Vancouver Island / British Columbia 2003
Having traveled throughout Prince Edward Island and Novia Scotia in 2001 and 2002, Janet and I decided to head West and do the other coast of Canada. We're taking along a wireless laptop and a Casio digital camera and hope to post a journal with a few pictures each day. I've put a link here in the Journal for discussions, so if you'd like to drop in and post a note, or ask a question, please feel free!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003  

Made it home about 9 p.m. last nite. Had to get up Tuesday a.m. around 3 a.m to catch flight out of Seattle. Almost had a chance to get 2 free tickets as they were calling for volunteers to take a later flight which I agreed to. If you got selected,then they also gave you 2 free roundtrip tickets anywhere in the US. Since we were in no hurry to get home, that sounded like a good deal. Alas, that was not to be the case, as it turned out they didn't need any volunteers to give up their seats (this is all done, cause the airlines often overbooks their seats). But they did ask us if one of us wanted to fly first class. I offered Janet the chance, but she, in a moment of sheer lunacy, decided to let me have it. So I got to sit with the fat cats and eat my ham/cheese croisant with fruit cup and get free drinks, while the poor peons back in coach were eating packaged donut sticks. Other than this so-so breakfast and a few extra inches of leg room, I find it hard to understand why companies would spring for all this extra money for their employees. Just wasteful, if you ask me. I paid $215 for that roundtrip ticket and the guy sitting next to me in first class about fell out of his seat when I told him that. I'm sure he was paying close to a grand for that seat.

Switched planes in Denver and back to peon status - good while it lasted! Plane arrived ontime - only 1 bag lost. Filled out a claim form. This morning (Wed a.m.) United guy calls to say he is looking at our bag and wondering why we hadn't filled out a claim form. Gads - no wonder the airlines are in trouble. Now they will fly the bag to Tri-Cities airport in Johnson City,TN and some guy will have to drive 85 miles out here to deliver it. Not the way for an airline to make money.

Some stats about one of the planes we flew in - - built by Airbus 2 years ago in France. Gets .5m/gallon - with price of jet fuel around .97/gallon - cost something like $1700 in fuel to fly to Denver. That came out to about $14/person on the plane. United has youngest fleet in the industry - last year won ontime performance over all other airlines - 93%. Also lost more money last year than ever before. This year claims to be doing better.

One other note - when walking through downtown Seattle, happened to stop in at the public library. Noticed that they were closing all branches as well as the main library of Seattle for the entire last week of August due to budget cuts. Times are getting bad!

Returned home about 9 p.m. - cats were waiting in the driveway for us. Seemed to be in good spirits. Think leaving a window open in our cottage gave them access in and out and saved us the problems we had last time we went on vacation with them wrecking our house.

Healthwise - got a wicked sunburn during the trip - face is still peeling to bits. Forgot that I'm not supposed to be out in the sun while on methotrexate and forgot the suntan lotion while sitting on the ferry outside for 2 hours. Developed a hard lump on the bottom of my foot right behind my little toe - no idea what that is - but don't like it. Colon screwed up for a while while eating too many weird things I don't eat at home and not taking my calcium/magnesium caps - fortunately, that cleared up after watching what I ate for a few days and starting back up on that magnesium. Arthritis started to flare on trip - found a health food store and bought some high potency fish oil capsules and downed about 8/day and it calmed back down. Janet was of course fine during the whole trip. Guess I'm just another victim of the Holmes stress syndromes. Think future vacations are going to have to allow for more rest points during the day, instead of the all day - never stop moving trip. RV would be nice - just crawl in the back and pass out! (grin) .

posted by ATHiker95 | 1:53 PM

Monday, August 04, 2003  

Monday p.m.

Spent the day browsing around Seattle. Walked down to the famous Pike Street Market. It's a special place with great fruit,veggie and fish vendors. These guys make a big deal out of throwing huge salmon back and forth to each other - quite the spectacle. Clicking on the pics below will take you to an 800x600 view.

Walked across town to check out a huge Chinese grocery store in Chinatown and then caught the city bus back towards the car. A quick 20 minute drive took us to the airport LaQuinta where I'm typing madly away. LOL I'm adding a few more pics that I didn't have time to add before, so scroll down and you'll stumble across a few you haven't seen before. Hopefully, you've enjoyed the travel blog - it was an interesting experience - a bit more work than I figured especially with the uploading of pics , etc. Now if the world was set up for high speed connections, life would be easier, but.... I did manage to connect wirelessly at 11mb/sec which is smoking compared to dial-up, so that part was good. We both enjoyed the Streets and Trips software program - made it very easy to get where you were going. Someday, when we take a year off to travel the world, I'll give this another shot maybe. See ya later guys and gals!

posted by ATHiker95 | 9:48 PM

Sunday - Spent most of the day driving down to Seattle. Crossed through the border in a blink of the eye, so that was nice. Staying downtown tonite at a very snazzy Marriott Suites hotel which normally runs $140/night, but got it for $40 and change through Priceline. King Bed, living room area with sleeper sofa, high speed internet (which I can't get to work), microwave, fridge, etc,etc. But very high scale - not used to this luxury level. Also right next door to the main REI store, which is incredible. I thought LL Bean was big up in Maine, but this tops that - it's incredible.

