Island hopping – Nanaimo to Salt Spring Island (74k/2955k)

(July 5 – written by Dave)

Jungle Pot RV park turned out to be fairly quiet over night, in spite of being right on the motorway.  We were either tired or the truck traffic may have calmed down.  Either way, we slept ok.  While we were in a big city (Nanaimo) we were a long ways from everything out on Jingle Pot Road, so we had oatmeal and coffee at the tent for brekkie.

Local knowledge played into our hands as the park owner knew of an unofficial path to get us on a multi-use path that parallels the motorway that we rode yesterday.  It was much steeper up and down than the motorway (really, whoever designed a bike path with 17% grades should be shot) but we had 6ks of relative bliss compared to yesterdays bone rattling ride into the camp.  As Nancy mentioned yesterday, the RV park is really a gem – tight spots but nice plants and gardens maintained all by the owner made it a little oasis.


Riding under the motorway 1The bike path alternative to the highway

Once we reached the end of the motorway, we had a bit of city navigation and riding to do to actually clear Nanaimo.  We made it with only a few backtracks.  We had a free city map but for some reason they only put major streets on the map – who knows why – making it hard to get the right turns by simply reading the map.  Anyway, it was mostly quiet roads to the edge of town and our second brekkie at another Serious Coffee shop – yes, it is a franchise, we were not sure – but they make nice coffee and baked goods.  This one was OK, not as good as the one the other day but good all the same.  They messed up my coffee order but really, it was such a nice sunny day, I didn’t even mind, much less take it back.

Google maps told us to hop on Highway 1/Highway 19 at this point.  This was more motorway madness so we opted to make our own path.  We took Cedar Road out of town and basically followed it for 15k – no issues and very little traffic.  It may have been longer than the motorway but we’d had enough of the trucks and noise.  Our fun ended however at the end of Cedar Road were left with no alternative, we had about 10k of motorway riding.  It was ok, we just put our heads down and blasted on into the town of Ladysmith.

In Ladysmith we had our third brekkie of the day, this time stopping at the local Ladysmith Bakery.  They claimed to have the best buns in town and who were we to argue.  We passed on coffees as this would be three of them before 11AM, but we did sample their buns (they were very good).

Best Buns in LadysmithNancy and a bun

I mapped a route, a very hilly route, out of Ladysmith and to the ferry at Crofton.  This kept us off the motorway and turned out to be quite pleasant as well, riding in the farms along the shoreline.  We had to ride 20ks in a little more than 1:15 so we kept the pace up to be sure to make the 1:25 ferry.  We made it with plenty of time to spare only to discover that they were running 25 minuted late as well.  Nancy sent me off to get cold drinks at the shops and I exceeded expectations with iced tea and ice cream sandwiches.  (I’m not sure that we covered all the food groups today – but for sure, sugar was covered).

Lost at sea

Lost at sea

Bike on the ferry

Bikes on Crofton ferry

A mountain, a boat and an osprey w fish

A mountain, a boat, and an osprey with a fish

The ferry ride was hot, almost too hot to be out on the main deck.  But otherwise, it was pleasant – no bouncing and only 30 minutes end to end.  We let all the cars pass before we rolled out and tackled the last 6k to our first choice campsite.  We picked it by looking at Tripadviser but were not impressed when we got there.  The woman was kind of snooty, they only had one site left and it was crammed in between two very full looking sites with several tents each.  We decided to take a punt and look at our second choice campground – bird in hand vs. the chance of something better, we rode on with trepidation.

Boy were we glad that we did…  We found Garden Faire campground nestled in the woods close to Ganges town.  The owner of the campground has spent the last 30 years carving sites basically into the hillside of an old rainforest.  The sites are small but it’s mostly walk in so no big RVs and not much noise (not counting the family of 8, with 6 kids that showed up just after we did.  Kids were not too noisy but dad is yelling at them almost non-stop).  There is a group of 7 women here who are on a weeklong bicycle touring trip of the Gulf Islands.  So, we’ve had lots of folks to talk to and share bicycle stores with.  The park has an outside shower as well – which we both used and enjoyed immensely.  So long as the Adam’s Family can be controlled (if only a little), we’ll sure that we have a nice quiet night here.

View from our campsite

View looking up from our campsite

Our site

Site at Garden Faire Nursery and Campgrounds

Outside shower

Great outdoor shower – 2 minutes of hot water for each ‘loonie’ (CAN$1)

For dinner, we walked the 10 minute walk through the rainforest to the Ganges Town waterfront.  We were not sure if we were going to eat at camp or in town but the fish tacos made with fresh halibut and a local IPA sort of sealed the deal.  We enjoy a great meal sitting on the dockside watch boats and seaplanes come and go.  Life could be much worse!

Man in woods

Carving on the walk to town

Nancy playing in the woods

Nancy pretending to play the piano

Ganges Harbour 3

Harbour at Ganges

Dinner on Ganges Harbour

Fish tacos and good beer – yum!

Tomorrow we head to Victoria and the end of our Vancouver Island journey.  We’ve really enjoyed the whole island.  The north for the peace and quiet and big trees, the south for its cafes and more access to the waterside.  We have about 25k to ride on Salt Spring Island, then a ferry back to Vancouver Island that will drop us into Victoria.  We are staying with Warmshowers hosts in Victoria and there is rumoured to be a bike path almost all the way to their house.  We’re looking forward to a fun day and spending some time checking out Victoria.

5 thoughts on “Island hopping – Nanaimo to Salt Spring Island (74k/2955k)

  1. Hey guys, on my way cross country via car, we will be pulling into Andrea’s driveway on Sat in North Carolina. My days in the car aren’t nearly as physical as what we did on the bike trip but I find I am more mentally tired at the end of the day then I ever was riding with you guys. I have my rest day here in St Louis as we visit with friends which gave me time to catch up with your blog. As Cindi and I were driving across Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Kansas I found myself looking at the shoulder, the road surface watching the wind direction, etc. It gave me time to wonder what it would be like riding my bike. Not sure how you guys adjusted to the heat and humidity when you rode cross country but it made me think it would be better to do the cross country trip up north.

    Nancy’s whistle blowing back on the first big bear days made me smile, that and thinking about the pictures of the mountains that Dave takes vs the one flower picture Nancy wanted…

    I miss riding with you guys, well not every day, the rain and wind are no fun. The 160k day would have left me exhausted but you have to take the good with the bad and as long as you can end the day with a good friend, beer and food, life is good.

    • We are finally into your last bag of Tok coffee. While you haven’t been with us on this part of the trip, we think of you every time that we drink some of the coffee, or eat the oatmeal, or use the stove fuel! It’s harder now that we have to carry all of our own stuff!

      So far we’ve only had two days of rain the entire trip. And it looks like this trend will continue to PDX. It is much nicer riding in warmer temps.

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