Bear Tales

Trip Start Sep 10, 2009
Trip End Oct 22, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, September 14, 2009

Got up Sunday morning and realised that I was supposed to go to the Moose Office (the company I'm doing the hop-on, hop-off bus tour through the Rockies with) on Saturday to pay.  Panic attack!!!  Anyway, after I got over that, I checked and found they were open on Sunday so off I went.  By the time that was done it was a bit late to go to Granville Island on the Big Bus so I went to Chinatown instead to Dr Sun Yat-Sen's Classical Chinese Garden.  This is a lovely garden.  Vancouver's Chinatown is the second largest in North America apparently.

Then I hopped back on the bus and went to Gastown.  An Englishman nicknamed Gassy Jack opened a saloon here and Vancouver grew from there.  There are lots of interesting shops in Gastown, including a gallery featuring First Nations Art where I got lots of ideas about things I'd like to buy on my last couple of days in Vancouver.  Not sure that I will go back to this gallery though - I picked up a brochure about organisations which are members of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC and I think I might go to one of their galleries.

After lunch, I got back on the bus and took the scenic route back to my hotel.  I had done this the day before but Sunday's route was slightly different so I got a better look at some things.  I particularly like the tree growing on top of the building, the idea being that the top of this tree is at the same height as the trees in Vancouver were before the English arrived and began logging.  This penthouse was owned by Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn and is now owned (Jennie, please note) by a gentleman famous for his pointy ears.

Also, finally got a picture of the amazing library.  It was built in the 1990s and an international competition was held to decide the design.

Today, I got on a small plane (20 seats) and flew to Bella Coola.  It was cloudy most of the way but when we came down below the clouds to land, the view was spectacular.  Bella Coola is in a valley amongst the Coast Mountains and we flew through mountains high enough to still have large patches of snow - this is at the end of the hottest summer on record.  I even saw my first glacier, though I hope to get much closer to one before the end of the trip.

This afternoon, I went on my first bear watching trip.  Basically, we got in a boat and spent several hours drifting downriver to see if we could spot any bears fishing for salmon. And we did!  We saw three grizzly bears (one was a long way off) and a black bear.  I wasn't close enough to get a photo of the black bear but I did video it - remembered the disk this time - and I managed a couple of shots of the biggest grizzly.

This was an amazing afternoon, the river is so peaceful and you just float along.  The water is crystal clear and mostly only a few feet deep and there are thousands of salmon.  We also saw Bald Eagles and an Osprey, which the guide said was fairly rare.  It was so quiet.  Also, bears have paparazzi chasing them now.  There were quite a few photographers sitting on the bank in certain spots with $10,000 lens bigger than Centrepoint Tower. Only two companies are licensed to take the boats on the river in this part of Tweedsmuir National Park so these guys have to sit on the banks all day, unless they want to pay a guide to take them out.

I'm going on another bear tour either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning. There's a female with two cubs around that I'd like to see.
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Where I stayed
Coast Mountain Lodge
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