Arriving early to pick up a foot passenger departing an Island ferry, I was fascinated by the number of people who walk on and off our inter-island transportation system.
Most were young, laden with backpacks; many it seemed were embarking on summer camp adventures; others obviously returning from same, or had spent the weekend creating other memories.
Few, interestingly enough, pushed bicycles along with the paraphernalia they carted to waiting cars. A bit surprising, I felt, considering that many of the Gulf Islands are a cyclist’s dream – the relatively quiet lanes and byways sweeping through spectacular and, compared to this side of the strait, relatively dry scenery.
That, of course, stimulated thoughts about how long it has been since I have toured any of the islands, including the main one.
In fact, other than “on business,” I haven’t been to Vancouver Island on a pleasure trip for decades, and I don’t recall in my adult years ever having made the trip as a foot passenger.
After all, for someone who doesn’t own a bike, how would I get around without a vehicle?
Cost of island travel isn’t cheap with a car, downright expensive towing a trailer or boat. Though when I mentally added up the numbers, pricey though the ferries are, the single vehicle round-trip fee isn’t any more than the cost of gasoline driving to and from Kamloops or Quesnel.
And maybe the price of fuel is why tourism is down, or lacking, in so many areas – it costs too much to get anywhere, aside from what you spend on the way for food, accommodations and sundry other stuff.
Years back, I always seemed to be on my way to somewhere … the Kootenays, northern B.C., Banff or Barkerville.
Not so much any more.
It takes two tanks of gas to get to the cabin I infrequently borrow in the northern Cariboo, two more to get home plus (with the nearest gas station 135 km away) four five-gallon jerry cans of fuel to keep me on the road while I’m there.
That is not cheap, and is obviously cause for the infrequency. And along the way, there are stores and cafes and gas stations that don’t see my discretionary spending.
Not that my jaunts have taken a southerly turn either. Only twice since 9/11 have I crossed the U.S. border. “Stay-cation” has become the financial watchword in my recent vocabulary, though it is not always appreciated in our household, particularly when I suggest I sneak off for the weekend to a somewhat nearby lake (it’s only a tank of gas there and back, I offer in justification).
The hour or so at the ferry terminal convinced me that I should change my interior forays to one that is waterborne on one that is considerably larger than an aluminum fishing boat,.
After all, I grew up on the Island and know some great haunts that are long overdue for a trip down memory lane.
Of course, with my pecuniary nature these days, like the kids I saw walking off the ferry, the accommodations might be a tent.
On the other hand, perhaps I’d be more comfortable just staying at home listening to the lyrics of Gary Fjellgard’s ‘Somewhere on the Island.’