After Thursday night dinner with new friends Sarah and Ryan, Tim and I worked one last day in Bellingham and finally packed up Frank. We dined at the very tasty Mexican restaurant, Casa Que Pasa and then began our drive North. We figured late Friday evening was as good as any to cross the border.
After waiting our turn to go through customs, we stopped in front of a stern Canadian border guard. He asked us about alcohol, guns and other weapons. “Nope, nope, and nope.” Then he got to pepper spray. “Well,” Tim said, “we do have some of that.”
“That’s illegal in Canada.” he stated firmly. So we were marched off with our two bottles of bear spray to talk to more officers.
When we got to the customs office, the new officers took a look at our cans. “This is for bears?” they asked.
“Not for humans?” they asked.
“That’s right,” we said. “See it says right there on the label. For Bears.”
“Well that’s ok then,” they said, and sent us on our way. Though bear spray is the same concoction, 10 times larger and 20 times more lethal than a can of mace, we were just fine by Canadian standards.
It was 40 km to the Ferry in Vancouver and we thought we might make the 10:40 pm departure. We hurried out of the custom’s station and continued north. We arrived to the Tsawwassen Port just in time. Frank was the second to last vehicle to drive aboard.
We were pretty tired, but we took a 1/2 hour to explore the huge boat. Riding on this Ferry was like sailing on a cruise ship. Other than the growl of the engines, you barely knew you were moving. After a quick tour, we returned to Frank to read. 15 minutes we were both conked out. It was 30 minutes later that we woke up to an empty boat and somebody tapping on our window. I was just glad we were the last guy in line and not the first in line when took our naps.
We drove into downtown Nanaimo to the marina park. It was 2 am and we fell asleep immediately.
The next morning things were bustling. Teams of ladies were everywhere. All wearing matching jackets, and carrying large wooden paddles. Something was afoot in Nanaimo.
After locating the closest coffee shop, Tim and I settled down on a bench near the commotion. Tents, ladies and paddles were everywhere. It was the 2nd Annual Nanaimo Women’s Cup Dragon Boat Regatta. Not knowing what a Dragon Boat was, we hung around to watch the festivities. We watched as the ladies gathered, and strategized. When we learned that the actual boating wouldn’t start until the afternoon, we reluctantly left. We had a 4 hour drive across the island and it was time to get moving.
As Tim drove, I read from our newest Lonely Planet book about the Vancouver towns we were driving through. We’d just passed through Coombs when I read about the goats.
“Tim, turn around.”
“What?” he said.
“We have to go back.”
“Why?” he said.
“There are goats on the roof.”
We turned around.
We arrived to the Coombs Old Country Market just in time for lunch. It’s a destination unto itself. Fresh fish, pastries, breads, pizzas, vegetables, pastas, cheeses, sausages, sauces. Everything that is good about eating is here. We barely escaped after buying blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, and some gorgeous homemade wooden bowls. We don’t usually purchase much for the van, but even we couldn’t resist.
Popping blueberries as we drove, we continued on to Tofino to start our Canadian Surfin’ Safari.
Posted from British Columbia, Canada.