Day 14 – Calgary to Yorkton

After a good night’s sleep, I woke up to Sharon busy in the kitchen getting ready to make pancakes, bacon and sausage.  What a great feast to start the day. 🙂

After scraping the frost off my car (again) I headed east into the rising sun. There were no mountain views to take pictures of, so the best I could do was a couple in the Qu’Appelle Valley.

The drive was uneventful and I reached Yorkton as planned.  I checked into the Comfort Inn at the lowest price I’ve found this trip (other than my relatives).  Breakfast was also included here and it was a pretty decent room.

It was a pretty long drive and I disappointed my FitBit again.

Tomorrow is a fairly short drive to Riding Mountain National Park.

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Day 13 – Banff to Calgary

After breakfast this morning, I headed back to take those 2 drives, expecting to find the critters that were usually around there.  The Big Horn Sheep have always been around the first drive, but again this morning, they were completely absent.  Luckily it is still a beautiful drive.  When I was almost finished that circle though, I did come across 3 bachelor Elks. They were busy eating to build up strength in order to get a bit further up the pecking order for next year’s rut.

I then headed over to the other drive and had no luck in finding any critters there either, but did take some scenic pictures..  Before heading back into town I went through the first one again, but did not find anything moving in the woods or fields.

 

I know there is never 100% chance of finding critters in the wild.  You can drive up and down the same road a dozen times and find nothing, but the next day, you might find something on the same roads.

I headed into town, parked the car and was going to walk to pick up something to eat, when I saw a couple of deer in someone’s yard, eating the bushes.  I stopped to take pictures and they walked almost right up to me.  I could have reached out and touched one of them – she was so close.  I believe these are Mule Deer.

Just after noon, I decided to get started on the short drive to Calgary.  Sharon and John allowed me into their home once again and we sat and chatted for awhile before heading out for dinner.  I just realized I didn’t get pictures of them and Misty (their dog) to share with you.

I did not walk as much as I should have today, so my FitBit was disappointed. Tomorrow I will head east and am aiming for Yorkton.

I am going to miss seeing these beautiful mountains.

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Day 12 – Jasper to Banff

Another beautiful morning and there was no frost on my car windows.  :)  I took a picture of the mountains from my room in the dark before heading over for breakfast.  Mountains are beautiful even in the dark.

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For breakfast this morning I had banana bread french toast and it was delicious.  I didn’t stop to take a picture of it, but ate every bite. 🙂

Then I packed up and got ready to head south to Banff.  I headed first for the same spot where I had seen Elk twice yesterday and once again there was a gorgeous big guy with his beautiful ladies.  A couple of the girls were close to me and hogged the photos, but I did aim a shot at the buck in the distance too.  You can see that there happens to be a man quite close to him.

Then I headed south, stopping along the way for walks around some falls and some scenic views.  Absolutely amazing views and I don’t think I could ever tired of looking at them.

This road has a lot of ups and downs and at one point, we are in the clouds and right at a glacier.  Glaciers are beautiful at a distance, but close up, they are just ice and snow and I get more than enough of that back home in Winnipeg during the winter.  I have never had a desire to get up there and walk on this one, but many people do.

There are tracks through the snow on one of the mountains, so I had to zoom in to take a look, but certainly couldn’t say for sure what made them.  My guess would be Mountain Goats, but so far this trip I haven’t seen any at all.

 

I got to Banff and found a nice (but expensive) hotel to stay at, but it is just for one night and breakfast is included.  Then I took a drive around an area suggested my my sister, Sharon – which is also a spot I have had lots of success finding critters too – but this time there was absolutely no critters to be found.  I then headed over to another spot where I have had success before – but again – no critters.

I didn’t take pictures of the room for some reason this time, but it was nice.🙂

It was getting late by then, so I got myself something to eat and headed back to my room for the night.  I will try both those drive again tomorrow before leaving.

The walks around the waterfalls and around Banff were enough to keep my FitBit happy again today. 🙂

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Day 11 – Jasper

I’m back in Alberta and have frost on my windshield again!  As far as I know, Manitoba hasn’t had frost yet. Of course, I don’t know – but feel the need to complain! 🙂

Once the frost was removed, it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day here in Jasper.

