August 19th Slept in a little longer than planned this morning. It was just so cozy in the tent, we couldn't pry our lazy butts out! We quickly packed up, and had a simple breakfast on the road. A-M drove pretty much all day. Good thing we slept in, because the highway from Cache Creek to Whistler (#99) was scary! Lots of twists and turns, ups and downs. In many spots there were no baracades or even shoulders, just a 1000' drop. One false move would be very messy, and they'd never find the charred remains amongst the trees. Along one leg, we coasted for about 30min. The whole 200 km drive took about 3.5 hours. Beyond the treacherous driving, the scenery was beautiful. We made it into Whistler Village by about 2:00. On the way into town, we passed a Whistler Air Service turbo-Beaver getting hauled out of the lake in pieces...oops! How much for that tour? We were starving, so we paid the outrageous prices, and had lunch at one of the pubs (the Dubhlinn Gate Pub). After eating, A-M checked in with her cousin (they live in Whistler), and we spent the next couple hours walking around the shops of the village. We had to stay alert at all times to avoid being run down by the many mountain bikers. The place was lousy with them. We made it to A-M's cousin Jamie's (and family) by 5:15. We had a nice lasagna with fresh baked buns and chilled wine (mental note: locate more relatives between Ottawa and BC to "drop-in" on). We went for a walk around Jamie & Donna's neighborhood after supper. Wow, some verrry nice houses. We bumped into one of Jamie & Donna's neighbors along the way, he is #2 in the InterWest Development Corp. executive. We're not worthy, we're not worthy. Got to bed by 10-10:30, again nice and warm, and dry. Ahhhh.
looking back at Kamloops Lake as we leave valley / rest stop along Hwy 99, note lack of guard rails and 1000' drop-off / A-M looking rich & snobby (in order to fit in) at Whistler/Blackcomb
August 20th Got up fairly early so we could go to church with Jamie and kids (Donna had to work). When we got back, we had a quick lunch and got showered up. Hit the road by 1:00, bound for the ferry out of West Vancouver. It was another twisty-turny drive, but not as bad as the day before. This time the scenery was of the coast, very nice. If it wasn't overcast, we may have even seen the other side of the strait. Most of this update was typed in while waiting to get on to the ferry, about 1.5 hours. The ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Nanaimo was about 1.5 hours, during which time we finished this update, and did a few postcards. We plan to camp near to Nanaimo tonight, more details when we check in next. (N.B. this update was sent from aboard the ferry, cool!)...
Sorry for the break in our running commentary. My webserver decided to die last Sunday (20th). Thanks to my good friends back home for their effort in reviving the box.
20th cont'd ...Once ashore, we stopped at a tourist info place to get a better idea of the campgrounds in the Nanaimo area. We ended up at a nice place called Tranquility Woods Campground (www.tranquilitywoods.com). I set up the tent while A-M cooked supper (we are getting pretty good at this now). In bed by 9:30...in preparation for a big day tomorrow.
cool high speed ferry we couldn't afford to travel on
August 21st We got up and out of the campground early (8:30), in hopes of making it to Tofino (on the west coast of Vancouver Island) in time for a hot springs or whale watching tour today. We made a couple of stops on the way: a short walk around the Cathedral Grove, an area of original old growth forest with 800 year old cedar and sitka spruce; stop for gas in Port Alberni, and to ask advice about the strange wear pattern on my front left tire; and finally in a spot 30km from Tofino where the phone signal was strong, so we could call ahead to the whale watching tour places and make reservations. Between Port Alberni and the turn off for Tofino (about a 60km stretch), the highway was again crazy-curvy, but with construction as well! We finally made it to Tofino around 12:00, plenty of time to catch our hot springs/whale watching trip with Remote Passages Tours at 1:00. We figured it would be wise to check into a local campground now since our tour wouldn't return until 8:00pm. All the campgrounds were very busy, so we had to settle for an overpriced ($30) tiny little campsite. We flew into downtown Tofino, to grab something to eat and drink on our 7hr trip. We made it to the tour office at 12:50...plenty of time... pant...pant...The tour was awesome! We got suited up in bright orange maritime survival suits, and piled into a hard-bottomed zodiac with two 150hp Merc's on the back... hoo-whaa! We toured around the coast on the way to the hot springs, saw some grey whales and stuff. The hot springs had a 2km board walk leading up to it from the wharf, through a really neat old growth temperate rain forest. We thought the trees we saw in Cathedral Grove were big until now. Picture a cedar tree 3 to 4 metres in diameter...wow. The hot springs were just that, HOT! We soaked for a good 30 minutes, until we were well roasted. We got back in the zodiac, and bombed out into the 1-2metre swells of the open Pacific in search of a humpback whale. We got back to shore around 8:20. We set up the tent and prepared supper by lantern light that night...thankyou Coleman! We had supper, and got ready for bed. Before we got to sleep, I asked Anne-Marie to marry me. A perfect ending to a great day.