Going to spend the day tomorrow browsing around and then get a hotel near the airport since we have a 6 am flight out on Tuesday. Hate to see the time end, although it will be good to get home and rest! LOL

posted by ATHiker95 | 1:51 AM

Sunday, August 03, 2003  


Making another attempt to catch up here. (early Sunday a.m. as I write this) This has not been a particularly easy task, cause Janet is one of those folks who is like an Energizer bunny – wants to see every possible thing till the clock strikes midnight. She doesn’t understand the demands of geekdom.

Left the Super 8 in Campbell River this morning and headed towards Strathcona Provincial Park to do some hiking.

Didn’t realize we were going to be in such a beautiful area - A huge lake surrounded by awe inspiring mountains. There were lots of easy short hikes to take ,

so we went on about 6 of those, which gave us a good sampling – saw some very nice waterfalls and some interesting Karst formations (another geology term for you to Google on). A few areas had been burned and so there was a lot of new growth alongside the big massive Douglas Firs which seem to withstand all, due to their incredibly thick bark.

Picnicked at a nice spot in the shade near the lake – made me want to do a camping trip. Would be nice to have one of those VW Westfalia campers – gotta see if I can find a used one somewhere.

After our hikes in the park, we headed back towards Nainomo, where we were going to catch a late ferry to travel back over to the mainland towards Vancouver. Before that though, we headed to a special section of Old Growth Forest set aside by the lumber companies (a nod of the head to the environmentalists, I guess). Gorgeous , humongous Douglas firs, cedar and cypress. The largest tree there was some 250’ high and had been there 300 years prior to Columbus landing. Now that boggles the mind. That tree alone had enough lumber to build two 4 bedroom homes.

Heading now towards Nainomo where we have a 10:45 ferry to catch (2 hour ferry ride). We had figured on booking an earlier ferry but when we went online this morning, discovered all of the earlier ones were booked solid. Taking the last one got us a $20 discount on cost of transporting car, so not all bad. Unfortunately, ferry was an hour late getting in, so we didn’t leave till close to midnight. Had a pizza delivery guy bring us a pizza to the ferry dock – it wasn’t that great , but better than no dinner at all. Made it to a downtown Holiday Inn ($30- thank you very much Priceline!) by 3 a.m. Once again the laptop and Streets and Trips software by MS, made it a breeze. Took us without a hitch to the front door of the hotel – much easier than a map – assuming you have a willing navigator. Zonked immediately.

Saturday - Woke up about 10 a.m. Still exhausted. Decided to book room for another night. No luck – hotel full. Went on Priceline – couldn’t turn up a thing in Vancouver. Finally found a place about 60 miles out of town for about $45 – old hotel converted into a sort of B&B. Ate around 1 p.m. at the Tomahawk restaurant, an old North Vancouver shore landmark. The guy who started this restaurant used to trade food for Indian relics and has an incredibly valuable collection of old masks and regalia adorning his restaurant. I’d be worried about someone breaking and entering, but guess that has not been a problem – that’s probably a bit of USA paranoia.

Decided after breakfast, we would head up into the mountains for a drive to Whistler,

home to the upcoming 2010 winter Olympics – beautiful scenery. You can already see the beginnings of road construction and hotel construction. Typical touristy, fat cat city tourist villages at the base of the ski runs (won’t be catching me on those slopes! – I’d faint just looking down!). Strolled around, looking at all the wealth and high prices, then headed back down the mountain, only to be held up by someone who had crashed their van in front of us while having a heart attack. Not good. Stopped in Horseshoe Bay for more tummy fillings.

Some clam chowder soup and a collection of scallops,mussels, prawns,etc went down the hatch, while Janet consumed Halibut Fish and Chips. (she must have English ancestry?). Left there and headed towards hotel/B&B. Arriving about midnight across from an old downtown hotel, I held the door for 2 skid row looking characters who appeared to be entering the hotel to spend the night – a most encouraging note. Lady at the desk was nice though and we climbed the stairs in what looked like some hotel out of an Old West movie. Room turned out to be nice though – obviously remodeled recently. They must have spent a ton of money here.

