Part 2 of 10
The Grey Man
The Ghost Ship
The Grey Man
I was up at 3:30am and ready to leave home at 4:30am for a half-hour ride to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal to catch the 6:20am Ferry to Nanaimo. I have a tendency to do silly things like that. It arises from my deep-seated fear of being late or in this case – of missing an important Ferry. Of course, it was so early that the entire terminal was still closed for the night. Not even the toll booths were showing any signs of life so I parked my Harley in the lane marked – Nanaimo. Moments later, an older man riding an older grey Heritage Special Harley parked beside me . He staggered over to talk to me because that's what us Harley Riders do. The man's skin tone was grey; his ratty-looking beard was grey; his leather jacket that had seen better days was grey and even his Harley was grey. He stunk of booze. I couldn't help but notice his nine inch curved hunting knife sheathed in a grey holster on his belt. Neither of us were in the mood for talking. We were like two wary strangers meeting for the first time in an old cowboy movie. He said “Hey”. I said, “Hey” and a lengthy silence followed. I felt a little awkward so I formulated a perfectly innocent and non-offensive question about his Harley. Just before I had the chance to ask it, however, he began snoring like a tractor. Sometime later when other vehicles began to arrive I thought it prudent to give him a gentle wake-up tap on the shoulder. I didn't want to start my holiday by seeing one of my biker- brothers dragged off by the RCMP.
The crossing to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island took about an hour and a half. It was nothing less than spectacular. Equally beautiful was the Island's coastline bearing North along Highway 19 and passing through the sea-side towns of Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Fanny Bay. When glancing to your right, you see the breathtaking views of the Georgia Straits and the western coastline of the BC mainland still relatively untouched by man for the most part. The Pacific generally appears calm compared to the choppy white-caps of the Atlantic surrounding the shores of Great Britain. While surrounded by the awesome beauty of nature its important not to become distracted when riding on the highway. I was happily enjoying the sights when I noticed a large eagle soaring high in the sky before me. It just didn't look right and it gave me the creeps. Suddenly, he assumed a dive-bomber approach aiming directly for me. This was no ordinary eagle. The closer he got the bigger he became. He was the big granddaddy of all Eagles. He came directly for me with his wingspan reaching practically from one side of the highway to the other and with talons outstretched as if to pluck me from my bike. However, a cool head and simple physics prevailed. Even if he did have the strength to lift my body-weight of 165 lbs there was no way he could possibly lift both me and my 600 lbs Harley. Consequently, I held on to my bike very tightly while he skimmed the top of my windshield and veered upwards and away. I'm glad I didn't end up in that eagle's nest having my eyes picked-out for his supper. The City of Campbell River was our last major stop before heading on to Port Hardy and the Northern Ferry Terminal. Campbell River was most impressive due to its shoreline displaying a hundred or more Totem Poles newly crafted by the very talented Indians of that area.
Leaving the Airport Inn Motel at 5:00am for the Port Hardy Ferry Terminal was somewhat challenging. It was pitch black, foggy with heavy dew and with light rain. Visibility was limited. GPS (SAT/Nav) was helpful in finding it. Finally....What a treat! It was a scene right out of the twilight zone. Dozens of tall, powerful lamp-posts illuminated the entire harbour. The artificial light amplified the effects of the fog even more resulting in everything having an eerie, ghostly appearance. But, best of all, I found myself looking down the jaws of our ship - The Northern Expedition. Its bough was wide-open and cranked-up vertical fully exposing the vehicle decks (see photo). It was a “Ghost Ship” right out of a Hollywood movie. It was a lengthy wait before departure and during that time over fifty motorcycles arrived. It was a show better than the Vancouver motorcycle show. I was talking to a husband and wife from the States each riding similar BMW motorcycles. I was asking her what did she do for a living. I was surprised when she replied. “I'm a pilot. I fly the Airbus 330 from America to Europe and back”. So you see – you never know what type of classy people you meet on these biking adventures.
Word Count 855