Published: May 28th 2012May 27th 2012
Tuesday 22/05/12 – We got up and packed the bikes to move them before the parking inspector got there at 9am. We rode to Nanaimo, a town on the central coast of Vancouver Island, where we planned to spend our time until the GPS we ordered arrived in Vancouver. We booked a night at the Living Forest Campground and put up our tent to dry it from the previous camp night. We rode into Nanaimo and unfortunately, it was a pretty crap town. It was quite industrial and the McDonalds we stopped at to use the internet was full of weirdos, it felt a bit like Bridgewater. We rang the GPS shop, but it hadn’t arrived yet. We went back to the tent and had an early night.
Wednesday 23/05/12 – This morning, we went and explored the north of Nanaimo. On the ride there, we saw two bald eagles circling in the sky, but didn’t have a chance to get a photo as we were on the highway. First stop was the World Parrot Refuge, which provides a home for surrendered parrots, cockatoos and cockatiels for the rest of their life. The first room was the ‘special needs’ room
and it was incredibly sad to see all the birds that had been injured in their life, with many having broken wings and missing feathers. The next room was full of all types of cockatoos and their cage was very well set-up, with heaps of interesting wood designs and toys for the birds to play with. There were also a few birds walking around on the ground, saying ‘hello’ and wanting a pat. The next room was a free-flying room and was a little scary. We walked in and about 15 seconds later, I had a massive blue bird land on my head. She then proceeded to take the orange earplugs out of my ears and eat them whilst sitting on my shoulder (earplugs were given to us because of the noise of the birds). Meanwhile, I had another cockatiel land on my chest and proceed to nibble off the plastic tag on my jumper’s zipper, with another one on the floor trying to eat my bike boots. By then, the blue bird had transferred herself to Adam’s hip, where she was eating the tag on the backpack he was wearing. I had a lovely green parrot land on my
shoulder where it continued to stay, refusing Adam’s advances to get off, so it must have only liked women! There was a volunteer trying to clean the room whilst we were in there, and two naughty cockatoos were pulling the rubbish back out of the bin as she was putting it in there. One of them then proceeded to throw a metal plate around the room when the volunteer told them off. It was quite cute! The last room had a very long cage in it for heaps of macau to fly around in.
We then went to Horne Lake Caves to explore. Unfortunately, the water level was too high so we were unable to do the EXTREME tour that Adam wanted to do, that involved abseiling and many tight squeezes. The only trip available was the ‘Cavern Tour’ which went for 1.5 hours and took us about 100m into the cave. We sat in the pitch black when we turned off our head torches and it was so eerie, you couldn’t even see your hand in front of you. The cave system was similar to Hastings Caves in Tasmania, however there was no set route, you could just
walk around and explore. We spent another night at the Living Forest Campground, ready to catch the ferry back to the mainland the following day.
Thursday 24/05/12 – We got up early today to catch the ferry from Nanaimo back to Vancouver. This ferry was a bit disappointing, no wifi! Once back into Vancouver, we went to ‘The Source’ to collect our GPS. We got a motorcycle specific one (Garmin Zumo 665) which works really well in glaring sun and wires into the Scala communications system, so Adam can hear the directions as well. The bad side was that it had to be wired into the bike’s battery, so we had to wait to install it, as we were parked in the middle of Vancouver! My speedometer drive unit hadn’t arrived at the Burnaby Kawasaki shop, so I still don’t know how fast I am going! The guy at the shop said he would contact us when it arrived and then we could get him to post it onto the next dealership.
We then headed to Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Although the prime time for people to visit Whistler is usually the wintertime, it was
absolutely stunning to ride into Whistler on Hwy 99 (Sea-to-Sky Hwy). There was huge snow-capped mountains with lakes and waterfalls to either side. We stopped to have a look at Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls, both very powerful this time of year with all the snow melts. We stopped at Squamish for lunch and I promptly managed to drop the bike in front of three other bikers. Nice! Our hostel at Whistler was part of the Olympic athletes village and it would have to be the best hostel we’ve ever stayed in! It was more like a hotel and there was a huge commercial kitchen to cook our dinner in. Very nice! The hostel was about 7km out of the main village, so we wandered in to have a look. We learnt that you could still snowboard up on the mountain for another few days, so we made the decision to come back the following morning to snowboard. On the way back to the hostel, I spotted a black bear on the side of the road, our first ever bear spotting! We stopped to take a look, but we only had our phones with us so the photos weren’t very
Friday 25/05/12 – Today we went snowboarding on Whistler! Well actually, it was Whistler’s larger brother, Blackcomb, as Whistler has already closed for the season, but we were lucky enough to get up onto Blackcomb on the third last day of the season. We grabbed our day pass and rented our gear, then headed up the two huge chairlifts to get up to the snow. During the winter, you can ski right down to the bottom of the first chairlift, but only the alpine section of the mountain remained open, meaning we didn’t really see any snow until the 2nd chairlift. Once up there, we set about going down the slopes. It was Adam’s first time at snowboarding, and after the usual few spills, he picked it up fairly quickly. I remained pretty crap, and still managed to fall off the lift nearly every time I used it. We went down slopes called ‘Jersey Cream’ and ‘Cougar Milk’, then caught the chairlift back up to go again. Adam did a big faceplant, then I fell and slide down a slope head first on my back. Adam also ran into me another time I fell and tried to break
my wrist with his snowboard. But we had great fun. On the way back down the mountain, we spotted our second black bear from the chair lift!
Saturday 26/05/12 – We left Whistler this morning to travel onto Kamloops, a stop off on the way to Banff National Park. The road was amazing, we were travelling alongside a river in between huge ridges of snow-capped mountains. Then after we got to an elevation of 1287m, we came back down the mountain with a huge canyon and lakes on one side. It was amazing. We stopped for fuel in Lillooet and again to use the toilet at a freaky roadhouse in Cache Creek, but continued onto Kamloops, arriving in the afternoon. The surrounding area was almost like a desert, it was so barren, and such a contrast to the massive forested mountains we saw this morning. And it was so hot! Probably only 25 degrees or so, but much warmer than the temperature in the mountains. We camped at a lovely site by the river, run by a pretty weird couple.
There are more photos below