I had breakfast at the lodge and headed down the mountain to explore.  I hoped to find some critters on the drive down, but unfortunately there were none.  I barely got out of town when I saw my first Elk though.  This very handsome guy was soon joined by 2 lovely ladies. 🙂

After watching them for awhile, I headed to Maligne Canyon, which is not far away. Again, no critters on the drive there – but beautiful views of the water rushing down the canyon.  On the way back down I decided to see what the 2 bridges before the canyon were so I drove into both of them.  They are bridges #5 & #6, which are much lower down than the canyon, so the water is rushing, but pretty much at ground level.  On the way out from #6, I saw a Coyote out in a clearing along the road.  He was prancing right along very quickly, so before I could stop the car and grab my camera, he was out of sight.  I was hoping for another clearing up the road a bit in the hopes I would be able to catch another glimpse of him, but the forest would not clear away for me and I didn’t get to see him again.

I planned on going right to Maligne Lake also, but remembered that I hadn’t put gas in the tank since arriving and I didn’t want to run out before getting back to a gas station.  This is not like the city, where gas stations seem to be on every 2nd corner and it was a pretty long drive to the lake.  After getting gas, I got my traditional photo with Jasper the Bear and then went back up to visit Maligne Lake and take more pictures.

On the return trip, another Bull Elk with about 6 lovely ladies was close to where the other one had been earlier in the morning,  At first I thought it was the same male, but decided that this one had a bigger head of antlers on him.  Just as I had decided to go, some Conservation Officers (who had been sitting there watching) came out and chased the Elk all away.  Some of the people were being idiots and getting much too close for safety.

After lunch, I wandered around town for awhile before heading back up the mountain.  Finally on this trip up I found a bear very close to the road, but no one else had seen him yet.  He caused a bit of a traffic jam as others began stopping after I did though – but I had the best view.  :)  He was still there when I pulled away, so others had good photo ops too.  Maybe they even had better photo ops if he moved out from behind the bushes.

Above are the first bull Elk, Jasper the Bear, the Maligne Canyon and shots from the bridges.

Next is the 2nd Bull Elk (with his head dress), views on the way up to Lake Maligne and somehow my picture got in there too, then Lake Maligne and the Black Bear.

I did a lot of climbing and walking today and my FitBit was happy. 🙂

Tomorrow, I drive south to Banff.

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Day 10 – Port Coquitlam to Jasper

I got off to an early start on a cloudy, but dry morning today.  Driving east instead of west, means that I get to look right at the bright sun in the early morning instead of afternoon, but I got lucky to have the clouds with me until almost noon.  Then the sun came out for a beautiful afternoon.

The mountains were absolutely breathtaking again as I got further and further into them.  My route was different from the one I took going to Vancouver as I was heading further north to Jasper where I plan on spending 2 days.  About 1/2 way there I remember that I hadn’t made a reservation in Jasper, but decided that there shouldn’t be a problem mid-week near the end of September anyway – so continued on.

Random views from the drive.

 

It turns out there was a bit of a problem though as I noticed many ‘NO Vacancy’ signs at  the hotel/motels.  One did not have the NO lit up, so I went in there only to find out that they were full, but they had a sister location up the mountain behind town.  I headed up the mountain and did get a room.  It is a pretty expensive room – but the location and the view are wonderful and the room is really nice.

My home for the next 2 nights – both inside and my outside views.

Dinner at the lodge was Elk steak with sweet potato frites, fruit and a glass of Sangria.  I haven’t seen any wildlife yet – the critters seem to be avoiding me.  Hopefully I will meet up with something interesting tomorrow when I am exploring the area.

A day of driving means I didn’t walk much, so my FitBit wasn’t pleased about that today.  I did manage quite a few flights of stairs though as my room is up on a hill (great view and good uphill walking).

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Day 9 – Port Coquitlam

Good thing I had a couple of days prepared in advance.  I could not get a wifi capable of loading my pictures, so couldn’t post from Jasper.  Now, we are one more day delay in posting.

Angie and I went for breakfast at Da Dutch this morning for the 2nd time – it is so good. 🙂

After breakfast we headed towards Stanley Park to see the Vancouver Aquarium. Today was my day to do the driving, Since Angie had driven me around everywhere last week.  My trusty GPS seemed to have us going in circles – but did manage to get us there and then back home again later.

