Back to the States
Well, our objective was to spend a day in Canada.  Now we have to go back home.
We started the day with a delicious in-room breakfast at the Sidney Inn.  There was an apple, a juice box, and a breakfast quesadilla (heated in our microwave) for each of us.  Then we checked out about 9:30 am and took a leisurely ride south to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.  
This morning’s trip took only half an hour, and our ferry reservations were for the 3:00 pm crossing, so we tried to do some sightseeing.  We say “tried” because there was not one single place to pull Harley to the side of the road to take pictures anywhere in downtown Victoria.  The ride around town was interesting, though.  The Parliament building dates back to 1897, and quite a few of the stately hotels downtown  (like the Empress) aren’t much younger.  Around these grande dames, however, is a city center that could be New Orleans or San Francisco, although the skyline is not so tall.
After we located the ferry dock, we followed the coastline around the tip of the island.  Along the way, we stopped to watch people jogging, walking their (unleashed) dogs, cycling, flying kites, and all manner of pleasant exercise.  Then we took the scenic route through neighborhoods with exquisite homes and gardens.  We enjoyed a snack at a Starbucks in Cadboro Bay, and then headed back to the Black Ball Ferry terminal.
Even with all our sightseeing, we arrived at the terminal at about 12:45.  At the ticket booth, we discovered we would have to be on hand for customs at 1:30 anyway, so we just hung out -- at the head of the line, which is where motorcycles go!
Customs was quick and easy -- “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?”  -- and so on.  We spent the time chatting with another motorcycling couple our age who had just spent a week or so ferrying around British Columbia.
Now came the tough part.  We had to ride Harley down a ramp into the middle of the hull, and then follow conflicting directions from at least four different deck hands.  The end result was that Ron zig-zagged the bike as he was told to across a slick and shiny deck -- resulting in Harley being less than upright.  The front wheel slipped out from under us, and the bike headed for the deck.  With Ron holding the handlebars and Cathy bracing the rear, Harley stopped falling at about a 30-degree angle to the deck.  As we were so overbalanced, it took two deck hands to get us upright again.  
Then we found out that motorcycles on this ferry did not sit at an angle to the direction of travel with blocking front, left, and right (as they did on the BC Ferry).  No, the bike had to be parked against the bulkhead wall at the stern of the ship and tied in place with ropes!  Harley was not happy, but we did our best to block him anyway by putting the pack between him and the wall.  After that, we had to leave the vehicle deck, and not return until time to dock at Port Angeles, Washington.
Upstairs, five of the other motorcycle riders checked in to be sure we were both OK.  Beyond being a little shook up, and very annoyed, we had not been harmed.  We did spend a lot of the crossing drawing unfavorable comparisons to yesterday’s ferry crossing, however.
The Black Ball Ferry operates one ship between Victoria and Port Angeles, compared to BC Ferry’s fleet of ships and numerous routes.  In addition, this ship is quite a bit smaller -- one vehicle deck, instead of three, and one enclosed passenger deck, rather than three.  We also had a choice of vending machines or boring snack food, instead of the coffee bar and restaurant on the BC ferry.
The crossing itself was fairly smooth, although the swell was quite noticeable as we approached Port Angeles.  Disembarking was much smoother than getting onto the ship.  Only one vehicle drove off ahead of us, so we could drive down the ramp without worrying about a lot of vehicle traffic.  Before we left the premises, we had our passports checked again, and answered the same questions we were asked three hours earlier in Canada....
Within 20 minutes, we were checked into the Super 8 Motel in Port Angeles, Washington.  The evening was spent having a nice dinner at the restaurant next door and doing our laundry.  We were definitely glad to be off the water!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Harley waiting to board the ferry