August 29th: Hitler’s mirror and a Black bear.

A rainy morning, considerably brightened up by having breakfast in a bookshop in downtown Prince George, well worth going a bit back on ourselves.

As we left Prince George we fired up the sat nav. 367km – and the hotel’’ll be on the right. Sat nav lady didn’t have much to say today!

The main stop we made today was in Burns Lake, a small town on Highway 16. It had a heritage trail, as well as several First Nations Carvings by a local artist. What proved to the the highlight, though, was the museum. The first few rooms were much as you’d expect in a small town museum; reconstructed living room, kitchen and bedroom from the 20s or so; old photos of the kids at school (and the school transport for 5 kids … all of them piled on a presumably long suffering horse). There was also a room with a range of equipment (probably a bit newer than the 20s) from the old hospital (which had been on the heritage trail) when it had been replaced in the 60s.

However, downstairs it all changed. They’d got a great collection of old cameras in one room, and typewriters in another. The oddest of the lot was the small cabinet containing items that a local resident who’d been part of the RAF party who’d first entered the bunker where Hitler & Eva Braun committed suicide. The items he collected included a Nazi hat, a bracelet, a shaving mirror and stamps. An amazing collection of memorabilia – and all for $2.

As we headed towards Smithers, we thought that was it for the day. Till we spotted a bear at the side of the road, he seemed to be waiting for something, so we pulled over, grabbed a camera. He’d obviously learnt the green cross code, as he was waiting till there was a long enough gap to cross the road, starting at a stroll, speeding up somewhat when he realised a car was coming.

August 28th: A long hike and a long drive.

We’ve now started to leave the Rockies, heading towards the coast on the Yellowhead highway. The first stop was just back into BC, in the Mt. Robson park. We visited the visitor centre (I mean, center), from where we could see the summit of Mt. Robson, covered in snow. Apparently, it’s not that common to see the whole peak; as it’s so often cloud covered. Then we did a the longest hike so far, 4.5 km alongside the Robson River as far as Kinney lake (and back again!). The views were stunning along the way.

The second stop was an area of old growth rain forest; it’s not common to have rainforest so far from the coast, but the geography of the area leads to a lot of rain, luckily not while we were there!

August 27th: A Day in Jasper

We had a slightly lazier day – starting with breakfast in town, then headed for the Tramway – a cable car up Whistler mountain, to nearly the top, leaving just a 1.4 km hike with a 150 m climb to the top. Though sunny, there was a strong wind, but the views were stunning! We could just about make out the Columbia Icefield due south of us, though it was difficult, both due to the direction of the sun, and the clouds. To the North, though, the view was much clearer.

We came down just as the rain came down – so headed back to the hotel for a chill – then dinner at the Raven again.

August 26th: Icefields Parkway

A fabulous day! We started out by nipping back to Lake Louise – the crowds were much diminished at 8am, and wonderfully clear weather gave us some great reflections. Then, headed North. The Icefields Parkway more or less follows the Great Divide – running roughly due North from Banff to Jasper, for some 230 km. The Parkway (aka Highway 93) is stunning. It’s in the National Parks so HGVs are banned. We made several stops as we headed North, starting with lakes full of reflections, distant glaciers, wonderful views etc. Unfortunately, there were no bears crossing the road as others we met told us about. Roughly the mid point is where the main visitor centre is, and, more to the point, where the Columbia Icefield is near enough to the road for people to get to and walk on, without major hiking. We, however, missed that, going instead for the Glacier Skywalk. I’d thought that it went over the glacier, it didn’t, but it did give a great view, and made the glass floor of the Spinnaker Tower seem fairly tame. By the time we’d done that, it was getting late – and the cloud was building up, so we just headed for Jasper, only stopping just outside the town, for a final photo. We found a rather splendid restaurant, the Raven Bistro, which had a good range of both veggie & non-veggie dishes.

25th August: Lake Louise

We headed for Lake Louise – the shortest day’s travel so far (well, other than those days when we’d not travelled at all!), initially by heading for the Cave and Basin museum on the edge of Banff, where some CPR workers taking time off from Railway building “discovered” hot springs. It was also the first National park in Canada, so they’d got a display about the development of National Parks in Canada, moving from areas where First Nations people were completely banned from hunting to today when they’re closely involved with the development & maintenance of them.

