Calgary - Vancouver Trip Report

Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:11 PM
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Calgary - Vancouver Trip Report

My husband and I recently returned from a short but fun trip to Vancouver. Here is a trip report that incorporates the things we learned on this visit.

A general comment is that we were fortunate enough to have warm, sunny weather during the entire journey. I won’t belabour that point any more.

Another background observation is that we were repeat visitors to Vancouver, so we skipped some of the attractions that fall into the “must do” category for first time visitors. Except for the fact that we drove through Stanley Park on our way to and from other places, we did not go out of our way to visit it. We also did not visit Granville Island Market, Yaletown, or the Museum of Anthropology.

Sat, July 15 - Drove south from Calgary on the Cowboy Trail (Hwy #22), west on the Crowsnest Highway (Hwy #3) through Cranbrook, Creston and Trail to Osoyoos, and north on Hwy #97 to Penticton in the Okanagan Valley.

Drove through beautiful mountain ranges, valleys and forests. Saw lots of deer and mountain sheep at various points.

This was a very full day’s drive. The road is more winding than the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1). If a first time visitor took the Hwy #3 route from Calgary to the Okanagan Valley, he/she would be better off doing the drive over two days, in my opinion.

NOTE : On some of the remote sections of Hwy #3, the gas stations close quite early. We stopped for gas at a tiny place. I forget exactly where it was, between Creston and Trail I think. I happened to glance at the hours that were posted on the window of the little building, and I noticed that it closed at 7.00 p.m.

We stayed at the Days Inn in Penticton. It was not a beachfront property, but it was a comfortable place in which to spend a night. Our room was well equipped, and even had a small fridge.

Prior to booking at the Days Inn, I had investigated Penticton’s Ramada, which mms has recommended on this forum. However, the Ramada, which mms had described as being in the $90 range, had moved up into the C$190 range.

I forget what we paid for the Days Inn – something like C$140.

The dates of this trip kept on moving. Initially it was to have taken place in May, but various things kept on coming up and interfering with it. Because I feared we’d be forced to postpone the trip yet again, I was afraid to use Priceline, which I’d never used before. However, I’ve been studying the threads about Priceline, and that’s something I’m going to learn more about for future reference.

More in next post ............
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:16 PM
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Sun, July 16 - Had brunch at the home of ex Calgary friends who have retired to Penticton.

Because we were in a hurry to meet our son in Vancouver, we drove the quicker way, via Hwy #97C and the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy #5), instead of Hwy #3 through Princeton and Manning Provincial Park.

We were reminded, once again, that the less scenic way of getting from Kelowna to Vancouver is still impressive. The Coquihalla Highway goes through attractive mountains and forests between Merritt and Hope.

NOTE : As we turned off Hwy #97C and onto Hwy #5, there was no place to fill up with gasoline. We drove a few kilometres into the town of Merritt to do that.

One thing that we found sad on this day, and during the latter part of the drive on the previous day, was the number of rust coloured trees, apparently the result of the mountain pine beetle which, in turn, was a sign of global warming -- or so we understand. Apparently the combination of drought and pine beetle makes those forests very vulnerable to fire, an accident waiting to happen so to speak.

Checked into the Holiday Inn Vancouver Downtown at the corner of Howe and Helmcken Streets. Our son, who is doing a year’s internship (practical work experience) in Vancouver, met us at the hotel. The three of us had dinner in a small Japanese restaurant on nearby Davie Street, walked down to the English Bay Promenade, and walked up to our son’s apartment in the West End. After that my husband and I walked back to our hotel.

The Holiday Inn was comfortable and served our needs well. I’ve submitted a review to TripAdvisor on the Holiday Inn in Vancouver and the Days Inn in Penticton, and they should be published within a couple of days.

Mon, July 17 – In spite of the fact that we had visited Vancouver several times before, we had never driven further north than Squamish. On this day we drove along Howe Sound to Squamish and then on to Whistler and Pemberton. On the way we stopped at Shannon, Brandywyne and Nairn Falls, all of which were beautiful.

