After our little break at The Screamin Eagle campsite we drove one. But before we went back on the 101, we drove the first 7km from the campsite to the next town on the beach. That was super fun, and very scary with so much luggage haha. But we did well, and didn’t fall over anymore. Our bikes are made for this and we did a one-day off-road course before we went on this trip. Then back on the highway 101 and via the longest bridge in North America we exchanged the state of Washington for the state of Oregon.read more
Our first week in the USA was really good. We drove further on highway 101 along and through Olympic N.P. It is a beautiful drive here. Everything is so green! And calm! Sometimes we are the only ones on the road for a long time. In Forks we stopped to eat a small birthday cake on the first birthday of my little cousin Kyan. Since we couldn’t be there on his first birthday party. I felt a little homesick .. Then took a turn to the N.P. to visit the Hoh rainforest. A special rainforest because one of the few tempered rainforests (instead of tropical). First thirty kilometers along a fantastic winding road before we reached the rainforest and the campsite. The rainforest was really tolkinesk. Full of very large and old trees, some 1000 years old !! Decorated with different types of beard moss and fern. As if you were walking through a fairy tale forest. That day we also had our first cold ride through the rain, yes what do you want in a rainforest huh!read more
After being in Port Alberni for two nights , which was a bit of a desolate place, we drove on to Ucluelet. The ride over highway 4 was beautiful and according to Erik’s great-nephew Tamlyn also noted as one of the most scenic roads in Canada. Along large crystal clear lakes and streams, and full of twisty roads. Ucluelet itself is fun. A small place with a small sea harbor and a lot of outdoorsy people. Somehow exactly what you would expected of a coastal town in Canada or even Alaska. We had no reservations and had to spend the first night outside the campsite on a separate field with some other “late-comers” where we were greeted by two crossing deer. It was a long drive and we were so hungry that we had pizza and fries already at 3 p.m. To our right was a friendly German couple who said they heard wolves the night before. On the left was a friendly Canadian motorcycle mechanic who asked if he could check our bikes, but of course, please! He discovered a little too much play on Erik’s throttle and a small oil leak on my engine. When we checked the oil, it turned out to be a bit less but not worrying. My speedo meter has failed, fortunately the navigation also indicates speed. Sleeping on that field was not really relaxed because there was a fog horn / buoy in the sea and it made a noise all night to the rhythm of the waves, every 15 seconds, ideal for surfing, less for sleeping. The following night we were allowed on the campsite. And there too we haven’t slept the first night. I don’t know what it is with sleeping in Canada, I believe I have been awake more nights than I have slept.
Camping in a tent on Vancouver Island is a thing anyway. There is quite a bit of wildlife, besides the wolves there are cougars and coyote. And with a population of between 8000 and 12000 black bears you have to take precautions. Basically there is nothing to worry about, they don’t attack you out of the blue. You only risk that if you scare them, come between them and their cubs or come between their food and them. If you sleep in a motorhome that is not much of a problem but for us it means that all the food must be out of the tent, and not only that, everything with a scent. So also your bug spray, toothpaste, and the multi fuel burner because they also like fuel (!?). Even the clothes in which you have cooked may not stay, or your clean dishes. Everything must be neat in a bear safe at the campsite. That requires some organisation, pfff, every night! And we are already so organized hihi.
Well .. the first night we were at the campsite, we where standing next to two guys who were smoking weed. They were already giggling all afternoon and the smell of weed was not to dismiss. That drug use is a little thing here. We are also regularly warned by people that we must remove the luggage from the motorcycle when we are in a store because there are many “druggies” walking around. The joints were exchanged in the evening for magic mushrooms and the guys left for a walk to the liquor store to get whiskey. They left everything on the table, plates with food scraps (not so beer proof) an already empty bottle of whiskey and a bag of drugs. Nice on a family campsite with all families with small kids. They also left the fire burning, right next to our tent. We quickly sneaked there to throw a bottle of water over it as soon as they were gone hihi. Arriving at 2 am the guys returned with another friend and were surprised that the fire was out, after all it wasn’t blowing, right? As they said themselves, they were “high as a kite”. Fire was lit again and it became noisy next to us! Erik went over to ask them to be quiet but that did not help at all except we were the topic of their gossip for a long time. When they changed the subject to using LSD the next night, I had enough. The next morning I went straight to the reception, the gentlemen were immediately removed from the campsite. Nice! Peace at last. On a positive note our neighbor on the other side was realy nice. He camped with his three kids and came by regularly to chat or bring us some goodies, a cold beer exactly at the right time, toast with jam that was leftover and bowls with pieces of watermelon, nice! In exchange, we made some extra cups of coffee. In the evening we played music at his request and we had a small fan, the 3-year-old Micha from Russia was hypnotized by our music and stared at us while holding a stick with a sticky marshmallow untouched in his hand.
