I spent 45 days of my summer biking the Pacific Coast (about 1,985 miles) from Vancouver, Canada, to the CA/Mexico border. I did it fully self-contained (carried everything I needed) and solo, although at times I rode with fellow tourers I met on the road and friends and family visited me along the coast a few times. It was a much needed mental break after graduating from UCD in June, especially with vet school coming up quick in mid-August. This bike trip was so freeing, and gave me a chance to be self sustaining and to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I spent most of my savings ($2,300) on this trip (everything from the plane ticket to the hostel in San Diego), and it was so worth it. I found that bike touring is a wonderful way to travel, and a great pace to travel at, and I'd like to do it again at least one more time. I met many kind and friendly people, and saw things most people miss when driving in a car, like vista points along the highway a car can't stop at, and tons and tons of wildlife-- bald eagles flying overhead, an elk, tons of deer, dolphins, jellies, seals, orcas, and more!
After getting back from the trip in early August, I got busy with unpacking, spending a few days with my parents and siblings, and finishing my move-in to a new house. A few days later, vet school started, and I was very quickly swamped! So it's been really nice going back through all these pictures and remembering all the awesome parts of my summer. Hope you enjoy looking at the pictures! Look out for Part II - gear recommendations!
Arrival in Vancouver! My bike box got inspected and everything inside was disorganized. I removed all the contents of the bike box and re-assembled my bike and packed my panniers in the receiving area! Got lots of stares and one old guy started laughing and saying in disbelief "A female mechanic?!" LOL. I impressed myself because even though it wasn't a breeze to get it all back together, I still figured it out! Still, I took it to the MEC (Canada's version of REI) to get it checked over and they said I did a pretty good job! :)
My friend Maggie picked me up from the airport and took me on the Skytrain (Vancouver's equivalent of BART) to downtown Vancouver. Maggie is my friend from community college in the Bay Area, and she transferred to Uni of British Columbia in Vancouver! So great to see her again after all these years! Maggie was an absolute blessing, it was so wonderful to see a familiar face in this new strange land.
The ferry ride was a lot of fun! Tourists, commuters, cars, were all on board. It's a pretty common form of transportation around BC, and highly reasonably priced if you're on foot or bike. Slightly more expensive to bring your car on board. It was really fun to sit up front or on deck and just take in the views. There is a little cafeteria, cafe, and gift shop on board the ferries.
Checking in to the Painted Turtle hostel in Nanaimo turned out to be a good call- it started raining even harder that evening! It turned out that next door to the hostel was a little bar that incidentally was having a salsa night that night. Heck yeah I went! It was again very comforting to be doing something familiar, salsa dancing, while in this new land.
I headed out the next morning and spent much of the day riding on the Trans-Canada highway 1. It had a nice wide shoulder but this was certainly my first time riding on a highway, and each whizz of the passing cars and truck was a little jarring. Still, it was the recommended route by my guidebook, so I followed it. I started out the trip doing 40-50 mile days, but quickly realized that took hardly any time at all because I like to start early and because I like to bike with few breaks. Towards the end of the trip, I was averaging 70-80 mile days, with a high of 106 and a couple of 90 days mixed in. I liked to start around 8am and I'd usually reach that day's destination by 4 or 5 pm, depending on how long of a break I took for lunch.
During the ride from Nanaimo to Sidney, I took a ferry to ride through Salt Spring Island, where I stopped by Gulf Island Veterinary Clinic which was along the road I was biking on. I'm so glad I stopped in and got to meet Dr. Justene Tedder and Dr. Connor Silverthorn! They are amazing veterinarians and had a beautiful clinic. It was so interesting to learn about the Canadian vet schools and what life is like as a vet on an island. Basically, they are one of 2 clinics on the entire island, so their practice is VERY mixed! Their advice to me as a new vet student was to make sure I do extracurricular activities and not to worry about memorizing every little fact. I am so thankful for their exuberance to show me around their clinic and talk to me about vet med!
The ferry from Sidney to the San Juan Islands wasn't to depart until 6PM, so I had a whole day to hang out and explore Sidney. I got breakfast, used Starbucks for the wi-fi, stopped at a bike shop to get air and fix a little issue with my derailleurs, found a candy shop, bought and sent postcards, strolled the docks and waterfront, and talked to some locals.
One of the interns' main duties is to respond to any calls to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. I helped them respond to 2 stranding calls, assisted with 2 necropsies of dead beached seals, and assisted with spays/neuters at the island's humane society. It was such a blessing and so much incredible fun.