Bears, Ferries, and Funny Little Towns

Here’s where I’ve been since entering Canada: 

Vancouver Island - beautiful!

D = Tofino; E = Port Alberni; F = Courtenay; G = Port Hardy 

When I last left off, I was about to go to Port Hardy to catch the ferry to Prince Rupert.  That trip was almost 400 kms of pretty boring highway, except for my first bear sighting.  He was just off the road in a ditch, and I really wanted to take a photo but knew there was a car somewhere behind me (because I’d passed it a few minutes ago) and there was nowhere safe to pull up.  So I slowed right down in case the bear had any mates and there was a good place to get a photo.  Next thing I knew, the car was right up my clacker!  At first I couldn’t understand his impatience, and thought, “Mate, don’t you know there’s a BEAR back there?  Aren’t you interested?”  Then I realised he was probably a local and bear sightings are very much old hat… 

Got to the ferry terminal at Prince Rupert to be greeted by a freezing wind which must have been coming off the Arctic.  Luckily when we loaded up, the motorcycles (only one bike – mine) went first.  I had a cabin to myself, as requested, with a porthole.  Here’s the bike below decks: 


This particular ferry route follows the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert and stops off at a couple of villages on the way.  These places are very small, population <100, and are primarily First Nations communities.  Unfortunately the ferry pulled in there during the night so I was unable to get a look.  Here’s Prince Rupert in the big scheme of things.  The ferry went from (G) Port Hardy, to (A) Prince Rupert: 

Inside Passage to Prince Rupert

During the night though, 2am to be exact, I received a phone call from a crew member who apologised profusely and asked if there was a passenger named Miner in my cabin.  Mr/Ms Miner had gone missing and was due to depart the ferry at one of the villages, however the crew couldn’t find him/her, so had to ring everyone to try to find this person.  Had a good look and told the crew member there was no-one in the cabin but me, and my name isn’t Miner.  Hmmm, I thought, Mr/Ms Miner has found a paramour and decided to spend the night with them.  Get me off this blasted ferry before it turns into The Love Boat.  I took another look around the cabin, just to check, and drifted off into a fitful sleep. 

The trip itself took about 10 hours, and the following morning was bright and sunny.  Soon as I saw that I got ready and had some breakfast (coffee and greasy stuff), then took some photos: 

Ferry view









Checked into some overpriced “motel” in Prince Rupert and inspected the maps to see where to tomorrow.  I knew that it was going to be pretty remote from here to Whitehorse in the Yukon, with few services and longer distances between towns/gas stations.  I have to plan these things pretty accurately because, although the bike has a 20 litre tank and thus will do about 400kms, I can’t always count on gas stations which are listed on the map, but which have closed down over the past year or so.  So I checked all that out and got a rough idea of good rest stops as well.  I like to have a break every couple of hours to stretch the legs, calm the numb bum, but mainly to rest my throttle hand. 

Prince Rupert…how to describe.  The people were, as all through Canada to date, friendly and helpful.  The town itself seems as though it hit the 1950s and decided to stay there.  The buildings were mostly old and mostly dilapidated.  There were a few modern ones, including a Tim’s, but not many.  I say the people were friendly, but there was also an air of “we don’t need all you tourists, we’re getting along fine on our own thank you”.  It wasn’t in any way unwelcoming, and hard to describe.  I remember reading a book about Arthur Phillip’s arrival in Sydney in 1788, where he noted the Aboriginals didn’t approach them, mainly ignored them, and “just seemed to want us to be gone”.  Now, the Prince Rupert atmosphere was not quite like that, but I guess the closest I could describe the place is that of an “independent spirit”. 

Anyway, dropped in to Tim’s and then finished my walk around the town.  From the motel I checked online and was pleased to see they had a fitness centre AND swimming pool, so made good use of that the next morning.  It got dark around 9.30pm. 

The fitness centre/pool was much like you’d find anywhere, good facilities.  I amused myself by listening to conversations in the change room about Life in Prince Rupert.  Apparently there had recently been some escapees from the Prince Rupert Retirement Home, and “now they have to lock them all in at night”.  “Yes”, the woman continued, “it was terrible.  There were little old ladies walking down the street in their nighties”.  So Mum, if you ever come to Prince Rupert, make sure you’re wearing a decent nightie and not one of those old bedraggled numbers. 

Called by Tim’s after my workout and grabbed an “extra large coffee double-double and a blueberry bagel, toasted, to go, please” (see, I have the lingo down perfectly).  Wolfed that down, then got ready.  Last of all was the strapping the big yellow bag to the back, then I was off.  Heading east was 200kms of good highway, then north on the Cassier Highway, which is 723 kms long and which joins the Alaska Highway in the Yukon.  This is where civilisation ends and the adventure begins. 

I’ll leave you with a panorama of the view from the ferry.  

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4 Responses to Bears, Ferries, and Funny Little Towns

  1. Lianne says:

    Janette, photos are beautiful. Love your description of your trip. Looking forward to reading more… Living vicariously through your blog!

    • Janette says:

      Thanks Lianne, I update whenever I can, but don’t always have internet access. Stay tuned, off to Beaver Creek today, near the Yukon/Alaska border.

  2. IT"S ME says:

    We loved these last 2 blogs, and being interspersed with photos makes for a very good read. So your bike looks like a “real” bike now with the mud etc. you travelled through, that, along with the gravel would have been scarey ! Well, it was for me reading it ! I’m glad you socialized with the mother bear and cubs from a safe distance.
    What a great trip, something to remember till the end of your days. ENJOY. !!

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