Hopefully these pictures are coming out ok. Hard to tell the exact screen brightness on a laptop because as you swivel the screen , it goes from lighter to darker and you're not really sure what it will look like on a standard desktop monitor. Will hope for the best.

posted by ATHiker95 | 11:37 AM

Friday, August 01, 2003  

Thursday – Up and eating breakfast at 8 – another rather sorry breakfast. Also had freezing shower this morning as lady who ran B&B decided to do a load of laundry at 7:30 a.m. – right when everyone is trying to take a shower. Hello?? Damn near sucked the breath right out of me. Off to catch the ferry by 8:45 – made it as the last car they could fit in – barely got the rear of the car on the ferry and that was only with the nose of the car wedged underneath a huge concrete truck. If that truck had backed up about 2”, I’d be buying a new hood. Fortunately, didn’t happen.

About a 40 minute ferry ride to Alert Bay – no whale sightings. Unfortunately. Nice ride over though.

Took tour of cultural museum on island – very nice museum with incredible collection of potlatch items, including many, many excellent masks.

The Indians were outlawed back in the early 20’s from having potlatches and didn’t get that law repealed until 1951. The white man really did a number (once again) on them. Many of their artifacts were sold off to museums for practically nothing. If you’re not familiar with a potlatch, that will be your Google test of the day. Also “coppers” as unique types of “cash” – large pieces of copper that had drawings on them and were considered great signs of wealth amongst the Indians, although the white man didn’t seem to grasp this concept either. Good ol’ missionaries – they do know how to fix up the “heathens”.

After the museum, grabbed a burger on the wharf at a real dive, but it was a good burger and that’s all that counts. Headed for the “Big House” next where they were giving an afternoon dance performance. Janet and I (as well as the rest of the audience) even got to dance in the final dance – brought back old memories of childhood – just needed my Davy Crockett coonskin hat , but then maybe the Indians wouldn’t have thought that was such a great idea. Janet and I did win the dance contest though and our likenesses are now being enshrined on a totem that will be at the entrance to the “Big House”. (you do believe this, don’t you?). Actually, we were banned from the Big House for life for breaking into a lively “breakdance”. LOL

Time to hit the ferry again and head back south towards Campbell River. A couple of nice stops along the way – one for a delicious wild Sockeye Salmon burger on delicious bread and a hearty bowl of some very good clam chowder in Sayward. Best meal we’ve had so far. Taking a side row to catch a view of a river, we were standing on a bridge when a bald eagle came right down river and passed right over our heads – magnificent! Of course, by the time the ol’ digital warmed up and focused, I think the bird was nesting somewhere in the Artic. I did catch a blip of it’s tail feathers though, I believe.

Just before entering Campbell River, caught a beautiful sunset view of Sayward Narrows which is shown here.

posted by ATHiker95 | 3:00 AM

Thursday, July 31, 2003  

Wed – left Campbell River this morning and decided to skip the hike in the woods and proceed directly to Telegraph Cove to go out on a whale watching trip. Did some laundry and accessed the Internet at an Internet café. No email worth retrieving, of course, except did get a post from Sarah on our blog.

Beautiful drive up towards Telegraph Cove – about a 2 ½ hour trip to the extreme N.E. corner of the Island. Best scenery we’ve seen so far. I’d post some pics but just don’t have the energy to look at them, fix them up, upload them and then post the links to them. Maybe when I get a free moment. Ha!

Typing this about 11 pm. Took me about 30 minutes to set up the correct dialing rules on laptop to use calling card, plus Earthlink number - enough to drive one crazy. – just got back from our whale watching venture. We did manage to get within about 75 yards of 3 Orcas, which was pretty neat, but they were just doing gentle ups and downs in the water – no big awesome breeches or anything, which would have been nice. Before we went on the trip, we stopped at the B&B we are staying at tonight and there were 2 guys from Switzerland who had just come off a trip who ran into about 45 Orcas, many of which came up right next to their boat. I knew we were doomed then, as they mentioned they had moved on. The 3 we did see were in the Robson Bight ecological preserve, which is a protected cove – we saw these 3 inside the cove at first, but we’re not allowed to enter. They were probably a ¼ mile away at the time. Fortunately, they came out of the cove later and came fairly close as I mentioned above. They were inside “rubbing” themselves against the bottom , which apparently is one of their favorite past times. Many theories on why they might do that – one is that it is a sort of “mating” activity, yet others think they do it simply because it feels good. The captain put a sonar mike in the water and we could hear them vocalizing – now that was cool. Lot of research labs – mostly small tent platforms throughout this area – where researchers from around the world come to spend the summer monitoring the whales as they pass through. On the way back, we passed through a pretty sound called Blackfish Sound – the First Nations people’s name for whales was “Blackfish”. That’s my trivia point of the day. Did take some pics of the whales, but with a 35-100 zoom, it just doesn’t cut it, unless they’re on top of you.

