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Trip Report: Victoria-Tofino-Okanagan-Nelson-Banff-Vancouver

Trip Report: Victoria-Tofino-Okanagan-Nelson-Banff-Vancouver

Oct 15th, 2005, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
>>>>>>Sometimes I miss the smell of the dried weeds, and found a comforting perfume from the ones growing there.<<<<<<

It's interesting how seemingly small things like that are imprinted in our memories.

>>>>>>Alex had liver and onions (his favorite meal, makes me wrinkle my nose -- ick)<<<<<<

The two of you are like my husband and me. I like liver and onions, and my husband does not.

>>>>>>So, the next day, we walked. And walked. And walked. From the lake, the streets go sharply uphill, so steep in sports that the sidewalks are stairs. I ended up pulling a muscle, and had to confine my walking to level ground for several days thereafter.<<<<<<

Ouch. I'm curious to find out how that impinged on your stay in the Alberta Rockies.

Sludick, you're doing great. Thank you for persevering with your report.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 15th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Hi Sludick. We find that those owl's in need of rehabilitation are quite a problem. They fly around without regard to fellow birds - weaving and bobbing, crashing into windows, hooting obscene hoots as they go by. It's those darn grape vines - the owls get into them and just don't know when to go home!!! When they are rehabilitated we send them off to Florida to dry out!
traveller69 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2005, 03:57 PM
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traveller69 -- NOW I understand! Burrowing Owl has been an "enabler" through its own grapevines. It's not enough that these wineries are fighting off teeming hordes of starlings, they are tripping over owls... :+)
sludick is offline  
Oct 15th, 2005, 04:42 PM
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We had mapped out 2 different routes to Banff. One was to go on 3 to 93, past Cranbrook and Invermere to Radium Hot Springs, and from there into the parks.
The second was to go north to Revelstoke and in on Highway 1, using 3A to 6, then 23 to 1. This second route was our choice. Our reason? Well, we had been to Banff 2 years ago and stayed a week in Panorama, so we had seen a lot of the first route. Also, there was a ferry crossing on the route north that we wanted to experience.

We left Nelson around 730am on a Friday morning. (I should remind everyone that we live in Florida, so these frosty mornings during our hot time of year are very different from what we are accustomed to, but a real treat.) Our road ran mainly along the water, river/lake I'm not sure which --there are a lot of narrow lakes in this area, and some areas have dams that create lakes. Don't think you'll go too swiftly along here -- it is a single lane in each direction, and in 2 places became a single lane due to a bridge. Eventually we came to a lake, and the road ended. We waited for the Shelter Bay - Galena Bay ferry, which comes around every hour. There is a small park overlooking the lake and restrooms, so you can stretch your legs and enjoy the short wait. The ferry is free, and a very enjoyable little trip. Once on the other side, another half hour brings you to Highway 1 at Revelstoke. Our drive continued on through Golden and into Yoho. It was a beautiful sunny day, and here we began seeing snow along the road. It had just snowed the day
before, and the trees had a white coating.

Our home for the next week was the Banff Gate Mountain Resort. This is a timeshare resort in the Canmore area just to the east of Canmore. Actually, this was even past Canmore, at the Deadmans Flats exit. We had a cabin to ourselves, a 2 bedroom 2 bath unit with a nice deck and fireplace. Anyway, we got in -- as usual -- around dinnertime. After checking in and getting our belongings put away, we headed back into Canmore for dinner, and had pizza at Santa Lucia.
sludick is offline  
Oct 17th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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The next day -- Saturday -- dawned clear and sunny, and very cold for us warm-blooded Floridians. There was ice on the car, on the deck, and generally all over. Glorious! Since I was recuperating and couldn't handle inclines too well, we went into Banff township. Our first stop was at the visitor information center, where we purchased a copy of Ben Gadd's "Handbook of the Canadian Rockies." I heartily recommend this to anyone remotely interested in the area's geology, climate, weather, history, plants, insects, animals large and small, fish, birds, and just about anything else you see. And if the weather is inclement, it's also a good book to curl up with in front of the fireplace. We also brought along the "Moon Handbooks Canadian Rockies," which has a good deal of information on the "people stuff" like hotels, restaurants, hiking trails, and so forth.

We spent the morning exploring the shops in Banff. We bought most of the allotment of gifts for friends and family, but at some point we grew tired of seeing basically the same merchandise at each store. Lunch was the Rose and Crown pub (it's upstairs along the main street). Just ok. After lunch, we headed out on the Bow Valley Parkway for a very leisurely drive. The parking lot was completely full at Johnson Canyon, so we didn't stop there, but we did at Moraine Lake (by then the crowd was thinning out). We enjoyed cocoa in the coffee shop, and walked up the pile of rocks to enjoy the view of the lake. Once back at our cabin, I fired up the bbq grill to roast those peppers from the Okanagan. It was still pleasantly warm, just right to relax on the deck and enjoy the solitude.

That night we took in "Oh Canada Eh," a funny, enjoyably cheesy dinner show. You're seated family-style, and by the end of the evening we had become friends with our fellow diners, a group of ladies from Invermere. The food was mixed -- the pea soup was delicious; the salad had sat too long in the dressing and was soggy but the vinaigrette was tasty. There was chicken, a sort of barbecue beef, and breaded fish. All served family-style, enough for 1 piece per person, although they did offer to bring more later. Beer, wine, and cocktails are ordered and served separately, so we got a decent bottle of wine. We have our share of dinner events here in Orlando, but this was still a fun night out.

