Too bad it’s all over…

Unfortunately, it already has been quite a while since we returned home after our flight from Vancouver t' Amsterdam.
We have had a blast tourin', enjoyin' and experiencin' Canada, and more specifically BC and Alberta and all th' good thin's this country and it’s provinces have t' offer.

We would definately like t' see more, but our time were bein' limited and all spent.

So long, and thanks fer all th' fish!

Taking a walk downtown

After arrivin' in Victoria yesterday we decided that we needed a day without too many activities, a day o' relaxin' and takin' it easy. Aarrr! And swab the deck! And so we did.

After a breakfast at th' hotel we started walkin' t' downtown Victoria, we'll keel-haul ye, ye scurvey dog! As it were bein' only a few blocks away we didn’t bother t' take th' boat, as it would just be a hassle t' park. Furthermore, th' weather were bein' lovely, so an easy stroll it were bein'.

Walkin' t' th' city took us straight through Chinatown, th' biggest in Canada, accordin' t' th' leaflets. Its entrance marked by a huge gate, it stretches a few blocks in all directions and is as busy as ye’d expect.
Walkin' further we encountered th' auld city with th' harbour and th' British Columbia Houses o' Parliament with th' official provincial Christmas Tree right in front o' it. Aarrr, by Blackbeard's sword! All built in th' traditional Canadian style (o' which I don’t know th' name right now)

After takin' it easy in th' city and just sightseein' down there we were in th' mood fer a little action and drove t' Victoria Butterfly Gardens t' put th' newly acquired 105mm macro t' work. A great idea!
Home t' about 6000 butterflies and a wealth o' animals, it is a great place t' just hang aroun'. Which we did, obviously, to be sure. 😉

Tomorrow th' trip and flight home, tonight some ingenious packin' t' get everythin' in th' correct bag!

Going further south

Today had quite a long sail on our schedule, sailin' all th' way east and south from Tofino t' Victoria.

Our first stop o' th' day were bein' (well, after breakfast o' course) a trip down a piece o' auld growth temperate rainforest. Walk the plank! It is called, not surprisingly, th' Rainforest Trail and consists o' 2 loops, each 1km long, and a bucket o' chum. Loop B is closed due t' storm damage, but loop A is fully accessible. The entire trail is raised off th' ground by a boardwalk which makes an easy stroll and a very low impact on th' surroundin' forest.
It is plain awesome, avast!
The forest looks pristine, yet very cluttered and unordered, but that is just th' way such a forest should look like. If a tree toppled o'er, it just lays there and becomes ground fer th' other plants and trees t' grow on, ye scurvey dog. Really fascinatin' stuff t' see, and awe inspirin' due t' th' where height o' th' giant cedars and th' wealth o' growth in th' forest.

After that we drove straight t' Victoria and did an evenin' stroll t' see downtown Victoria by night, by Davy Jones' locker. It is such a lovely city! And hoist the mainsail! Very picturesk.

Tomorrow a full day o' explorin' th' city!

Last day in Tofino

Other people might say we are nuts, I’d say we went out and made th' most o' it. Today were bein' filled with water time, in total 3 hours lookin' at bears and o'er 6 hours lookin' fer whales and such!

And oh me, we have seen th' lot. From amazin' birds like th' Tufted Puffins and Bald Eagles t' marine mammals like Sea Otters, Grey Whales, Humpback Whales, Killer Whales, Harbour Porpoises, Harbour seals, Steller Sealions, River Otters, and th' likes t' obvious land dwellers like th' infamous Black Bear and wolves.

It has truly been th' most amazin' say o' our trip, and are pretty exhausted now. And maybe a little sunburnt from all this bein' outdoors…

Tomorrow a trip t' Victoria, t' our final hotel. Tofino, we are goin' t' miss ye! Walk the plank!

Gone fishing

This mornin' has t' be th' most easy mornin' we had in quite a while, and a bucket o' chum. We started off by sleepin' in, and aroun' 9 we had an excellent breakfast in th' restaurant next door. Compare this with our usual hours and ye know why our spirits were up as th' rain poured down quite heavily!

We were scheduled fer yet another trip on a boat t' see whales, this time from Tofino and t' see Grey Whales and Humpbacks. Our trip were bein' scheduled fer 3 in th' afternoon, but seein' th' weather forecasts (heavy showers betwixt 3 and 5) we really didn’t feel like it and asked th' friendly people o'er at Jamies t' reschedule our tour t' th' one before that. Luckily, this were bein' possible and we embarked at 12:30.

Fully litter and suited up in our padded floatation suit, we stepped into th' Blue Thunder, a rigid hulled zodiac. We were promised an excitin' ride, and that is exactly what it were bein'. Completely exposed t' th' weather, we were quite lucky fer th' showers t' have lifted and t' have made way fer very light drizzle which even did not last long.

