Category: Canada 2007

Bye Bye Canada !

Thought I’d just post a few final thoughts as I get ready to leave.

I feel a real sense of sadness at leaving. I’ve totally fallen in love with this country in a  way that I just didn’t think I would.

Back in Vancouver

Arrived back in Vancouver yesterday evening after a slightly lazy drive up from Seattle, the heatwave departing at the same time as me. Came back via Redmond, corporate HQ of Microsoft which was something I’d always wanted to see.

Seattle

Currently spending a couple of days in Seattle, which is really nice – a really busy city in the midst of a sort of heatwave – has a lot of water surrounding it as well as mountains which gives it a really nice feel.

Vancouver Island and Back !

A few years ago I went to Australia and everyone I knew or met said to me the one thing you must do when you’re out there is go to Tasmania, its an absolutely stunning place.

So I did and within a couple of hours of being there i knew it was a mistake, it just wasn’t  for me, for a number of reasons !

Vancouver Proper

Spent the last couple of days mooching around Vancouver itself, which was the reason for my manic dive through Canada last few days, although I could have quite happily spent the time in bed !

Vancouver Again

Arrived in Vancouver this evening after another twelve hour drive.

I was quite knackered this morning after yesterdays drive and wasn’t entirely sure it was such a good idea, but amazing what self-will and caffeine can achieve !

More Thoughts from the Road

Thursday evening – now back in Vancouver, almost too tired to write anything, but know I need to  – its  quite a good discipline, this blog  – not that I’m really into self-discipline, rather like character building – passed me by in life !

Arrived in Prince George last night, after another mammoth drive, 12hrs – felt quite worn out but good – the drive had been noticeable for a couple of things.

On Top of The World, Literally !

On Top of The World

Final Frontier

Final Frontier Literally !

Thoughts from the Road

Am currently in Fort Nelson BC, having left Whitehorse yesterday morning and done a whopping thirteen hour drive to get here.

Most of the drive was done in pretty foul rain which was quite a good thing in the main as it stopped me looking longingly at the scenery and wanting to stop.

Chicken or Bust

Having arrived in Dawson, of which more later, the decision was two fold.

To go down the Dempster highway and cross the Arctic circle (still not sure what that is, but feel  I really ought to know) or to cross the Yukon River, drive to Alaska and go to Chicken, which is pretty much the first Border Town about 40 miles into Alaska.

Midnight Sun Literally

Dawson City

Spent most of yesterday doing and not doing  an Open University assignment that I should have finished before coming out here and didn’t, and ended up sitting in Whitehorse trying to remember how spreadsheets worked (not that I really care).

Whitehorse 2

Whitehorse is a really nice place – not entirely what I was expecting, not sure what I was expecting !

An old mining town, also capital of the Yukon and really quite modern in many ways.

Its main industry is tourism, unsurprisingly, which is pretty active from mid May – mid September, in the summer its still daylight at sort of 12.30/1.oc (last night)

I’m not sure how much later it gets, but its pretty impressive having real proper daylight at midnight – the downside is that during winter it can get down to -55c and you can get about I hour of daylight a day (talk about SAD)

Am here for a couple of days – big decision is where to go next!

I quite wanted to get into Alaska, problem is if I do that  I’m not really going to have time to do Vancouver+Vancouver Island which I really want to do.

Decided to go up to Dawson City on Thursday, which is almost as far north within the Yukon as you can go, might pop into Alaska just for the sake of it.

Dawson City was + is still  the Gold Rush (as is this whole area) which I hadn’t realised at all.Will be interesting to see it – apparently there is still a lot of mining being done by companies as well as people.

This whole area is awash with history of the gold rush and the aboriginal people who live here.

Land of The Midnight Sun

Tuesday 26 June

Arrived Whitehorse early evening about six thirty having done a ten hour drive from Burns Lake – drove up the rest of the Cassiar which was ok most of the way, a bit hairy in others.

Maps of the Cassiar show three bits that haven’t yet been upgraded that they call gravel, in fact they’re more like mudslides!

It only occurred to me after I had reached the Alaska Highway, where the road becomes a proper road again – that I had a 4×4 that I could have activated where the highway had become mud – it just didn’t occur to me!

Entered the Yukon, which subtitles itself, The True North of Canada – truly deserved.

Was driving along, literally just going WOW! every couple of minutes. It is much more remote and wild than BC, and feels much more powerful.

A lot of Canada can seem a bit chocatley – box in a way, stunning though it is – its Lakes and Mountains are so many, that you almost become a bit desensitised to them.

The Yukon is quite different, very raw.

The country is very like the south Island of New Zealand in its terrain and mountainous landscape.

The drive was quite long, partly because at times you just have to stop and wonder.

Its probably the most frustrating thing about doing a trip like this, is that I have to drive quite hard to cover the distance I want to, which means looking longing at the land, whilst doing 120k’s an hour!

