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Back to Vancouver

End of first tour

sunny 19 °C
View Canada/US 2016 on MissWalker's travel map.

5 October 2016

We departed at 7.45am, which meant bags had to be ready for collection at 6.45am. The morning departure times haven't been too bad on this tour but having my bag ready an hour before means I have to be showered, dressed, packed up and ready to go at least an hour before departure ... which means getting up early.

We drove straight to the ferry. During the one and a half hour ferry ride there was an announcement that there are a couple of orcas ahead ... I managed to see a fin but it was too far away to see properly. A few people were dropped off at the Vancouver airport and around 12.00pm we were back at the hotel where we started. And the tour was over!

The tour was, not suprisingly, called The Canadian Rockies and the tour company was Cosmos. Cosmos is a budget tour company but I was very impressed with the hotels, the tour inclusions, the fabulous Tour Director (Serena), the bus and driver (John). We had a really good group of people who were fun to be with each day. I really enjoyed the tour ... there were so many highlights but the lasting memory will be Canada's spectacular mountain scenery!

It was 19C in Vancouver so I went out for a walk in the sunshine. I walked around for about two hours and went back to the hotel for a rest. I've fitted a lot into the last two weeks and I'm feeling tired. I have a couple of days to relax before the next part of my journey.

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6 October 2016

The weather cooled last night and it rained overnight. The day was a bit cold, top of 12C, and overcast/drizzly. Not ideal for sightseeing. I walked for about two hours but I've seen enough of Vancouver. My stay here has been a bit too long - I had to fit in with the train timetable and it only runs a couple of times a week.

I spent most of the afternoon in my hotel room doing some admin (still have to pay bills while I'm away) and reorganising my bag, At the train station I will have to check my main bag so I have to fit everything I need for four days into my backpack.

I will catch the train tomorrow night. The train has no wifi so I won't be updating the blog until I reach Toronto on 11 October.

Posted by MissWalker 08:20 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Whistler to Victoria

Butchart Gardens and then the rain came

overcast 14 °C
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3 October 2016

For the second morning in a row I had breakfast at the hotel. So nice to have a proper breakfast. We departed at 8.30am and it wasn't long before we had a photo stop at the lookout for Tantalus Glacier. Around 9.30am we stopped and had the opportunity to do a short walk to Shannon Falls The air was a bit fresh but it was a lovely walk through the moss covered trees.

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We were soon driving alongside the coast and then into Vancouver and the ferry terminal. The ferry crossing from Vancouver to Victoria took about an hour and a half. Photo: Logs floating on the Fraser River coming into Vancouver.

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From the ferry we drove straight to Butchart (pr Booshart) Gardens and were let loose to explore the gardens for nearly two hours. We wandered the paths through the sunken garden, Japanese garden, rose garden and Italian garden. Although the weather is getting quite cool there was still plenty of flowers to add colour to the garden. I've seen a lot of beautiful gardens in many countries and I was really looking forward to Butchart Gardens - while Butchart was impressive I didn't love it (maybe I've seen too many beautiful gardens).

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The sky was overcast and you could feel that rain would fall soon. Our luck held again and the rain waited until we were finished at the gardens and back on the bus. By the time we reached the hotel steady rain was falling. I went out for a walk, using my umbrella for the first time this trip. The lights on the parliament building were sparkling in the rain.

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4 October 2016

There were excursions on offer today but I didn't sign up for any so I had a whole day free! I walked for a couple of hours in the morning - around a park and along the waterfront. The rain had gone and the morning was sunny. Also I walked around in the afternoon but the rain was back again and I'd seen enough of Victoria - it's a small city.

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Posted by MissWalker 22:21 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Whistler

The great bear hunt of 2016

sunny 16 °C
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2 October 2016

I didn't have to get up early ... so I didn't! We have a bonus at this hotel, they let us have breakfast. The great weather continued today - the sun was shining and the sky was blue when I set off around 9.15am to explore Whistler. I walked to the upper village and around the pedestrian centre of the village ... a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

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The people doing the treetops adventure met at 12.15pm, we signed a waiver and were transported by van to the start of the walk. We walked up and down steps, crossed suspension bridges and stood on high platforms in the tree tops while a guide told us about the forest. One platform was nearly 50 metres high. It was peaceful among the trees and I wanted to stay longer.

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We were back in town at 12.30pm and Kellie and I went to find out about doing a drive to find bears. We signed up for the trip leaving at 5.00pm. I wandered around for a while but I'd seen enough of Whistler - it's quite small. There are a lot of Aussies living in Whistler ... there's a meat pie shop and the supermarket sells Vegemite, Tim Tams and they even had lamingtons.

