Final thoughts from Canada….

The day started with a taxi to Victoria Airport for our 18 minute flight over to Vancouver where we have a five hour wait. Luckily Matt’s American Express card gives us access to VIP lounges. Unlimited free food and drink which is fantastic as we left the hotel before breakfast

Now we have plenty of time to bore you with our general musings.

Things we liked:

Petrol at 78p per litre

Roads are very quiet, even in the cities, partly due to the almost total absence of diesel fuelled cars. John and Matt are both very taken with the sound of American cross plane V8 engines.

Road manners are impeccable. Cars stopped to let us cross and we weren’t even on a crossing, how weird is that?

Water is always served with a meal, it’s nice not to feel embarrassed asking for tap water to drink.

Canadians value age. We have met a lot of older people working in Tourist Information. They provide assistance in a similar way to games-makers at sporting events, whether that’s meet and greet at airports or being available and visible at key points.

Our travel stats:

From an elevation of 2135m down to 0m, driven 1048 miles, cycled 40km, rafted 6km and zip lined 2-3km, walked over 100 miles and sailed 300 miles.

Wildlife stats: 1 bear, 2 piles of bear poop, 2 moose/elk/caribou (not sure what John and Matt saw and still haven’t looked up the difference), 0 bald eagles, 0 whales

Kim was disappointed that Canada is not a country for tea drinkers. Hotel rooms are well equipped with coffee machines but nothing for the poor, sad tea lover. Mornings have been a challenge when she’s been expected to be dressed before her first cuppa.

We learned a lot about temperate rain forests – nurse trees, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Red Cedar.

At some point, possibly before the end of this interminable wait, we’ll go back over the blog and add hotel and tour operator details should you need recommendations. Once again, Trailfinders have created a great itinerary for us.

Pacific Marine Circle Route

The route is a popular drive, taking you to Sooke, up the west coast to Port Renfrew, across the island past Lake Cowichan to Duncan and back to Victoria.

A tourist map of the route was our guide. How difficult could this drive be?

Vancouver Island really only has two or three roads and we headed out of the city on the Trans Canada Highway, towards Highway 14. Could we find it? No!

We turned around and headed back to the city, stopping at a gas station for directions and bought a map!

Retracing our steps back out of Victoria we stopped to admire the older cars in the Porsche dealership. It was almost 12 and we’d barely left Victoria on our 300 mile round trip.

Plans changed and Port Renfrew became our destination. We sailed through Sooke on the basis we could see the sights there on the way back!

Our first stop was Sandcut beach and we were back in Old Growth Rainforest territory, in the pouring rain, scrambling over tree roots crossing the path.

The beach is famous for the waterfall that hits the beach from a flat sandstone outcrop.

Suddenly the sun came out, we could see round the bay and the trip felt worthwhile

Time was running out, we needed to return a hire car and had a dinner reservation at 7pm.

Mystic Beach and Jackson River were by passed, despite the draw of watching paddle boarders and surfers.

It was gone 2pm and lunch was calling, we decided to stop at the next cafe en route and found nothing open until, an hour later, we stumbled across Tomi’s home style cooking at Port Renfrew.

We approached the log cabin with trepidation, the menu featured heavily on beer! Matt took one look at the menu and begrudgingly ordered tomato and feta with bacon and cheese, we followed suit, not quite sure what to expect.

It turned out to be one of the best meals of our trip – a big bowl of homemade soup with the most fantabulous toasted cheese sandwich ever.

Refreshed, we made it to Botany Bay and walked the 3km trail to Botanical Beach.

The Juan de Fuca National Park is Old Growth Rain Forest and signs warned us we were back in bear and cougar country.

This felt a lot scarier than when we’d been in the Rockies. The trail was very quiet, it was raining and you could feel the age of the forest around you……and it kept making strange noises.

We reached the beach and John announced his disappointment, he’d seen ‘nothing as impressive as Cornwall!’. He doesn’t like black sand either….. Kim thought she was the fussy one.

Kim was just plain scared, wishing she’d brought her bear bell! It had been bought back in Lake Louise (along with gloves deemed necessary for the bike ride)

There were signs of recent bear activity, luckily we were walking too quickly to treat you to a picture of purple bear poop.

