Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
158Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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Well, here we are in Calgary, people said we were mad to come to Canada in the winter and the minus 25 temperatures have been a tad on the cold side, but we've really enjoyed exploring this amazing winter wonderland.
We said farewell to Winston, Jen and Baby Rebecca in Seattle on the 28th, catching a lift with their friends Wendy, John and Mike to Vancouver, Canada. The Canadian border guard was probably the funniest and friendliest that we have ever met but Kev was disappointed that the famed Canadian Mounties apparently no longer wear their red jackets! Upon arriving at Mike's, our home for the next 4 nights, Kev happily discovered one of Mike's Christmas presents (albeit to himself) was the Lord of The Rings trilogy on DVD
On the eve of New Year's Eve, John kindly drove us around, showing us some of the wilderness on Vancouver's doorstep with a trek to a deep river canyon (in the rain) and Stanley Park where the skyscrapers of the city meet the tall pine trees. Finally we visited the excellent Anthropology Museum detailing British Columbia's Native American Indian tribes (First People as they are locally known) complete with original Totem poles and other grand wooden carvings. After visiting John's downtown apartment with fabulous views of the city at night, Kev finally managed to see the last half of the final Lord of the Rings film at Mike's but it turned into a very late night and although New Year's Eve had fabulous weather, we only just caught sunset due to our late start.
We had arranged to meet a friend from our travels in Honduras and Guatemala, Dirk, who was also in Vancouver for New Year, visiting an old friend and treating himself to a fantastic 30th birthday present of a 'snowboarding by helicopter' day. Unfortunately, Dirk broke his ankle on his first run but amazingly kept on going to enjoy another 5 runs down the mountain, but his birthday ended in the hospital where they had to plaster him up
New Year's Day was unsurprisingly off to a slow start but we managed to pick up our hire car and got Mike to burn us a few great CD mix's (Thanks Mike!) from his collection for the long journey ahead. We left for Whistler, the famed skiing resort, North of Vancouver and got so lost that we ended up back in Vancouver city centre before we realised what had happened. When we eventually arrived in Whistler we met our host for the next couple of nights, Terry and we were treated to another home cooked meal and long chats about travelling in India
With Kev feeling still a little 'out of it' Sian decided to practice her driving skills on the wrong side of the road and we headed off into the hills on a route marked out by Terry, to take in some of the best scenery on our way to the Rocky Mountains. We passed through some gorgeous snow covered forest and mountain scenery with many frozen lakes, picturesque river scenes and small native indian villages. We stopped for the night in the town of Salmon Arm where we found a cheap but nice hotel-come-old folks home for the night. It was there that we got chatting to Merle, a 90 year old English woman, born in South Africa and with stories to tell from all over the world, including Aberdeen in the 30's. Hours later we sadly said goodnight and the next morning it was back on the spectacular scenic trail deep into the Rocky Mountains
The Icefields Parkway is an absolutely spectacular drive North from Lake Louise into Jasper National Park. The roadside mountains are hanging with blue glaciers and the scenery is very dramatic, even in summer. Unfortunately, the road conditions were terrible and it took us so long to drive up that we had to turn back just before we reached the town of Jasper as we had heard that heavy snow was forcast for that night and we didn't want to get stuck in Jasper for a few days. We reached Banff later that evening and the next day it was snowing really heavily, so we visited the local museum and later in the afternoon we did a beautiful walk along a sheltered river gorge with a fantastic frozen waterfall at the end
We fly to Chicago tomorrow, where the weather is apparently even worse but where another Global Freeloader host will hopefully be expecting us. So until next time.....
Kev and Sian