at the town of Ucluelet. Besides its impossible name the town is quite modest, but to me it seemed like Shangri-La because at that time the sun made its glorious appearance. All of a sudden the shingle beach looked like the best place on Earth, so I took the opportunity to get rid of the rain gear, exuding optimism as to the day ahead of me.

I started on my way across the island, along the same way I had come yesterday. Ah, but what a difference! The mountain peaks now are snow-clad, the forests shimmer in the sun, and along the canyons flow foaming streams. Now I remember why I thought that scootering in the mountains should be such a feel-good experience.

On the way I stopped at an old grove of Douglas firs, one of which is a giant more than 400 ft tall and over 800 years old. Did you know that Douglas was a field naturalist who sent hundred of plant specimens to various universities to have them cataloged? Besides the eponymous fir tree, there are 50 other plant species named after him. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Once I reached the east coast I eschewed the highway in favor of a smaller road that took me all along the coast. It was absolutely perfect, particularly Qualicum Bay and Fanny Bay. The sun was deliciously warm, although the moment you got under the shade of the enormous pines and firs you could not avoid a shiver or two.

My ultimate destination for the day was Cumberland, which astonishingly is not along the coast but a few kilometers inland. It is an OK little town, but I was really wondering how it had managed to get an HI Hostel. It turned out to be a private hostel, loosely associated to HI Hostels, that caters to mountain bike enthusiasts. Most of them are fair-weather riders, however, so once again I had the rare privilege of being the only guest in a hostel that is clearly meant to host at least 50 people.

I welcomed the opportunity of spending my last night in Canada in comfort, so after walking around town for a half hour I started hunting for a supermarket where I could find something good to cook for dinner, and for a liquor store where I could buy a bottle of wine (wine and liquor are not sold in supermarkets in BC). Sadly the only place I could find for buying food in small amounts was an organic products store, so I had to pay gold powder for a small sausage, a side dish of vegetables, and a bag of chips. They may be protecting Mother Earth, but they sure engage in the raping of humanity!

In any case, I had a good dinner, accompanied by a good bottle of Pinot Grigio, and after I finish this blog I will indulge in a warm bath (yes, the hostel has a tub!) and then head straight to bed.

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