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Published: September 8th 2014
Well our visit to Canada has come & gone and I must say apart from 12 weeks of sleeping on an air mattress on some very hard ground we really have enjoyed our time here.
The Canadian leg of our trip has been really easy, being back in an English speaking country that functions very much like home, makes for some really easy travelling. Having said that, there has been some Canadian English that we have had to learn like, Loonies and Toonies ( $1, & $2 coins ) and who would ever guess that a weener is a Frankfurt sausage that not only tastes good, but proved it self to be pretty good fish bait!
The hardest thing has been to remember to drive on the right, and now after three months even that wasn't too hard. I must admit through that it took us some time to remember that you can turn right on a red light ( the aussie cops would have a field day) and that the first person to arrive on a four way stop sign goes first, a good concept that does away with traffic lights.
We arrived in Vancouver back in May after a 14 day cruise from Japan (highly recommended). The weather during the cruise had been pretty good but a couple of days out from Vancouver, with some pretty bad weather heading our way, our Cruise Captain decided that it would be a much nicer and a whole lot calmer for us to head to Vancouver through the Inside passage. That was a real bonus for us, as we had had to cancel our planned tour through the passage, due to a problem with Deans US visa. So for us the little bit of rain that we did experience, certainly didn't put a dampener on our parade.
The Inside Passage is amazingly beautiful and It took about 18 hours for the pilot to get us through the maze of Islands. At times we had up to 60 porpoises on the bow as well as pods of orca whales just along for the ride. We also got our first look at the logging industry on Vancouver Island, with the wayward logs bobbing around in the sea. The Islands that line both the Queen Charlotte Strait and the Strait of Georgia look
really beautiful with the small communities settled around quite bays and the (oh so many) trees going right down to the waterline.
I don't know how many times I have wondered just how many trees are there in Canada! Later we saw when the wind blows, and the trees release their seeds, it looks just like it is snowing. Also on the odd time that we did have rain, the puddles and lake shores are yellow from so much pollen.
The morning that we landed in Vancouver we did in fact get our feet wet, but it wasn't long before we were on our way to the most fantastic B&B that Dean had found on the net, before we had left home. The house was in a beautiful part of town with huge Maple trees lining the street, the gardens were filled with Rhododendrons of every colour and the breakfast which of course included Maple Syrup was served in the glassed atrium overlooking the back garden, really very pretty, and a very nice way to start the day.
We spent four nights in Vancouver, long enough for us to get ourselves
familiar with the transport system, catch up on emails etc, as well as organise all the camping gear that we would need for our summer in Canada. I also spent I don't know how many hours trying to sort out the ongoing problem with our stolen credit card, which, as it turned out, wasn't fixed until many weeks later! As well as trying to get a Mobile phone number, that also, after many hours of work didn't eventuate either. Oh well!
We did however manage to visit some of the sites of the city, and certain parts of Vancouver reminded me of Sydney, I think because of it's the harbour, which is filled with Cruise Ships on their way to Alaska, ferries and Seaplanes. The city also has the sea on both sides ,as well as an amazing backdrop of snow capped mountains, really a very pretty city. The downside unfortunately is that, Vancouver, like so many other big cities has it's problems with lots of homeless and unemployed people on the streets, some even asking diners in the many outdoor eateries for any leftover food. It seems that on every corner there is someone asking for
The 400 hectare, Stanley Park however was a hi-lite for us, and it has since been voted the best park in the world. It skirts the harbor and has some incredible totems, as well as a 150,000 tree-temperate rainforest. Unfortunately it bucketed down of rain while we were there so we didn't get to spend as much time there as we would have liked, but no problem, it gives us an excuse to come back!
Our first stop on the road was Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, a very quiet harbour side town on the east coast of the Island. Nanaimo is reached by car ferry, a service run by the government. The trip from the mainland takes about 1 and a half hours and is a very popular service with ferries going back and forth all day, also the service joins many of the Islands which sit off the coast, and the service certainly plays a big part of the lives of the many island inhabitants.
We had arranged to collect both our ' rent a wreck car ' and camping gear from Nanaimo, also we needed to collect some
groceries and find a camping spot. All in all quite a busy day, so after the joy of putting up a new tent for the first time, we settled down to enjoy our spot by the sea for a couple of days and a cold beer or three.
We ended up spending the first three weeks of our Canadian break on the Island, and visited some fantastic places. Salmon Point on the east coast, I think/ know is our favorite spot, and after six nights at the beginning of our road trip, we went back and spent the last nine nights there, what a place. It looks back across the Strait of Georgia to the coastal snow-capped mountains of BC, and on both visits there the weather was a prefect sunny 25 degrees.
Salmon Point is just 15ks from Campbell River which is known as the Salmon capital of the world, and we certainly saw evidence of this when we returned in August with the an estimated 2million Salmon in the Campbell River alone. It really was amazing to see the Salmon in both the rivers and sea, at times they were so thick
that they were out of the water swimming over each other!
Dean wanting to be in on the action, brought himself yet another fishing rod and landed us not only two good sized pink salmon from the river, but a very nice 24lb red salmon off the beach! We talked to one guy who had caught and released 50 in just a couple of hours, he also told Dean about a Black Bear that had wandered by the afternoon before, pitched some guys fish and kept walking! It seems that everyone wanted a bit of the action!
