Banff to Calgary

From Lake Lousie we headed to Calgary via Banff. If only we’d had more time to check out the surrounding area – but Banff was a great place to pick up a few tasteful souvenirs. Also seemed like the cheapest place that we saw for bear spray, if you’re in the market.

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Banff – smoky, but souvenir heaven

Our drive to Calgary was pretty smoky, and by the time we got through town and dropped off the hire car, it was time for dinner and then bed at the airport motel. And the next morning, on to San Francisco.

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Best road tripping – Banff National Park

Staying at Lake Louise for a couple of nights gave us time to explore the area. We had a beautiful clear day when we headed down the Bow Valley and Ice Fields Parkways. Glorious views and we felt lucky the smoke had cleared to give clear skies.

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Lovely, pricey, Lake Louise

Lake Louise is famous – and justifiably so – it is gorgeous. However, it is also totally overrun with tourists, so don’t expect much tranquility along with the wonderful scenery. We were lucky enough to stay there – not in the famous, huge Chateaux, but the rather homey lodge behind it. So we didn’t have to day trip. I’m still staggered by prices for canoeing on the lake – $105 (plus GST) for an hour on the lake, or $95 for 30 minutes! And just about every canoe was out on the first afternoon we arrived. Wow. But wow, what a place.

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View from the lodge

Nelson – funky town

Nelson is a known both as a historic location and a bit of a hippy hangout. We liked it. En route we passed through the historic town of Greenwood, where the film Snow Falling on Cedars was filmed. Some of the film set facade is still standing in the main street.

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Barn, Okanagan Valley

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Cool historic main street of Greenwood
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Film set still standing from 1999 – time to move on, Greenwood!
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Nelson
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Nelson museum – the sturgeon canoe
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Market night, Nelson style

Manning Park to Oliver

From Manning Park we headed to Oliver, the ‘wine capital of Canada.’ As we only had one night in Oliver we could only fit in visits to three of the multitude of wineries in the area. These looked very much like Aussie wineries – except that sometimes you can’t go walking in the vineyards due to bear alerts.  Apparently most BC wine is purchased and enjoyed by BCers so no need to find markets elsewhere. We had no idea. We tried Tinhorn Creek, Gehringer Bros and Hester Creek – all excellent.

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Vaseux Lake, Okanagan Valley. Bears had been sighted earlier in the day. 

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A 15 year battle still ongoing to establish a park in Okanagan Valley – preservation v productive farm land
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Okanagan Valley vineyards

 

Port Alice drive

Sorry for the blogging break! While it’s back to reality for me (and that has taken a few weeks to organise), here on the interweb I can pretend it’s still all happening…

As you might have read earlier, we were in Port Hardy to prepare for our flight to Great Bear Lodge. The flight was in the afternoon, so we took a drive to Port Alice to check out the surroundings before leaving on our seaplane flight. Beautiful scenery, and it was a pity we didn’t have time for a proper hike. I can recommend it for a picnic location. Sadly we couldn’t stay for the submarine races.

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Courtenay spa life

We had one night in Courtenay, at Kingfisher Spa, which turned out to be a beautiful location. M was so disappointed we didn’t have time for any spa treatments, but the cafe/restaurant and view from outside our room was excellent diversion for one night. From the beach and then from the restaurant we could see seals popping up their heads. The mountain backdrop behind was very impressive.

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Hopeful menu item

 

Victoria to Courtenay

From Victoria we headed up the coast. The first hour out of the city was excruciatingly slow – in an hour we travelled about 15 km. They are repairing the road and there was an accident and a breakdown – luckily we had planned for an easy driving day.  We were heading to Courtenay but on the way stopped in at a couple of lookouts, and for lunch checked out Rathtrevor Beach. So far the Canadian beaches we’ve seen in BC are different to most Australian beaches – it seems like there’s a lot of dark sand, and the tide is always out – but the mountainous backdrop is absolutely stunning.

More about Courtenay next.

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Lookout – just out of Victoria
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Rathtrevor Beach
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Grassy beach? but wonderful backdrop
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driftwood, Rathtrevor Beach
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Courtenay Beach