Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale...

...a tale of a fateful trip and fall--but more about that later.

Today was the day of the voyage on the MV Frances Barkley. I woke up early and was ready to go by 6:45. It worked out well because I wanted to take some photos and get some donuts at the "Best Donut shop on Vancouver Island" before boarding the boat. When I got to the dock, I went first to the Lady Rose Marine Office to pick up my ticket (The original boat was the Lady Rose. The Frances Barkley started making the trip in 1990). It was 7:00 and I didn't need to be on the boat until 7:45. Off I went to the Donut Shop. The fresh ones weren't quite ready yet, so I went to take some photos (had to get a photo of the boat). When I came back, the guy (Mike) asked me what I wanted so he could make them up for me. I got a chocolate coconut, a lemon coconut (Nathan, you were right! It was delicious!), and a maple walnut. I also got a chocolate milk to go with them. I don't know if they are truly the "best donuts on Vancouver Island" as I haven't had any others but, freshly made and hot, they were pretty darn good!

After my pig out on donuts, I rode back over to the boat to board. I took one look at the skinny gangway and wondered how I would best get Betsy on the boat. She was too wide for me to walk beside her. I was thinking I was going to have to take the bags off when a gentleman offered to help me. He suggested he would take the front and I would take the rear. It worked just fine and Betsy was safely aboard. I secured her to the railing with my bike lock.

After several more people boarded and all the cargo was loaded, we departed from the dock right on schedule. It was a beautiful day for a boat ride. There was seating inside or outside. Since I dressed for sitting outside, that's where I spent most of my time. I talked to one couple for awhile, then got up to check out the rest of the boat. In addition to the captain announcing points of interest along the way, there was also a gentleman roaming around the boat giving other tidbits of info about what we were passing. Periodically someone would spot a whale. The first one I saw was likely a Minke whale. Later on I got a photo of a tail! I kept telling the whales to come closer, but they declined.

While I was sitting outside, a gal came over to talk to me and ask about my bike. She was starting a week long kayak trip with 3 other friends. They all had code names because, according to "Thunderbird", what happens on the water, stays on the water! Thunderbird's (from Calgary) partners-in-crime were Orca, Raven, and Hummingbird (I told them my code name was Super Biker Woman). T-bird had given the other three "name tags" in the form of jewelry depicting their individual code name symbols (First Nation depictions of the Orca, Raven and Hummingbird). At first I thought T-Bird was the fearless leader of the group. Actually, it turned out to be Hummingbird. She was going to be their kayak guide extraordinaire.

Today was T-Bird's birthday, so we all sang "Happy Birthday". The group presented her with a cupcake. I'm sure all four of those gals are going to have a fabulous time! (T-Bird, if you are reading this, email me some photos--I promise I'll keep them to myself--what happens on the know).

The boat made a stop at Sechart Lodge. That is the jumping off point for the kayakers. Several people got off, including the Fab Four. The crew off-loaded the kayakers gear and those passengers waiting to board came on.
An older gentleman and his daughter were boarding when the gentleman tripped and fell hitting his face on the sharp metal gangway. Those of us watching from above on the boat could see he was cut up pretty bad. They got him up and sat him on one of the crates. He looked to be doing okay, but I'm sure the adrenalin was responsible for that. Once he was ready, they helped him on the boat (there is likely no medical personnel at Sechart). Later the captain asked if there was a nurse or doctor on board. I said I was a nurse, but I hadn't worked as a nurse for some time. They said he really just needed first aid. So, I went downstairs to see what I could do. When I got to him there was a young gal who was a doctor (must have been pretty close out of med school). Between the two of us we bandaged him up. The first aid kits on the boat were kind of a mess, but we managed to find enough dressing material to patch him up. The worst cut was on his lip. That one would probably require a stitch or two. He had a pretty good cut and goose egg under his eye that we put an ice pack on as well as a dressing. He was actually in pretty good spirits. His name was Stuart (or Stewart?) and he was 92! Pretty tough guy for 92! After we got him patched up, he came up on deck with his daughter, Ruth. He sat next to me and we had a wonderful chat. His only view was of the port side as the ice pack was covering his right eye. I told him he looked like a pirate (all he needed was a parrot on his shoulder). We decided when he got back to the place he lives (in Seattle) he should tell them he got mauled by a bear (some of the abrasions looked pretty convincing)!

The crew on the boat called ahead for a taxi (ironically, there was a parrot on the side of the taxi!) to take him to the clinic in Ucluelet. They also let the clinic know he was coming. The boat only spends 1 hour in Ucluelet and Ruth's car was in Port Alberni so they needed to get back there. I hope they made it okay.

Mike, the guy who helped me get Betsy on the boat also helped me get her off. Thanks again, Mike!

Once I got to Ucluelet and off the boat (about 1:00), I changed into my bike jacket and headed up the hill to Peninsula Rd. It was a super steep (but, thankfully, short) hill up to Peninsula. I had to stand up to pedal--even in Super Granny gear! I made it and headed out of town toward Pacific Rim National Park. I wanted to stay at Green Point Campground in the park. It is a popular park so I was hoping I would be able to get a site. Along the road, I noticed a bike path. I hopped on over to it and had a nice ride almost to where Hwy 4 comes in from Port Alberni. From there I was back on the road to Green Point.

They still had tent sites available in Green Point. They are walk-in sites where the car campers have to haul their stuff in (no wheelbarrows like at Rathtrevor). Again, I just wheeled Betsy to my site. I'm in site 10 which the gal said is one of the nicest ones (she was surprised it was still available). I can hear the ocean and if I walk down a short trail, there are benches where I can sit and see the beach below. I was hoping for a gorgeous sunset, but the fog rolled in just as the sun was going down.

Earlier, I walked down to the beach. Green Point sits up above Long Beach and Combers Beach. I walked along Long Beach over to Combers Beach. They are nice sand beaches with big rocks.

When I returned to my campsite, I went and fetched my food panniers out of the bear locker. Bears, wolves, and mountain lions are present here, so every effort is made to have a "clean" campsite. I fixed my dinner, washed my dishes, and put everything back in the bear locker. It is a ways away, but I don't need anything in there anyway. When I get ready for bed, I'll brush my teeth, then put my toiletries bag in the bear locker too.

Speaking of getting ready for bed...I suppose it's about time. It's dark and I can see my breath in the cool marine air. I'm guessing it will be foggy for awhile in the morning. I'm sure I will sleep well with the sound of the ocean lulling me to sleep.

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