Cathedral Grove / Jim standing in awe of nature / A-M getting back to her roots / can you find Jim's head? / Sproat Lake / ready to ride! / the fog is lifting / our sister ship / a feeding gray whale / some coastal scenery / welcome to the swamp! / A-M enjoying the HOT spring / looking out into Hot Springs Cove / flock of sea kayaks in the cove / can you find Anne-Marie in this pic? / the ring
August 22nd Woke up to the sound of kaw'ing ravens, and a fog horn. We tried to sleep in a little, you know, just until the fog had lifted. We finally rolled out of bed and showered off all the sea salt and sulphur from the previous day. We popped into town to mail some postcards and grab some groceries. The drive back to Port Alberni was much quicker this time. I figured out the secret: add 20 kph to the posted speed limit for each corner, and accelerate heavily in between. We took 20 min. off our time...A-M was a little queesy though. We made a stop for more groceries (meat only) and at Little Qualicum Falls Prov. Park for a BBQ hamburger lunch. We stopped again in Nanaimo for gas, and to call our respective parents with the news of our engagement. We pushed on to Victoria, and set up camp in a RV Park right on the edge of the city (Thetis Lake Campground). We set the tent up and ate dinner by lantern light again. This was only the second time we did not use the tarp.
view of Clayoquot Sound from Radar Hill, near Tofino / Jim versus the mini powdered donut
August 23rd Got up fairly early, and headed out for Victoria. First we went down to Her Majesty's Canadian Dock Yard in Esquimalt to see if we could get a free tour or something. We soon found out that all of the free (or cheapo) tours were done for the summer. We had to settle for walking around Naden, the old part of the base that is part of the Navy school now. We did get a close-up view of a CPF in dry-dock. Afterwards we headed downtown to walk around a bit. We walked around the inner harbour, and checked out a couple tourist traps: Miniature World (a bunch of miniature dioramas from history...pretty neat), and the Crystal Garden (a big greenhouse-like building filled with tropical plants, monkeys, birds, and butterflies). We waited until the perfect time of day to leave Victoria, 4:30. Traffic wasn't actually too bad, and we pulled off to check out Buchart Gardens before we got to the ferry, avoiding a lot of tie-ups. Buchart Gardens was a little pricey ($13.50 ea.), but it was really nice. We walked around there until about 6:30, then raced for Swartz Bay in hopes of catching the 7:00 ferry to Vancouver (actually Tsawwassen, a suburb). We squeeked on the ferry at 6:55, phew! On the ferry we tried to catch up on our scrapbooks as much as possible. We got into Vancouver around 9:15, and stayed the night at a B&B downtown, the Kingston Hotel. The B&B front desk guy advised us against using the local parking lots due to break-ins. He instead advised we pay $15 to get 24 hour parking in the Westin Grand's parking garage (across the street). This worked out well since we planned to ride our bikes around all day tomorrow anyway. Before bed, we walked around the downtown a bit to find a bite to eat and maybe some ice for the cooler. The streets of Vancouver at night are a little freeky; lots of one-eyed bums, and teenagers with nose rings and spiked purple hair. We couldn't find a convenience store that sold ice, so on the advice of a nice book store owner we went to McDonalds and pretended that A-M had a sprained ankle to get a bag of ice. We threw the ice in the cooler, and headed to bed. We again tried to catch up on our scrapbooks; we were now behind about 3 days. We packed it in around 1:00.
checking out DAVIS' handiwork on CPF in dry dock / view across Victoria Harbour at Legislature Buildings / the Royal Empress Hotel / one of the miniature dioramas from Miniature World / one of many totems in Thunderbird Park / inside the Crystal Palace / some lazy lemurs / A-M has made a friend! / I'm tired, push me... / Buchart Gardens - sunken garden / Buchart - me in the Japanese garden / Buchart - nice fountain / an evening ferry ride to Vancouver
August 24th We got up and had our complimentary continental breakfast, and got showered up. We checked out, and packed our stuff up in the truck. We hauled out our bikes and headed to Stanley Park. We biked around the park to 3rd beach, where we layed around on the sand for a bit (did I mention it was a gorgeous day?). We then made our way up Robson St. back to Westin Grand where our truck was parked. Along the way we stopped at a pasta bar for lunch (~2:00); A-M had Scoobi pasta with a smoked salmon and garlic butter sauce, and I had Rotini with a shrimp and scallop cream sauce...yummmm. We did a little souvenir shopping before we headed back to the truck. We again waited for the ideal time to leave the city, 4:30. Traffic was heavy, but we didn't have any real problems getting out. We wanted to get as far east as possible before nightfall. We stopped for gas and subs in Abbotsford, and made it as far as Merritt, BC by night. During the day, the truck appeared to be getting lousy gas mileage. We figured that our front end alignment (remember the strange tire wear?) had gotten so bad that it was effecting our mileage. We stayed the night in the Claybanks RV Park, right in town. We were wiped-out, so we just set up the tent and packed it in around 10:00.
view of downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park
August 25th Tried to get up early, but we were still wiped. We eventually got up and out of the campground by 9:30. I made an appointment with TireCraft, a local garage, to get a front end alignment . The alignment was quite bad according to the mechanic (have to cut back on the puddle jumping I guess), and took about 1.5 hrs...time we spent catching up on our scrapbooks and webpage updates. After the work on the truck was done, we made our way back through Kelowna to Golden, BC (close to Alberta border on Trans-Canada). We picked a pleasant sounding campground right in Golden: the Wispering Spruce. We set up the tent/tarp (what a pain! the ground was tinder dry and hard as a rock!) and had BBQ pizza for dinner. We did our laundry before making it to bed around 11:30. Shortly after which we found that the name "Whispering Spruce" should actually be "Screeming Drunk College Kids With Transport Engine Breaks". A-M got pissed ("We need our sleep damn it!") and called the campground owner on the cell phone to complain. We eventually got to sleep ~12:30.
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