Its a Jungle out there!

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September 21st 2005
Published: September 22nd 2005
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Bear out fishingBear out fishingBear out fishing

From the boat we watched this bear turn over the rocks looking for crabs. It looked really easy but when the cub tried he couldnt move the rock
Bears, Whales, Wolves, Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain Goats we have seen them all. Some much closer than others! It has been so exciting.

Where do I begin, we have seen so much over the last few weeks it is difficult to précis it all. Here we are sitting in our rig in Fairmont RV park part of a hot spring resort surrounded by mountains. In the morning being high up we look down on the morning mist in the valley whilst sitting under bright blue sky. We can then sit in hot spring waters to soak the stress away!!

We are about to leave Canada having spent a month here. Really we are on our way south due to the weather but what an amazing country. I had no expectations of Canada mainly because I had not really thought about it as a large part of our trip, but we have enjoyed it so much we have spent longer than we anticipated at every stop. The weather has been much colder and wetter than normal but we have always managed to get the best day to travel, walk or sight see so cant complain, however I am ready for
Not a bad viewNot a bad viewNot a bad view

We found this park by chance and loved the view so stayed an extra day.The guy running it originally came Winchester
some nice weather as now fed up wearing the same 2 tops and needing socks in bed!

So a quick catch up on our travels

Leaving Victoria we set off across Vancouver Island to a place named Tofino where we anticipated going whale and bear watching. It is a lovely place, wild coastline, small bays, and arty village. Whale watching was very exciting, we took a fast boat and went searching for hump back whales. Despite the fact the one we saw close up was 65ft long and about 60 tons in weight all I managed to snap was lots of ocean. The sight of him breaching the surface and plunging back into the sea was fabulous.

The bear expedition was a little more successful. We were lucky enough to see a mum and her cubs looking for crabs on the sea shore and watched them for quite some while. These were Vancouver black bears which are not disturbed by humans and in total we saw 11 bears. On the way back across the Island we saw a small bear pottering around on the road side. At this stage I still did not realise the importance of
Local folkLocal folkLocal folk

We cycled to this town called Chemainus where they had many murals showing their pasthistory, it had a stong indian influence.
“Bear care” in this country.

We than set off to Whistler which had been highly recommended by almost everyone we spoke to, It is to be the venue for the 2010 winter Olympics and has been voted the second best ski resort ( in the world?) It’s a really pretty place with an excellent social scene.
The route there is called the “sea to sky highway” and we soon realised why it is named so. The scenery was absolutely spectacular (you are going to hear this lot) as we drove across the plains and then climbed up to Whistler. It was quite a long drive so we spent the night in the grounds of a Pioneer museum. breaking our journey just as previous folk did, although in a bit more comfort I should think.
That night we had the most amazing storm, we watched it come over the mountains into the valley.We were more than grateful not to be in a wagon train. The next day we continued up into the mountains.

Whistler RV Park was lovely and only a mile or so from the centre. The Village now has a busy summer season using the ski
beach at Tofinobeach at Tofinobeach at Tofino

This was taken early one morning.Tofino has these beautiful wild beaches where the rainforest meets the sea
slopes for Mountain biking, ATVs, hiking and zip trekking. The mountain biking we passed on, (it was the full body armour that raised the alarm!) But I think Wishav would have loved it. You take the bikes up on the ski lifts and then free wheel down whilst jumping all sorts of obstacles. You hire special bikes, some of them do not even have chains. Exciting but not too sure if covered by the travel insurance and I know I would have fallen off So we opted for the ATV (all terrain vehicle, a quad bike type thing) and Zip Trekking.

The ATV tour took us up to the mountain summit along what will be the Olympic downhill route; I look forward to seeing that on the TV so I can say we have been on the Olympic ski run. I will probably omit the fact we had 4 huge wheels to keep us upright
Here we had a sunset supper and then raced back downhill, great fun but would have liked to go faster. It had snowed the day before so we were able to throw a few snowballs.

The zip trekking was great; try it if
Its a whale, really!Its a whale, really!Its a whale, really!

It looked so much bigger from where we were.
you get a chance. You get taken up the mountain where there are wires from tree to tree across the river, you get strapped into a harness and off you go whizzing across ( just like the army show really). They teach you the technique to turn upside down on the longest run. As I always managed to arrive to the opposite side backwards I was even more confused on that one. Graeme had quite a graceful technique.
Whistler was such a nice place we stayed a couple of extra days and did some easy cycling before taking to the road to Jasper in the Canadian Rockies.

