So we were at the end of the road. Our last episode took us to British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. We’d been on the road filming for a month and working from north to south it was only natural to finish off the series in our Province’s capital. We checked in at Swans Hotel and Brewpub, very nice digs by the way, and grabbed a bite to eat before catching an early night for we had a busy couple of days lined up.
This was my first trip to Carmanah, Dominik had been there before and was so impressed by it he thought it should be included in the series, so it was. From Salt Spring we ferried back to Crofton, rode up to Lake Cowichan, then hit gravel for 85 kms. The trip up was in the dry which was a blessing, the only thing worse than logging roads on a big bike are wet logging roads. The ride was very telling with regards the forestry industry on Vancouver Island. I still don’t understand the industry if I’m to be honest. Obviously I understand the harvesting of lumber and the replanting practices but the overall ‘cycle’ of the industry in a sustainable light still escapes me.
Next up was another Gulf Island. We'd covered art on Gabriola and now we were going to cover entrepreneurialism on Salt Spring Island. Yes they have a plethora of artists as well, all the Gulf Islands do for that matter, but they also boast a number of unique businesses with grassroots on Salt Spring. We settled on two, the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company and Mistaken Identity Vineyards, but first we had to check in and for Salt Spring we chose to camp at Ruckle Provincial Park, one of my favourite campgrounds around.
Nanaimo, Dominik's home and my frequent port of call will have to wait until I get back from Sri Lanka. It will be episode 10 and we have some great things lined up but because it's on our doorstep it became our 'variable' episode, ie. no travel involved so we can film anytime. For that reason we'll pick it up in the New Year and slot it in.
So, we slipped through the intersection, rode by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and headed for Tofino. We got hung up in some gnarly rain but as we arrived in town the rain faded and the sun began to punch its way through. We were lucky, end of October and the sun was sporting its colours, highly unusual for Tofino. If there's one thing you can count on in Tofino heading into the off season was unpredictable weather.
From Gabriola it was off on a jaunt of the mid west coast, one well known to travelers, Port Alberni, Bamfield, Ucluelet and Tofino. Port Alberni was our first stop and as it wasn't a long haul from Nanaimo we took our time and made an unscheduled stop at Cathedral Grove, an ancient stand of western red cedars that flanked the main road just before Port Alberni. It's always a nice stop and the giants didn't disappoint.
So it was home sweet home, well for me at any rate. Gabriola Island, or 'Gabe,' is known as the 'Isle of the Arts,' and for good reason. Because of that and the timing of the Thanksgiving Studio Tour we decided to make art the focus of this episode, I mean let's face it, as Carol at Twin Beaches Gallery likes to say:
From Coal Harbour it was off to Campbell River, another port town with a big heart. The weather was gnarly but the road was beautiful with little traffic. We were on a deadline as we were going Grizzly Bear viewing with Discovery Marine Safari and they were leaving the dock at 11:30am. We arrived in time and met the owner, Geord, in the office and were treated to some great Campbell River hospitality.
Alert Bay......what a spot, what an energy, and what a collection of characters. It has been a fantastic couple of days, incredible even. It started off with our host, Judy, what a live wire! She met us off the ferry and guided us to our parking slots like she was giving directions to an airplane taxiing into the terminal. Then she showed us to our quarters, her 45' Catalina Morgan sailboat, Paloma. Judy is a retired nurse, beer can bbq chicken specialist and incredible story teller. After settling in she graciously introduced us to her friends and paved the way for an unforgettable visit.
I guess when you live on an island there will always be a certain maritime ambiance prevalent. We started our adventure off with an authentic walk, or passage, down memory lane. Take a Second World War Yard Mine Sweeper, convert her to a coastal freighter, send her to the West Coast of Canada and what do you have...the Uchuck III, the last wooden hulled coastal freighter in Canada.
As you may or not know we are undertaking the filming of Changing Landscapes Vancouver Island under our own steam. Yes, Shaw television are going to air the series once it is completed but there is no financial compensation involved. Instead, to make this series a reality we have approached certain businesses to help offset the costs which are carried by myself and Dominik. The fact is the series wouldn't be possible without the support of those businesses. Whether they be hotels, B&Bs, organizations, or activity based businesses, they have all committed to help us realize our adventure.
We are very pleased to announce that Spunky's Motorcycles have joined the Changing Landscapes adventure as a major sponsor! We met with Simon, the owner, on Saturday and have to say we're very pleased with the outcome. Simon is as passionate about motorcycles as we are and was very enthusiastic about the upcoming Changing Landscapes Vancouver Island TV series. He offered some great pointers to us, yes, we have much to learn, and was very supportive in seeing our vision become a reality.
So, to fill in the blanks, Spunky's is well known to us because they're just up the road near Parksville, and because they have a great showroom filled with gleaming MV Augustas, KTMs, Kawasakis and Yamahas. In short it's a great place to go drool over the latest and greatest offerings and talk 'shop.' Personally I love bike shops, love comparing notes, swapping road stories, and just admiring cutting edge technology on public display.
And that's just the bikes, they also have an awesome clothing and accessories department. In fact both Dominik and I have kitted up here in the past. For the Bolivia trip we both made Spunky's our go-to choice for riding gear. They have a great selection of clothing suited to our Canadian climate (and other climes) and aggressive pricing, so for us it was an easy stop. And once there that choice was made easier by Dale, head of the clothing and accessories department. He walked us through the gear item by item and helped us make the right choice. Even as dedicated motorcyclists it is hard to keep abreast of continually evolving products, but Dale was quick to point out the pros...and the potential cons, of each product as it related to what we wanted to do. Let's face it, every product is not the same and some are better suited to a given situation then another, that's where knowledgeable staff enter into the equation. With gear from Dainese, Alpinestars, Klim, Arai, Shoei and HJC amongst others, you're sure to find what you need for the road or the dirt.
It seems somehow fitting that our 'local' bike shop should be the ones to step up and join the adventure. It sure makes us feel good and we look forward to a great collaboration with Simon. There's not a better feeling than when a local business shares your vision.
So, in conclusion, if you're after a new MV Agusta, KTM, Kawasaki, or Yamaha, ride out to Spunky's, or if you're looking for your first bike, drive out and they'll take good care of you. And don't forget the riding gear either....very important to have the right gear depending on what your intended style of riding is.
We'll keep you posted with updates.
In the meantime, thank you Simon!
So, after much deliberation and toing and froing we bit the bullet and opened up a new shop. Dominik and I have been busy this past week designing a new site. There've been many phone calls between Atlin and Gabriola posing questions on style and substance regarding this new site. After all, Dominik is a landscape artist and I wield a film camera, so thoughts and tastes didn't always coincide. Many questions were posed, most were dealt with, and some linger on....
"What do you think of this?" "That's cool!" "I like that." "What...are you kiddiing...that sucks!"
Yes, much time on the phone, but here we are....and we hope you approve of our efforts. Obviously there will be tweaking here and there and content will be added as developments unfold, but the bones have arrived!