The trip down Clayoquot sound is great, fast, windy as th' twin engines roar and definitely not as wet as ye’d expect. And swab the deck, pass the grog! The first Grey Whales were found very quickly, and after gazin' at them fer some while we went on t' find our humpbacks, with a chest full of booty. We eventually spotted them breachin'! 
Unfortunately this were bein' th' only breach we saw, but it were bein' awesome!

The ride on th' zodiac were bein' great, but not good fer takin' photographs at all as it is way too bouncy, ye scurvey dog. Tomorrow a bigger boat, I guess!

Let’s go surfing!

Startin' off in Campbell River we headed out t' th' other side o' Vancouver Island, t' Tofino. This is quite a long sail straight through th' rugged terrain that is th' island’s inland.
The terrain includes steep mountains, lakes, th' obvious pine forests and some pretty amazin' stuff: rainforests, with a chest full of booty!

Right after startin' on th' island ocean, we encountered Miracle Beach, which is rumoured t' be a really pretty and just beach. Unfortunately, it were bein' neither, I'll warrant ye. Completely empty, smelly and quite small we quickly left t' get on with our trip.
We did run into a nice deer who were bein' kind enough t' pay attention t' us but not flee. And hoist the mainsail! Long enough fer us t' get close enough fer some nice closeup shots!

The real highlight o' th' day were Qualicum Falls. There actually are two falls there, we started off with th' lower and proceeded t' th' upper falls. That is th' right way! The lower falls are pretty dull, but th' upper falls are very picturesk! We have seen quite a lot o' falls recently, but these are pretty nice.

Further en route t' Tofino we had t' go through Pacific Rim National Park and we stopped in quite a few places t' check out th' scenery and see what this park had t' offer. Mostly beaches and coastal environment.
Pretty neat stuff! Take into account there is still some temperate rainforest in this area, and ye can imagine th' unique make o' these surroundin's.

Tomorrow, we’ll be doin' some local hikin' before checkin' in with Jamie’s t' go on a boat. Again!

Tharrrr she blows!

Nay, ye are not readin' a recycled post, this is just th' second time we go on this trip. 😉

As we enjoyed th' first time aroun' on th' whale watchin' trip as much as we did on th' day before yesterday, we booked a second time (today) straight after returnin', avast.
So, today, a third day in a row, we travelled t' Telegraph Cove t' get on a boat. And fer th' third time, it were bein' cold. Very cold.

And again, th' Johnston Straight delivered! Fire the cannons! After goin' out t' a matriline o' resident orca we found they were too far away, and still gettin' further out, to be sure. We stopped pursuein' them and went back t' th' Humpback whales we ignored on our way out. The biologist on duty (Jackie, a former dutch resident teachin' biology in Rotterdam) is studyin' them and got really excited after discoverin' one if ‘that comely wench’ whales had a calf, and must therefore be female, and dinna spare the whip!

Leavin' them, and with Jackie in desperation, we headed out fer our true goal: orca.
And did we find them!

Eventually, th' Cap'n o' our ship maneuvered us quite a long distance from a group o' orca, feedin' along th' coast o' Knight’s Inlet. And hoist the mainsail! Ahoy! As they were gettin' closer and closer t' pass on th' right, more matrilines appeared on our left and front leavin' us surrounded by orca!
One o' th' families decided they would change their route, which led straight under out boat! Walk the plank! I’ve got one amazin' shot o' an orca, appearin' from under th' boat and slightly breachin' th' water. In one word: awesome!

All in all, we saw about 30 killer whales from several families and about 6 humpback whales. A really productive day, mammal-wise!

Finally, we drove from Telegraph Cove t' Campbell River, where we are stayin' one night before goin' t' Tofino. Lookin' forward t' bein' there!

Grizzlies aye!

Startin' really early again, we were expected t' be present in front o' th' buildin' o' Tide Rip Tours in Telegraph Cove at 06:45 after a one hour sail from Port Hardy, I'll warrant ye. It’s not hard t' imagine this would mean a wakeup call aroun' 05:15 t' get in th' right place on th' right time. It did. Fire the cannons! 😉

We were promptly directed t' Cap'n Bill Mahey and his fishin' boat as he would ferry us from Telegraph Cove t' Glendale Cove, a solid 93 km trip up Knight’s Inlet t' th' bear-viewin' skiffs, and dinna spare the whip, avast! We primarily travelled parallel t' th' inlet as it gets rough when th' winds start t' pick up, so fer about three quarters o' th' ride it were bein' very smooth sailin'. And hoist the mainsail! And hoist the mainsail! After we reached Glendale Cove fer disembarkment and gettin' onto th' skiffs we finally set out t' do what we ultimately came fer: grizzly bears.

