National parks and appalling weather

Today’s journey took us from Revelstoke to Banff, through some of Canada’s finest National Parks. So far, we only encountered Provincial and Regional Parks, so the State Parks, with paid admission, were new to us.
With our 4 day pass (fifth day free!) attached to our windshield we set out to explore the best if the best. All is well.

So it seemed. But was not. Throughout the complete drive from Revelstoke to Banff it rained. Poured town. Rained cats and dogs. You probably know by now what I’m trying to say here. It was wet outside.
Yet, and this is the incredible part, judging from the photos we took, it was not as bad as we experienced. Every time we stepped out of the car to do something or take pictures, the skies magically opened up to reveal some blue and it stopped raining. Lovely!

The journey took us among other things through a town called Golden, about 90 minutes up Highway 1 from Revelstoke, where we were treated to our very first close encounter with real wildlife: Bighorn Sheep! Three of them, with one male, were consciously crossing the highway on a construction site where all traffic was slow anyway. Majestically they crossed and strode their way onto the site itself. As if they knew it was safest this way!

We really regret the fact that the rain pretty much blocked all of the scenic views and other awesomeness Canada’s Rockies have to offer us. Everything below a certain height was visible, so we have been entertained by the sight of the Pacific Railway trains screeching and puffing their way through the Rockies. What a fantastic ride that must be!
Tomorrow, we’ll be among the early birds to drive our way to Lake Louise over the scenic route to enhance our chances on wildlife sightings, because so far it really didn’t feel like than Canada you’d expect! Today had been a very welcome change to that.

Lakes, mountains and commercial areas

Today has been quite an interesting drive, from Penticton to Revelstoke through several valleys and over one or two low passes. Generally speaking, the trend of yesterday (the land of plenty) continued and we saw vinyards and orchards everywhere we went.

Besides the obvious green stuff, the drive has been filled with sightings of a very familiar flag and really well known stuff such as windmills and “Dutch” local shops. Oh yes, a lot of immigrants here were dutch, and their descendants now still live here and run their businesses. We even bought some groceries from a store where we were served by a girl who admitted her great grandparents were Dutch!
The weather here is much nicer though!

Besides the drive (a little over 4 hours) we visited a lot of stuff and met great people. We’ve been on the hunt for Sutherland Falls and visited the Revelstoke hydroelectric dam. Unfortunately, we were too late to get admitted to the self guided tour, but we had a really pleasant chat with the security guy who happened to be well acquainted with the locals: Columbia Ground Squirrels. His hut is really near to a nest of theirs, so he is frequently visited by the members of a family of about 14 squirrels. They are very inquisitive and pretty bald, so nearly a nuisance. But very attractive for photographs!

As it turns out, this weekend is a long weekend for all Canadians, and in Revelstoke they are hosting the Kokanee Softball Tournament, where about 140 teams gather and play each other the entire weekend. It is safe to say the town is filled to the brim!

Tomorrow we are headed for Banff. Rockies, here we come!

Entering the land of plenty

Today has been a day filled with differing circumstances. It has been overcast and very sunny. It has been terribly cold and nice and warm. We’ve been in high places, and we’ve been in low places. We even doubted whether we were still in Canada!

We started our day still in Harrison Hot Springs, where the promised nice weather still wasn’t there. After a very entertaining, yet mediocre, breakfast which even included glazed potatoes and an non-scrambled scrambled egg, we left for a slight detour on our way to Penticton.

The detour would take us through Manning Provincial Park, and over highway 3, instead of the more straightthrough highway 1. The road conditions on 1 are said to be better, but we took our chances and rode the three.
An awesome choice, as it turned out a few hours later.
Manning Provincial Park is *really* beautiful, and very serene. As the highway is not really busy, the signs informing us about deer on the road actually are there with a purpose: we have seen 5 deer standing on the road today!

We have driven for about 4 hours total, when you don’t take the stops into account. Within these four hours, we passed 3 or 4 passes over mountain-ranges and with every pass the weather became better.
We started off with 16 degrees and really overcast, and went to 29 degrees under a near clear blue sky! Unfortunately for us, the journey also included some near-rainshower and a day-low of 7 degrees! A 22 degree temperature change on 1 day, that is new for us.