That morning we rode into the Pacific Rim on our bike to the visitor center where there was an exhibition about the first nations people. The exhibition was nothing special but on the way there we saw two black bears Aargh! So cool, close by the road, at about 3 meters distance. They were so beautiful, completely deep black and sunk in the berry bushes! Unfortunately we could not take a picture, instead we stopped for a moment to watch while the engine was still running. On a motorbike we are more vulnerable and have no time to take our time to grab cameras etc. So you have take our word for it! The day became even better because that same afternoon we did a whale watching tour. Firstly we were dressed up in a huge floating suit and positioned ourselves as a kind of Michelin puppets in the boat. It was a zodiac and our captain, a spicy young woman, raced across the sea with that thing, we bounced from one to the other wave and belts had not been a luxury haha. It started off well, before we left the harbor we saw two seals, an adult and a young bold eagle. A moment later we came across a rocky island that was full of sea lions. They swam towards the boat like a group of gangsters that seemingly wanted to say “what ya doin?” Beyond the rock there were sea otters swimming among the kelp, looking for sea urchins to eat. And as icing on the cake .. yes .. four huge humpback whales. Close to the boat! Really magical. It brought tears to my eyes. One had collided with a ship and had a huge scar running all over his back, since then he hadn’t dared leaving the bay, sad! They swam around for half an hour what a joy!
We also walked a piece of the Wild coastal trail. Beautiful but very touristy. Ucluelet is on a dead end so we had to go back on the same highway 4. But that was absolutely no punishment as it was still beautiful. We were, after the bears and deer sightings, something more aware of the risk of wildlife jumping onto the road. In Ucluelet itself by the way, you see lots of deer, who feel safer in the village as there are no bears there. We have to be extra careful. On the way back we tried to drive more often behind larger campers to reduce the risk of wildlife collisions. I was also happy for the first time that Erik has an excessive loud exhaust that warns the animals well in advance (mounted by the previous owner).
We slept in Coombs, finding a campsite was a small nightmare but finally found something at a horse riding school. The next day we caught two ferries to Victoria. That went super smoothly. As motorcyclist you are really lucky on the ferries. They almost always find a place for you even if the boat is full. And .. you can drive past everyone who is standing in line, whiieuw! Camped just outside of Victoria at a “tent and breakfast”! Fantastic! Just a little campsite in the garden of friendly people, you could order a delicious breakfast. In the evening quickly the reserved a ferry to the USA (Port Angeles) and went to our tent early. We woke up early next day, packed everything and got a delicious breakfast served, scrambled eggs with eggs from their own chickens, cinnamon bread with home-made jam, juice and as much coffee as you want (you don’t have to say that twice to Erik) Half an hour later we were at the ferry terminal. Fortunately we were on time because it was a lot of paperwork with again an interrogation and then it turned out that we didn’t have an ESTA because we thought that the Canadian ETA was also valid in the USA. It wasn’t. When we wanted to pay for the ESTA the credit card did not work, great timing, first time the card refused, aargh! Fortunately we were allowed to continue without paying, if we would drink a beer to his health, how sweet! The day before, before we went on the first ferries, we came across an organic shop.
A nice surprise awaited us on the crossing. A blue whale popped up at the end of the trip. Some luck! Some 4 dolphins also welcomed us. Now we are at a campsite by the sea. We can still see Cananda on the other side of the water. We were early so we walked along the coast and saw starfish and sea anemones in bright colors in the tidal pools. The friendly neighbors gave us a whole pile of firewood which they had left so we sit comfortably warm at our own campfire to watch the small chipmunks running through the trees and between the tents. Tested whether you can indeed heat a can of soup in its entirety on the fire as you always see on the survival Instagram pics. Yep that works fine haha! And we just saw a racoon who wanted to get a hold on our garbage. Just left it a bit too long. Those are big!, by the way! We came here on the 101, the Pacific Coast Highway. It connects Canada with Mexico and goes all the way along the coast. It seems to be a beautiful route. So we will continue to follow that for the time being. Wondering what USA will bring us all …
We left Vancouver on our bikes heading east for Banff. The first day we spent getting through the city. In the afternoon we were exhausted and crashed on a campsite just past Vancouver, set up our tent and went for a short walk. There were suddenly noticed bear warning. That came a bit as a surprise. The campsite was near a village and was very busy, though when inquiring at the reception, it turned out that from time to time some bears were wandering around the campsite. Fortunately we already had a bottle of bear spray out of the giveaway bin of the hostel. We tested the bear spray, put all our food in our paniers and went to sleep. It wasn’t very quiet, the bears left us in peace but the campsite appeared right next to a train track with trains who kept on driving all night and as a warning sign honked once or twice so loud that you almost could feel the ground shaking underneath your tent.
