Some of our most memorable vacations have been with Fabulous trips where from our home base on a ship/yacht, we bike fascinating, beautiful and historical routes during the day and enjoy cruising and food and new friends in the afternoon and evening. Since this year we can’t be in Europe (we should be in Portugal right now) we are making memories here, with our own version of Islandhopping. We biked to our ship (BC Ferries) in Chemainus, and took a leisurely cruise. The ambience was a bit different, standing with our bikes in a car lane. Our destination was Thetis Island, which we can see from our deck and we got there after a stop at Penelakut Island. While not a yacht, the cruise was pleasant with bright blue skies, and pretty islands. It gave us appreciation for the sights we see from our deck.

From the ferry, leaving Penalekut en route to Thetis
A panoramic shot from a moving ferry

Once on Thetis we had an awesome ride. It’s not a large island, and the roads form a “U” from the water. We rode up one side of the island (up and over a STEEP 15% grade hill) to a beach, back down, and then up the other side to another lovely beach.

So the first beach was our lunch stop, and it was so pretty. We could see back to the ‘mainland’ Vancouver Island, making out some landmarks with which we are are now familiar (and a little help from Google Maps). The fun thing was seeing a family of river otters play in the water and up and down on the rocks. A baby was temporarily separated from Mom and we could hear it calling/crying for Mom. They were happily re-united.

We spent some time rock-hopping which was fun.

Then as we were getting ready to leave, we were treated to porpoises (dolphins?) splashing in the water offshore. They were likely hunting or something because they were splashing a lot. We saw them spy-hop (this is not my photo but we saw it just like this. and breach. Unfortunately it was too far out to capture with an iPhone, but it was a treat.

Riding on the island was very peaceful. There was very little traffic, the towering trees, as usual, protected us from the sun and the scenery was lovely. We made our way back along the road from whence we came, back up the hill and then coasted all the way down, close to where we started, and then began the other side of the “U”. Part way up the hill on this side, I had a bike malfunction; somehow my chain fell off. Bill found his bike mechanic genes and fixed it! The challenge with our bikes is the the chain ring at the front is well protected by a plastic cover. Bill had the brilliant idea to flip the bike over, and we got it working in almost no time.

I’m really glad he did fix it because the next beach was really pretty as well, but different. Tide was out and it was a short walk under the arbutus trees along a breakwater out to the water. We could see Ladysmith in the distance and enjoyed the view.

It’s blackberry season here. They grow like weeds EVERYWHERE – along paths, bike trails, roadsides. You have to be careful beause they have big thorns but picking fresh blackberries, warmed by the sun and devouring them immediately is a true Vancouver Island treat. They are so sweet and tasty, so unlike the large bitter ones sold in the grocery stores. There is no comparison. We did have a feast!

The red ones are NOT raspberries – just not yet ripe

We returned to the ferry just in time for the next one; it was great timing. We enjoyed another round trip back to Chemainus via Penalekut.

Pastoral scene with the ferry visible.

So it was a great day. A very relaxing (albeit hilly but when do we NOT do hilly rides around here) and peaceful ride on a quiet island where we were treated to viewing marine wildlife, gorging on fresh berries and appreciating beautiful scenery both on the bikes and on the boat. It may not be Islandhopping in Europe, but it was a fine version of it here at home on the Island.

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