Ok, here is what I learned on Vancouver Island. It will probably take a couple of posts for me to get this all down.
I will start with a few observations about Vancouver Island. Fill up your tank before entering Canada, especially if you leave from Anacortes. Most of our fuel is refined in Anacortes and it has the cheapest fuel in the State. When I was up there in Mid September I filled up for $4.12 per gallon. Fuel in Canada is very expensive and since it has to be trucked to Vancouver Island it is really expensive there. It was 1.45 per liter, at 3.78 liters per gallon, that is $5.48 Canadian which works out to $5.04 per gallon US. Oh, for all of you smug V-10 owners you will suffer with us diesel heads because regular is the same cost as diesel.
You will also want to have a strategy for dealing with bears, there are a lot of them on the island, and we saw 6t hem in 2 1/2 weeks, one of them a mother with cubs. Thankfully were were driving at the time. You will mostly encounter black bears, but we talked with a logger who said his crew has seen 7 Grizzlys this summer. They are very good swimmers and have been coming over from the mainland. We brought bear spray which you can take across the boarder as long as it is the large size. Small mace size sprays will be confiscated. We also kept the key fob close at hand, our thinking was that setting the alarm off would probably send any bear running.
The weather on Vancouver Island is very cool even in the summer and rain is possible in any season, so take plenty of warm clothes. In general the West side is wetter and cooler than the East and the North end is much cooler than the South end. Even in early September on the north end of the island the temperatures were in the low 60's durring the day and dipped to the low 40's at night. Thank god for the Espar!
You will be doing a lot of driving on logging roads so have a tire plug kit and compressor. We had a rock puncture on our first day and it is much easier to plug a tire than change it on a Sportsmobile. Of course this was our only flat and it was also the only day it poured down rain. Welcome to Vancouver Island!
Good maps are a must. Their logging roads are well market but unfortunately for us neither of the maps we had were marked with the names used by the logging companies. We learned that Western Forrest Products produces a good map of all of the logging roads. We saw one for the north end of the island at a campground and I will definetly try to get my hands on one of these before heading up again. We were very happy to have our GPS, Delorme 2008 Street Atlas on a tablet PC, this showed even the smallest logging roads, and for all of you that have a GPS unit I have coordinates for all but one of the campsites we stayed at. I will cover these in my next post.
Most of the logging roads are private industrial road and are open to the public but you are expected to yeild to commerical traffic. Their logging trucks are 100 ton off road rigs. They are HUGE! The tractors look like something out of Mad Max and the trailers are 16" wide. Usually in the Sportsmobile we are fairly level with tractor trailer rigs but these guys will be looking down on you. If you encouter one of them on the road you will
be backing up until you come to a intersection of turn out, so be prepared. They also expect you to back up at a fair clip, not always easy in a vehicle with as many blind spots as ours, and will bear down on you if they feel you aren't moving fast enough. You can usually spot the roads they are working on because they have very well defined turn outs about every 1000 meters.
The first thing we had to do was figure out how we were going to get onto the island. There are a number of ferries that leave from different locations. There is one from Port Angeles, not real practical from Seattle, one from Anacotes, then two in BC at Tsawwassen and another just North of Vancouver at Horseshoe Bay.
We ended up coming home on the Anacotes Ferry which only runs twice per day. The advantage of this ferry is that the boarder crossing is quick because you only have to clear through with the people on your boat. They off loaded the overheight vehicles first so we cleared customs in about 10 minutes.
On the way up we took the Tsawwassen ferry because it has more sailings, which worked better with our schedule. Because we played in the championsips for our 4's sand volleyball leauge, we ended up leaving Seattle at around 9:30 and reached the boder at approx. 12:30, pulled right up to the booth and were across in minutes. We got in line slept for 4 hours, boarded the 5:15 boat and went back to sleep for the 2 hour crossing. It really wasn't a bad way to do it and it definetly beats a 2 hour wait at the border. Just outside of Nanaimo we stop on the side of the road and made breakfast and coffee. Did I mention we love our Sportsmobile!
To Be Continued...