Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
We're coming home!
After 12 days of travelling our vacation has finally come to an end. While it is sad to see an end to our vacation it is also exciting to go back home to see our family, friends and cat.
for the past few days we've been exploring Vancouver as much as possible. We went to the Aquarium and saw Beluga whales, sea otters and dolphins. We also spent a good chunk of time wandering around Robson Street but didn't end up buying too much. Yesterday, we started by wandering around Granville Island and then put on our rollerblades for a trip on the sea wall including all the way around Stanley Park. We ended up back at English Bay just in time to see the sunset and then found a cafe for a light dinner. Why a light dinner? Well this is because Shannon found a place that sold various teas plus had all you can eat chocolate fondue for $5.95! Needless to say Shannon was in chocolate heaven. Finally, we spent our last day being tourists at the Capilano Suspension bridge. Luckily it wasn't too busy which made exploring easier.
Here are a few more pictures. None of them are from Vancouver or even British Columbia since those are still stuck in the camera.
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Friday, September 08, 2006
We're back on the ferry heading to our final destination...Vancouver!
Two nights ago we went to SoBo for dinner in Tofino which was only a minute from our B&B. Shannon and I had our most expensive meal of our trip here but were both thoroughly impressed. Shannon had salmon and I had halibut and both dishes were incredibly fresh and tasted great! We had the famous fish tacos to start which despite being an odd combination of flavours was good as well.
On our last full day in Tofino our only plan was to explore the numerous hiking trails in the Pacific Rim National Park. As usual we were ambitious and managed to hike about 9 km of the available trails leaving us exhausted again by the end of the day. I especially loved the rainforest hike.
On Friday morning (today) we woke up to rain in Tofino. As this was mainy a travel day it didn't bother us too much. After packing the car up and saying good-bye to our B&B hosts we did make a stop in Ucluelet for a quick hike as the rain had temporarily stopped.
Next on the agenda is finally a few relatively relaxing days in the city to end our vacation. We do have a long list of things we'd like to do however and only three days to get them done in. Once we check in to our hotel this evening our plan is to find some dinner and figure out what we'll be doing each day.
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006
We arrived in Tofino at 7:00 last night. By then we had been travelling for over 24 hours since we left Jasper. Needless to say we were quite tired as neither Shannon nor I got a lot of sleep on the train.
At 9:30 am on Tuesday we arrived at the Vancouver train station but our ultimate destination was still many hours and several modes of transportation away. First, we boarded a greyhound bus to take us on to the ferry from the train station at 11:30 am. We then took the ferry over to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From there, not knowing we could get picked up, I walked for 20 minutes to pick up our rental car and then return to the ferry dock where I left Shannon with all our bags. With the both us in the car we now had a 3 hour drive to get to Tofino. The drive itself was quite an adventure as the road twisted and turned its way through the mountains in order to get to Vancouver Island's west coast.
Well that's enough about our journey to Tofino. What have we done since getting here?
Today was our whale watching and trip to an all natural hot springs. The boat ride was about 1.5 hours but on the way out the morning fog Tofino regularly gets had not lifted yet so there wasn't much to see. The hot springs however were amazing and even the 2km hike to get to them was breathtaking as it winded through old growth rainforest. On the way back to Tofino we did get to see a humpback whale in a distance plus some sea lions and harbour seals. In the end it was a pretty enjoyable day.
Shannon and I are now sitting in a coffee shop in Tofino. We are looking forward to a nice dinner out by the water and having some fresh seafood... maybe we will see another whale!
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It is now 8:45 pm Pacific Time. We left Jasper a few hours ago and are due to arrive in Vancouver tomorrow morning around 9:00 am.
During our first full day in Jasper we ventured out to Maligne Canyon for some hiking and then on further to Maligne Lake. We spent about 2 hours exploring the trails around Maligne Canyon. The canyon itself is amazing reaching over 50 meters deep in points due to years and years of erosion and glacier melting. It really is amazing to see what nature can do when left on its own. Maligne Lake is the largest glacial lake in the Rockies. It is another beautiful spot and has a really good hiking trail that Shannon and I went on. The trail follows the shore of the lake for a while and then loops back around through some wonderful forests. Even though this trail is a mere few kilometers from the busy end of the lake we found ourselves completely alone duriing portions of the hike which added to the experience.