There was a brief stop so see the bonsai Sitka Spruce, caused by the harsh weather conditions.

More research is needed because we’re convinced Canadian kilometres are longer than ours. It felt like we’d walked a lot further than 3k and we only had two hours to get back to Victoria. Less than 70 miles but so slooow. The road started life as an old logging trail and still feels like it.

Matt was thrown from a speeding car, we handed our little Hyundai back and raced to the restaurant, Miraculously only 10 minutes late for our reservation at Il Covo.

Lovely meal followed, it was a good way to end our trip and we’d recommend it should you find yourselves here.

Butchart Gardens and Galloping Goose Trail

We went our separate ways today. Kim caught the shuttle to Butchart Gardens, John hired a bike and Matt mooched around Victoria.

Starting with Kim’s day. Butchart Gardens began development in 1906 by Jennie Butchart, in a former limestone quarry. By 1926 she had transformed the site, bringing in tons of soil by horse and cart. The gardens remain owned by the Butchart’s great grand daughter.

The planting changes with the seasons and is all grown on site. Kim tried very hard to find a weed in the 55 acre site and couldn’t. It did pour with rain but even didn’t reduce the impact of the garden.

The first garden you enter is the Sunken Garden, the former limestone quarry. If you look closely you can see an original chimney.

The path takes you down to Ross Fountain, installed in 1964. Despite its age, the fountains still put on a fantastic display.

The Japanese Garden was the first to be created following the Butchart’s visit to Japan (this couple certainly had money). A calm oasis of simple planting and running water.

Kim was taken with the Boar Scarer, a simple bamboo water feature that made a loud bang as it filled and emptied.

The view from the top of the Japanese Garden down to the Butchart Cove was glorious.

There are boat trips around the cove and, if so inclined and wealthy enough, you can still arrive by seaplane.

Final verdict? The gardens are stunning – John would have loved the sense of order and control. Kim prefers things a little wilder and the Cornish garden at Trebah remains her favourite.

On to John’s day. After the drama of the water ballet, he cycled out over the New Johnson Street Bridge along the Galloping Goose Trail (spoiler alert – there are no geese, galloping or otherwise).

As only John would, he called in at a Pawn shop to have a look around when this caught his attention. In the UK, we make our gas smell so your nose will do the same job.

John thought it was Friday in Henlow, he’d ended up in Spinnaker Brew Pub where you could taste the beers before ordering very similar to the Engineers Arms.

We are learning to use familiar words in new and interesting ways. Everything is ‘awesome’ or ‘sweet’ when quite clearly it’s just ok. Word of today was ‘fantabulous’ from a very cheery waitress. Quote of the day from the CVS shuttle driver was ‘That would be peachy’. Our challenge is to use that at least three times tomorrow.

For our final day, we’re hiring a car and driving the Pacific Marine Circle Route. Bizarrely it’s cheaper to hire a car than three bikes.

Victoria – Part 2

Our ferry trip back was choppy and wet, we think the best of the weather is behind us.

Trailfinders have booked us another fabulous room in the Inn at Laurel Point, overlooking the harbour. We have a great view from our terrace.

and the biggest bathroom in the whole wide world.

We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. The wharf has a small selection of eateries, shops and float homes. We ate fish and chips outside and agreed that it was better (and an awful lot cheaper) than Rick Stein’s on Padstow harbour – and we didn’t think that was possible.

The wharf was originally home to the fishing boats and a few people live aboard in various shaped vessels some of which vaguely resemble boats. A quite eclectic community has evolved. There’s even a floating B&B which sounds tempting.

Final morning in Seattle

We’ve breakfasted in a couple of independent coffee houses and resolutely avoided Starbucks. We aim to leave Seattle without doing so despite the city being the home of the original Starbucks.

Pike Place Market was our first stop, 156 steps from quay level to the entrance. It’s one of the oldest, continuously operational Farmers Market in the US and the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world!

As we puffed to the top of the steps we wondered what was drawing the crowds.

The famous chewing gum wall! It was created when customers, waiting for the theatre, used to stick their gum to the wall with a coin in it. It’s amazing how something so revolting is such a draw for tourists….