The drive is just awesome and takes you from the much wetter seaside to the dryer interior of Canada.
In between are really rich meadows and valleys filled with fruit trees and stands selling everyting from cherries to peaches and from strawberries to hazelnuts. All locally grown and abundantly available.
We are, again, in cherry heaven!

Tomorrow, we are driving our way up to Revelstoke, through Kelowna. A short drive, so plenty of time to walk around!

Cruising through rainy Canada

I’ll just go straight to the centre of this story: yes, it rained today. A lot. And it was cold. We hit a 13 degree Celsius low point today on our way from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs.

The day started off quite well in Vancouver, where we went our merry way right after an old fashioned breakfast, American style! Right after this, we went to an IGA to get more groceries, and we were off!

It would be a mere 2 hour drive to Harrison Hot Springs, and with our homework done we pretty much knew what to do and where to go. With the day starting very overcast we figured it would clear around noon as it did the day before, but it didn’t. It started drizzling. And then some more.

Around 2, the rain stopped and after about 4 hours of rain, of which we spent about 2 at a site called Bridal Falls State Park, we found ourselves inside Minter Gardens taking pictures of a very well laid out garden in a bleek sun. I sure hope the macro fotos will turn out great!

Harrison Hot Springs is a tiny place, fully focused on having tourists entertaining themselves on the adjacent Harrison Lake. We’ll see what tomorrow brings us! The journey will take us to Penticton with possibly a lot of lovely nice spots for us to enjoy.

Just hanging out in Vancouver

Basically, today we did a whole lot of nothing. And that was just as good, as we are both pretty much still affected by the time difference between home and here. Those 9 extra hours yesterday really did some damage…

After waking up way too early this morning, we decided it was time for some breakfast. We had some (pancakes with locally grown maple syrup) and went out to go see Stanley Park after it was way too busy yesterday. The people of Vancouver go to this park to do everything but work, so with yesterday’s nice wheather and it being a Sunday, it was simply too crowded for us to enjoy it fully. Today was our second chance, it it was great! We should have a place like this in every major city! Lots of green, lots of water and everything is well maintained and clean. Lovely!

With the obligatory pictures on the memory cards we went further out to Capilano Suspension bridge park; a way too expensive yet very entertaining privately owned narrow suspension bridge across a canyon. The park also included some other attractions Luke a treetop boardwalk and several nature inspired trails and walkways.
Unfortunately, the wheather went a bit sour on us as a small shower passed and made us yank out the coats and protective clothing. Luckily, this did not last long and we went our merry way.

This way led us to the Capilano Salmon Hatchery, which is a publicly open, state funded, place where the local salmon are helped with rearing the offspring to achieve a high number of salmon returning to spawn in that creek in a few years. Nature at its best!  (With a little help from us)

After the hatchery, a trip to the upstream Cleveland Dam just finished off the day as it included a short but steep climb towards the dam. The dam holds back potential drinking water for Vancouver, and is quite high. The torrent of water is flowing down really fast!

Being nackered we decided to call it a day after this and retreated to our hotel. With some shopping done we are all set for tomorrow!

BTW: Vancouver is awesome! It has a really laid back feel to it and is being inhabited by liars of Asian people and very mellow native Canadians. It is a perfect place to start the vacation!
Today’s dinner: Beef bowl.
(Japanese dish consisting of rice cooked in stock in a bowl, topped with beef and a little bit of glazed onion) Perfect!


Going across

Today has been a day full of transport. We started the day quite early by traveling from our home to Schiphol airport to start our northwestern adventure.

Luckily, the commute to the airport and the flight were both pretty flawless, which meant we had to do some waiting before boarding and arriving right on time in Vancouver. A lovely way to start off the holiday!

With Vancouver Intl. Airport not being the biggest of places, the total time spent disembarking, going through customs, obtaining of the luggage and picking up our rental car took less then one hour! Amazing!

Below some pictures of our transportation: a McDonnel Douglas MD-11 and a Ford Fusion. Both nice rides!

Tomorrow some more venturing out into the city of Vancouver and for now some resting after a long day…