Last day in the saddle today. We hand the bike back to the boys at Cycle BC today, Feeling sad. Love riding bikes. Ride my GT every day to work but not the same as a good road trip and this is the first Wifey and I have undertaken so don't want it to end. Just like Route 66, I could quite happily just turn around and go back to do it all again. But we can't. Who can afford three week holidays these days? Was a bit of a gamble between two contracts and then another contract came up, so was a bit touch and go whether I'd get it. Not sure I'll ever be able to do a holiday of three weeks again. So sadness there too.
A little later getting up this morning as we are really in no rush to go or be anywhere. If we want to hand the bike back today then we don't have to be at Cycle BC before 19:00. That's 12 hours to ride 229 km to and through Vancouver. After the lack of food last night we've decided that we are going to have breakfast here at Manning Park and not an hour down the road. It is also a Monday morning and we'd very much like to miss any rush hour. So we had a lie in.
Have to admit that the room was comfortable and clean, and warm. The place is a resort and so there are a lot of lodges out the back and also a campsite a little further along. Our room is in the main lodge which has full timber beams and chunky, rustic furniture. Particularly taken by the big rocking chair built from thick branches. Not that comfortable to sit in though. Another feature of the resort is a number of very striking carvings in the lodge itself but also outside. Particularly taken by the bear on the way to breakfast. There were lots and lots of ground squirrels all over the place, and I mean lots. They were everywhere and had no fear of people.
Arrived at breakfast at 8. To rub salt into a wound it appears that the breakfast room is also the resort's bar. No beer available at 8 am though. The radio was playing lots of 80's music and it seemed to be the same everywhere we stopped today.
Waitress just didn't listen to our orders so I ended up with lettuce, tomato and hash browns and Wifey got brown toast rather than white. Not sure what it is. Is it the British influence? Service in Canada really is not quite as attentive as in the US and we have been dogged by incorrect orders for the whole of this trip. Had an exchange with the waitress about her Dutch parents not understanding potatoes for breakfast and after she saw I'd left the lettuce, tomatoes and hash browns. She said some places would replace hash browns for tomatoes if asked. I said that would be worse. It was then she realised that I'd specifically asked not to have lettuce, tomatoes and hash browns. Ah.
Girl on checkout really did look like Katie Pukrik, right down to the severe straight line fringe. Spooky. Loading up of the GS took no time and put on the full waterproofs again. It is very cold in the Trossacks and it is looking cloudy but it is expected to warm up nicely as the morning goes on. The Crowsnest was again empty. Here, at Manning Park, it is a 4 lane highway. What is the point of building a four lane highway in the middle of nowhere? It's a Monday morning so I'd expect a little more traffic other than us and the odd truck.
Leaving a little later did mean that the obligatory roadworks were all up and fully manned which did slow us down for the first part of the day's ride. Also the road kept going from 4- to 2-lane and was very winding. The GS took it in it's stride. Notwithstanding the shortcomings that I highlighted yesterday I do actually prefer the handling of the GS. Has no weather protection though and it continued to be cold in the Chilliwacks. Continued cold and grey until Hope where it warmed up a bit.
Eventually the fantastic 3 became a freeway but at that point we jumped off and revisited Hope. May have mentioned this in an earlier post, but Rambo : First Blood was filmed here and we can now say that we've ridden across that bridge. We stopped for a coffee and pie at Sharon's Deli on Wallace Street. Wifey had Rhubarb and Strawberry and I had delectable slice of lemon meringue. Although there were only two or three customers in the shop, the staff were managing a large order for soup and sandwiches. Must have made about 50 take out pots while we were there. Surprised at how big soup is in Canada. Almost a staple that you can get everywhere. Warming in the winter I would imagine.
Just like at Manning Park there are a large number of wooden carvings and they are very well executed. Bears climbing trees. Wolves. All sorts and numerous. The Memorial Park, although small, around which most of the carvings were, was full of the most impressive redwoods. Love Wellingtonia.
Took the 1 for a bit over the Fraser Bridge - that's THE bridge from Rambo - and pull off onto the fantastic 7 the Lougheed Highway. How does Canada have so many fantastic empty roads? It simply is not fair. How do Canadians do it? Long, fast and sweeping and on the northern side of the Fraser. Last road of the day and last road of the trip.
The Lougheed wound it's way through the wide Fraser River valley with its small holdings that we'd previously seen from the Canadian 9 days ago. We jumped of it to stop at the last tourist spot we'll visit on the bike, Harrison Hot Springs. Really felt like an upmarket Blackpool but without the Tower. They do have Sasquatch everywhere in compensation. We stopped and had a walk about around the swimming pond (DANGER: No lifeguards on duty) with a couple of large Baskin Robbins ice creams for company. Sun out and getting rather warm. Helped the kids in the sandcastle building competition no doubt. Lots of souvenir shops and even a Bavarian bier keller.
Harrison Hot Springs is yet another stunning location. Views over to Echo Island on Harrison Lake and to the mountains beyond are fantastic. I want to live in British Columbia. There is so much to see and so much beauty. As much as I love walking in Hampshire and Pembrokeshire I'd adore walking the mountains here.
