Bloggin' Lite in BC's Summer

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

--CORRECTED-- Coming home from a 3-day bicycle trip that started in Vancouver and included several islands it is time to limit blogging in the summer months of July and August to any of the following conditions met:
  • It is too hot or too cold to do anything else
  • It rains
  • Events require it
  • I am not out cycling
Living in Vancouver has its pros and cons, but latter fall mostly under inconveniences like very frequent rain. For a while I came home from every trip soaked, guided by optimism and not the weather report which is a must-see before every outside venture in British Columbia.

PHOTO: Vancouver Island has very charming doll-house architecture like this cafe in Chemainus.

I had luck on my trip that saw me cycling on a round-trip for 120 km from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay where I caught a ferry to Nanaimo and more islands to come.
This first leg with its up and downhill path is a good introduction of what comes later. Signs for cyclicists are of not much help here (and the lack of them will later on become a fatal danger for those on 2 wheels on Vancouver Island.) The first time I ended up on the highway, sharing the road with those cars that were headed for the ferry reach too.

British Columbia Islands

PHOTO: I was told house prices have doubled and trebled in the last 5 years but the tranquility of this spectacular scenery is certainly a price supporting factor. Who does not want to live on a quiet island?

After a smooth ferry passage to Nanaimo I rode down the dock-walk and decided to push as far as possible towards Crofton where I would be taking another ferry to Salt Spring Island.
I soon found out that Vancouver Island is a rather hilly affair, but steeper ascents waited for me.
Guided by a rather large-scale map for the islands I soon discovered signs for bikers pointing south. But too my astonishment they directed me to go on the highway around Ladysmith. This is a bit puzzling as cyclicists are not allowed to ride on highways. But I found no other way than to go on the road shoulder of the very busy #1 highway for about 2 kilometres. Strictly spoken there is no safe way for walkers and cyclicists to enjoy the nature of this otherwise most charming island all the way from north to south.
Gliding downhill and frequently pushing upwards I reached Chemainus where I stayed at a lovely hotel similar to the cafe pictured above. In general I found out that the Loonie goes far compared to costs in Europe. Roughly said I get the same amount of products and services here for one Loonie as I would get for a Euro in the Eurozone. But I get 1.44 Can$ for 1 €, making Canada almost a third cheaper, with my rent in downtown Vancouver being the exception.
Day 2 was more of the same in Chemainus as aching muscles demanded a rest after the first 74 km.
On Monday I continued to Crofton for the ferry to Salt Spring Island, a most pleasant small island sprinkled with summer getaways. Enjoying a halibut fish & chips lunch in Ganges with a view to a busy marina I check out real estate ads. Offers range from Can$ 100,000 trailer homes to Can$2-400,000 for condos and end in the low Can$1MM+ which will buy you several acres with a well-kept 3,000 square feet house and outhouses for horses etc.

British Columbia Islands

PHOTO: BC islands still feature many unspoilt beaches like this one. There is still a lot of beachfront property to be had and it has to be hoped that condomania will not reach out to these last eco-refuges.

Property prices have been in an upward trend here recently, with house values doubling and trebling, I was told by locals. Given the beauty of these small islands - at least in summertime - I can understand that this housing boom is not to end because of the limited resources. Over development could lead to a decline of these eco-refuges of many species and make them less attractive in the long-term. A balance of commercial interests and the damage to its "natural" touch has to be found, it appears.
Coming from densely populated Europe to the second largest country one is overjoyed to see deer crossing the road just ahead and islands still untouched by humans. I hope this wilderness experience will be preserved.


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