And stopping where I can. The drive through the Yukon has undoubtedly been the most stunning yet, Ican’t think of a better word than stunning, which is why I use it so much.

 

 

 

Location, Location, Location

Hi – given that I’m now a couple of weeks (of 5) into this, thought I would do one post covering the trip so far, which of necessity, will be quite long, and then do pretty much daily posts where possible.

Sunday 10 June 2007

Arrived Vancouver airport after a ten hour flight that turned out much better than I had thought. I’d booked a seat on a sort of Canadian easy jet (canadian affair) and thought it might be quite grim – In fact because I’d booked what they call premium economy, the seat was actually ok.

I’d had my first Mr Bean moment leaving Gatwick – I’d left a batch of bananas in my main bag after it was loaded onto the flight and spent most of the flight worrying that they were going to ripen and leak into my bag or someone else’s – thankfully they hadn’t!

On my first drive around the US  I was staying at an hotel in Louisville and was still taking in the novelty of the whole experience.

After several trips to the front desk within the first couple of hours to ask particularly silly questions, I suddenly had this insight that they probably thought of me as this slightly weird English bloke a bit like Mr Bean, who goes round fiddling and playing with everything.

I still  have to stop myself from pushing the emergency button on escalators when I’m going up and down them – since then I quite often catch myself  having ‘mr bean’ moments.

After a particularly officious customs officer, I say that because of her grilling me about what I do for a living, went and booked into my Travelodge in Richmond which was fine, better than my Travelodge in East Croydon where I’d spent the previous night and must have the distinction of being the only motel/hotel in uk that doesn’t have a phone in the room.

Felt quite jet lagged for next three/four days – picked up my hire car (sadly not a hummer) and decided on day two to jump in at the deep end and do a drive into Vancouver city centre – which was fine.

Ended up in Spencer Park, partly by mistake, but which was stunning.

Came across a kiddies train ride through the park which I took great pleasure in joining as the only unaccompanied adult !

Left Richmond on Thursday 14 June and headed over to North Vancouver, where I’d intended to spend  a few days. Decided instead to head north and hopefully will have time at end to get back to Vancouver Island and Vancouver itself.

The views of Vancouver from West Vancouver were again stunning (I’ve loaded all photos to date directly into photo album or at least will have in the next couple of days )

Drove off from North Vancouver on Friday 15 June, through Whistler and up to Williams Lake, where I spent the night in what I thought at the time was the noisiest motel I’d ever been in.

Leaving North Vancouver and the drive up to Whistler was amazing (apologies for all the superlatives) – looked like the scenery out of The Man with The Golden Gun, that was shot in Thailand, all these little Islands !

About halfway up the scenery changed from all lakes and mountains to looking exactly like upstate New York and Vermont.

Drove onto Burns Lake the following day 16, where I stayed for a couple of nights.

Quite a small town – really nice and laid back, like so many Canadians – the motel owner told me that their experience of being affected by global warming was that during the winter, the temperature was only -30c, where it used to get to -50 quite regularly !

Drove on to Terrace on Monday 16, where I stayed till Friday 22 June – driving into Terrace, the first thing that hits you is a WalMart, which is quite  a strange thing to see half way up Canada.

I really liked the town itself.

Quite small without a small town feel – people really nice and easy going, very gentle atmosphere around the place.

Drove into Kitimat, which had the most amazing views I’ve ever seen – unfortunately the weather was so bad it was difficult to photograph it.

Went into Prince Rupert, which I thought I’d really like – in fact found it really depressing, not quite sure why – its an old docks town and feels quite run down.

Spent most of the day wondering if I’d contracted west nile virus, having read about it in a local paper, as I felt really spaced and had been besieged by mosquitoes in Burns Lake – realised later that I was just really dehydrated and several gallons of water later felt fine !

I was slightly unsure which way to go next . My plan was to go north to the Yukon + Alaska up the Cassiar Highway and on to Whitehorse.

Problem was, on checking my lonely planet and various websites, they all said this route was the last frontier of Canada, effectively Canada’s outback + Lonely Planet said not to even contemplate the journey without two extra fuel containers and spare tyres.

Gave the impression that its pretty remote, which it is ! Decided to go for it anyway and in fact, although it is quite remote in one sense,virtually no-one live here, its more than do- able.

The road to Stewart is again stunning with glaciers, waterfalls etc etc.

Spent one night in Stewart (which was enough), old mining town, popped into Hyder, just to say I’d been to Alaska – unfortunately no immigration + therefore no passport stamping, but I do have  a photo to prove it !

Drove onto Dease Lake where I am currently staying and writing this.

Northern BC feels very remote, not so much in terms of people , but in terms of the feel of the land, quite beautiful.

Am off to Whithorse tomorrow + the Alaska Highway, 600k’s !