Victoria, British Colombia
Trip Start Apr 17, 2011
23Trip End Jul 20, 2011
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Near Emerald lake we stopped in at a place listed as a natural arch, as if we hadn't seen lots of these early on our trip in Utah. But this natural arch was different. It had a river running through it with a loud roaring sound. As for most of the day it was wet, had just been wet, or was about to be wet, but we enjoyed the spot never the less. The arch had started as a waterfall and erosion had brought about the hollowing of the rock ledge under the waterfall until it formed a gap that now takes the main river flow through the natural arch.
We were now on the western side of the great divide and all rivers were running towards the Pacific Ocean. We spent the night near a town called Revelstoke at a country Lodge. It was 10 minutes out of town on a minor road and was a very typical mountain lodge type resort, minus the tourists. It had the feeling of a grand plan falling short, possibly through lack of money. Our room was great though although some other aspects fell short. The whole mountains are lacking tourists for this time of the year and that particular place was more of a winter lodge than a summer one, we were told.
Generally I have been impressed with the roads in Canada, and especially the mountain roads. Our next days travel was no exception. We seemed to be travelling downhill for so much of the day, and getting different views around each corner.
We stopped at a place we had heard about where there is a lookout towards train tunnels. When the railroad had been built the track was too steep. It would take 4 loco's to push a fairly light load up the tracks, but when coming down trains often ran out of control. In fact the first train down met with grief and 3 men were killed. So they built a double loop tunnel, like a figure 8 and now the trains enter and climb gradually
In the same area the road cuttings, and bridges, were outstanding. If in Australia we built roads like that the politicians would be in pain from slapping themselves on the back for the wonderful work that they had authorised & overseen!!
Another event from that day was nearly running out of petrol, (or gas, for the Americans). We knew which route we had to take and had changed drivers and as we were heading out of the town noted that we needed gas fairly soon. However once we got onto the freeway there was a sign that said no gas or services for 86 kms. That seemed OK but we didn't know how much climbing we would be doing, even though we thought we would be descending. We drove through magnificent isolated mountain country, again, and eventually made it to the next town, where of course the petrol was dearer. Then it was over 100kms to the next services again, but we were fine by then
Also somewhere that day we came into a town known as the houseboat capital of Canada. As we were miles from the ocean it was a surprise to us but the houseboats were there on huge lakes and waterways high in the mountains. Quite interesting really.
That night we spent at a place called Abbottsford about 50 kms short of Vancouver. At this stage we were about 10 minutes from the USA & Kathy wanted to visit the parents of a lifelong friend who live near Bellingham, in Washington State, very near the Canadian border. As they would not be home until after lunch we had a scenic drive around some of the north western parts of the most north western State before arriving at their place.
They live in a cabin on the edge of a State Park amongst magnificent tall trees and within 10 minutes walk to a semi private beach. We enjoyed our afternoon and evening meal with them before taking accommodation in their city ready for the next day in Vancouver back into Canada. Of course each crossing involves lining up at the borders and showing passports etc.The main highway through Vancouver was not a freeway and took us through the centre of the town as we headed to the opposite side to go to Grouse Mountain
Vancouver has roughly double the population of Adelaide and the Grouse Mountain complex is a bit of a showcase. There is a large gondola to take people (for a price) up to the tourist spots which include a lookout, eating places, theatre, bear enclosure, chairlift, lumberjack show, and more. we enjoyed our afternoon there, (except for the lunch), and then made our way back via Stanley Park to the ferry to take us over to Vancouver island, and the city of Victoria, which is the capital city of the province of British Columbia where we had spent most of our last few days.
In Victoria it was good to know that we were going to have 2 nights straight at the same spot as this was only the 3rd time in 3 weeks. On our full day on Vancouver Island we spent most of it at the world famous Butchart Gardens which are north of the city. They are just magnificent, even though most of the rhododendrons had finished and the massed annual beds were only just coming in to bloom. There was still so much to see and enjoy. We left about 2.00pm to explore the city and returned later to see them with their night illuminations which was also worthwhile.
We had learnt that the ferry that we needed to travel on to go back to the States was virtually full and that we probably would not be able to get on the 10.30am sailing. (the next would be at about 3.30pm.) All bookings that could be made were taken, and there were only about 30 or so places for others. Anyway we arrived before 8.30am and paid and lined up as 12th in line. Once again through customs and just wondering if we would get on. Well we did, right at the back of the ferry, with maybe about 6-10 vehicles after us. I felt sorry for those left on the wharf but Kathy tells me that many years ago they were left on the wharf as the car before them was the last to catch the ferry.
Next report will be about Washington state.