My flight landed on time at 9:30 am PST. I picked up my bike and other equipment at the special baggage claim and found a nice empty spot on the floor to start the assembly process.
By 11:30am I was changed and ready to go with a fully assembled and loaded bicycle. I stopped off at the Travelers Assistance desk and bought a map of BC and a map of Canada. The very friendly gentleman behind the desk helped me find the safest route out of the airport.
I found it quite amusing walking about the airport with my bicycle. No one really seemed to take notice. It was like it was an everyday event. Well, it is Vancouver after all.
The best route out of the airport is to follow the cycling lane (duh!). It takes you to Grant McConachie Way and north to Marine Drive. At that point I wished I had spent a little more time mapping out a route to Langley. I discovered Vancouver has a ton of rivers and bridges to cross and it’s not that easy to figure out how to get from point A to point B.
I also discovered that my GPS routing sucks. Although there’s a bicycle setting it doesn’t actually optimize the routing for bikes and it made some pretty poor choices. Regardless, by about 3pm I reached Edward’s house in Fort Langley.
The climate’s very different in Vancouver compared to Ottawa. The fruit trees are in bloom, the trees have leaves and the flowers are out. It’s very refreshing after the cold spring we’ve had in Ottawa.
Edward and Pat were great hosts. Edward chauffeured me around Langley to pick up spare spokes, fuel for my stove, and some packages of dehydrated food. Then he showed me different parts of Langley including the old town. Later we had dinner at a great Sushi restaurant.
Fort Langley is a fascinating mix of country farms, golf courses, pastures, big box stores, and the historic village. Fort Langley was originally a part of a network of trading posts established by the Hudson’s Bay Company on the Pacific Slope in the early nineteenth century. And yes, there is a fort. In fact it’s part of Canada’s National Park system. It’s a pretty little town and I’d like to take Vicki back here again one day.
By the way, the dehydrated food packages were in limited supply apparently because people are stocking up since, you all know, that the year 2012 marks the end of the world. At the cash the clerk explained to me that the packages were not returnable. With a straight face I asked if that was because of the “end of the world thing”? I don’t think she really heard me. She replied “no, it’s just that we don’t want people tampering with the packages”.
All-in-all it was a great first day. I faced a few hills, enjoyed the wonderful West Coast hospitality, and I’m raring to head out on my way to Hope BC tomorrow morning.
PS – After writing this post I realized that I didn’t sleep in and that it’s not 6:30 in the morning and that it’s actually 3:30am, and I better change the time zone on my iPad. The bright side is that I can sleep for a few more hours!