Western Canada

Canada's flag
North America » Canada
July 23rd 2011
Published: July 23rd 2011
Edit Blog Post

Wed 13 July Queen Victoria Victoria
Woke before 3.30am which turned to 2.30am mid flight. Did physio and then caught taxi with plenty of time at airport. Slept some of flight and met Simone, our tour director easy enough. Just had Tim Horton combo which doesn’t include coffee apparently even though the picture says?? Even staff didn’t know what was going on. Now have a couple of hours waiting for rest of group. Bus trip to ferry, slept some. Ferry was cool but didn’t see any whales. Then bus for an hour to hotel, slept most of the way I think. Did pickup that Vancouver is about 2.5 million people in the greater area. Learnt the names of coins, penny-1, nickel-5, dime-10, quarter-25, loonie-$1, toonie $2. Then room wasn’t ready so walked downtown and got Chinese for lunch. Is hard to add up 12% pst/gst/hst provincial, goods or harmonised tax. Then tips. Took photos of Victoria downtown which was nice and government house and totem poles at museum. Got into room about 2pm and basically slept until 6pm meeting. Then came back to room and had leftover lunch and will hopefully sleep well tonight and get over this jet lag which I’ve never had before.
Thu 14 July Queen Victoria Victoria
Well that was a bad sleep – first time I’ve ever had jetlag and let me tell you it sucks. I just can’t get into this routine and keep waking up early and struggling through day. Hopefully I’ll get over it today. Struggled for 8am brekkie which was nice and then headed off to Butchart Gardens. Paul was late so we left without him. Still didn’t see him when we got home so hope he is ok? Butchart Gardens is site of old cement works. The lady of the house started backfilling cement quarry with topsoil and planting flowers and then it got bigger and bigger. They stopped producing cement in early 1900’s but still produced ceramic pots until mid 1900s. Is totally gardens now. Victoria is garden city and up to few hundred thousand people and 1100 beautiful flowering hanging pots in the city. It has a nickname of the City of NewlyWeds, Flowerbeds and Nearly deads. It is capital of Brittish Columbia in a deal to remain part of Canada, otherwise would’ve ended up US. Is very lovely and fair temp in early teens, but drizzling rain is a bit of a drain. Cars made recently have to have lights hard wired on when engine is on. My first thought is, that will make motorbikes hard to see again. And First Nations, the aboriginal Indians, who at first I felt bad for, (so now understand how people visiting Australia feel), are the only ones allowed to have billboards advertising on their land (obviously something they were famous for before white people came). Had another wander up to Chinese quarter of city today and tried souvenir shopping on way home which was not a success. Got some postcards for kids which will write and send today. Back to room early, hopefully for early dinner and early bed to get going tomorrow. Oh, did I get to mention the place that was just on the weather report – Vagina! How’s the weather?
Fri 15 July Blue Horizon Vancouver
Well slept ok, but Joanne was watching tv until midnight and didn’t get to sleep much before that. Then woke about 2am for an hour. Got up ok at 8am but then slept again on bus about an hour later. Ferry was cool, went up for ecological chat and learned about blue-grey-taildroppers, that are a slug about the size of your thumb that is very tasty to things about so has learned to ooze slime that tastes pretty bad and freeze your face – in these parts that is pretty impressive. Then about pacific octopus that is born about 1cm, at 2-3 years is about a metre, then by 5 years it is about the size of a car, then it dies.
Anyway – after ferry, I ate a 20g packet of sunflower seeds that came with my Calgary pack. It took me a bit over an hour to eat them, and I felt like a parrot by the end, getting pretty darn good at husking them. At first I thought they were like pumpkin seeds and tried eating them husk and all, that tasted pretty bad, but after ½ hour and 5 sunflower seeds (lucky I wasn’t starving) I decided to try it again anyway. Still tasted bad so just got better at husking.
Then we get back onto mainland and heading to Vancouver. Is funny for few Brits on tour that Canada is 2nd largest country and only has just over 30 million people. We travelled through Chinatown and then through Gastown and onto Stanley Park. Was cool seeing totem poles still but I reckon I’ll get over them like castles in Europe. Stopped at Prospect Point and took great photo of Lions Gate Bridge and saw a racoon there which was pretty cool. Stanley park was originally a military base which was there mainly for the defence of Vancouver/Canada from the USA. Is quite early again, just after 4pm. Waiting for luggage and then heading out for dinner across road and hopefully an early night.
Sat 16 July Hearthstone Lodge Sun Peaks
So had a great nights sleep finally and nearly stayed awake all day on bus with just a couple of quick naps towards the end of longer stints. Nice brekkie on 31st floor of hotel but was overcast so didn’t get nice view. On one hand we have been lucky with weather not being rained on, but on the other, has been overcast and bit miserable. So basically big drive day, stopped at Hope where there are heaps of wood carvings done by chainsaw which was pretty awesome. Lovely little town too nestled amongst the hills. Then saw bridge that was filmed in First Blood (the Rocky series) and will get demolished next Monday. We saw a moose mid afternoon which was exciting – didn’t get a photo, but someone did so will see if I can arrange a copy – apparently they are harder to see than bears. It was a gangly thing with no antlers though. Got into Sun Peaks with time for a quick wander after watching some grid iron on tv. Were advised we might get lucky and see a bear crossing some of the ski paths, but we got lucky and headed out into a thunderstorm. Got drenched in the 10 metres to get back home. Oh, just see on news about heatwave in Canada – we are not getting it in the west.
Sun 17 July Banff Park Lodge Banff
Well that was a shitty night sleep – got stuck watching Vertical Limit again and then didn’t drop off to sleep until about 1 or 2am. Then awake all the time. Oh well. Struggling at breakfast already but a bit hyped when we saw a deer. Then I saw 2 more that everyone else missed, then we saw 5 in a paddock. I saw another two across river but we couldn’t stop, then later in the day, one in Banff town on the footpath – he had a nice set of antlers (even though I keep calling them horns, but antlers drop off every year). Oh, some juicy info – 75% of Canadians live within 100 mile of the USA border. The Canadian Pacific Railway CPR was built close to the border to stop US from taking some of their work in future. The CPR has trains up to a couple of hundred carriages, legally can be up to 2 mile. We drove through Shuswap where there is a bridge where bears congregate every year for salmon feast. Salmon actually only breed once when they are about 4yo. They are born and spend first year adapting from freshwater to saltwater fish then head out as far as Japan. 4 years later, instinctively come back to same little patch of river they hatched and female lays about 1000 eggs and male comes along and fertilises them, this happens a few times and then they die. Went through Craigallerchie where the last spike was driven in the CPR in 1885. Then shortly after lunchstop at Three Valley Hotel, saw a full sun bow.