Staying at a real nice house tonight, with a bay window that overlooks the bay. The lady who runs the B&B said she watched this group of some 40 Orcas pass through about an hour before we arrived. Grrrrrrrr……

Tomorrow morning – up bright and early to take a 40 minute ferry ride over to Alert Bay to see the First Nations cultural center. Supposed to really nice – totem carvings, native dances,etc.
Gotta run now - every minute in Canada takes up 5 minutes on my calling card , so no time to upload pics at the moment. That will have to wait till I get back to an area where I can use local access number for Earthlink. See ya!

posted by ATHiker95 | 2:50 AM

Tuesday, July 29, 2003  

Monday - Up this morning to be greeted with another iffy breakfast. My stomach/colon are beginning to rebel. We're off for Nainamo though, and have booked a room at another B&B.
Just one of the nice views overlooking Cowichan Bay.

Hopefully, will have better breakfasts anyway. Stopped at a little town with about 30+ murals painted on the walls. Pretty well done too.
. This is one of the murals that depicts various members of the founders of this town.

Also had a chance to listen to a one man Peruvian band. We love this kind of music - pan flutes,charango,etc. Ended up buying 2 CD's off of this guy.

Had a nice long conversation with a guy who had moved here from Alberta and was now running a small little noodle shop - made damn good noodles too. Eh? was his favorite word, as it is with most Canadians.

Made it to our destination around 6 p.m. Downstairs suite of a lady's house. Nice big den which is ours for the using. Bit musty, but only in the mid 40's range, so we won't bitch much. Of course, by morning, I may be on oxygen, but....

Took a real long walk along a beautiful harbor this evening. Not sure what the plan is tomorrow - debating - will probably be debating in the morning.

Note - all pics above are clickable, leading to full sized image.

posted by ATHiker95 | 2:11 AM

Monday, July 28, 2003  

Museum day – after a rather god awful breakfast at the B&B we’re staying at (nice B&B – Chinese couple’s home – the breakfast made me realize how good our breakfasts generally are. LOL ). Downtown to the Royal British Columbia Museum to see a large dinosaur exhibit called “Dragon Bones” from China and then continuing on to see a First Nation exhibit – the story of the native Indians of British Columbia. Some great totems here and a very interesting exhibit – unfortunately, no photos in the Indian part of the museum.

Left this museum and headed downtown to the water to grab some food. Janet had Fish and Chips and I had a Neptune Wrap (seafood and lettuce inside a soft red tortilla). Not bad – overpriced as much of the food is. Seems like it is hard to eat for under $20.

Back on the museum beat – off to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria which was having an exhibition of painting by the “Group of Seven”, who happen to be a group of painters from the 20’s and 30’s who sketched and painted much of the Rockies. They were an influence on Emily Carr’s work. Quite well known in Canada – art illiterate that I am, I had figured maybe they were some gang of hoodlums, whose wanted posters just happened to be in the Art Museum. Good exhibit though. Now that we’ve done the museum thing, we decided enough is enough and headed down to a pretty park in the area where we watched them playing cricket for awhile (we had absolutely no idea what the hell they were doing – Gary, you’ll have to give us lessons on this!). Snoozed off in the car for awhile, then strolled the gardens – beautiful gardens in the middle of the city . Off for a Starbucks latte, then a stroll around China town (Canada’s oldest Chinatown).
Haven’t seen a cop all day – maybe I can move to Canada and become a cop – they must sleep in all day, or maybe they’re like firefighters and hang around playing cards till someone gets murdered, which apparently never happens. Never heard a siren or saw a flashing light – astonishing. Weather is perfect again – sunny – mid 80’s , but always a cool breeze - no humidity. It seems that we’re blessed during the summers going to the different coasts of Canada. (Eat your heart out Becky and Gary! LOL - and you too Sarah – sweltering away down there in good ol’ Arkieland!).

Seabiscuit, the movie is out – want to see that after both of us listened to the book. Ya gotta read this book – it’s fabulous. Will be interesting to see how the movie is – gets generally pretty favorable reviews – we shall see – would be hard to live up to Lauren Hillenbrand’s writing.

Would post this, but have been switched to a different room at the B&B and no phone in this room. Thus, will have to wait. Still trying to find some time to post some pics

posted by ATHiker95 | 12:12 PM
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