Outside, there were a number of buskers adding to the atmosphere.

The market was a great place to be, the top floor was dedicated to food and flower sellers and absolutely heaving. It has 10 million visitors, annually, and most of those were there this morning.

The fish market is famous for the vendors throwing 30lb salmon to each other, an entertainment that started when one vendor became fed up with walking along the counter. We saw a lot of fish but no throwing

Lower down, were little independent shops and the crowds thinned. We passed by the Athenian restaurant featured in Sleepless in Seattle.

Lunch, on the go, was Mac and Cheese from Beechers Cheese Shop. It’s billed as the ‘world’s best’ and it was very good

Our final stop was the Olympic Sculpture Park. One of which provided a welcome resting place.

We can’t prove we saw a bear or moose but unexpectedly, today, we saw this elusive creature……

The train runs from Banff to Seattle and everywhere we stayed we saw coaches or pick-up signs but never the train itself. We were beginning to think it was a myth!

Finally, we successfully negotiated Seattle without entering a single Starbucks.

MoPOP and Discovery Park

This morning’s breakfast was at one of the many coffee shops Seattle has become famous for. Then on to the Museum of Pop Culture. It was recommended when we left Victoria, so that’s where we headed.

We meant to take the monorail to save our feet but forgot and walked along 4th Avenue instead. The neighbourhood was slightly less terrifying than last night other than we did walk past Macy’s!

The museum is next to the iconic Space Needle so that was ticked off the list.

MoPOP was an eclectic mix of exhibitions with rooms devoted to Music, Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction films. Each exhibition featured costumes and original props ranging from a Dalek to a real Starfleet uniform and Buffy the Vampire Slayer stake. Other exhibitions celebrated Seattles rock music heritage – Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix and Pearl Jam all featured.

There was an amazing sculpture created from 700 guitars

The main attraction was the Marvel exhibition, charting the history, and rise, of the brand. Amongst many other displays, we saw The Thing asleep on a sofa

And Spider-Man scaling a wall

Our afternoon trip took us out to Discovery Park by bus. Did you know that Seattle buses don’t give change? Neither did we and our lovely driver let us travel for free rather than take $20 for an $8 fare. It was a great ride out through Seattle suburbs to the 500 acre park.

We were dropped off, at the end of the route with no idea where we were or what we were going to do! There have been a few occasions where we’ve really missed using data on our phones and this was one.

Luckily we found a photocopied map and we were off to the Lighthouse at West Point

There were some great views over a Puget Sound, it was a shame today was overcast and we couldn’t clearly see the Olympic Mountains.

Seattle appears to be a mixture of different suburbs and there have been some interesting contrasts between old and new.

It’s raining outside and there’s live music in the hotel lobby so that’s all from us today.

Victoria to Seattle

We survived our night in the swanky hotel and thankfully need never do it again. John pronounced it overpriced and all show. Fairmont Hotels have some fantastic locations and very grand buildings however it’s all a bit superficial. If you looked closely, it wasn’t that clean and we’d expected spotless. We all agreed the toiletries were good but that’s not enough to draw us back.

We headed out for breakfast at Sam’s Deli, half the price of a Fairmont breakfast but not quite as stylish.

Next stop, Victoria Clipper for our trip down to Seattle. Before boarding we had to negotiate US border control. We were fingerprinted, photographed, quizzed as to our travel plans and previous visits to the USA before being relieved of $18 for the privilege of having pieces of paper stapled in our passports. A sign said ‘Welcome to USA’ – we are not sure it means it!

The trip down the Puget Sound was sunny and smooth, always a bonus for poor sailors like Kim and Matt.

We arrived in Seattle in under 3 hours.

Like many places we’ve stayed this holiday, no-one said it would be hilly so we took a proper yellow cab to the hotel

Before heading out to explore, we needed to create enough clean clothes to see us through. We packed most things including cable-ties before leaving the UK but still had to go to the drugstore to buy string.

Next was an Underground Walking Tour which explored subterranean Pioneer Square. To kill time we had a drink in a local cafe. John went for a Cold Brew, Kim a London Fog and Matt had a smoothie. Guess which one was the sensible choice!