Cute little guy blind in one eye - had to throw someone else's can away to save him being caught up :(
Got some cool photos but bus kept getting in the way. Glacier NP was beautiful, luckily woke up for that – there has been a lot of sleeping today. Saw a video on how they manage to keep Glacier NP section of road open all year round which involves specialist avalanche experts who decide where there may be a slide so they close the road and the Canadian army sends up an artillery shell and forcibly collapses the area. Then there is the story of a mountain called Castle Mountain which got renamed for Eisenhauer when he came over, but then got renamed back after he didn’t have time to come to official name change and found out he was playing golf. Oh, weird but funny story – yesterday at some place, well lots they have automatic toilet flushes and taps, but yesterday there was an automatic soap dispenser. Got giggles remembering joke about a nun accommodating some guy and he hid as a statue in the hallway and one of the other nuns thought it was a soap dispenser, she told her friend that you just had to pump the lever a few times until it worked  I laughed so hard I nearly had tears running down my legs 
Anyway – on arrival at Banff, is a beautiful little town and had spare half hour for quick walk downtown because the sun was out. Then rush to dinner which was lovely. Just watched USA go down to Japan in WC final and now 10.15pm – another late night.
Mon 18 July Banff Park Lodge Banff
Yay – finally an awesome nights sleep. Brekkie was awesome, apart from the chilli sausage that nearly burned the inside of my mouth out. Then off for Banff Experience. Nice view of Two Jack Lake with Mt Rundle in background and then saw some pretty ugly Big Horn Sheep that were shedding but then a nicer lot, one with fluffy baby and one with horns that were actually starting to get big. Was told about Indian Paintbrush flower that is like a poinsettia where it is just coloured leaves, but it is a rare plant in that it uses photosynthesis and parasitic ways to get food. View of Lake Minniwanka which is over 100ft deep but freezes in winter where they ice fish. Then a waterfall that flows all year, bar when
Pissing CompPissing CompPissing Comp

