Mornin’ kids!  It’s a beautiful, sunshiny day here at Mt. Hood and time for me to finish the chronicles of Canada plus a few other posts.  You must understand that it’s so very tricky for me to remain on top of the website at all times.  If we were traveling by car, I could plug into an inverter and spew forth verbage all the live long day.  But since we’re spending an average of 5 hours a day on the road, plus packing and unpacking at least 2 hours a day and not having WiFi or electricity half the time, you can see how I might get a bit behind on my posts.  Feeling my pain?  Cause I have a lot of pain to go around from so many hours in the saddle and nights on a bedroll.  Not complaining, I promise, just trying to bring you into my world little by little.  Motrin is my best friend.  I’ll stop bitchin’ now.

Also before I move on, I forgot to share a little ditty about our ride up Highway 9 into Canada.  Anyone who drives or rides know how you can get lost in your thoughts, wondering about where you’re going, thinking about where you’re been.  I was at that place when I found myself snapped back into the moment by a black bear cub hauling ASS across the highway.  You know we slowed waaaay down, expecting mama to be not too far behind, maybe even a second cub.  Neither appeared but it was a reminder that we’re not alone when traveling the roads that cut through the deep forests.  We all know about “Deer:30”, now we had to remember about “Bear o’clock”.  Note to self:  Keep head out of bum.  And now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

After our oh so memorable night at Sooke River Campground (Sookie!), we headed northwest to a provincial (state) campground called French Beach.  It came highly recommended by the locals (and we really dug the locals).  This place was such an eden!  With thick groves of towering trees, ferns that dwarfed any adult and plants with leaves 3-4 feet long, we knew we were home if even for a couple of days.  Terry did good in scouting this site out.  We got camp set up and then I headed out to do the grocery shopping.  The market in town is pretty nice, but you must remember that we’re in English/French country, not English/Spanish.  All the packaging labels were in English and French, so this was throwing me off a bit, especially when I’m used to the latter.  Tonight’s dinner?  Spinach and cheese ravioli with marinara and prawns plus a side of vegetables.  Nice.  Who says you have to eat hot dogs the entire time (though they do make for a great breakfast).  You must also remember that in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, the government controls all liquor, so in each state/country the laws are different.  Here in B.C., you can’t buy any sort of alcohol at the grocery store.  You have to go across the street to the Liquor Store to get even a beer or bottle of wine.   And after 5PM, you can only purchase beer or wine.  Whatever.  It does take longer when you don’t have the one-stop shopping, but when in Rome…

We had to make sure to stash our food well as it was rumored that earlier in the morning, a large black bear was seen wandering the roads of the campground in search of food.  Great.  Our side cases made for a tidy little pantry as well as fridge (bag of ice on the bottom and TA-DA!), and they locked down tight.  We knew that the bears know how to open most anything, but had to give it the ol’ college try.  Terry also mentioned that we should remove the cases from the bikes – better to have them thrash a case instead of the whole package.  Smart.  The night was quiet with the exception of the ocean rolling in and out in the background.  Didn’t I mention that we were right next to the ocean?  Sorry.  This part of the shoreline was miles of rocks, lined by trees and littered with crab and oyster shells.  I found 6 large oyster shells to bring home as a momento.  The best souvenirs don’t come from a gift shop.

And did I mention the provincial bird of B.C.?  Ya, it’s the slug, banana and licorice alike.  Dude, these things are NASTY!  They’re long, think and just YUCK.  They’re everywhere!  And they’ll definite ruin the bottom of your shoes.  You’ve gotta trust me on this one.  They blend so well with the ground that you REALLY have to watch where you step.  I didn’t.  Learned that lesson quickly.

Day 2 at French Beach brought Jack some new friends as well as a trip into Victoria.  We had our fingers crossed that we would enjoy our time here better than Vancouver.  And Victoria proved to be quite a delight!  We had the BEST fish and chips EVER at a place that overlooked the harbor.  We could watch the seaplanes take off and land on the water.  We saw the ferry we’d be taking back to the states dock on one side of the bay while little tug boats (we dubbed them bath toys) taxied people from one side to the other to the other.  It was quite a ballet of boats and planes, all knowing their next move and where they were supposed to go.  We waited for the Hollywood crash and burn, but no go.  We also scouted out some movie time for Jack (have to keep all members of the trio happy – something for everyone) and hit the local IMAX theater for 45 minutes of life along the Baja peninsula.  Actually, it was quite entertaining and very informational.  Time to head back to camp for some time with friends and a walk along the beach.