John’s iced coffee and Kim’s London Fog (Earl Grey, steamed milk and vanilla syrup – why would you do that to a cup of tea?) were revolting. We looked on with envy as Matt savoured his sensible smoothie.

Our tour, lead by Serena, was quirky and gave an entertaining early history of Seattle, bringing some of its early prominent citizens to life. Some of the original city remains underground as they simply built over it, there are even water mains made from wood which are still in service.

It’s worth reading Bill Speidel’s site for a little history –

Dinner was in Purple, a cafe bar just across the road from the hotel. It was very noisy and the menu paired food choices with wine so we gave it a go.

We’re not enjoying Seattle as much as we hoped. This is the first place we’ve stayed where it really doesn’t feel safe to walk at night and we’re rather pleased we’re only here for a two nights. Matt, who has run the risk of bears in the Rockies and drug addicts in Gastown after dark, decided to keep to the gym and declined to stay out by himself tonight.

Throughout the night, we are taking it in turns to do 2 hour shifts to dry the washing with the hairdryer.

Breaking news – 2019 Motorhome trip booked. Hands up who thinks John wasn’t paying attention when he agreed to 14 nights in the smallest Motorhome available!

Vancouver Island

We’re here for one night before heading to Seattle tomorrow.

John was keen to spend a night at one of the famous Fairmont Hotels so we’re in the Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

We have a one bedroomed suite, we can’t remember how much we paid (other than it was extortionate) – Matt is on a sofa bed.

There are fantastic views over the harbour. Those of you paying attention will notice our photos are out of sync – that’s what you get when dealing with amateurs!

John and I explored the waterfront up as far as Fisherman’s Wharf to see where we’d like to eat when we return.

Matt made the most of the hotel. When we got back, he was in the bar drinking cocktails and eating free popcorn.

There was live music, so we joined him…. and he treated us

There are only so many cocktails you can drink so we had a wander around the shops that are a standard fixture in Fairmont hotels. We had a lovely chat with an Irish ex- pat who’d been in Canada 20 years. We tried marrying Matt off to her niece but his dowry wasn’t enough. In turn she tried to sell us expensive pieces of carved marble.

We walked off the alcohol around Victoria’s harbour, they do like lights out here!

Final morning in Vancouver

While Matt ran, we visited the David Milne exhibition Vancouver Art Gallery

Milne preferred isolation and moved, with his wife Poppy, into the middle of nowhere. One sign says he was released from his unhappy marriage in 1936 – I bet Poppy breathed a huge sigh of relief too!

Cabin Fever – brilliant exhibition charting the development of Cabin living around the world. Kim is tempted to sell up, buy a piece of land and build one room cabins for each of us.


Finally, the acoustic exhibition. Apparently, the artist claims you can hear different sounds in your favourite records, and invites you to take in your own vinyl to play. Kim was particularly taken with the wall buffers made out of off cuts from kitchen cabinet makers


We debated whether we’d prefer to live in Sydney or Vancouver. John and Kim opted for Vancouver – quieter, smaller and cooler in summer. Matt sensibly suggested that he might need to re-visit Sydney before making a decision.

Granville Island

We were hoping to borrow bikes from the hotel to help us get out to Granville Island by ferry. However, no one had told the other guests and all the bikes were loaned out!

Not to worry, the concierge said it was only a 20 minute walk. All we can say is he must run faster than Matt. It was uphill most of the way and our feet complained – we’ve managed to walk at least eight miles each day and we’re not used to it!

It was a relief to catch the aquabus, taking us across to the island in a couple of minutes

Granville Island started life as a sandbar in False Creek and, in 1915, became the focus of a land reclamation project to create an industrial area of corrugated tin factories. In the 70s and 80s investment in the island created a large public market, artisan shops and thriving arts community.

John was particularly taken with colourful displays of fruit

Matt identified the restaurant for dinner, a recommended pizza place back in Gastown – another blooming long walk!

We’ve seen a lot of homeless people in Vancouver, congregating on the coast where the weather is milder, mainly on the streets as a result of a government policy to close mental health institutions. Sound familiar? Each day we’ve been approached several times but tonight’s walk was an experience. We saw so many more people living life very differently to us. We’ve almost become immune to the smell of cannabis but it was shocking to see those sitting on the pavement openly injecting.

