What are the last things you want to happen ...
Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
66Trip End Jul 23, 2003
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Okay, maybe I should mention that the courthouse we ended up in is no longer working and has been converted to a hostel - but that sounds much less interesting! That's the thing with hostels, they're not always the conventional building. It's not very often you get to sleep in the judges quarters and eat in the main courtroom!
Since leaving Guelph I've gone to British Columbia and met up with Steve again and done some sightseeing with him. We started in Vancouver, then it was off towards the Rockies. I can certainly understand why those people from BC or Alberta who I met in Ontario miss the mountains. They are a very impressive sight and quite a bit different to the flat of Ontario.
With the time spent in the mountains I got to be in the winter wonderland that you see on the postcards and movies. The mountains surrounding you, each covered in thousands of Christmas trees and all of that topped with a dusting of snow. There are a few things that don't seem real when you see them, and that was one of them. I literally spent hours staring out of the window at the scenery, and with every turn or extra mile there was a different scene in front of you. I have to agree that it is a stunningly beautiful area here, and I have a feeling that the different seasons would bring out different aspects of the beauty of the mountains. Be a wonderful place to come outside of winter for some hiking (it's a little chilly out at the moment).
We drove through the Okanagan Valley following the lake the length of the valley. Not so scenic for the first part - mainly because we couldn't see much because of the fog everywhere which stopped you seeing much of anything. But once that cleared a bit, it became a little more obvious why it's a nice area to visit. The snowcapped hills on either side, with a lake in the centre of the valley and surrounded by orchards as you get to the bottom section - although not much was growing at this time of year. We intended to visit Canada's only desert, but arrived to find that the desert centre was shut for the winter. Not quite what you imagine when you think of a desert - an area next to a lake, in the mountains, surrounded by a fruit growing area, and in the hills above snow. We drove around the area, past the spotted lake (and yes it really does look spotted) and up one of the hills to an overlook, although we didn't make it to the top because the snow got thick quickly.
We ended up going to Banff and stayed there for a couple of nights. We decided that since neither of us had been skiing before we'd try one of the beginners packages at Sunshine - four hours of lessons, equipment hire and lift pass for $80 is not too bad. It was certainly interesting with a shaky start, but by the end of the day things were going more smoothly. Think it's going to takes a bit more practice though! (just like the skating)
We also visited Lake Louise and went for a wander around the area. It is a large lake surrounded by the mountains, and has the obligatory resort put on the edge of the water. The lake was completely frozen over and the resort had cleared away some of the snow for ice skating and a hockey game. In front of the resort they were also building an ice castle on the lake from blocks of ice, although the building had progressed too far when we arrived and there were horses and sleighs going around the lake. It is certainly an impressive setting with the whiteness of winter settled down over it, and appears to be equally beautiful, although very different, during the summer.
Back in Vancouver it was off to the airport and get the tickets reissued again. It only took 2 and a half hours and several trips between the different airline desks because nobody had all the information. In the end it was rebook all the flights at the American Airlines desk and then take the printed out itinery to British Airways to get someone there to book it all again on their system and then print it out, because American Airlines would have to hand write the ticket. Be nice if there was a central system and the different airlines shared all the information - but that would mean less time sitting around in airports which is always so much fun!
We also headed over to Vancouver Island for a day trip and met up with Derek and Peta. There was clear blue skies and the sun was shining down as we went across on the ferry. Not quite the typrical day in this area of the country just before Christmas. We drove across the island and saw still more beautiful scenery - forest, snow capped mountains, lakes and rivers and made it across to the beach on the west coast and went wandering along that. A slightly different beach to what I'm used to - have to climb across washed up trees to get to the beach, there's forest to the water's edge and then lots of rock piles which you can clamber out onto. Although if you stay on some of the rocks for too long, you find yourself now surrounded by water as the waves come in, and the sand you walked over has disappeared, well at least until the waves retreat again. Noone seemed very keen on going for a swim though - something to do with the chill of the water I think.
Anyway, tomorrow brings about another day of travel to get down to Mexico, which will be where I'm spending Christmas. So to everyone reading this - Merry Christmas, and I hope you enjoy yourself wherever you are and whatever you end up doing.
PS - For those who wanted to know - it was four distinctions and two high distinctions at Guelph