Day 17: Comox to Port Hardy



Sometimes I think I’m crazy, and then sometimes I know I am. This morning, I heard Bear rustling around 5:00 am, and I immediately got myself dressed and drug my sleeping bag outside. I was going to join him in a sunrise photo shoot.

He already had his cameras ready and was about to leave, so I made it in the nick of time. We sleepily walked up the campground road, past all the sleeping RV’s, and wound our way down to the waterfront. There were very large granite rocks lining the entire “beach”, which was just an expanse of large and small rocks, but the view was incredible. We had well over a 180° view of the ocean separating Vancouver Island from the mainland, and could see the pulp factory across the way just starting to wake up. Tiny puffs of smoke were rolling up, lazily joining the skiffs of clouds above. The sunrise was happening, and the low shelf of clouds overhead made for a beautiful and long display of light and shadow.

How incredible. I was glad I brought my sleeping bag, because I curled up in it and sat in awe as the sun slowly rose. I could see the far reaches of it’s light nicking the top of a snow-covered peak far to the left, slowly turning it cotton-candy pink to sherbet orange. The peak wore a long, flowing silk scarf made of clouds, and it led your eye to the massive range to it’s right. The front range of mountains was almost a silhouette of pale blue to dusky denim, with tiny windows in the valleys where you could see giant peaks jutting up into the clouds behind. These were snow-covered monsters, and I imagined all of the mountaineers finding their way up the sunlit summit.

The puffs of smoke from the pulp mill were now steady streams, and starting to catch the growing sunlight. The way the fingers of light combed the rows of mountains was like a slow-moving set change, allowing us to see level after level of mountain range. How stunning.

We watched in awe as a heron was waiting to catch his breakfast, and in the meanwhile posing for his 15 minutes of fame. He did all the proper hops, takeoffs, and landings for Bear, just to be sure he was able to capture every possible movement. After he was done, he returned to his fishing rock and continued to wait.

At one point, Bear came over and sat with me, exclaiming, “How can you possibly capture this entire sunrise? There are too many amazing shots!”

So we just took it in. We sat for a long while, then Bear tended to his cameras again. I laid down on the rock and took a little nap. What a good morning to get up early.  We stayed there for a while longer, until the light became more “normal” and less “interesting”, then walked back to our campsite. We went back in the tent and fell asleep.

Waking up at 9:30 felt like an eternity later, and we could hardly believe that we had taken so many photos just a few hours earlier. We packed up our beautiful campsite and rode north, so grateful for such a beautiful campground and view. Vancouver Island is so beautiful, and the people just lovely. We stopped for gas up the road and I said to Bear, “I think my chain is too loose, could you take a look?” Sure enough, the chain was horribly loose. I didn’t know if it was because of my tip-over the night before, or if it was just stretching out because it was the original chain from 1989, but it was too loose. Even though our mechanic had shown us how to remove a back tire, I was nervous about how to tighten a chain.

Bear assured me that this was “his scene”, and he led the way with loosening the axyl, and tightening the side bolts by the fork. We moved it quite a bit back from where it had been, and the chain looked a lot better now. I felt relieved knowing that we were safe again for our ride north, and could feel that my bike was happier as we drove away.

As some locals had said, this stretch of road was very unpopulated. We rode for hours without seeing a house or barn, and marveled at how luscious the trees were. So many of them! Packed in there, and all the way up the mountains. We stopped at a rest stop and drank some more coffee and the “why-knots”… Oh my goodness! I can’t believe I almost forgot to tell you!

We ate at the BEST BREAKFAST SPOT ever. Right outside of our campground was a place called the Red Wagon coffee shop. It was tiny and cute, and served the same brand of coffee that our friends in Victoria love. We had breakfast sandwiches with the following: belly pork, over-easy egg, tomato, avocado, crème fraîche with chives, and some awesome sauce all on a toasted cheddar cheese bagel. It was Ah MAZING. Bear’s beard stood no chance on this messy sandwich, and he went through handfulls of napkins to clean up afterwards.

They also talked us into some “Why Knots?” which were cinnamon-bun dough tied in a knot shape. So like a cinnamon roll, but a not. Seriously-why not? So we got 4.

These with a thermos of their delicious coffee in the middle of the mountains was incredible.

We hit the road again with a smile in our tummies and were warmed up, which was perfect timing because it started to rain. By this point, riding in the rain is really pretty. Our suits are so good at doing their job, and the way the drops hit my visor isn’t alarming anymore. It was beginning to feel a little bit like snowboarding, with how the snow used to fly at my goggles.

The road kept getting prettier and prettier as we continued to the north tip of the island, and we rode right to the ferry terminal to pick up our tickets early. We were shocked to find out that our fare for the motorcycle didn’t include us, the riders, and had a moment of stress of how would we pay for a fare that was now double what we had planned for. It’s a good thing I brought our credit card, and even though we will have to figure out some finances when we get home, at least we could get on the boat tomorrow.

All squared away and ready to eat, we decided to set up our tent first, then head to town. We found a campsite very close to the ferry terminal, and set up camp next to some young moms with a little girl and precious little boy. He was very enthusiastic and talkative, and excited to show us his toy car since he wanted to be a race car driver when he got older.

We rode into town and ate at the harbor, quickly noticing the difference in food prices out in these parts. This is what we had been warned about, the further north you go, the more expensive things were. So we shared a large plate of nachos and watched all the fishing boats come in and out of the harbor. Life looked hard out here, and we couldn’t help but feel a little vulnerable in this country of big trucks and loud talk.

Back at the campsite, the little boy was still adorable and excited to see his grandpa drive up. Since we had to get up so early in the morning, I decided to put in my earplugs and sleep with my eye mask on. Bear had some file transferring to do, and was charging our batteries with the camp host’s electrical outlet, so he was awake at the picnic table.

Falling asleep became pretty difficult, and the enthusiastic grandpa became louder and louder as they started to party. I fell asleep feeling so sorry for the little boy, knowing that this is what he had to grow up around… things were becoming different up here, and we heard stories of “characters” up in the north, but didn’t expect to be camping right next to a story changing from sweet to sad.

Sleep was short that night, short and uncomfortable. But at least we had a ticket for the ferry and could leave the scene here…

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