Day 65-66: Prince Rupert

We decided to spend a couple days in Prince Rupert. Initially we thought just one day – not a rest day but an ‘exploration’ day. We wandered town and met Jesse’s dads friend and colleague Doug for dinner. When he mentioned how great the museum is, Jesse realized his mistake in skipping it and added it to the list of ‘must-dos’ for the following day. After receiving an email with additional work he had to get done, and being quite happy with our Java Lodge accommodations, the decision was made to add an extra day to our stay.

Prince Rupert has a very small downtown area, but after our dinner with Doug he drove us around for a late night tour and we were surprised with the size of the city and how nice some of the houses were.

The second day started with heavy rain but after a few hours the sun came out and stayed out the rest of the day. It was difficult to stay put on such a perfect riding day, but we were able to see more of the town and get a few more things done.

We should now be ready for what may possibly be the most beautiful part of the cross Canada trip – give the sun comes out to show us the full extent of the landscape.

Day 64: Ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

We both set an alarm for 4am to be sure not to sleep to late and miss the ferry. The ferry departure was 7:30am but they advise people to arrive 2 hours early. Jesse was awake long before the alarm, as is the usual case for him when awaiting something of this nature. We got moving quickly, packed up and rode off in the morning dawn.

We made it to the ferry terminal with lots of time to spare, and waiting in the foot passenger area. It seemed like the majority of the other passengers were Europeans, and given the signs in the campground bathroom were also in German, we suspected that many of the other passengers may be German.

There were not too many people aboard the ship – we later found out there’s 58 crew members and 59 passengers. A great ratio for good service indeed, hover likely not the best for their income statement.

The morning started with thick clouds and a slight mist. I was so hoping for some sun. We got some breakfast on board and settled in in the cafeteria for a while. Later we moved upstairs and had an entire lounge to ourselves, where I laid out my thermarest mattress and caught a few more minutes of sleep – just how much I have no idea. While watching out the window I could see us leaving the darkest clouds behind and the sky getting a bit lighter. I was still hoping for sun.

Again returning downstairs to the cafeteria for more fuel to pass the time, we sat for a while blogging, reading, and later chatting with a couple on a motorbike trip to Alaska. They were curious about how we managed to pack so light, but we reminded them that we had two bikes full of gear while they only had one, and we may not be as light as they think we are. They may have realized this as they saw our two laptops, books and my big camera on the table.

While chatting, the sun made its way through and the clouds cleared completely, leaving us with great views of the inside passage, we could see all the snow covered mountains and fully enjoy the beautiful surrounding scenery. We moved upstairs and outside for the best views and sat reading, though the scenery proved to be quite distracting and I didn’t read too much between each photo I felt the need to take.

While nearing Bella Bella Jesse had some cell reception and received a message from his dad about a hotel stay he had arranged for us through a friend of his in Prince Rupert. We had thought of camping at the RV campground but this was a more appealing option.

Lots of caffinne helped me to finish the backlog of blog write ups, as do a lot of reading and enjoy the passing scenery. We chatted with some other passengers before departing and riding into Prince Rupert for the night.

Day 63: Port McNeill to Port Hardy

We started our morning with the great breakfast made by Karen and her husband Chris’ wonderful company and conversation. We were set for the ride to Port Hardy. It was still grey and overcast, and now I just start my day with tights and my waterproof socks on.

We rode up the big hill out of town and began our ride to Port Hardy. It wasn’t too long until we could see the distinction of the clouds. And then sometimes a hint of blue between the clouds. Then they even parted and the sun shone through. I didn’t care about the headwind, having the sun was great. At the rest stops it was even nice to spend a few minutes relaxing in the warmth of the sun. And we weren’t the only ones who seemed to be enjoying the sun. We saw one bear rushing across the road early on, and then as we’re riding in the tall grasses on our right I see a bear suddenly stand up above the grass on its hind legs, followed by two baby cubs. All I could say is “bear! on your right!” to Jesse, then I grabbed my camera (while continuing to ride) but we seemed to succeed in scaring off the bears as they all quickly ran a few steps away. I turned back and saw the big bear again on its hind legs watching us, presumably making sure we weren’t a threat.

We were still on our adrenalin boost from the bears when we biked past another bear. This one was on its own, again not far away on our right side, and it was just munching away on some greens. It watched us closely but didn’t seem to bothered by our presence. However since we saw it earlier than the last one, we had more time to be concerned about how we should proceed – we just continued riding but pulled out a bit farther into the road. What a big start to the day.

Eventually we started seeing signs for lodging and knew we were getting close. We realized the ferry is quite far from town, so we went there first to be sure there was no problem with getting tickets for the ferry for the following morning. Along the way we passed the campground that’s closest to the ferry and thought that may be a better choice than the hostel in Port Hardy that we had previously been considering. With the good weather camping sounded like a good option.