On Sunday morning we decided to take in a gondola ride. We chose Lake Louise, and Alex wants me to tell you we wished we had picked Banff instead. I think most of our feelings about that had to do with the lunch that we purchased with our tickets. It is only $6 extra, a pretty good deal. However, they were expecting some busloads of people, and advised us to sit only at tables without numbers. There were only a few of these, and they were not in the actual dining room but pushed out into the lobby. So there we were, early diners around 1130am, eating in the lobby while the dining room was completely empty. Oh well. The other thing about the Lake Louise gondola was that it does not go all the way to the top. The view we did have was spectacular, however. There was snow on the buildings and on the mountains, so a coat was welcome. There is an exhibition center at the top as well, and we walked to that (though the return was an uphill walk and still a bit painful). We could see the clouds moving in fairly quickly, from our vantage point; and by the time we descended, the wind had picked up and there was a definite chill in the air.

We headed back to Banff ahead of the weather, to explore the Banff Hot Springs Hotel. We wandered through the public areas and settled down to a basket of dim sum appetizers and a glass of wine along an atrium area where we could gaze down at the floor below, out the picture windows to the mountains, and listen to a gentleman playing the piano.

Dinner that night was at our cabin. That night it snowed --what a beautiful sight to wake up to. We lingered in the cabin longer than usual, enjoying the fireplace and the snow (not too much) outside. Then we headed out for Radium Hot Springs (to be continued).

sludick is offline  
Oct 17th, 2005, 08:35 PM
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Hi Sludick,
Yes, we did see the fires at Banff but we were told that they were set by rangers to burn off undergrowth. We have too many bush fires here in Australia to want to have them when we are travelling overseas.
We have such good memories of holidaying in Canada.
marg is offline  
Oct 18th, 2005, 04:27 AM
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Those were devastating wildfires that year. We were almost caught as we traveled from Banff to Radium Hot Springs, and were among cars in a final group that was escorted through before closing the road. Very difficult to breathe for almost an hour, and you could feel the heat. This year, we viewed large burnt out areas across British Columbia, that is beginning to regenerate.
sludick is offline  
Oct 18th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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I almost neglected to mention this. After leaving the Banff Hot Springs hotel, we took a drive along the golf course in the hope of seeing elk. We had not had any luck along the Bow Valley Parkway. Sure enough, they were all over the golf course and in the adjoining woods. The most memorable scene was a golfing foursome trying to play through a huge bull elk with an enormous rack. Somehow they had in between him and his females, and he was shaking his rack at them and bugling so loud you could probably hear him for miles. I felt they had put themselves in quite a dangerous position, yet they simply ignored him. From a safe distance, we got some great pictures as well as short movie clips on our digital camera.

There were a number of people who were also looking for elk but simply drove past them unawares, going too fast. Too bad! We chose the fall for this very reason, hoping to see this magnificent creatures in rut.

sludick is offline  
Oct 18th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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On our visit in 2003, we missed seeing so much of the mountains as they were obscured by smoke. Not this time. They were made more dramatic by the ominous clouds that wrapped around them in spots. We could also clearly see where the wildfires had burned, where last year we could see orange flames licking up all around and this time just burned out trees as far as you could see. Still, a beautiful drive.

We were hoping to pay a visit to that crazy woodcutter in Radium again. It was not to be, however. There was a sign on the door explaining that it "was not his day to work." By the way, we found that to be much the case around the area, with most restaurants and many stores closed on Mondays.

The best part of this trip was seeing the big horn sheep. We turned south on 93 at Radium and found a provincial park just down the road, a campground actually. It was mostly deserted, and as we drove slowly to the back of the park, we came upon a group of males. Our Handbook of the Canadian Rockies was helpful here -- apparently the males and females stay in separate groups until rutting season. Our presence didn't seem to bother them (though we didn't get out of the car), and we got some great pictures. Later on, as we were leaving, we came upon two females, walking along the road like hitchhikers. (We did also see a few along the Bow Valley Trail, but not in these numbers.)

Our dinner reservations that night were at Baker Creek Bistro. I have been recommending this place for the last 2 years. We found, though, that it had changed owners in that time. The menu had been Austrian, with a terrific duck entree. Although it was still good, it was not nearly to our liking, both in menu and food preparation. We did hear subsequently from another restauranteur in Canmore that there has been fairly regular turnover in the place due to conflicts with the ownership in the Baker Creek property. If so, that is a real shame.

(will continue)

sludick is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 10:09 PM
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Hi Sludick,
Perhaps we were in Banff at a different time to you and saw control fires instead of wild fires. I think we were there about the second week of June. We left Australia late May and spent some time at Tofino on Vancouver Island before travelling east.
I've got a funny story about the elk. My husband was out of the car videoing some elk when he became aware that one of the elk was getting bigger and bigger in the viewfinder and had to make a sudden leap for the car. We don't have problems with elk on the golf courses here - just kangeroos who graze totally unaware of any golfers and casually look around if your ball goes anywhere near them.
Looking forward to the rest of your story.
marg is offline  

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