Vancouver to Vancouver Island (Schwartz Bay) to Salt Spring Island to Vancouver Island to San Juan Island to Whidbey Island to Bainbridge Island .
A week of bikes and ferries, moving between the Gulf Islands and crossing the border from Canada into the USA.
First stop Salt Spring Island, a very laid back spot inhabited by seasonal sailors and boat owners, a community of artists, a smattering of (young and old) hippies, outdoor adventurers and an abundance of wildlife.
Situated some 5km outside of the main town of Ganges ( named after a boat built in India) our home for three days was ‘Skipping Stones,’ a wooden beach house with a deck, barbecue and hammocks overlooking the sea (see pic above).
From this beautiful vantage point we were lucky to witness an endless stream of the local wildlife including humming birds, otters , deer and last but no means least a hump back whale who decided to come up for air just in front of us, then to dive down and give us a great view of a tail before disappearing below the waves.
Freshly baked muffins and scones appeared in the morning and as you can see I was quite excited by the arrival of said buns!
Given location the opportunity was taken to do a bit of kayaking. An activity which proved (for me) much harder than anticipated due to an inability to remember my right and left and when you press the peddle to turn right you need to peddle on the left and vice verse ……very confusing……but a great way to see the sea life of the island, including seals and eagles.
Next stop San Juan and the cross the border into the USA. As always a big zero sense of humour welcome from border control. We were questioned quite extensively about our intentions and about what we were carrying into the USA (three middle aged women on bikes in smelly bike kit- major terror threat obvs).
San Juan presented itself as a big contrast to Salt Spring Island. A picture perfect shiny seaside place where life revolves around boats of all shapes and sizes. As Ruth put it; ‘Seems like a film set from the first Jaws film’. (A big influence us on all some 40 years after its release!).
We made the most of our three day stay, zooming around on our bikes sans bags and kit. It felt like we got our road bikes back and they were allowed to do what they we were designed to do….to race at high speed through the countryside.
Highlights of our mini tour: biking round the island, a brewery visit and tasting of local beers ( fave ‘Helle’s yacht masters daughter); participation in the annual lavender festival (and learning lots about how to grow, cut, process and cook with lavender); talking to locals about their community land trust project to deliver new affordable homes for islanders; watching many whales (A pod of Orcas and three Hump Backs: a rare site on the island, but becoming less rare as the community is regenerating with the help of a big local conservation push) rise and fall in the bays around the island and finally participating in a piloxing class ( a cross between Pilates and boxing).
Next up Whitbey Island and after 4 hours of cycling along the coast we arrived at Coupeville and our accommodation for the night: Captain Whidbey’s Inn. The building is one of the oldest buildings on the Island, built in 1907 from Madronia Logs and stone and originally providing a resting place for travellers on Steamer Boats from Seattle and Everett.
We arrived on a Monday, which meant no restaurant so we got a cab into the metropolis of Coupeville, a great spot on the water comprising a small group of shops and eateries. First stop a beer on the waterfront and then after viewing all potential eateries we picked Christophers. Amazing food (picture shared on instagram of our finished seafood stew, comprising a melange of local seafood including mussels taken from beds right by our hotel)- super yum!).
Then to bed and a very early rise to do a big ride to Lynwood on Bainbridge Island. A 90km ride which took pretty much all day in very hot conditions. But regular stops to re-water, stock up on supplies and a medicinal ice cream made it all OK.
We arrived at 6-ish, stocked up on supplies. Our bike shirt pockets became repositories for a bottle of wine, a chicken, herbs, salad and sweet potatoes and we then cycled to our home for two days: The Artist’s Retreat, which unfortunately was located at the top of a very long hill. On completion of this last hurdle we all collapsed in a heap, cracked open the wine, showered and at some point approaching midnight feasted on roast chicken.
…and this brings us up to date. Two days chilling here before taking the ferry to Seattle!…and first up time for breakfast.