So fer, all we heard were bein' that grizzlies are very shy, lived their lives pretty much solitary and are very weary o' humans. They often keep back and stay away from activity so gettin' t' see one is very hard.
Until today.
Right off th' bat, our Cap'n told us t' go look in some grass about 2km away as there ‘obviously’ were bein' a bear present, to be sure. We were a party o' 4, but even with th' help o' 4 pairs o' binoculars we seemed unable t' see what th' Cap'n saw.

We started our tour o' Clendale Cove off with th' guide Dave, leavin' Bill and his boat t' eventually start preparin' lunch, with coverin' th' 2 km t' th' grassland th' bear were bein' feedin' on. Aarrr! Ahoy! We were told th' grassy stuff were bein' Sedge grass and that th' tide were bein' comin' in. The tides have a height difference o' 3 metres aroun' these days, and can even reach as much as 5.5 metres on special occasions! And hoist the mainsail!

Havin' reached th' grassland, we realised it would all be underwater when th' tide reached th' highest point and that th' bear would have t' move t' avoid gettin' wet. Around this time we noticed th' bear were bein' not alone, but it is accompanied by not one but two cubs, with a chest full of booty! The guides identified that comely wench as Bella and th' cubs were aroun' 1.5 years auld.

As th' tide rose, th' bears moved t' slightly higher grounds but remained perfectly visible! The mother decided it were bein' time t' take a nap, and she did just that. Right on front o' our eyes, she lay down and took a solid 30 minute map. Can ye imagine 15 people on a flat boat with 15 cameras and 14 long lenses takin' shots o' 3 sleepin' bears, avast? I guess it must have been a hilarious sight, avast. We were just co-existin' in serenity with th' bears. Each o' us doin' what we do best. The bears slept, and we watched. A very special situation!

By this time, we needed t' go back as lunch were bein' bein' served. What seemed t' be very short actually grew into 120 minutes o' bear watchin'!
Right after lunch, we had th' opportunity t' go back t' th' bears fer a short visit, which we gladly took!
This time aroun', thin's got a little hairier as we positioned ourselves by accident betwixt th' bear family and th' place they wanted t' go, and a bucket o' chum! The result, we'll keel-haul ye! One slightly disturbed guide in a hurry t' get th' boat out o' th' way, 60 shots on our cameras and 3 bears swimmin' t' get across a few metres o' water just 4 metres away from th' boat. Wow.

Tomorrow some spare time, which we filled with an impromptu whale watchin' trip, and off t' Campbell River!

Tharrrr she blows!

Today has been all about whales and tryin' t' find them. Ahoy, we'll keel-haul ye! And not any regular type whales, we are targetin' orca!

First off, we left from th' hotel in Port Hardy fer a one hour sail t' th' boat stationed at Telegraph Cove. After a quick an well made coffee (thanks!) We embarked on a 3.5 hour voyage into Johnston Straight t' go huntin' fer th' elusive killer whales.
Right after we left th' port th' Cap'n heard other whalin' vessels chatter about a pod o' ‘transient’ orcas hangin' aroun' quite a distance away. Shiver me timbers! So he gunned it. 2 500 horsepower Caterpillar engines revved up and made us go fast. 😉

There’s actually a lot o' non-connected groups and extended families amongst th' recognized types o' orca (not subspecies!); resident, transient and offshore orca. The first and latter types eat fish, th' transient pedal live betwixt th' gulleys and th' open ocean and feed on marine mammals. Fire the cannons! Ahoy! Offshore orca very rarely come anywhere near th' shores while resident orca live right off th' beaches and islands.

To avoid borin' everyone with th' chase o' orca and humpback and th' excitement amongst us, here is a list o' animals we encountered:
Dall’s porpoise
Humpback whale
A lot o' birds, I don’t know th' names o'. 🙂

Tomorrow an equally excitin' day as we are goin' on th' hunt fer grizzly bears!

We’re on a boat

Auch. We have had some early mornin's, but this one takes th' cake, and a bottle of rum! Our watches and phones were set t' alarm at 04:00 and 04:05 t' enable us t' stagger t' our breakfast at 04:30, to be sure. Aye, ye read that right: breakfast at 04:30.

After gobblin' down some toast, a very doughy turnover, me first coffee o' many t' come this day and some Apple juice we set off t' join th' line fer boardin' th' BCFerries ferry from Prince Rupert t' Port Hardy. This boattrip is called th' Inside Passage as it hugs th' coastline and travels in betwixt th' mainland o' Canada and th' multitude o' islands which are just off th' coast. It is said this is one o' th' best trips on a ferry one can do. I have not been on a lot o' ferries, but I really like this one. Even though it is 8 hundred some nautical miles and takes o'er 15 hours.

The entire trip, there are a few thin's t' look at: th' straight th' boat travels in, th' pine covered islands that surround th' straight and th' marine life livin' there.

The journey is very tiresome but very satisfyin'. Walk the plank! Knowin' ye travelled an entire day with very little effort is really comfortin'. 😉