Back at tent city, Jack was playing with a group of new friends down the way when I heard a BLOOD curdling scream and saw Jack come speeding up the road, tearing off his sweatshirt.  I could barely make out, “BEES!  BEES!  THEY STUNG ME!”  Yep, the kid got it again…twice.  He had been playing on an old log and guess who had a hive they wanted to protect?  Ol’ Jack got it in the bottom lip and neck.  Again, mama to the rescue with the sting patches and some hydrocortisone cream.  We were worried that he might have a reaction this time as Terry and I swell like a mother whenever we get stung.  Jack got really tired and just wanted to hang by the fire, swaddled in his sleeping bag.  Terry made a series of phone calls to check and see what we should be looking for as far as a reaction while I hung back with Jack at camp, the epi-pen at the ready.  I had it so at the ready the I DISCHARGED THE F@^%ING PEN INTO MY THUMB!!!!!  Holy shit it hurt!!!!  So here we were, Jack asleep with a swollen lip and me hurling the pen out of my thumb with blood spattering the perimeter like a crime scene.  We were quite a pair!  I think the pen hit all the way to the bone as it has taken several days for the swelling and pain to subside.  Nice one, Sandy!  Never a dull moment.  Idiot.

Jack turned out to be fine.  After a little nap and more cream, he was ready to play with some friends.  We, too, made some friends with some very cool families from Victoria.  Sarah, Carsten (sp), Izzy, Jordan and several others were quite inviting and we spent the evening roasting marshmallows, sipping some brew and swapping stories about our respective countries.  We took turns talking about Canadian and U.S. life, amazing each other with our tales.  The one that got them the most were the tales of minivans with outline stickers of the families along the back window.  Izzy was COMPLETELY floored at the idea of people actually advertising their family on the car.  I swear, I’m going to send that girl some of those stickers, knowing that she’ll loose it as soon as she opens the envelope.  And they knew we were American as soon as they met us just as we knew they were Canadian. Funny how the accents work.  Terry took Jack and some of the other boys down to the beach for some rock throwing and guy time.  They had a blast and didn’t return until almost 11PM.  We thanked everyone for their hospitality with promises to connect in the morning before everyone departed to their respective homes.

Our  last morning on the island brought some last minute picture taking.  It was a sunny morning and I wanted to capture just the right picture along the creek I had spotted the day before.  I set forth down the stairs, along the log and settled on the shore of the water.  I happened to look down into the mud and spotted a very fresh mountain lion print, not more than an hour or two old.  Hmmm. One quick snap of the camera and I hauled ass back up the stairs and into camp.  I have NO desire to take my chances with the wildlife.  Do any of you remember that one opening scene of Six Feet Under?  I didn’t want to be that guy.

We had a lot of food left over that we couldn’t pack when up wandered Sarah and her 18 month old son, Lucas.  They came to bid us farewell.  Hey Sarah, interested in taking home some food?  Yup!  Problem solved.  We chatted for a long time till finally her husband pulled up with the car and the other boys, one of which was their older son, Sebastian and friend, James (not sure if he was actually a son or brother).  We promised to keep in touch with each other.  They were a fabulous family and like minded in so many ways.  Lucas even wanted to hang on the bike before we left, including a stint with Jack’s helmet.  He smiled a huge smile, not really interested in getting off.  We bid farewell and headed toward Victoria and our ferry back to the states.

In line at the dock, we again met some other really cool riders, each heading or returning from their own journey.  One was going to Galveston, Texas, and back in 2 weeks.  Good luck with that!  The other, Mike, was returning from a stint in Alaska.  He lives in Santa Cruz and has a daughter in Woodland.  Hoping to hook up with him again in the future.  This boat ride proved to be much rockier than the previous.  Thankfully, we tied down our bikes pretty well, praying that they were upright at the end of the trip.  When we docked in Port Angeles, we found our way to the 101 and headed toward Olympic National Forest, not sure where we were going to stay.  That’s part of the fun along the journey.

So I must once again bid you adieu.  Time to find a WiFi in Government Camp as well as some wall plugs to charge the many electronic devices we’ve been carrying.  Take care, stay cool and hope to catch up some more before we depart to Bend.