Sunday, 6 May 2007

Fort Langley - a ferry good time

I spent most of this week recovering from a cold, but felt good enough today to go for a short ride. Maple RIdge is north of the Fraser River which flows past Vancouver on its way to the Pacific Ocean. Directly south of the Fraser is Fort Langley, a historic town in BC., and a favourite place for a nice sunny afternoon bike ride. Unfortunately today was not particularly nice as there was a light rain most of the afternoon.

The way to cross the Fraser is a free ferry called the Albion Ferry. The ride is only about five minutes but the line-ups are often over an hour. Luckily, on a bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle, you get to jump to the beginning of the line so I rode my Vespa besides two guys on Harleys and we quickly crossed.

After reaching the other side, it was a fairly short ride into Fort Langley. There are two parts to the town - the historic fort, a tourist attraction, and the town itself, full of restaurants, artisan shops, and funky coffee houses.

Fort Langley is famous because it was originally a trading post run by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The company, called the The Bay now, is still in existence but is more of department store that is currently hanging on. The original fort was set up to trade with the First Nations people on the west coast of Canada. It was instrumental in the formation of British Columbia as a province.

I didn’t go into the fort as I have been there several times before but was able to take a photo of the monument outside the visitor centre. It’s a monument for the SS Beaver, a paddle wheeler that had a long and varied history during the 52 years it served on the west coast. It’s also a very Canadian name as the beaver is Canada’s national animal.

I kind of like the beaver as a symbol for Canada - industrious, skilled, very social. and a bit funny as well. It’s certainly not a very pretentious symbol and that’s not a bad thing.

After visiting the fort, I rode into the town. It’s not very big (population 2700 - I told you it was small) so the part to visit is fairly compact.

The biggest surprise was that the town is now called Placerville. A large banner on the main street proclaims, Placerville, Christmas Tree Capital of the World and the town hall has a big Christmas tree in front of it. Seeing Christmas lights hung from the lampposts of the main street in May is also a bit unnerving!

There is a Placerville in California and I found out that Fort Langley is being used as a film set for a movie (obviously for Christmas) set there circa 1977. It’s not unusual for places around the Greater Vancouver area to stand in for cities and towns in the US. There is quite the thriving film industry up here, initially thanks to our low dollar, and now is sustained because the industry people here are apparently really good. Combined with that is the fact that there are a lot of natural settings (mountains, coastline, lots of trees) that are close to a large urban centre. Incidentally, Peter O’Toole is in the movie but I didn’t happen to bump into him. Oh well.

After recovering from a very early Christmas surprise, I stopped in at one of my favourite little coffee shops, Spill the Beans, for a latté. Then I zipped back, on the ferry, over the river, and back home with a bit of a runny nose but an excellent and refreshed outlook.


TVH said...

Dave, great blog. I just received an LX50 as a gift from my wife. I can't wait to insure and ride it. Thanks for visiting Langley (it's where I live).

Michael said...

Hi Dave,

This looks like an awesome trip, and judging from the photos, you guys are set to have a really nice spring/summer this year.

On your comment to my last blog post, I think you're right that having a smaller scooter really makes you see a lot more of the world by virtue of taking more circuitous routes and taking your time. It's important that you don't treat the scooter like just another car to get from A to B - I think that sort of mindset is really limiting.

I'd love to read/see more of the beautiful surrounds of Vancouver. It sounds like you live in a really beautiful city!



Joe said...

As a side note, the Placerville in California (about 2 hours from my house) used to be named "Hangtown" well, for obvious reasons. I come by your blog usually once a week and like what I've seen. I have a Honda Reflex 250 and like the scooter way to go.

Dave Dixon said...

Langley's a great place - I have a friend that lives there and we visit quite often. Fort Langley is a real gem and I will miss the easy access once the Golden Ears Bridge goes in. Enjoy your LX!

Have to agree with you 100% - although when some jerk is on my rear or honking at me because I'm not going fast enough, I sometimes wish I could go a little faster. But the slower pace is, all in all, ideal for me.

This is really interesting - someone from Langley AND someone near Placerville leaving a comment on this blog. I'm interested if Placerville has a special connection with Christmas trees or if it's just Hollywood (north, that is!).
Love the scooter way, too!