Next stop off Highway 1a (the old highway, a much more pleasant drive than the main Highway) was Johnston Canyon, we walked up it as far as the lower falls. I’m fairly sure that was the same place as I’d been to when we came in Winter & it was frozen – and a location for an Ice Walk.

Then, it was heading up to Lake Louise itself. Pretty packed to say the least, though once we’d left the lake front, and headed up towards Lake Agnes Tea house, it got a lot less busy! It was a 3.4 km hike – with a height gain of 368m, so the afternoon tea was very welcome. Less welcome were the local critters, Ground Squirrels and Grey Jays, who clearly didn’t agree with the notices pleading with humans not to feed them – so resorted to stealing. They

were pretty nippy – take your eyes off your food for a nanosecond and they swoop. We lost half a scone to a Jay, the women on the next table lost the same to a squirrel.

By the time we’d got back to the lake, the crowds had diminished slightly, but the clouds had lifted, so giving a much better view. Our hotel was a small, heritage lodge immediately behind the Chateau, so an easy stroll for our post dinner Cosmopolitan.

24th August: A lazy Sunday

We had a nice slow start – meeting up with a friend of mine from Calgary, for a very impressive Sunday brunch in Banff, followed by a wander round the town, down to the Bow River, up to the Chateau – and finally a very welcome cup of tea.

After a brief respite in the hotel, we headed first for dinner (in the same place as we’d had brunch), then to the Hot Springs. A very restful day!

23rd August: National parks, here we come!

The real stuff started today! We went into the first of the National parks of the trip – Revelstoke. Almost as soon as we’d entered, we headed up the Meadows in the Sky parkway, which took  us most of the way to the top of Mt. Revelstoke, a short walk taking us the rest of the way. The first real views from the tops of mountains, of lakes, valleys and promises of more mountains to come.

Next was Glacier national park, which we went through fairly quickly, though stopping at Rodgers Pass, the highest point on the road. Finally, it was Yoho, though that was an even quicker pass through – before arriving in Banff; where we’d been upgraded to a (vast!) loft suite.

22nd August: Towards the mountains.

First off, we hit the pool before breakfast, then the main drag (and, more to the point, its second hand bookshop), before heading to Kelowna to get another car … (this one has far more storage etc & is generally a better car). First stop was Oyama on Lake Woods in the Lake Country. We’d over ordered in the sushi bar, so a pleasant lunch, before heading to Revelstoke; for some reason, whenever it’s my turn to drive, there are cloud bursts …

Revelstoke itself isn’t that great, though once the rain had cleared, we realised it’s got a very impressive mountain next to it.

21st August: On the road!

As usual, there was a bit of a wait to pick up the car, but not too bad, really. The car itself was a Fiat 500, though luckily somewhat larger than a UK Fiat 500 … it really wasn’t too bad leaving Vancouver, the roads are fairly empty, and then headed up the Trans Canada to Hope. It was only the first day of driving, but we discovered that it’s not easy to get lunch enroute … ended up with a rather dodgy pasta salad. However, the views made up for it! There were two options from Hope, one was the Crowsnest highway – a scenic route, the other a multilane highway. No prizes for guessing which we picked. Just before Penticton, our destination, we’d decided to detour to Okanagan Falls. Shame that the falls were all of 3” high …

There were multitudinous fruit stalls by the roadside, as well as wineries, but time and weather confined us to the inside of the car. Penticton itself was partially closed, due to an Iron Man (and woman) contest, which was headquartered in our hotel. There was a great view of the lake from the room.

After an evening pottering round town, finding somewhere to eat, seeing a little of the band playing in the central park, (perhaps the rather small crowds were indicative of the fact that that your average Ironman athlete would actually want to party all night before the event), we returned to the hotel … and discovered someone had damaged the front of the car. Whoops. Luckily, the guy who’d done it admitted responsibility – turned out to be a very nice guy (albeit one with a temperamental boat trailer)

20th August: Downtown Vancouver

After a typically (well, in my experience) North American breakfast (bagels & coffee), we headed downtown. Luckily, as our hotel was more or less there, it didn’t take long to get to the area round the art gallery (not that we went in, though we did see a new interactive feature … )

Then it was down to the waterfront, where, among other things, a large open air yoga class was just starting, though we headed on towards Gastown, one of the oldest bits of town (via a bookshop that seemed almost as old).

Next to Stanley park, where by now the sun had come out, so a gentle potter before heading back to the hotel, then experiencing the bus system (very efficient!) to get to English bay, for a lovely stroll.