That is one you won't win Mauricio! Was Canadian rail worker holding this pose too as we went past - could've photoshopped him into the comp!
it freezes so people come in especially to ice climb it. Ended up at Johnson Canyon which was a lovely walk through forrest along river to waterfall. Much nicer than the canyons of Alice Springs that I was expecting. Then had to leave tour early, but George arranged to tell guys at museum a lady in green shirt was coming later, and headed off for Canoeing. Was traditional canoe they used to use for beaver hunting, paddling 60 strokes per minute for up to 16 hours a day, and girls used to disguise as men to have the privilege of this, often with only clothing and food being the pay. The beaver is the Canadian National animal and is bit of a pest – ask our farmers about kangaroo and emu though. Was a nice quite relaxing paddle but didn’t see any wildlife. Then wandered off for museum – entry worked ok  Was quite good with Indian culture on display and a lot of stuffed animals. On way back to hotel I saw a police car, well it was a peace officers car – maybe they don’t even have police – it feels awesomely safe. Oh, and in Canada, by law everything has to be in English and French. Guy just won $12,000 for being served 7UP instead of Sprite on Air Canada, same thing I thought, anyway, I digress, a taxi I saw had both languages – Taxi Taxi. I mean come on, can they not just right it once and we both think it is in our language – how could they prove that in court that it was in English not French or the other way around! Met up with Joanne after helicopter and rested for a bit, I am hurting, plenty of walking and then paddling too. Rested in room and did photos etc and headed out for dinner – was maybe going to Eddie’s burgers or Elk & ??something. Chatted to Brad and Ruth at Eddie’s and then ended up having subway. Vince Vaughan walked right past too, didn’t notice though. Wow – is only 8.30pm and ready for bed with a late morning tomorrow – it is the first day I have managed not to nap during the day though. Did physio, as usual, but did right arm tonight and it hurt. At least that hopefully means left arm is getting better.
Tue 19 July Chateau Lake Louise Lake Louise
Up fairly late for leisurely breakfast then headed off to Banff Gondola. Was quite ok apart from one bit I realised how high we were just before bumping and swinging over a pole. Nice walk around top but was a rush. Made it over to Cosmic Ray Station which was ok, did find out juicy bit of info that cosmic rays float around and are blamed for inexplicable things happening in universe, like computer crashes – will have to remember that one! Client – can I get my computer replaced, it keeps blue screening. Me – I could, but that won’t help unless you can relocate it and stop those cosmic rays that are probably causing it! Anyway – on way down saw a couple of elk in the forrest which was cool. Didn’t really know what they were but driver confirmed it. On way up to lookout over Banff Hot Springs Hotel saw another elk. Marilyn Monroe did a movie at Bow Falls back in 50s or whenever, but she twisted her ankle. When they had to carry her, they needed 4 people – two abreast  Back to Banff for lunch