Kellie and I were picked up at the hotel and we picked up another three people before leaving Whistler. First we drove to Alexander Falls, then entered the Callaghan Lake Park. We were all searching for bears as we drove along the bumpy dirt road, but no bears to be seen! We parked and went for a short walk along the path to the lake. Our driver/guide Liam pointed out the trees that had been ripped apart by bears searching for grubs. At this time of year the bears are constantly searching for food in daylight hours - they need to eat around 15,000 to 20,000 calories a day to prepare for hibernation.

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Again we drove along the dirt road searching for bears, driving slowly where Liam had seen bears yesterday. No bears and daylight was starting to disappear. I was beginning to think it would be similar to my whale watching attempt in Iceland - three hours out on the rough ocean and I didn't see any whales.We left the park and returned to the sealed road. The cars ahead pulled to the side of the road and stopped ... a sign of a wildlife sighting. There was a black bear in the grass near the road. Liam turned the car around so we were even closer to the bear. We watched the bear for nearly 15 minutes before he decided that was enough photos and he headed into the trees. Our little adventure wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped but at least we saw one bear.

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Posted by MissWalker 22:01 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Sun Peaks to Whistler

Taking a scenic detour

all seasons in one day 16 °C
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1 October 2016

We left Sun Peaks at 8.00am. The bad news was that the road we should be travelling on had been washed away and we would have a detour that would add a least an extra hour to our travel day. The good news was that the detour would take us through a really beautiful valley.

We skirted the edge of the sprawling city of Kamloops then travelled through farmland, mainly arid hilly land covered with sagebrush. The only green areas were along the river and the irrigated crops. Our morning break was at the Hat Creek Ranch, which had actually closed at the end of the summer season but Serena had called ahead and they agreed to open for us. They had baked blueberry scones and their specialty sausage rolls.

We followed the river and the train tracks - the scenery became quite spectacular, with a drop close to the side of the road down to a deep gorge as we climber higher and higher. We made a photo stop at a look out over the Thompson Canyon ... I didn't need a stop because I was sitting on the side of the bus closest to the sheer drop down to the river. The narrow winding road must have been hard work for the driver but we got to see this beautiful canyon because of the detour.

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The lunch stop was at the small town of Lillooet, where we soaked up the sunshine while eating our soup and sandwiches. Shortly after leaving Lillooet we made a photo stop at a lake (Duffy Lake?). It rained on and off as we travelled alongside a river edged with vibrant autumn colours ... very difficult to get photos from a moving bus with lots of window reflections but I certainly tried hard.

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We watched a short DVD about beavers and how they build their homes. We had previously seen a beaver dam but our next stop was at a natural log jam, which had the effect of slowing the water to a trickle and forming a lake.

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After a day of winding roads and beautiful scenery we finally arrived in Whistler around 6.00pm. I went for a quick walk around Whistler - it looks pretty. I was tired after the long day on the bus but I'll have time to explore Whistler tomorrow.

  • Forgot to write: I saw some bald eagles. Six bald eagles, two early in the day and four as we were entering Whistler (three in one tree).

Posted by MissWalker 15:42 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Jasper to Sun Peaks

Water lilies at turtle lake

semi-overcast 19 °C
View Canada/US 2016 on MissWalker's travel map.

30 September 2016

At 9.00am we departed Jasper in steady rain - there was fresh snow on the nearby mountains. At the beginning of the tour Serena told us that she was in charge of arrangements for the tour, John was in charge of driving and we were in charge of the weather. So far we've done a great job with the weather but today didn't look too promising and we were hoping to see the top of Mount Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The peak of Mount Robson is usually cloud free between five to 20 days a year.

The rain cleared as we drove along but low cloud hung over the mountains. Before long we left Jasper National Park, crossed from Alberta back into British Columbia (clocks back one hour) and entered the Mount Robson Provincial Park. We drove into the carpark at Mount Robson and there was the mountain peak, clearly visible with blue sky. We had done our magic with the weather again! About 15 minutes after we'd taken our photos the cloud started to cover the peak.

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We left the park, driving along a highway edged by aspen trees with bright yellow leaves. I chose this time I year because I wanted to see the leaves changing colours and this was perfect. There were still mountains in the background but the scenery had changed to rolling hills with crops and livestock.

Around 12.30 we stopped for lunch at a lake in Clearwater. The restaurant was called the Painted Turtle - there was supposed to be turtles in the lake but we didn't see any. No turtles but lots of water lilies on the still clear water. There were little cabins along the lake and I really wanted to stay there.

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We arrived in Sun Peaks around 4.00pm. Sun Peaks is a small ski resort town. We are the only tour group in town and it's very quiet. I went for a walk around town (there are bear warning signs but I didn't come across any bears), followed by a pizza dinner with a few people from the tour.

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Posted by MissWalker 18:43 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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