The pizza restaurant was bright and shiny and we had a lovely meal, a real contrast to what was going on outside.

Our final walk took us back past the Steam Clock which was working tonight. We were treated to the steam whistles blowing out a Westminster chime. There are some people you can’t please – Kim could only grumble that it had chimed half past and not quarter to!

The evening finished with ice cream from Perverted. Matt had found it on the first afternoon and it seemed a fitting way to (almost) end our visit to Vancouver.

We’re off to Vancouver Island tomorrow, for one night in Victoria, before heading to Seattle

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Our day started with a wander for breakfast, passing this on our way.

That man gets everywhere!

Then it was time to see even more temperate rain forest!

We took the free shuttle bus up to the privately owned park, set in 6000 acres on either side of the Capilano River. The land was originally purchased by George Mackay in 1888 and he erected the original suspension bridge in 1889.

It was a popular destination for his friends. The next owners built a Tea House and it continued to develop as a tourist attraction.

Despite its popularity, once we’d crossed the bridge, the different boardwalks and suspended trails emitted a sense of peace. As we’ve come to expect, the development has been very respectful of the Old Growth Forest – if you’re really lucky we’ll explain Old Growth vs New Growth to you at some time!

The Cliff Walk was quite something, suspended on sheer granite cliffs.

Robert Louis Stevenson summed it up beautifully …..

On the way back, we were the only people on the shuttle (a 40-seat coach) driven by a man originally from Liverpool. After 40 years here, he’s aiming to retire to Portugal for warmer winters.

A day in Vancouver…

Started with Breakfast in 49th Parallel on Thurlow Street and it was yummy. John had to be stopped from having peanut butter jelly donuts for breakfast however our poached eggs on toast were cooked to perfection.

It’s Labor Day here and Vancouver didn’t come to life until 11am. Matt, having run 8 miles around the City, was ready for breakfast just as we were having lunch. We’ve never seen a toasted cheese sandwich like it. As to the lemon meringue donut that went with it…

Matt chose to mooch around the city while John and Kim went on a cycle tour. We cheated and booked eBikes!

Our tour took in the harbour and the iconic cityscape

We had a few stops in Stanley Park. First being at the totem poles. These were carved by First Nations craftsmen. They replace original poles which have been returned to the First Nations from where they had been taken. Each one tells a story and the most important figure carved is always the one at the bottom.

At Beaver Lake we could see the work of the resident Beaver Family.

There was a photo opportunity at Lowdens Lookout, the highest point in Stanley Park (thank goodness for the eBike!).

On the way down, we stopped by one of the largest Douglas Firs where a pair of Bald Eagles are nesting, no sign of them today but we did get a chance to see how the forest makes use of fallen trees

We returned via English Beach, Olympic Village, and Gas Town. The large boats in the picture are ‘parked’ out at sea. Once they dock it costs them $10,000 a day to berth so they delay as long as possible. A shame as this is the best vantage point to watch sunsets from.

Our adventure for this evening was the Richmond Night Market, the nearest thing Vancouver has to Asian Street Food. We took the Sky Train out, queued for tickets and wandered round.

There are hundreds of stalls selling everything from socks to mobile phones and of course lots of street food.

We are not really a Street food, or night market, family – we prefer our food on a plate with cutlery rather than wooden sticks, however in the interests of cultural research we gave it a try.

Whistler to Vancouver

Our hotel was a very different place this morning. It’s Labor Day weekend and the Hotel is full. There were long queues at breakfast and we were eating from paper plates.

The number of people wearing pyjamas or bathrobes, and with dogs, was most surprising. Even Kim, who has been known to drop Matt at the station in her pyjamas, was shocked!

Canadian newspapers are a far more sensible shape than our UK papers. Nice and light to hold, without sagging or falling apart.

We had a leisurely drive along the ‘Sea to Sky Highway’ stopping at Brandywine Falls on the way.

We thought Whistler was busy but the queues of traffic heading out of Vancouver would not have looked out of place on the M25!

Matt was abandoned at the hotel, with our luggage, while we returned our hire car to Vancouver Airport. We’ve tried hard but still don’t understand the rules at traffic lights where a red light doesn’t necessarily mean stop. This didn’t matter in quiet towns, it was very different in busy Vancouver.