The Aquarium was amazing – there were so many tanks with lots of critters to see or even just try to find.  Both Angie and I took tons of pictures.  :)  I only have a small fraction of them here.

We took a short walk in Stanley Park after the aquarium to check out the horse-drawn carriages and ended up watching a couple of Raccoons raiding a garbage container.  After that we decided to go to Granville Island and check out some of the shops and exhibits. Another fascinating place, but neither of us spent anything there – it was just interesting to look around some of the shops.

The weather was perfect again today.

Inside pictures.

Special Inside pictures of Angie in the middle of the frog exhibit. 🙂

Outside exhibits.

Extras from Stanley Park.

This is my last day in British Columbia, as I will be heading east first thing in the morning.  Jasper is my next stop and it is right in the Rocky Mountains.

 

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Day 8 – Fanny Bay to Port Coquitlam

It rained over night, but we woke up to a beautiful morning today.

Doug and Erin have a beautiful stained glass of Stellar Jays on a sunflower hanging in their window and they told me the story about it.  So – I took a picture of it to tell you about it too.  Erin had taken a picture of the Jays on a sunflower in their yard and it was published in the local paper.  A lady contacted her to ask if she could use the picture to do a stained glass and she consented.  Later, Doug saw the project was complete and he bought it to give to Erin.  The original picture was great to start with and this stained glass piece is wonderful!

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Doug and Erin have been quite active with cat rescue, fostering and re-homing the unfortunately large numbers of abandoned and/or feral cats.  Currently they have one cat (Charlie) who started out as a fostered cat and they have a foster that had been feral and was terrified in the shelter, so they brought him home in the hopes he will settle down.  He is actually doing quite good and I saw progress in the short time I was there.  I took 2 pictures of Charlie since he was so accommodating

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After our breakfast of home made raisin bread, I started packing up to get ready to head back to Port Coquitlam.  I was booked on the 3:10 ferry back, but realized that it landed at 4:20 – putting me in the evening rush hour traffic, so decided to go earlier and hope I could catch the one before that left at 12:50.  I could have paid an extra $9. to have my reservation changed to that one, but since I didn’t have any problem taking a earlier ferry on the way over, I decided to just keep that and go early.

I got to the terminal and was told the 12:50 sailing was full.  She gave me 2 options – I could go in and wait for the 3:10 sailing as stand-by, since it was also full – or I could leave and come back again to use my reservation for that one, since the reservation is not valid if you arrive more than 60 minutes before sailing.  I chose to leave.

There are some shops close by at Nanimo so I headed over there to wander around a bit and I went to Timmies for coffee and a donut to kill some time.  I returned an hour before the sailing and got in line to get onto the ferry when it arrived.

The drive to the hotel wasn’t too bad.  There were a couple of times where traffic slowed a fair amount, but for the most part, we kept moving.

Once I was checked into my non-upgraded room, Angie came over and we went out for some sushi.  It was delicious and I’m pretty sure we don’t have sushi like that in Winnipeg.

The differences between the 2 rooms is that this one has 2 beds instead of 1 bed and 1 hide-a-bed, there is only 1 phone and 1 TV in this one instead of 2 of each in the upgraded one and this one does not have the dishes and stove, but it still has a microwave, coffee maker and fridge (which is a little larger than the fridge in the upgraded room).  Also, the sink is a little square sink and the faucet is just a regular faucet.  This room is more like a motel, where you park in front of your own door instead of walking in through the lobby.

The rest of the pictures were all taken from the ferry.

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Day 7 – Fanny Bay

The day started out cool and cloudy with a threat of rain, but turned out to be not too bad for doing some walking – so we took a couple of walking trips.

First up was a trail that starts just inside Doug and Erin’s back yard and goes right to the water at Fanny Bay.  There is a wildlife refuge right behind their place and the trail goes alongside that right to the ocean.

