Victoria, BC and Orca's Island, Washington
07.05.2008 - 10.05.2008
It was so good to see Anna in Victoria. We left my bike at the shop to get it checked over (needed a few new bolts and the brake cable got all crimped up on the plane) and explored the city. I have to say, I think I could actually live in Victoria, I've never felt so comfortable in a city before, and so surrounded by greenery in an urban setting! (In Canada that is...) We stopped to eat in a few of Anna's favourite haunts. We both had the most delicious lunch of all time - homemade flax wrap with warm yams, avacado, sprouts, fresh carrots, sooo good. It was so cute, we told our waiter that they were the best wraps we'd ever tasted, and we heard him in the kitchen saying over dramatically to the staff, "best wraps of their LIVES guys!!!!"
We then collected our bikes to head down to the beach where there were kite-surfers surfing on the ocean - one older guy kept doing jumps for us (we were appreciatively hooting and clapping whenever he made a particularly exciting move). We visited "mile 0", the official start of the transcanada, and also dipped my tires into the Pacific ocean! Ice cream and a scenic drive along some of the richer parts of the city made for a wonderful ending to the day.
The next morning I went back along the lochside drive to Sidney where I caught the ferry to Orca's island, Washington.
My friend Jocelyn from the Otesha tour last year met up with me when I got there and we biked back through rolling, steep, long hills with stunning views of turquoise water and crumbling cliffs smothered in evergreens to the Bullocks Brothers Permaculture Homestead. This farm takes 10 interns a year that work on various projects as a group to learn as much as they can about permaculture farming, a method of farming where the goal is to be completely self sustaining. We ate good, fresh food - greens taken from the garden and rainbow trout caught from a nearby lake and mushrooms from under the blueberry patch, and I met some amazing people. The interns work 4 days on, 3 days off, and most mornings there is a project supervised by one of the 3 brothers who owns the farm - while I was there we cleaned up and made sure the drip irrigation system was working - a system that used gravity to pull water down a slope from holding tanks to only water plants that need to be watered.
Individual or smaller projects are worked on in the afternoon, like gardening and composting and sewing. Jocelyn was learning so much, from organic farming to welding to compost tea spraying to building to tree grafting to chicken tractors. What's a chicken tractor?
Only the coolest concept ever - a mobile chicken coop that fits over a row of garden that needs to be turned over - just move it over the new spot that needs turning, sprinkle a little grain in, and the chickens scratch the old vegetation up, turning it into the ground as they peck at it and search for food. Their manure is also worked into the garden. In a few days you collect the eggs they've laid, move the coop, and they do it all over again. What an efficient way to use animals.
Each night on the island we had a musical jamming session with singing and drums, didgeridooing, guitars, and even a makeshift base that was made from a big old overturned tin bucket, with the bottom centre tied to a long string attached to a stick that kept the string taut. Makes me want to learn how to sing or play guitar!
Unfortunately, it was pretty cold at night and I didn't have enough clothing to really keep myself warm - had to borrow some of Joc's clothes, which worries me - I'll have to pick up some more before hitting the mountains. Thankfully Joc let me sleep in her big double bed - under a duvet and a tarp for warmth! I really liked sleeping "out in the open" - I've never done it before, beats waking up to that sticky, too-warm feeling you get in a tent in the morning.
The ride from Orca's to Andrew's place in Vancouver was a bit of a gong show - just a long day really. A 45 minute ride up over those hills again to the ferry terminal at Orca's, 2 hour ferry ride, 15 minute drive to the ferry to Vancouver, lucked out with an early ferry sailing to Vancouver, rode through Ladner and waited an hour for a shuttle (after being told it didn't exist and the bus would pick me up, the shuttle eventually did appear) to take me across the Massey tunnel, got ridiculously disoriented in Richmond - couldn't find my way onto the Oak St bridge with the directions from the map I had and went through getting lost twice, a Spanish man with very little english to two hotel front desk clerks to a waitress before I found my way across the bridge into Vancouver, where the route marked on the bike route wasn't possible to take (no left turns allowed, no crosswalk on a 6 lane street!!) and finally made it to Andrew's house at around 6:00 - then had to go to his work to get the key and come back before I collapsed into the shower. I had a good dinner with Wil, and then talked with Andrew until 1 or 2. Now it's off to Stanley Park with Mary Anne!