We purchased tickets at the ferry terminal, then went back the couple kilometers to the campground to setup camp. We quickly setup then rode all the way into Port Hardy to see the town, got some food for the ferry ride, and to get some dinner. The town was smaller than we expected, and we didn’t like it as much as Port McNeill. Port McNeill seemed very friendly and everyone we passed seemed to say hello. Port Hardy didn’t have the same feeling. We did find a good sushi restaurant for dinner, and after getting some food at the grocery store we returned to the campground.

While Jesse worked from his new office I chose to read on the waters edge while waiting for the sunset. Tough life indeed.

Day 62: Woss to Port McNeil

We had the option of two short days, or one long day and one day off since our ferry left first thing in the morning of June 3. Again, we didn’t make any decisions as to what we would do, we just made sure to have lots of water in case we chose to wild camp. We started the day with misty grey clouds overhead. We had a stretch of 70km between towns so we set off with snacks for the day.

Once we reached the highway we caught sight of the first bear of the trip – it was crossing the road just behind us, an exciting site given it wasn’t too close nor threatening!

Not long after the rain began and continued for the rest of the day. It was a cold and determined rain that made any thought of stopping not an appealing one. We didn’t pass anything along the road so the only time we did stop was quickly at the side of the road for a quick bite of whatever appealed to us in our handlebar bag. Again after riding straight without a decent break, once we arrived in Port McNeill we chose to have two short days instead of making today a long day. And again deterred by the rain and being cold and wet, we checked out the prices of local motels. We knew prices in the town we inflated because of the bustling logging industry so we decided to call around a bit. Jesse called one motel and was given a price of $90. When he wasn’t ready to commit the owner asked if the problem was the price and then dropped it to $80. He still wanted to know for sure if we would be coming. When I called another motel, the man seemed equally desperate for our business. He was charging $75 for the night and then asked if I would be coming, when I said I didn’t know all he said was “please… please come”. However neither of the motels seemed worthy of these inflated costs so we kept looking, and Jesse found a B&B online – At Waters Edge. It looked great, right on the water with great reviews – plus it includes breakfast. So Jesse called them, and given he had confused the rates and expected the winter rate, they offered to give us the room at the winter rate – which was the near to the cost of the motels but with so much more.

We rode the short distance to the B & B and were quickly very happy with our decision. Karen was warm and welcoming, and our room was great with a waterfront view. The only disappointing aspect was the dark skies – I continued hoping for the sun to peak out.

We walked around town and found some dinner in a pub that shares a kitchen with a really good restaurant so we ended up with a good meal and a decent price, then we walked the waterfront route back to the B & B.

Day 61: Sayward to Woss

Today we weren’t sure how far we wanted to go. The next town was Woss or we could try to push on to Port McNeill, or wild camp somewhere along the way. We didn’t make any final decisions and just got going.

We had a decent sized hill to climb and it seemed all day we were either going uphill or downhill at all times – there didn’t seem to be any flat areas.

It wasn’t too long before the rain began. It was on and off most of the day, and at times very very strong. We looked at the windshield wipers of oncoming cars to have an idea of what it was like ahead. When all the cars coming towards us had their wipers on the fastest speed, we stopped to put on all of our rain gear, and certainly that was a good decision. The rain was pouring down and we were going downhill which made us even colder. The sun did come out afterwards however and finally we were able to see some of the scenery of Vancouver Island. We could see some snow topped mountains – finally able to see the peaks.

Once we arrived in Woss we still weren’t sure what to do. I knew Port McNeill was still too far for comfort for me. Riding straight without taking any breaks was a new kind of challenge for us, but I was still open to the idea of wild camping since the rain had dissipated for the moment. Woss had was a Pub & Sushi place plus a general store and not much else. So we stopped at the pub where I had sushi and Jesse had a club house sandwich. After being impressed with the place we decided the motel sounded like a good idea, so we booked in there for the night.

Day 60: Campbell River to Sayward

We were off on our own again today, and today felt more like it was the end of our break and the real start round two of the trip. The distances between towns was getting larger and fewer services to be found in between. In the morning we went to the grocery store for snacks before saying goodbye to Jesse’s parents after a great visit with them for the past week.

The weather was promising and today was supposed to be the start of better weather. We were encouraged and got started around noon. Not too long into the ride the rain started, and didn’t stop. We had 70km to ride today to the town of Sayward and the rain followed us the whole way. There were two small roadside cafe’s along the way and we stopped in the second one to warm up with hot chocolate and a cinnamon roll. It was a very welcomed stop.

Eventually we made it to Sayward Junction. We didn’t care to go the extra 10km into town and just stopped at the Sayward RV and Motel near the highway to get a room for the night.