We were impressed with the Coast Range which, although it was not as rugged as the Rockies, was covered in a temperate rainforest that was more luxuriant than the alpine forest of the Alberta Rockies.

The town of Whistler did not attract us at all. We found it to be an even more yuppie place than Banff, Alberta – and that’s saying a lot. Yet we were delighted with the scenery along the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy #99). For that reason I would wholeheartedly recommend the drive to Whistler, and if possible to Pemberton.

Another thing that made our day was our stop at a store that sold Aboriginal crafts just off Hwy #99, a short distance south of Squamish. The owner spent quite some time explaining to us the different things that could be done with cedar. We found it fascinating.

Finally, we went out for dinner with a former classmate of my husband and the classmate’s wife, who now live in Vancouver. At their suggestion we went to Cardero’s, which overlooks Coal Harbour next to the Westin Bayshore. Everyone had seafood of some sort. Two of us had salmon, one had halibut, and one had seafood pasta. The food was good, but the main thing was catching up with our friends’ news.

To be continued .........
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:19 PM
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Tue, July 18 - Went up Grouse Mountain and then went for an extensive walk in Lynn Canyon Regional Park, finishing up with a walk across the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. The temperate rainforest in Lynn Canyon Regional Park is an awesome place to walk, and you would never guess that you’re a stone's throw from the homes of North Vancouver.

Before I’d been to Whistler, I used to be a fan of Vancouver’s North Shore (Lynn Canyon, Grouse Mountain and Horseshoe Bay). Now that I’ve been to Whistler, I would say that the money a couple could spend on the Grouse Mountain Sky Ride would be better spent renting a car and driving the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.

That evening our son joined us in visiting an old high school friend of mine for dinner. Not only was it great for my husband and me to visit with her, but her son and our son turned out to have several outdoor interests in common.

Wed, July 19 - Did a day trip to the Sunshine Coast.

Did the ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, and then drove up Hwy #101 to Earl's Cove and Egmont.

Because we did not have a ferry reservation, we played it safe and arrived an hour before the 9.30 a.m. ferry. We saw that, once people had paid their ferry fares and secured their spots in the line, they locked their vehicles and walked to Horseshoe Bay Village, presumably to buy breakfast. I stayed in our vehicle while my husband walked to the village to buy breakfast for both of us.

The ferry crossing took 40 minutes, and the scenery was very attractive.

Just like our trip to Whistler, this was another first for us. We had never been to the Sunshine Coast before. We were enchanted by the laid back nature of the small communities along that coast and the beauty of some of the little bays and coves we encountered.

We drove up Hwy #101, stopping at Gibson’s, Halfmoon Bay, Secret Cove, Madeira Point, Pender Harbour, Earl’s Cove and Egmont.

On the whole these communities were quite modest in appearance. They were to Victoria what Pemberton is to Whistler, if you can imagine what I mean. Their charm lay in the scenery, in the beauty of the little islands and coves, in the positions of the houses built on stilts overlooking the water, in the little marinas with boats moored alongside, etc.

We got the sense that the Sunshine Coast probably had a good community spirit. There were small clues that gave us that impression. For example, we saw poles along Hwy #101 that were marked, “Bus Stop.” Unlike Calgary, where there are benches (and in some cases covered shelters) at bus stops, these bus stops had no seats. However, several bus stops had a couple of lawn chairs parked next to them. We got the impression that local residents had provided the lawn chairs.

We would have liked to have done the 4 kilometre walk from Egmont to view the rapids and whirlpools that form in Skookumchuck Narrows when the tide turns. However, we didn’t know the tide timetable and whether or not we would witness the phenomenon even if we did the walk. Besides that, we knew we had limited time in which to drive back to Langdale and catch the return ferry to Horseshoe Bay. So we decided to skip the walk. But if we’d been on an overnight visit to the Sunshine Coast, we’d have loved to have seen the rapids and whirlpools, which various acquaintances had told us were awesome.

We drove back down Hwy #101, arrived at Langdale at about 4.15 p.m., and were in good time to catch the 5.15 p.m. ferry.

From Horseshoe Bay we drove along Marine Drive through West Vancouver to North Vancouver and thence over Lions Gate Bridge, through Stanley Park, along Georgia Street to our hotel.