We managed to see most of ' the spots' on Vancouver Island from Telegraph Cove in the North, where the main focus is Whale & Grizzly tours, and of course fishing, to the wave and wind swept Tofino located in the west coast within the Pacific Rim National Park, where, it seems both young and old surfers hang out. To the beautiful city of Victoria in the south and the most amazing Broken Group of Islands sitting at the entrance to Barkley Sound there the water is the most amazing shade of Turquoise. We visited both Hornby
and Denman Islands where the pace of life is very slow, and spotted some amazing wildlife along the way. Bears, Bald Headed Eagles, Seals, Whales, Sea Otters, Racoons, squirrels, and of course lots and lots of fish!
Well after a touch of the ' Island Life' it was time to head back to the mainland and enjoy what was on offer there, and we certainly were not disappointed. We left Vancouver on the 'Sea to Sky Highway' a road which hugs the cliff side and which took us to Whistler where we had a great three day stay. Whistler is a beautiful ski resort town and not only has some great skiing but has the most amazing village. While there we rode the gondola to the top of Whistler as well as the Peak 2 Peak gondola which is 4.4km long and takes 11 minutes to reach the sister mountain of Blackcomb. While we were on the gongola we saw bears playing in the snow, also a very weird looking animal called a Marmont just hanging around eating grass roots, how lovely.
From there we took another couple of days of driving through some
amazing scenery before we reached the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. One morning we were driving through a One Nation town and I had just finished saying “this place looks like Indian country” when you wouldn't believe it, along comes a bare chested Indian riding a horse bareback! The things you see!
We drove the ' Ice fields Parkway' so called because of the 100 glaciers that line its path, and enjoyed the towns of Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff. The scenery along the way was simply amazing, the mountains, lakes and glaciers like nothing we had ever seen before. We pitched our tent in the provisional parks along the way, and they too were filled with animals. In Jasper there were a herd of Elk which would decided each afternoon, that they needed to walk right though our camp! Nice.
Where in China I took lots and lots of photos of their amazing gardens, in Japan their amazing Temples, in Canada it was their amazing scenery,around every corner something different. In Jasper we swum in lakes that were so clear you could see the bottom right out in the middle, also rivers where you
could see the trout swimming, glacial lakes that were so blue and mountains so high. One time I was taking a photo of the mountains, with a lake with trout swimming in it, when a small deer just happened to turn up for a drink, can you believe that? Canada truly is a very beautiful place.
We were in Lake Louise for Canada Day and enjoyed a complimentary breakfast of pancakes, complete with of course maple syrup, and bacon and eggs, which was really nice with the guys from the RCMP (minus their horses). We also saw the 'First Nation People' perform their dances accompanied by the drums, it was really nice to see with them in all their feathers etc. While we were enjoying the street parade we meet some young Canadians who invited us back to their place for the day. We have a great time, swimming in the river, riding mini bikes, playing crochet and having a few drinks, it really was very nice day, and reminded us very much of Australia Day at home.
After Lake Louise, came Banff, another beautiful town but, this one very commercialized and full to
the brim with tourists also lots and lots of young Aussies working everywhere. You really can understand why the Aussie kids are there through, sunshine in the summer for mountain biking, and lots of snow in the winter for skiing and snowboarding ,what a life! The young Aussies can stay up to six years, and some of them have done just that. For some reason the kiwi can only stay one year, but what a year that could be! At the provincial park camp ground in Banff, we had a visit from a Black Bear, just sniffing around our table while we went to the loo, he soon ran off when he saw Dean coming the other way.
After Banff it was time to leave the mountains behind and head to Calgary in time for the stampede. Boy we had another great day there, we took the chance of a ride to the stampede on a yellow school bus (just like Barts!) and I think every cowboy & cowgirl from far and wide were there. They advertise the stampede as ' The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth ' and it really was a fun day which started
with the Rodeo and wagon races and finished with a music concert and fireworks. The stampede is really like a big country show complete with every type of fried food you could think of including in this case, deep fried cheesecake, can you believe that?
After six nights in Calgary where once again we caught up on things like trying to buy a computer battery ( no luck), visited a great outdoor shop called Pro Bass where they have more suffted animals then you could poke a stick at, and at last getting our credit cards sorted ,yeah!! ,we headed onto the prairies and to the weird and wonderful town of Drumheller.
This is the place where it seems the Dinosaurs came to die and, the Dinosaur Provisional ·Park now has UNESCO World Heritage status. The town seems to have taken their Jurassic heritage to heart and have Dinosaurs on every corner ( no, not real ones!), the tourist office even has a 26m fiberglass T Rex out the front for all to climb! To us, it seemed like a bit of a dusty old town, but, it was surrounded by the most amazing
deep cut river valleys and Canola fields. We even saw cowgirls there firing their six shooters at balloons while on the back of a horse, very impressive. Also we discovered that gofers are only quiet small animals, after we were dodging their many burrows.
After about five weeks of wandering it was time to head south again, this time towards the Okanagans, an area known for it's orchards and vineyards. The journey back was very different to the trip up, but still very nice with the road going back through the mountains and then down along the lakes. We spent a couple of weeks making our way back, and in several spots spent five or six days just being lazy enjoying swimming in the many lakes and eating lots of blueberries.
Well with the Canadian summer coming to an end and us feeling the need to get moving again, we just had time for a quick two night visit to Toronto and Niagara Falls before getting ready for the next leg of our journey ….. Cuba.
We met some wonderful people in Canada, and certainly visited some amazing places, travelling roads
with names like 'Meadows in the Sky', you can imagine how beautiful that was. We have seen some amazing animals and enjoyed the Canadian sunshine, cold beer and of course the Salmon, so until next time,
The journey continues........................
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