Needed this weekend before I came away!
– none of 4 of us were too hungry so Joanne, me, Peta and Mauricio were going to share a pizza. Then we ended up all having a meal each, shoving it in as time was running out. Then heading to Lake Louise we saw a grizzly bear. I was calling out the sighting but the driver had seen already and was starting to stop. Photo though was of misty window which I would’ve kept as my first bear photo but driver did a lappy back on the highway and we managed to get nice photos. Then onto Moraine Lake which actually wasn’t glacier moraine but a rock avalanche that caused the dam. Got into Lake Louise around 4pm and was raining. Headed straight out though and got a bit of sun. Then walked up to Mirror Lake heading for teahouse. Must have been 10 degrees and raining and was first I had worked up a sweat all trip. Was tight time though and had to turn around at Mirror Lake. Was thinking in some of my quiet times alone walking through the forrest of what to do in a bear attack – basically just be ripped to pieces and if really bad, hope to die and if not really bad hope to recover. So then I thought of how to avoid a bear attack which was not to run – well that should be easy considering I would be scared stiff. Back away slowly, don’t turn your back because you want to see the last minutes of your life in full colour. Anyway – I lived. Well I did but after walk this morning and this 1.5hrs (45mins fairly good pace uphill) everything is sore, my ankle of course, all my left leg for covering for it, then my right butt cheek is like sciatic nerve is gone. Left shoulder aches because that is what it does and right is recovering from it’s physio catchup. Anyway – had to change jeans I was going to wear to dinner because it had mud spats right up the back of my legs – even had to wash them, hung them over fan like a flag pole and were dry by morning (reminded me of going to boys 21st and drying jeans out car window on the way). Then while getting ready, had an alarm, well just a bell really 5 mins before dinner booking. Thought that was cute to remind us. Then couple of minutes later a more ringing – opened door because I couldn’t find phone and thought it was door bell – that would be special. Then announcement that fire alarm has been checked and no need to evacuate. Wow – thankfully because I wasn’t anyway. Then going to dinner, had to open all the fire doors along the hall. Dinner was lovely and had a view over the lake. Had the local Bison Elk and Venison steaks which were all quite cow’ish. Found out at dinner that Brad and Ruth are mates with Steve and Cathy Neuhouse. Small world. That is now Sam Pedros with Warren Sydney waterboard and Rob the doctor who is Mick Lawson’s cousin. Small world with a much smaller bus this trip.
Hobbled back to room and had hot shower with self deep tissue massage and butt feels a bit better.
Wed 20 July Tonquin Inn Jasper
Struggled up before alarm when Joanne said it was sunny. Got packed so I didn’t have to make the 2 hour return journey to room after breakfast with sore bum. Checked out lake again and was nice with blue sky but lake was still not a great colour. In for brekkie and they had banana fritters in donut with cinnamon sugar and I found cream to top it all off. Also eggs benedict, lucky they were out or I would’ve shoved that in too, croissants, pastries, hash browns, sausages, toast, strawberry flavoured philly cream cheese (interesting but edible), I think that was all I squeeze onto my plate, then squeeze in some more banana fritters that were awesome. Today we had heaps of photo stops, lucky with not too much walking. Bow lake, Peto lake (which was an awesome brilliant blue), some glacier named after a bird because it looked like a claw but I couldn’t even keep my eyes open long enough to see that, snapped a photo of something. Then stopped at Athabasca Glacier where we were to take our Ice Explorer ride on the glacier. The Columbia Icefield is huge and feeds meltwater into Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans – that is amazing. The trucks themselves are pretty awesome – tyres like mine trucks that run at only 15psi. Had a drink at glacier and filled up water bottle – they say you put on heaps of weight drinking it because of all the ground up rock ‘rock flour’ in the water. That will be my excuse! The lodge there closes at winter so they don’t have to heat it and it was measured at -63 inside once. Generally temps range from -45 to +30 so it is built in sections to allow for movement. Had a pie for lunch and it was a pretty good pie, threw pickles, mustard and tomato sauce on top. Then after lunch we saw a black bear which was pretty cool – he looked straight at me for a photo. Then a bit later we saw a brown bear, but didn’t stop in time to get photos – well I have a photo focussed on the bus window – I am sure I could convince you it was a bear photo. Then another deer – even after it being only our 3rd deer, it was pretty boring after bears. Whole body pain ended up getting to me and was getting a big headache so took some tablets and felt a bit better. Drove through Jasper and to Maligne Canyon which was pretty cool and then back to get ready for red leaf Rocky Mountaineer tomorrow (ie pack overnight bag) and read for dinner. Met Murray and Peta again and had nice dinner – was big steak like hoggies but not quite as good. Quite early – 9pm and nearly ready for bed. Might got and have chat with Chris and Sue and Warren and Karen. Tried to get on net but wireless was broken so couldn’t pay phone bill.
Thu 21 July Rocky Mountaineer Kamloops
Up early, put bag out and went back to bed for ½ hour. Straight to train and while waiting to board Brad spotted Charlie Boorman and first aid guy and cameraman. Sat up front and got a couple of good photos. Then at Kamloops saw their bus/van and bike trailer so they must be doing something over here now. Day was pretty good – great to be able to move around and big seats anyway. Sure it was our bus driver Derek, who was waving to us at a crossing just out of town – will have to check  Heaps of food and saw a baby bear which was awesome – no photos though, only spotted him after everyone yelled out and
Castle MountainCastle MountainCastle Mountain

