This was our last stop before we headed to our next rustic hostel. A 20 minute climb to the top of the hill with our entire tour group minus Gemma and a British girl Laura who must have been overwhelmed with the view from the car park.
Spectacular 360 degree views of the towering mountains that suround and well worth the effort in the sweltering heat.
Our self proclaimed ‘Worlds Tallest Tour Guide’ may not be most knowledgeable guide around the rockies but we have managed to see some amazing sights that other buses have driven past. One of which is Panther falls.
A small car park on the side of the highway shows a distant view of yet another ‘Bridal Veil Falls’ across the valley. Somewhere much closer though, the sound of pounding water can be heard.
A short walk down what is most likely a bear trail brought us close enough that we could enjoy a nice fresh shower (something welcomed considering our accomodation at the moment). It reminds me of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom after they had riden the mine carts through the tunnel…. you know the one I’m talking about.
It really is incredible how close the highway comes to some amazing scenery. And there sure is a lot of water in this country!
On our to way Banff we stopped to see Natural Bridge, a partly formed waterfall in Yo Ho National Park.
You are probably getting an impression by now of how much water and waterfalls there are in Canada.
The evil grin on our bus driver’s face as we pulled into the Go Kart track in the middle of nowhere warned most of the 20 odd backpackers away from getting behind the wheel of these lawnmower powered rocket ships.
Safety doesn’t seem to be a big concern in Canada, as you can see the helmets squeezed upon my head offered protection that can only be compared with that of an ice cream tub (and equal comfort). Instructions by the manager were that it was okay to attack other karts from the side but no hitting people in the tail… the grin from Tania our Bus driver widens.
While Tania’s tactics will never win a race they would be right at home on a demolition circuit. When ever she was passed she would pull over to the side of the track and wait for an appropriate time to jam her kart into the side of whoever rounded the corner first. I managed to escape most of these attempts with only a minor excursion off road (which is also fine according to the manager) until the last lap. When flagged to pull into the parking lot I panicked and hit the brakes leaving myself exposed to a T-Bone from our friendly tour guide, a nice sized bruise can be seen on my thigh where it hit the steering wheel.
The photo shows Dale (from Queensland), myself and then Tania. If you click to see the bigger photo you can see anger in her eyes!
Gem on top of BlackcombOriginally uploaded by simmogem.
Gemma has already told you about our accommodation. Very nice, so we decided to stay 3 nights here. We haven’t actually done much though as it’s so easy to watch the days go by from the balcony on the chalet. We needed a good relax after running around Victoria so much anyway.
There seems to be plenty of things to do here if you have a mountain bike, ski’s or a lot of money to hire either of these things. Otherwise, the done thing appears to be to try and get a job that pays enough to live on. Reading the local paper it seems that this is the most expensive place to live in all of Canada. Housing is very expensive and all shops have aimed there pricing at cashed up tourists which is strange since half of the tourists are young thrill seekers with no money at all. There is a lot of construction and improvements going on too due to the upcoming winter Olympics that will be held here, no doubt that will help with the prices.
One of the other guys staying here recommended we take the gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain. Sounded like a nice ride and was pretty cheap entertainment for 3 hours. Unfortunately, the Gondola isn’t running yet for some reason so we were told we could take the ski lift up Blackcomb Mountain instead. Whistler Village has two mountains that you can get lifts up right from the town and in winter I assume ski right up to. Blackcomb is still ski-able until well into June so Gemma got her first walk in the snow.
To get to the top is 2 chair lift rides, (we put our jackets on after the first), a short bus ride and then another chair lift. This takes about 45 minutes in total. Upon beginning the final lift it began to rain. We both had our gortex jackets so were fine up to, but our legs got a little cold and wet in only jeans. Thankfully, as we got closer to the top, the rain actually turned to snow. I didn’t think it would still be snowing at this time of year!
Other than this we lazed around near the lake and read books. Nothing else to tell really though we enjoyed it very much, we would stay longer and look for work but we might miss out on something better!
We are back off to Vancouver now for just the one night before continuing our moose tour into the rockies.
Yesterday we had taken a walk to the harbour of victoria so Gemma could see the Empress Hotel and spotted the Legaslative Legaslative Building. We took a free tour and learnt that to celebrate a visit from the Queen they had installed 3000 lights to the outside of the building that are turned on at night.
I thought this would make a great photo so this evening we headed down to the harbour again (15 minute walk). The sun sets at about 9pm here so we left at about 8:10 so we could find a good spot before it got dark. I still have a bit to learn when it comes to dressing appropriately for the Canadian climate as my T-shirt and polar fleece vest left a little lacking once the sun dropped.
Gemma, my kind assistant, went and found us coffee while we waited for what seemed an eternity for the lights to come on. I assume who evers duty it is to flick the switch was asleep at their post as they didn’t come on until after 9:30pm.
ONce the lights were on, finding a place to clamp my camera to became quite a task. We treied a park seat, a war memorial, a high tension cable supporting a pole but the best photo ended up comming from the camera being perched atop a bin! And who should we find trying to sqeeze his way into the photo. None other than Captain James Cook who has taken up prime position in front of the harbour and the Empress.
I’ll have to edit the bird poo out later.
Now at Skagway, our last stop on the cruise.
Have taken loads of photos and lots has happened in the last two days. When we return to Vancouver (sunday) we will update the blog with our diary entries and upload some of the pictures for you to see. But for now, we are safe and having a great time.
We enjoyed reading your comments, keep them coming.
Gemma and Simon