For a hotel in a city, our views aren’t bad, but we are missing the crisp, clean mountain air.

We explored the harbour front and headed out to Gastown for dinner. There was a quick stop to admire its famous steam clock.

The restaurant had stacks of games and we thought we’d improve our knowledge of Canada with Canadian Trivial Pursuit.

The evening finished with a walk up to the Victory Square Block Party. We arrived to hear the last minutes of a punk band before it finished, no loud music after 9pm!

Whistler – Green River Rafting

Our rafting was booked for 9am which seemed a good idea a few weeks ago. We squeezed ourselves into wetsuits and took a short bus ride to Green River.

The Green River tour included class 2 & 3 rapids. The scale is 1-6 which broadly translate as mill pond through to ‘you will die’!

Our safety briefing took place on calm, still water with Victor, our guide.

And we paddled out to meet our fate.

It was an experience, no-one fell in the water but we did get wet and Kim is hooked.

Matt disappeared for a run and John and Kim settled down for an early lunch. Beer, tea and Poutine.

You have to love a country that considers chips, gravy and cheese a meal!

Next we followed the Culture Trail around Whistler Village.

We saw bears…….

Ok, they’re not real but they’re very lifelike. According to our leaflet, they are so realistic dogs bark at them, not sure we believe that!

Finally, we ended back at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre…. someone had seen a handbag on day 1 and her life was incomplete without it.

It’s Labor Day weekend and Whistler has become much busier. Hopefully it means there’s no one left in Vancouver when we get there tomorrow.

Whistler – Ziptrek Eco Tours

Our first plug of the trip – our zip-line experience was brilliant! We signed multiple disclaimers, were kitted out with harnesses and hard hats and transported up high over Fitzsimmons Creek, which separates Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, past the 2010 Olympic Bob Sled run.

John and Kim did the Bear Tour (aka Zip-lines for the elderly!), five zip lines ranging in length from 400m to 1.1km. Our guides were very good keeping us entertained with history and geography facts, while talking us through the easiest way to walk off the edge of a wooden platform into oblivion. It was all very well organised but does rely on a couple of trees to keep it all together,

Matt was booked on the more extreme Eagle Tour – higher, longer, faster!

Kim is not built for zip lining and was the only one of the group who refused to go down the last run upside down!

John enjoyed every minute and wants to do The Sasquatch, the highest and longest in Whistler

Matt videoed his runs, enjoy this for the next 30 seconds!

A well earned cup of tea was required, so we whiled away the afternoon in the Longhorn Saloon, which has great views of mountain bikers taking their bikes up on the ski-lifts and then hurtling back down the mountain at extreme angles and returned this evening to watch some more of the spectacle.


…..rather like Bicester Village on speed!

Matt went for a run, while John and Kim visited the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. These two First Nations communities lived in the Whistler area and, in 2001, signed a protocol to live and work together. The cultural centre celebrates their deep connection and respect for land and water.

We were greeted by our guide singing a native welcome song, before learning about the history of the two Nations and how respectfully they make careful use of natural resources.

Canoe building was interesting, made from a single hollowed out Cedar tree, using fire and water to help shape the boat and fish oil to help keep it watertight.

The tour concluded with a practical lesson in how to make a bracelet from cedar bark. Kim was in her element!

We wandered into Whistler Village and found ourselves in a very lively, very manicured environment, dodging extreme downhill mountain bikers and skateboarders

Ziplining for us tomorrow!

Whistler here we come

The sun was shining when we woke up but, honestly, Kamloops didn’t look an awful lot better!

Last night’s walk into town had seemed like a scene from American Graffiti with big V8s cruising the strip!

Breakfast was an adventure, making our own waffles. The last time we tried that, in Norway, it had been a disaster. Canadian waffle maker instructions are better!

We left Kamloops and joined the Gold Rush Trail on the Trans-Canada Highway.

We reached Cache Creek, the satnav recalculated and added an hour to our journey. We over ruled her, stuck to our original route and came to a halt 100m up the road. The road was closed while a mudslide was cleared. We were advised it would be quicker to wait than take the other route.