When we got to the ocean, the tide was partially out, so there were plenty of little pockets of water left behind in depressions and we looked carefully for anything moving.  We did find a couple of tiny crabs – ab0ut 1/4 inch long (very tiny), but we did find some wildlife. 🙂

There were birds around the bay too – Gulls, Oyster Catchers, Great Blue Heron, and something that I am not sure what it was (but I have pictures).  I didn’t take pictures of the Gulls though. Thanks to my friend Karen, I know know these mystery birds are Black Turnstone Sandpipers.  Thanks Karen.

After the trail and the bay part of the walk, we covered quite a bit of distance around the entire neighbourhood, ending back at their yard from the other end of the path. 🙂

After lunch we headed up a Mount Washington, where there were trails to follow.  We went for a wonderful walk through one of the short trails and enjoyed the scenery and the Whiskey Jacks.

Erin took a couple of pictures of Doug and I while on this trail. 🙂

My FitBit was happy with me today. 🙂

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Day 6 – Port Coquitlam to Fanny Bay

This morning I had a reservation for the ferry to Vancouver Island set for 10:50 am.  I started to figure out that would mean I should be there at 9:50 am and since it would take at least an hour to get to the ferry, I would have to leave at 8:30 or so.  That meant I would be driving in rush hour traffic through the downtown area and that did not appeal to me.  It was raining in the morning and that combined with the rush hour traffic was really something I wanted to avoid.  So – I was up early, had breakfast at Timmy’s and decided to leave at 7:00 am.  I thought I could hang around the harbour until it was time to get on the ferry.

It didn’t take long at that time to reach the harbour, but the lane took me right there and I didn’t see any way to get out of the ferry lineup.  I told the first guy that my reservation wasn’t until 10:50, but he asked if I wanted to take the 8:30 one instead, so I said yes.  I told the same thing to the lady at the booth, and she again asked if I wanted to get on the 8:30 one – so I paid and went on it.

There wasn’t much to view on the ferry with the rain and the trip was uneventful.  I phoned to let my brother Doug and his wife Erin know that I would be earlier than planned.  Doug let me know that they were going to be playing pickle ball, so I knew to take my time driving to their place.  It was still drizzling a bit, but I took the scenic highway north and stopped at Qualicum Beach for a picture or 2 and then continued on slowly.  My GPS wanted me to get onto the main highway, but finally accepted the fact that I was going to take the slower more interesting one and adjusted my route accordingly.

The GPS is sometimes not 100% accurate in some places and it told me I had reached my destination slightly before I was actually there this time.  I had to look up their address on my phone to find the right house and I beat them home by a few minutes, so just waited for them to arrive.

We had a quick lunch and then headed out for some sightseeing.  They knew I wanted to see wildlife, so we started off with some Sea Lions at the Fanny Bay Harbour.  I had never seen any in the wild before, so it was nice to see and hear them. 🙂

We then headed for Courtney/Comox area, where we walked along a beach and out onto the docks – looking for Seals, birds and maybe some crabs or fish in the water. That trip ended with a feast at a nearby restaurant.

It turned out to be a nice day after the rainy start. 🙂

One more picture – of myself and my brother Doug, taken by Erin (Doug’s wife).

Mavis & Doug

Mavis & Doug

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Day 5 – Chilliwack

This morning Angie and I decided to drive to Chilliwack to visit a couple of nature areas that we found in my CAA book.

The first on the list was Bridal Veil Falls in Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park.  It took us awhile, because it was not well marked at all, but we finally found it.  We walked up to the falls through a very interesting forest and took some pictures at the falls and during the walk..

We saw a sign for a Mineral Museum and decided to check that out while we were there, but it was just few items on a shelf in a gift shop in a gas station store.  So, we headed out to look for a nature reserve that was supposed to be just across the highway.  This also was not well marked at all, but we finally found it and wandered around a bit.  It was nice to be out walking in the fresh air, but there are basically no critters around at this time of year.

We then decided to try one more before heading for home.  Again, the trip was not made easy due to a lack of signs, but we found it.   As we came to expect, this one was also lacking critters of any kind, but it was still a nice day and we went for a walk in the fresh air, so it was not a waste.

Each of these places was really only found with the use of our phones and google maps.

My FitBit was happy with me again.  :)  Forest walks in British Columbia have enough hills that I not only get my steps in – I also get my stairs covered too.

Tomorrow I have a reservation for a ferry ride over to Vancouver Island.

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