Was Mt Eisenhauer for a while before Canadians changed back.
was at back of carriage. Then few falls, including Pyramid Falls which is only viewable from train, and other beautiful views and heaps of wildflowers, didn’t get to see Mt Robson. Did see a few deer and I am sure a female moose, only because it was too ugly to be a deer. Kept going out to vestibule, was freezing in morning but was beautiful when it ended up pretty hot. Gold Leaf sounds all bad now, in the sun when it was out, better food (we had heaps so who cares about quality), better view – if you want to look at the sun, better company if you are a star hunter but most of our group was with us so awesome, free alcohol – but that isn’t worth $500 a day, and probably better accommodation overnight but we aren’t here much anyway – so overall, very glad not to have wasted money on gold class. Sales lady came through and was having fun with us while Brad was modelling ladies shirt but then while pointing something out as she walked past I felt her nose crumpling under the back of my hand. I felt sooo bad, but was laughing of course. She took it pretty well but did stop and pause before she passed me every time after that  Missed nice pic of Mounty waiting in rain on his horse to wave us into town – was a nice touch  Booked to go to Rhythm of the Rails dinner buffet tonight. Got into room with about an hour to pickup bus. Heard about music in the park tonight which is free and probably country, but is raining and booked on dinner now anyway. A lot of things have been like that this tour – finding out about them after the fact. Anyway – happy to do dinner. Just had a glass of red that Brad brought in which was quite nice – going to limbs though so could be a good night  Everything went quite smoothly to go to dinner, well no it didn’t, a few things haven’t. Was problem with luggage this morning, but think that may have been from passenger, then people in gold class were not seated together as couples, then Michael didn’t get his luggage in gold class, then dinner was stuffed up, well not totally, we just had to freeze for a while for them to move seating around because they only had half of us listed? Don’t know where that went wrong, but it was sorted, dinner was good and show was amateurish but a good fun night.
Fri 22 July Blue Horizon Vancouver
We somehow ended up with more people on bus to train than required but better that than less I suppose. Straight onto train and straight into breakfast. Someone saw a herd of mountain goats but took ages to yell out, saw them but no photo. Then heaps of bald eagles and osprey but hard to get photos as we were whipping along. Poor girl was trying to tell us about pine beetles eating out trees, but we’d heard that story a few times and the birds (and deer) were more exciting. Then we went through a tunnel and on the other side of river, the other railway went through 6 continuous tunnels called Cherry Creek. Scenery was totally different to forrest from yesterday with some desert looking areas and all along the river. One of these areas was called the HooDoos, nice formation of carved sandstone, then shortly after was avalanche alley – with one currently underway. They had fenced areas and were electrically monitored and would send a signal to Edmonton who would then send out a crew to check the track before the next train. Cisco crossing was two bridges, one each of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific lines. The CN one was half orange and half brown with stories of college students either drinking and being sent home or was too hot so packed up and went home. Another interesting area was Hells Gate – only 34metres wide and more water flowers over it than Niagara Falls. When the railways were being built they had monitored 42 million salmon come through and the next year after explosions and rocks changing river bed there were only 1.2 million salmon monitored. Kept thinking about the 4 year cycle where there was a mass migration of salmon and wondered if it took the railways 3 years to fix up this problem, hence killing off 3 years of big numbers? Anyway – I’m sure someone must have thought of that by now. Then we saw a float chopper landing – I thought that was pretty cool, never seeing or hearing of a float chopper before. Had a bit of a nap (probably nearly classed as deep sleep) after lunch and sorted out tip envelope and organised for Joanne to pay for our show last night. Got into Vancouver and Fiona hurt her ankle coming off the train. Got into room and confirmed we don’t have to move tomorrow. Then had fair dinner but last night which was quite sad. Will head down tomorrow for a waving party. Then got to skype Mel Madi and Lilly for a while. They had mic problems so we had to lipread and poor Mel type while holding Lilly. Shit – I’m swaying again. Have train legs which I didn’t have much last night. Anyway, figured I’d get all my ‘work’ done so can sleep in until breakfast/send off tomorrow, then meeting Amy around lunchtime.

Additional photos below
Photos: 60, Displayed: 39


Pretty againPretty again
Pretty again

You won't believe how many of these I've culled already!
Might've been only bear.Might've been only bear.
Might've been only bear.

Wasn't to be the case!
Banff Indian museumBanff Indian museum
Banff Indian museum

Depicting how they used to trap/kill buffalo.
Pretty mountainPretty mountain
Pretty mountain

Like I said - I've culled heaps too.
Mirror LakeMirror Lake
Mirror Lake

1hr walk up from Lake Louise

Tot: 1.98s; Tpl: 0.026s; cc: 13; qc: 79; dbt: 0.0187s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.6mb