Back onto the Lougheed and it got really, really winding. Absolutely superb. Could see why there were lots and lots of bikes on this road today. We past bike after bike. Not many Harley riders returned my waves though. Interesting. Out in the boondocks virtually all riders returned the wave. I did have to overtake a few slow cars. In the land of teh automatic and cruise control why can we not keep a constant speed on a good road. One bloke was meandering from side to side and constantly sped up and slowed down. Argh. Out of my way fool.
The closer we got to Vancouver the greater the traffic got and eventually had to comply with the digs in the ribs from Wifey.
We stopped at Mission after seeing British Columbia's answer to Westminster Abbey up on the hill. The Sweet Spot Cafe is very nice with a lovely garden in the back with lots of water features. By now the sun was scorching so we took refuge under an awning as we drank tea, coffee and San Pellegrino with the obligatory slice of carrot cake.
After Mission the Lougheed started to get very snarly and very stop and start. We continued to follow the 7 into Vancouver and starting to fight the city traffic. Kept forgetting at lights to get into the right-hand lane as the cars in the left-hand lane are likely to be turning left and blocking the route. Felt like a long time since I'd ridden in traffic. Didn't help my concentration with Wifey shouting in my ear. Didn't enjoy this bit. Filled up with $10 on the way in.
Finally got to Main Street after a very long and painful ride through the outskirts of Vancouver on Hastings Street. Left-hand turn took time due to the amount of Downtown traffic flowing against me. Past the Pacific Central station for the last time. Wrong turn on 2nd, then Manitoba up to the alley between 5th and 6th and we were back at Cycle BC.
Parked up outside laughing at us was the RT recently cleaned. Parked the GS right up next to it. Thanked the guys profusely for helping us yesterday and gave the lad who'd driven out to rescue us a $50 tip. Wifey didn't ingratiate herself to them by telling them we'd left 3 bags with them. One of the chaps spent 10 minutes trying to locate the Heine Gericke bag until she found it in one of the others right where she'd packed it.
Bloke in charge seemed concerned that we'd complain about them but we said we were very happy with they service. We could have been stranded and they did all they could to help us and get us to the end of the trip on time. If they hadn't managed to get to us it would have been a much different situation. BMW wouldn't help us directly as we were only renting from the owner. Mike and boys yesterday did a really great job for us, how could we complain. He waived the refuelling charge as we hadn't managed to fill it completely.
I mentioned that I'd like to go further north in BC and the bloke suggested a BC to Alaska tour. Now I've already thought about that. He said next year but I'm thinking South Africa and Namibia next year.
Busy shop and they had a constant stream of people through renting mopeds. They'd also just taken ownership of one of the brand new water-cooled GS. Even without the weather protection I do like the GS and it is seriously in consideration for the GT replacement next year. Would have to be an Adventure though and they aren't out until next year.
The taxi to the Sylvia seemed to take an age and we arrived at spot on 16:00.
Now, I had been looking forward to the Sylvia. It was supposed to be a very nice hotel with great reviews. It was meant to be a highlight of the trip. From the outside the Sylvia looks charming with its covering of ivy. Well...
On turning up outside reception we struggled to get the 7 bags we were carrying into reception. Between us it took three trips struggling through a door that wouldn't stay open and a flight of steps with no-one in reception helping. Boy behind reception just watched us with a smile on his face. Didn't even bother to tell us that there were two other entrances with no steps we could have used. Not impressed straight away. When asked if we had a view, as I was expecting one, he helpfully said that we had a corner view of the sea. Whatever that might mean.
Loaded the bags up, again no offer of assistance, into a rickety lift that smelt of stale urine and debussed on the 7th floor. A helpful notice in the lift made apologies for the redecorating that was going on. Bloke on reception hadn't bothered to mention it. Stepped out of the lift into a war zone. Mess and debris everywhere. The very strong smell of paint and everywhere stripped back and making taped up. Room numbers in pencil written on the walls. Really, really not impressed.
Got to our room and although I give that this is an older hotel built I believe in 1913, the quality of the fitments and fixtures didn't look as though they'd been updated since the 80's. Very chipped and tired paintwork. and the corner view meant that we were on the back corner of the hotel with only the merest of a glimpse of the sea to our left. No coffee making facilities either.
Phoned down to reception to try to get another room. On asking my first question about whether all floors are being decorated at the same time the person in reception hung up on me after responding yes. Wifey talked me into accepting but I am really, really unhappy.
Had a qucik shower to wash the road off and then went for a stroll around English Bay which was heaving with people until gone 21:00. Lots of sun worshipers, cyclists, skaters, joggers, dog walkers and lots of boys in big cars showing off.
Sat on the veranda of the Sylvia with a glass of Merlot, Wifey with a Limonata watching the world go by on the Bay. We ordered some food. Wifey had fish and chips and i had some delicious, but small, crab cakes. Some very loud arty types next to us talking TV productions and the chill that comes with a setting sun drove us inside. I had a pint of something dark and tasty and we shared an enormous platter of nachos that we couldn't finish between us.
After the beer and nachos we strolled along hte bay for a bit. Lots of very strange types and a beautiful sunset. Lots of really good pictures as well. Fewr vagrants in English Bay than Gas Town but they are still there. Felt much safer as well but I still am not seeing what others see in Vancouver. I'm not liking the place.
Then back to the Sylvia to write up the day.