After several days of non-stop activity this fairly low activity day still managed to wear us out by 6:00 pm. Once we arrived back in Jasper we had a quick meal at the Jasper Brewing Company, found some ice cream for Shannon and then went back to our B&B to call it a night.
A good nights sleep was well needed since we had to get up early on Monday in order to squeeze in one more hike before catching the train to Vancouver. As it turned out the train was running late which gave us more time for exploration. Our destination today was the summit of Whistler's mountain a few kilometers south of Jasper. We took a tramway almost to the top and the hiked the remaining 2km to the summit and beyond. Being over 2400 meters above sea level meant that we were above the treeline in the alpine tundra and it also meant the air was much thinner. While breathing was alittle harder we still managed to complete the mostly uphill climb but were rewarded with magnificent views of the valley.
We got back down to Jasper just in time to pick up some food for our train journey before boarding the train about 2 hours behind schedule.
Once getting on the train Shannon and I head straight for the dome car and stayed there until it got dark. The views were amazing with the highlight being able to see and get some pictures of Mount Robson. Now that it is dark we are back at our seats about to attempt to get a few hours of sleep.
Depending on when the train decides to arrive in Vancouver tomorrow our big adventure is going to be getting ousevles from the train station to the ferry and then over to Nanaimo where we pick up another car for the next portion of our trip.
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Day 3 of our vacation has now come to a close.
Yesterday we spent our time hiking to the Banff Springs Hotel and the Bow River falls. After doing some shopping we then left Banff for Johnston Canyon. Johnston Canyon is a popular hike in the area and rightly so. The limestone canyon has been formed over thousands of years by the water rushing through it. At some points the trail consists of a boardwalk that is literally attached to the side of the canyon. The return hike to the upper falls of the canyon was 5.4 km so by the time we completed it we were quite tired. To end our day we went to a great brew pub in Canmore called the Grizzly Paw. I had an awesome amber ale.
Now on to today. Continuing the momentum from the day before we packed in another full day as we travelled from Banff to Jasper. While only a distance of 300 km the entire journey took about 10 hours. Our first stop was going to be the famous Lake Louise but we had an unscheduled stop on our way to the Bow Valley parkway when a grizzly bear decided to walk in front of our car. This awesome site was not enough for Shannon who proceeded to get out of the car to get closer pictures. The bear didn't care at all and as a result we got some good pictures.
Lake Louise was beautiful as expected but after going on a short hike we left since it was so crowded. Instead we ventured on to the Icefields Parkway that would eventually take us to Jasper. Our first stop came soon after at the Bow Lake Trail. We spent about an hour here exploring the area around this glacier lake. After a quick stop at Peyto Lake for a few pictures our next hike was at the Panther and Bridal Veil falls. This hike was fun and exhilerating as we managed to find a trail that got us right behind the thunderous falls. This stop was also particularly worthwhile as it got us away from the crowds for a while.
After a bunch more driving we finally entered Jasper National Park and soon after stopped at the Icefields Centre. Here we decided to join all the other tourists and take the Sno-Coach right on the the Athabasca Glacier. This was quite the experience to be standing on a glacier even if they were charging $30 for it.
Once we were finished exploring the Athabasca glacier it was 7:00 pm already and we were still at least an hour from Jasper. Needless to say our journey from there had much less stops but we did manage to find some goats for Shannon and another waterfall for me.
Our long day finally ended just after 9:00 pm when we safely arrived in
Jasper and found our B&B for the next few days.
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Friday, September 01, 2006
Our trip to Western Canada is finally underway We have been in Alberta for only about 12 hours but have been keeping ourselves busy. Upon arriving in Calgary we picked up our rental car and drove through downtown and past the Canada Olympic Park on our way to Canmore. We got to Canmore around 2:00 pm which is where we'll be staying for the next couple of nights. After a quick hour and a half power nap we headed out again for the final 20 km drive to Banff National Park.
The views around here are absolutely amazing! Even the drive from Calgary was great! Shannon and I are loving being surrounded by all the mountains and every new turn brings even more breathtaking scenery.
With only a few hours left in our day once we arrived in Banff Town we immediately set out for our first hike, tunnel mountain. Tunnel mountain is relatively small but the 2.4km hike to the summit still produced amazing views of the surrounding valley. I will post some pictures soon.
After our hike we had worked up an appetite so we headed back to Banff Avenue to do some shopping before going to Earl's for dinner.
Finally, we headed back to our hotel for some much needed rest. Lots more hiking and sightseeing to do tomorrow!
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