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July 16, 2006 - 11:07 am

so we have returned from our trip earlier and a bit bruised and sore, but doing fine. i'll get to the bruised and battered part later...

we left early saturday morning to catch the ferry to nanaimo and the skies were overcast but the weather was warm. we stopped off in nanaimo for an iced americano before heading to our destination, rathtrevor park outside of parksville. the ride was nice and we conqured a huge monster hill due to a bad detour we took, but it was a great first day. the cycle in campsite at rathtrevor was pretty disappointing -- it was just a field crowded with tents and no privacy whatsoever. we didn't feel like staying at the campsite to make dinner, so we headed into parksville and found a pub for much needed beers and burgers. later, we did explore the beach around the campsite and although it rained in the evening, it was still nice to walk around and look at all the birds and shells. the best thing about rathtrevor? the free luxurious hot water showers. heaven!

the next day we headed into parksville for a great breakfast and northwards towards the ferry to denman island. the ride was nice and the sun was shining. denman is a completely hippy island and i loved seeing the gigantic public painted boards that i assume anyone can just paint on. there were messages about jerry garcia and colourful paintings and words about living the "slow life". it was pretty amazing. we camped at fillongy provincial park and our campsite was on the beach and so beautiful! we cooked a great dinner and just walked along the beach and splashed in the water and looked at all the jellyfish. the next morning, we took the ferry to hornby island and explored. there were amazing beaches at tribune bay and we ate a picnic lunch at the nude beach there as we watched some crazy hippy woman "commune" with the sand and her dog...weird island life! we took a beautiful hike around helliwell park which reminded me of big sur minus the crashing waves. so beautiful!

we caught the ferry back to denman and i guess i was anxious to start drinking an ice cold beer because i rode too quickly down a 13% grade hill. when i realized there was a turn in the road half way down, i put on my brakes to slow down and tried to veer away from the concrete embankments along the side of the road. unfortunately for me, there was a lot of gravel on the road and i ended up falling off my bike, skidding onto the gravel for about 3 feet and landed head first into the concrete embankment. it all happened so quickly and cornelius who was riding behind me saw the whole thing. i was totally shook up and in shock. the only thing i really remember is that as i was falling, there was a deer looking at me behind the concrete wall and he took off as soon as i smacked it head-first. i was bleeding and crying and shaking and luckily there was the island's former police chief coming down the road soon after, so he called an ambulance and soon i was covered in blankets and cornelius was pouring water over my wounds. the ambulance came about 15 minutes later and because they couldn't find a doctor, they took me and cornelius to the mainland hospital in comox to be looked over. there was big concern that my ribs might have been fractured, but luckily they only ended up being bruised. besides some painful road rash and a lot of bumps and bruises, i was released. thank god i wore a helmet or i would have been so totally fucked. it's funny because the only time i was pulled over for not wearing a helmet was on pender island a few years ago (back when i never wore a helmet) and i scoffed at the policeman thinking that what could happen to me on an island with hardly any traffic? ha! little did i know. the nurses were really nice and gave cornelius a lot of bandages and gauze so that i could keep my wounds clean. lucky for us, a couple in the hospital heard what happened to me and offered us a ride back to the denman ferry terminal so we could catch the last ferry ride back to the island. people in small towns are so nice! instead of camping, we stayed at the denman hostel so that i could have a shower and a bed for the night.

the next morning was spent fixing up my bike into a rideable shape. luckily cornelius is handy with tools and bike repairs and we ended up catching the 1:00 ferry back to the mainland. i wondered how i could ride, with my knees all cut up and bruised and my arms and fingers all sore, but i managed. i actually felt really stupid for falling and i didn't want to disappoint cornelius (silly, i know), so i ended up pushing myself really hard and we made the almost 40km to the ferry in comox in less than 2 hours so that we could catch the 3:15 ferry to powell river. i thought powell river would be a gross logging town, but it was actually quite nice in the historical district where we were staying. we said fuck it to camping and splurged on a nice hotel that was in the town's old courthouse. we walked around the old residential areas and the houses were all so pretty and we found a nice pub by the marina. we took our food to go so that we could eat in our hotel room bed and watch "adaptation" on the vcr in our room. it was a nice respite to veg out and not worry about a thing.

the next day it was pouring rain and we had to push onwards. the sunshine coast, my ass. we made it only 40km to saltery bay where there was a beautiful provincial park at mermaid cove. it only stopped raining around 8pm but it was so nice to leave our tiny tent and quit playing 20 questions so that we could explore the beach area of the park. the next morning and another ferry ride later, i was feeling pretty rough. i was sore and my bike wasn't working that great from all the rain the previous day. my gears were acting up and my brakes were close to being shot. cornelius had to put a peice of cardboard in my brake hoods just so that the brake cable wouldn't pop off leaving me without my valuable rear brake. plus, some workcrews started chatting us up while we took a roadside break and told us that a car full of teenagers had a fatal accident 40km down the road earlier that day. nice. the roads on the sunshine coast were all really rough and twisty and mountainous south of earls cove and my mind just couldn't take all the scary downhill rides. so frustrated about my bike and even more frustrated at the poor conditition of the roadside shoulder (there was none) and all the logging trucks, i decided to call it quits when we reached madira park. cornelius and i played cards and then took the bus to gibsons and another ferry home to vancouver.

truth be told, i'm pretty bummed that we didn't finish the ride as planned. but then again, i also didn't plan to slam my head and my body into the road and a concrete embankment so i guess i did pretty well all things considered. my last day riding was really negative, and i don't want that to taint my experience because it really was a beautiful trip. riding around vancouver island was amazing! the roads were in great shape and i felt really confident riding around. denman and hornby were beautiful islands and i hope to return someday soon for more riding and camping. true, i'm a bit bitter about the sunshine coast, but i think i definitely would like to make a weekend ride to robert's creek and back sometime soon.

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