Our next adventure involved putting the bus on the ferry, leaving from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. First we had to find the terminal. Then find the reservation line. Then pay the fare. Then successfully navigate the ferry ramp without dragging the hitch or other bus-parts. Eventually, we needed to navigate the ramp again getting off the ferry.
Various people assured us that we weren’t the first RV to make this trip. These “various people” were the same that offer us steep and soft driveways – well meaning, but not fully aware of RV WHERE YET’s physical parameters.
There is always a MOD.
We apologized the day before leaving Vancouver to the folks in the next RV site. Starting our diesel at 6:00 AM is not very neighborly – especially since it has to run for 10 mins to air up the brakes and suspension. I wanted to make sure their bedroom window was closed so they don’t asphyxiate. Anyway, the next-door neighbor smiled and with a twinkle in his eye said, “No worries…we’ll complain to mgmt., but you’ll be on the ferry by then!” ?
We survived the crossing!
More than survived. Things went quite smoothly. Beginning with the ticket agent, who told me I had reserved too-expensive a ticket. I apparently focused on our gross weight and booked passage for a commercial vehicle (In my defense, the website clearly said “passenger vehicles under 5,500kg” — we are 13,000kg). She said we were NOT commercial and changed the res. to an oversize passenger vehicle (weight did not seem important to her). Anyway, this change saved us almost CAD$100!!
We got to the ferry right on time and were second in the queue. Parked the bus onboard after surviving the ramp, and enjoyed a bit of breakfast during the crossing. And the view! Including a pod of Orcas not far from the Ferry. After the transit, I reconsidered how to categorize the expense: US$200 for Whale Watching and scenery; Bus and car transported for free!
Arriving on Vancouver Island, we found our way to Oak Bay (near Victoria) and our dear friends, the Chandlers, who had assured us their drive was big enough.
We recognized the look on Chuck’s face when we double-parked (actually, we are so big it was more like triple-parking) and honked. “The look” is pretty typical as our most generous and hospitable friends say without words: “YIKES, that IS big!!!” But, we DID manage to fit into the drive, without shaving off too much of the beautiful overhanging foliage.
Once the Millenium Falcon was docked, we focused on reconnection. This included hot dogs (MUSTARD, no Ketchup…the Chicago way!) on the Chandler’s deck. For me a selection of IPAs. For Liz, there was wine of the White, Red, White-Fizzy, Red-Fizzy and Gera’s fav: Pink Fizzy variety.
Later, we went down to the fresh fish market and got some fresh crab and oysters to go with aged steak for dinner. The Chandler’s son Brendan cooked and plated this (he was a sous chef and is now studying to be a civil engineer…smart and versatile is he!).
After dinner some Japanese Whiskey. All of this repeated in intent if not exact detail for 3 more days.
One of the first things we did at the Chandlers was take the bikes down…Victoria is a great place for riding. And Liz’s bike essentially dissolved in my hands. Now, I usually have to do some maintenance when we get the bikes down…they sit in the spray behind the bus. But this time, all the cables on Liz’s resisted all efforts to oil and loosen, and one snapped.
These were $100 Walmart bikes…an experiment in how much we might use them. The parts to “fix” the issues would have been more than $50. The experiment was over! There was an AWESOME Bike Shop in Oak Bay, walking distance from the Chandlers.
We also spent some time figuring out a better rack to carry the new bikes…one where Liz can get her’s down easily and where they can be easily covered in transit.
A few days in Victoria involved walking, eating, drinking, biking..and we also stopped to check inventory at a local card store. It seems the Chandler’s daughter Gen is quite an artist, (takes after her mom!) and her card designs sell quite well!
Evenings (after dinner) were spent in conversation, watching politics and comedy on TV. It is hard to tell which was which, to be honest. Especially after a few Japanese Whiskeys.
After a few days of this, we fired up the bus and headed up-island. Next stop about half way (4 hours), near Campbell River. Along the way a sign by the road: TIRE CHAINS required after Oct. 1. That sounds ominous!