Today was my last BC Ferries ride. It was Galiano Island to Swartz Bay (with a stop on Mayne Island, but this time not a transfer). Oddly, going back to the big island (Vancouver), there is no fare. If I had gone to Salt Spring Island and then to Swartz Bay from Salt Spring, I would have had to pay for the ride to Salt Spring. I also over-estimated how much all my BC Ferry rides was going to cost when I got the BC Ferries Card. When I calculated it, I had planned to come up a little short so I wouldn't have any money left on the card. Instead, I still had $22 on it!
While I was waiting on Galiano for the ferry, a guy was also waiting with a road bike. He was also going to Swartz Bay. I asked him if it was possible to use the BC Ferries card on the boat for stuff like food. He said he didn't think so. I thought to myself, crap, I'm going to be stuck with $22 I can't use! The guy said he thought the cards were best to use with a car--that there wasn't any savings going by bike. I told him there was a savings, and the bike goes free. Then he said he should get a card for the way back. I told him the minimum you can load on the card for taking the ferry with a bike is $55. He didn't seem to be all that worried about it.
We got on the ferry and went our separate ways (kind of hard because it was one of the smaller ferries). I had taken my Kindle in with me and just as I sat down to read, I had this idea. I would ask the guy if he would like to buy my BC Ferries card for $20. So then I went to find him. I went to both levels and couldn't find him. It was strange because it really was a small boat! Finally I found him sitting on the middle deck. I went up to him and told him I had a proposition for him. He agreed and gave me $20! Woo Hoo! Much nicer to lose $2 rather than $22!
As we were riding up from the ferry dock into Swartz Bay I asked him his name. It was Fred. I said, "Nice doing business with you, Fred!".
From the ferry I got on the Lochside Trail with a couple of other riders. It was strangely confusing trying to find the park. I actually rode right past it the first time. In all fairness to my stupid self, I was expecting the usual blue Provincial Park sign. Instead it was a different sign with the park name written in smaller letters below a bunch of other crap (oh, and everything also in French). I finally made it into the park. McDonald Provincial Park would not rank high on my list of places to stay. In addition to there being no showers and just pit toilets (at least I'm far enough away from them that the smell is not wafting over my campsite), the highway is very close so the traffic sounds are pretty loud. Maybe I'll just try to pretend its the ocean.
Once I got my campsite set up, I decided to ride into Sidney to double-check about the time I would need to be at the ferry tomorrow to go through customs. The gentleman said 5:30 would be early enough. I'll probably plan to be there at 5:00 just to make sure.
I rode around the touristy part of Sidney and stopped at Subway for some cookies (I can now check a Vancouver Island Subway off the list). I didn't want to get dinner because I need to eat up the produce I have because I'm sure I can't take it through customs tomorrow.
From Subway I rode back to the park on the Lochside Trail. Tomorrow I will take this trail to Victoria and back to Sidney in time to catch the ferry to San Juan Island. Yes, tomorrow is the end of the Canadian portion of my tour.
I've really enjoyed the Canadian Gulf Island hopping, the Sunshine Coast, Port Alberni, and Pacific Rim National Park.
I'm looking forward to the San Juans and getting back into the US where I don't have to worry about getting cash, and I can use my phone.
I didn't take too many photos today, but here's a few. The "Mayne Queen" was my last BC Ferries vessel. The first photo is coming into Swartz Bay. The last is Mt. Baker from the pier in Sidney.