We pulled it to the Bear Claw Cafe to sit it out in a proper Canadian log cabin.

The door handle was a little alarming…

We continued our journey and were grateful we hadn’t attempted Jasper to Whistler in one go, in yesterday’s rain. It was only 100 miles but, on the Cariboo Highway, the speed limit reduced to 60kph and it twisted and turned along mountain and riversides. At one point, the highway was reduced to to a single carriageway – the other side had disappeared in a landslide!

Whistler couldn’t be more different to Kamloops. We have a two bedroomed suite, with a balcony and a rather nice view! Perhaps we should have attempted the long drive, another night here would be good!

Jasper to Kamloops

We waved bye bye to our lovely lake view and left Alberta. 360 miles lay ahead of us, in pouring rain. We weren’t looking forward to the journey and we didn’t take many photos!

We drove down through the Rockies, past many trees scorched by wildfires. At times it was difficult to tell if the haze was low cloud or smoke drifting up from ongoing fires.

We stopped at a service station, about halfway along our route. Lunch consisted of delicious homemade samosas, but the whole area felt and looked very ‘Wild-West’ it’s difficult to describe without sounding derogatory and condescending (although we were).

Kim took over driving for the second half of the journey and was the only one to see a bear fishing in the North Thompson River, despite John and Matt being on wildlife spotting duty. She really should have been paying more attention to the road!

We were in timber logging country, then the scenery changed and we were surrounded by fields of hay. It almost started to look like home!

Kamloops is a measly 345m above sea level and started life as a fur trading post on the Thompson River. It’s very flat and industrial, here’s the view from our room…

The good news is it does have a pool table and bar football, we have decent WiFi, films are being downloaded ready to watch later and we’re only here for one night.

With hindsight, and three drivers we could have managed the remaining 180 miles to Whistler.

Jasper Sky Tram and some culture…..

John did his usual, got chatting to some locals (well Liverpudlians) and as a result decided the Jasper Sky-Tram was worth a visit.

The Sky-Tram takes you almost to the top of Whistlers Mountain, from 1258m above sea level to 2263m in about 7 minutes. On a clear day, you can see mountain ranges 80 miles away. It wasn’t a clear day, we could just about see Jasper with Pyramid Lake at the top of the picture.

Whistlers Mountain gets its name from Marmots that live there, they have a strange whistling call. The only wildlife on show today was a Pika, a cross between a rabbit and tailless squirrel, munching its way through the alpines.

The wildlife has been very shy, no bears and only a fleeting glimpse of elk or moose….unless you count Jasper the Bear, the local mascot. He may be the best we get

Matt did the last 1km climb to the top of the mountain, Kim and John declined, taking the option to explore less demanding paths instead. They’re still suffering from the Lake Agnes expedition.

On the way back down, Larch trees provided a reminder of how rapidly Autumn is approaching as their deciduous needles start to turn yellow and red in the early season fall.

Back in Jasper, we visited the local Museum specifically to see an exhibition about Alien Internment 1916 – 1920. Canada, desperately short of labour, had encouraged immigrants from Europe with offers of free land. These same people became Aliens on the outbreak of WW1 and were interned.

Germans were categorised as Class 1 and lived in camps where they didn’t have to work and were well fed. Immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire were classified as Class 2, they were put to work, lived in poor conditions and fed very little. They started building the infrastructure of the national parks, including the Icefields Parkway driven yesterday. The Canadian Government quickly realised that loss of these labourers was detrimental to the economy and many were released after only a few months. Others, mainly Germans remained in camps until as late as 1920.

Patricia Lake, which is just down the road from us, was the site of an interesting WW2 experiment, Operation Habakkuk. Oxford Graduate, Geoffrey Pyke, had designed a ship to withstand torpedoes, made out of glacial ice which is virtually indestructible. There was some wood pulp in there too! Unfortunately the project was deemed too expensive and disbanded. If you don’t believe us…….Google Pykrete.

Jasper is small, with a disproportionately large railway station, and very pretty. Kim will be checking out the Canadian equivalent of Rightmove later, she’s very taken with the town which is no larger than Ampthill, has a population of 5000 and a free book exchange scheme