The next day we drove further east. Beautiful landscape with fields full of blueberries merged into a mountain landscape full of wild rivers and snow-covered mountain peaks. It was a beautiful ride on winding mountain roads. It feels so good to drive your own motorbike through Canada. At the end of the day however we decided not to continue to Banff. The whole round-trip that we wanted to do was 2000 km. That’s a lot and we didn’t really know how the roads would be and how many kilometers we’d make in a day. For 5 days in a row we drove on, our record is 200 km a day in a quiet area. On most highways you can’t go past 80 km/u. Not to bad because we don’t go much faster with all our luggage. We adopted a bit of a Spanish pace, after a few hours of driving we’ll pause more often because we suffer from sore buttocks, back, right hand, etc. In addition, we don’t want to stay too long in Canada. Although it is very beautiful here, it is also a really expensive country and so far we have not been able to stay within our budget for one day.
We returned to Hope after the decision, and slept in a roadside motel. I always wanted to go to a motel like this, just like in the movies hihi. It was exactly what you’d expect. A little dodgy. An unfriendly owner and a woman walked around in a very short red dress of whom we suspected was a prostitute. The rest of the day we spent watching all the Canadian TV programs.
Here we didn’t sleep well either because the trucks started to drive at 5 am, as I said it was a roadside motel. It didn’t help either that our neighbor walked his dog at 5 o’clock, yelling at it: “Come here you little shit ”, “ come here now ”. “ aargh I’m gonne kill you, you little shit ”.The new plan was Vancouver island, so we drove back all day, straight through Vancouver downtown and Stanley park. What a madhouse, it is nothing like the center of Rotterdam. We rode over the huge Lionsgate bridge and put up our tent at the only campsite near town, just underneath the same busy bridge. Despite that, we slept like a log haha, finally!. in the evening we went for a walk and saw a seal in the river mouth and relaxed in the hot tub at the campsite.
The next day we drove to Horseshoe bay where we took the Ferry to Vancouver Island. The first night we slept on a beautiful campsite in the middle of the forest. Near our tent was a beautiful owl in a tree. But there again we had little luck sleeping, our Chinese neighbors came home and chatted loudly until 2 am. When Erik took a look they were eating. Then were wakened at 7 am by the same neighbors .. aargh!
Vancouver Island is beautiful. Meanwhile we are standing on a lawn behind a motel in Port Alberni. It is a little dodgy. There is a camper next to us that is falling apart in misery with two older people in it smoking weed all day. They told us they just came back from vacation…. Erik made coffee this morning whilst accidentally setting the picnic table on fire. Oops .. luckily it was extinguished quickly and there’s no trace left. We visited Cathedral Grove, with extremely high cedar and douglas firs. The highest was 85 m and circumference 9 m, it was over 800 years old. And we went to a market hall with goats on the roof at Coombs, that was a bit of a tourist trap. To port Alberni we drove over one of the most beautiful roads of Canada. But the best part is yet to come …
Canada is a great country for camping. Although it seems we do not have the most practical tent, we have a tipi model with only one pole in the middle. Nice and quick to set up but it is very dependent on its pegs. If the pegs are not well grounded the pole falls over. And coincidentally, most campsites here have nice gravel or sand that we almost can’t get through with the pegs… The tent almost collapsed several times because one of us tried to pull himself up on the pole with a sleepy head during the middle of the night haha … We are now also in possession of our own bottle of bear spray. Buying it is another story. Bear spray is seen as a weapon so we had to fill in all sorts of forms. We are now official weapon owners :$. In the store where we bought the spray they sold all kinds of guns as well. Still seems a bit strange, a display full of guns.
The people here in Canada are very friendly. And when they see that we are driving around with Dutch license plates they often stop for chat. Sometimes we are honked at on the road and we get a thumbs up from the driver. Or they open a window for a small chat, if they are in a jam next to you. From two older ladies on motorcycles we talked to we got a pin with the Canadian flag. Furthermore, we sometimes find it funny how big everything is here. In the supermarket it sometimes is difficult to find a small package of something, with our limited storage space that would be very practical. Did you know that the Netherlands is known here for “Dutch Chocolate” and “old Dutch Chips”?, real Dutch specialties, ahum. At the campsite there are campers that are really huge buses. The toilets and toilet seats are huge and even the toilet paper rolls are much thicker and wider haha.
Today we had a day off from driving. After 5 days in a row that is necessary anyway. Tomorrow we will probably drive further to Ucluelet. But we do notice that planning too far ahead is not working too well yet ..