That night my husband and I walked down Robson Street to find a restaurant in which to have dinner. Joe Fortes on Thurlow Street, near the intersection with Robson, caught our eye. We were lucky enough to get a table without a reservation. It looked as if we got the last free table. The people behind us and the people behind them were told that there was a 45-minute wait.

My husband had fresh west coast oysters. He said they were outstanding. I had a salad with a superb vinaigrette dressing.

For the main course my husband had trout, and I had a tomato-based seafood stew. It consisted of mussels, clams, crab and halibut. It was amazing.

More coming .............
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:22 PM
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Thu, July 20 - Went to our son’s apartment and loaded up our minivan with some of his stuff in anticipation of his late August / early September return to Calgary to do his last year of university.

He hopped in the minivan with us so that he could come to Calgary for a long weekend to visit with his girlfriend.

We did the standard drive along the Coquihalla Highway and the TransCanada Highway to Calgary in one day. Other than a stop for brunch in Kamloops and a gas refill in Golden, we just kept going.

NOTE : As we drove through the mountain national parks we passed a couple of police cars that were trapping speeders. My husband maintained a conservative speed so as to avoid being issued with a traffic ticket.

On most highways outside of the national parks in British Columbia and Alberta, the speed limit is 110 km/hr (69 MPH). On the main roads in the national parks, the speed limit is 90 km/hr (56 MPH). On side roads in the national parks, e.g., the road to Moraine Lake, the speed limit is 60 km/hr (38 MPH). American visitors who cross the border in American cars, either their own cars or rented cars, whose speedometers show MPH, would be well advised to make a note of the common speed limits mentioned above.

On this trip I noticed that signs that indicated speed limits didn’t actually STATE that they were in kilometres per hour. A sign usually showed a simple 90 on it (or whatever the number was). I think that has the potential to confuse American visitors. Since I have been participating on travel discussion forums, I have been noticing small details that I didn’t notice before.

Well, folks, that’s it. I hope the information may be of assistance to other travellers.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:37 PM
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Prior to departing for this trip I had printed out some pages from an excellent restaurant website that Sam_Salmon has recommended on this forum, namely:

However, we didn't use the information. My husband is not a travel geek. He does not plan a trip down to the last detail. He likes to walk down a street and go into a restaurant whose appearance appeals to him, as we did in the case of Joe Fortes. But Sam's wonderful link may be of use to someone else.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 06:39 AM
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Thank you Judy_in_Calgary for the excellent report. Although I have frequently vacationed in the Vancouver/Vancouver Island area, I had never considered the Sunshine Coast. From your description, it sounds like our kind of destination; I will keep it in mind for our next trip.
bmacdon is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 05:49 PM
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I sure agree with your opinion of Whistler, Judy, and also the Sea to Sky Hwy.
April is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 06:10 PM
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Judy, a comment about Joe Fortes in Vancouver --

That's a favorite restaurant of ours. When we visit anywhere nearby (such as family in Seattle, or visiting wineries in the Okanagan, we make a special point to have dinner there. We live now in Orlando, FL, and try to visit annually.

This last visit, we could not make dinner, and went there for brunch on Sunday. The weather was sunny, warm, and grand, and I think it was spectacular. We ate on the rooftop garden -- something that one would not appreciate at night.

Quite an enjoyable meal, and I would love to repeat it. We wish we lived in the area; we'd be there weekly at least.
sludick is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 06:43 PM
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Sludick - Where is your trip report????? I'm still waiting.
traveller69 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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Had to go on the road at work as soon as I came back. Working on it now, give me a day and i'll post...
sludick is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 08:37 PM
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Great I'm looking forward to it. Just be thankful you came when you did. The temps are over 100 right now and not much relief in sight.
traveller69 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 02:01 PM
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Great report. Thanks for the link!
cmcfong is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 02:30 PM
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Enjoyed your trip report! Sorry to hear that those pine beetles are ravaging the pines in the Canadian portion of the Rockies just like they are further south in Colorado. Some great thoughts for when I return to BC....

Daniel_Williams is online now  
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