Our plan was to drive the Icefield Highway which runs through the Rocky Mountains from Jasper to Banff as it is described as one of the most beautiful routes in the world. The road passes through the mountains, icefields and glaciers with many hikes, viewpoints, waterfalls & walks on the way. What we didn’t realise is how fabulous the National RV parks would be and that the wild life roams all around.

All the sites are in wooded areas with beautiful mountain views. There are warnings everywhere to maintain a “Bare environment” all rubbish bins are Bear proof and I have to say its not often I have seen Beware of bears and elk posters in laundry and washrooms.

Currently there are warnings to stay a good distance from Male Elks as it is rutting season and they can be very aggressive.
One evening I was wandering up through the woods and there were a herd of elk grazing. “How nice” I thought, until I noticed everyone else was in their vehicle as the huge male elk was charging around in the woods. They are absolutely huge, about 6 - 8 ft and solid; they make the most amazing high pitched squealing sound when calling which carries a long way. After hiding behind the rubbish bin I took big detour back through the undergrowth, I was gone for ages; so long Graeme opened the beers without me!

There were tented sites in the wood and the Elk was crashing around them. In the next site we went to there was a serious electric fence around the tents to keep the bears out. You would have to pay me to camp in that environment although we were assured there isn’t
Sunset on mountain topSunset on mountain topSunset on mountain top

This was taken at sunset at the peak of the olympic ski slope. This Inatchuk(? correct spelling)was built only recently. Originally they were built by the innuit people as a sign of comfort to travellers to show someone had previously passed that way. Also to give spiritual comfort
often a problem!!

The next day I looked out the door to see a wolf wondering down the path which was really exciting and that night a male Elk past right behind the rig.
There are also loads of ground squirrels which are really bold. If you leave the rig door open they would be in causing endless mischief.

The wild birds were also fabulous, although Graeme was not too fond of the one that stole some of his breakfast from the grill! The grill was really hot but this bird just perched on the side and helped himself, he appeared particularly fond of the garlic potato. As we sat there astounded he returned for more, and before you ask, no we don’t normally have garlic potatoes for breakfast.

We also saw a pileated woodpecker only 2 feet away from our rig. These birds have a bright red crest on their heads.It sat pecking away for ages. Dont be too impressed by my knowledge, I am not that informed I had to invest in a book to look it up

At Lake Louise we met a couple called Ritchie & Judy who were kind enough to
New favourite vehicleNew favourite vehicleNew favourite vehicle

These ATVs are great fun, we may just have to do it again some time. Next time we may try on sand dunes
take us out one evening in their Jeep to look for animals and to our delight we spotted a Moose and her calf.

Now, I know this all is now going to sound like a “shaggy dog” story as I have few pictures of the wildlife. Just prior to entering “the most scenic drive in the world” our main camera broke. (The zoom lens jammed, which is apparently a common problem) So I only had my little camera which, although I cant complain as it still works despite going through a full cycle in the washing machine (a good advert for Panasonic) it isn’t quite what it was.

So off we went down the Icefield highway. Now if we thought the scenery was good before........ this is amazing. Everything the books claim it to be and more. The little camera did its best but was a bit overwhelmed. There had been quite a snowfall a few days previously so the mountains were snow capped which contrasted wonderfully with the tree line. The trees have only an eight week growing period at this altitude and as the wind & snow is severe only grow branches on one side. So you get trees about 6 feet tall that are hundreds of years old.

One great thing is that you get an amazing view from the rig as you have a huge windscreen and sit up really high. It’s like being at the movies!

It takes about 3 hours to drive from Jasper to Banff but as we stopped along the way to see everything it took all day. En route we took a side trip up to the Columbia glacier in one of the huge snow coaches in the picture.
So we stopped at Lake Louise for the night.

From here we took the old highway to Banff and the contrast was fabulous. The scenery changes into tree lined hills with the river flowing through the valley. All the way through this drive you follow the train line. I have decided it must be one of the best jobs there is, I can’t imagine you would ever get bored with the view.

We stopped on the way to take a hike up to the “Ink Pots” These are high above the waterfalls where the water emerges into deep small pools, you can see it bubbling
Just hanging aroundJust hanging aroundJust hanging around

The zip treking was great but also educational. We were taught about the forest and enviroment as we zipped around
out of the earth. They are all different colours of blue & green depending on how much of the colour spectrum is absorbed.

Onwards to Banff which is also a great little place, all the roads are named after the wildlife, which obviously I loved. There is an amazing Hotel named the “Fairmount” it looks just like it should be in Europe. In fact most of the buildings look very alpine. Wooden chalets with balconies and lots of flowers. I kept expecting to see Julie Andrews appear she certainly would not have felt out of place here.

So eventually it is time to leave, It has been a great experience but the time has come to head south seeking warmth & hopefully to meet our first visitors.
We are heading back to the US to (for us) easier internet connection, phones calls and to buy a nice new camera in a shopping mall with a cappuccino shop. Graeme is getting withdrawal symptoms.

Meanwhile life within the rig continues. We are a pretty slick team now and can up and go within an hour, including putting the bikes on! I am still rearranging the cupboards and Graeme organising the technology.
The rig is a joy to live in despite the bits that occasionally drop off it. We have a pit stop booked soon to replace them.
We meet interesting people who seem to travel most of their lives so always have some advice or information for us. See picture of Earl who really had it sussed.

We are still a bit of a novelty for most people so it takes a while to do anything but all of them we meet say what a great thing we are doing. Who are we to disagree?

Love to all next blog soon.


Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 25


Bear signpostBear signpost
Bear signpost

This is one sign you would not ignore. I would give way to the bear anytime.
Whistler villageWhistler village
Whistler village

Whistler is a great place as it is. They are doing a lot of building for the Olympics but they aim to make it all as "green" as possible. Everyone other than workers & competitors will have to use public transport. They are going to use LPG propelled vehicles.
Aerial view of JasperAerial view of Jasper
Aerial view of Jasper

The day before had been rainy and grey when we would have seen nothing from the mountain top, then next day beautiful blue sky. We took a cable car then walked to the top on the mountain. You could see mountain peaks for 360 degrees
Graeme heading to the topGraeme heading to the top
Graeme heading to the top

The snow had fallen a few days before. It was quite early in the year for snow fall but good timing for us.
So slippySo slippy
So slippy

Me, on the way down, much more quickly then up!
Glacial waterGlacial water
Glacial water

Different snow this time. We are on the Columbia icefireld Glacier and Graeme is trying to drink the purest water around.
Glacial busGlacial bus
Glacial bus

This is the vehicle that takes you up the glacier.Its like a huge tonka toy.It drives straight over the edge onto the icefield.
Trans Continental Railway line at  JasperTrans Continental Railway line at  Jasper
Trans Continental Railway line at Jasper

I just love the train lines here. They dont have gates across and you can stand on the line and look for ever into the distance.Oh the train in the picture was not moving.
Close encounter with angry Elk!Close encounter with angry Elk!
Close encounter with angry Elk!

He doesn't look very large here but believe me he was. He is passing just behind our rig.The door was open for a quick retreat
That rail line againThat rail line again
That rail line again

Yep, definitely fancy being this train driver. We have now left the Icefields and the scenery changes and is much more gentle and green.
Panning for goldPanning for gold
Panning for gold

It was so funny, I payed $10 to pan for gold and was so pleased to get 4 bits then as we left via the mandatory gift shop saw small pots with about 10 times as much in for sale for $6!!
Fairmount Spring Hotel, BanffFairmount Spring Hotel, Banff
Fairmount Spring Hotel, Banff

This hotel is in a spectacular position.It is overlooking the Bow river & waterfalls. It was almost build back to front as someone orientated the plans backwards! It was built about 1887 and inside looks much like a Scottish castle. There is a strong Scottish influence here.
Earl relaxingEarl relaxing
Earl relaxing

Earl had extended his living room to outside complete with TV, fridge, phone & sofas. He supplied us with fresh salmon he had caught that day.

27th September 2005

Not Jealous!
Hi Guys. got the link on Tuesday, thank you. Moya I love your blog, your pictures are fantastic. Id love to see a photo of you both in the front seats of your wagon. Maybe some kind person would shoot it from the outside! I surprised myself.....I'm not in the least jealous! You dirty stinking rats!!! Thou shalt not covet, I keep telling myself!! Much Love Stephen Lindy sends her Love and wishes she was you!!

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