100 Mile House, BC to Jasper, Alberta

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

June 22 ~Day #43
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$4300
$101.40
$5368.73
$124.85
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
5557+296=5853
3826
000
69
10356.4

Location: Jasper, Alberta

Today’s Total Expenses: $101.40

Transportation: $40.00
Accommodation: $27.40
Food: $17.40
Entertainment: $16.60

Happy Birthday!

Today was my daughter’s birthday and I was afraid we might not have an Internet connection so that I could use Skype to call her and wish her a Happy Birthday.

There was supposed to be a WiFi connection at the campground we stayed in last night, but no matter what we did we just couldn’t get it to work.

But, as luck would have it, we stopped at a little market (Jim’s Food Market) in Clearwater, BC and were able to get a good enough signal so that we could call. The connection wasn’t great but we could at least hear each other most of the time even though it was a very short call.

Happy Birthday, sweetie! Love you. Hope you had a great day.

Mount Robson

Along the route to Jasper we stopped at Mount Robson. Mount Robson is 12,972 ft tall.

Note to BC Provincial Parks: I understand that Canada uses the metric system, but for most visitors 12,972 ft would seem way more impressive than the same height in meters (3954 m). All I’m suggesting is that you put BOTH measurements on the signs so people who are not familiar with the metric system don’t confuse it with feet or don’t need to do the conversion (which most of us would get wrong anyway).

Jasper National Park

We were a little taken aback at the cost to enter the park and the cost for camping, which I will cover a little later.

I will leave the rant to Geoff, who is much better at such things, but it seems to me that, being Canadian, we shouldn’t have to pay quite so much. We had planned to stay in the park longer, but not at these prices.

A senior’s day pass (good for 24 hours) into the Park was $16.60 for both of us. There is no discount for extra days and if you plan to stay a week or more, you might as well get the annual pass that is about $140, but at least it covers most Federal Parks.

Now, this does’t include the cost of camping. For a tent site with no electricity or water the cost was $27.40/night. Although there were toilets and showers, the toilets were a fair distance away – particularly for someone like me who generally needs to get up at least once a night – and the showers were way over by the entrance to the campground.

For the same amount of money, or even less, we’ve been able to stay at a reasonably nice hotel in the States.

I don’t want to sound negative but we are Canadian and pay Canadian taxes. Shouldn’t there be a different rate for taxpayers?

At the Grand Canyon, if you were a senior and a US resident or citizen, you received a significant discount for park entry fees and camping. And, although the park entry fee was $25.00, it was good for an entire week.

Wildlife Encounter

Okay, time to get more positive.

After popping into the Town of Jasper for a quick look we headed back to our campsite and actually passed three elk along the way, just grazing at the side of highway.

They didn’t seem to mind when we pulled over to video them. I guess they’re used to seeing humans around.

They are actually quite large. At first glance I thought the one I saw might actually be a moose.

So far we have seen more wildlife in the few days we’ve been in British Columbia than we saw during our two-week cruise in Alaska.

Nanaimo to Vancouver to Chilliwack, BC

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

June 18 ~Day #39
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$3900
$48.70
$4955.39
$127.06
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
4917 + 64
3826 + 30
000
69
9484.40

Location: Chilliwack, BC
Mileage: 128 (Chilliwack to Vancouver and return)
Nautical Miles: 30 (Departure Bay (Nanaimo) to Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver)

Today’s Total Expenses: $48.70

Transportation: $27.70 (Ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver)

Entertainment: $21.00 (Parking for Stanley Park, ferry to Granville Island)

BC Ferries

British Columbia has an amazing ferry system to service many of their communities.

This morning we were up early to catch the 8:30am ferry from Departure Bay in Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver where my sister would be waiting to pick us up. We had a full day planned visiting Stanley Park, Granville Island and finishing up with a BBQ with my brother-in-law’s family.

The ferry crossing was pleasant and relaxing. I was hoping to see some wildlife along the way – whales in particular – but I would have settled for seals or dolphins, but it was not to be.

We felt the charge for the ferry was pretty reasonable. We only spent $27.70 for both of us and the trip was over 1-1/2 hours long and covered 30 nautical miles.

Stanley Park

My sister was waiting for us as we got off the ferry. She had brought our car, which we had left at their house while we were on the Alaska cruise.

We threw our stuff in the car and headed for Stanley Park. This is a huge park on a peninsula in downtown Vancouver. It boasts an aquarium, totem poles, many lookout points and more. I’m really not doing it justice with my description, so you should consider a visit here.

We drove through the park to get an idea of where we’d like to stop. We then found a parking spot and the parking pass was good for anywhere in the park which meant we could feel free to stop and explore wherever we wanted.

Our first parking spot was actually just outside the park but our pass covered that, too.

It was lunchtime so we stopped for lunch at a small Arabian restaurant for a Shwarma (I hope I’m spelling that right) plate. It was a plate of spiced chicken, rice, humus, tabouli and a pita bread. We couldn’t finish it all.

Granville Island

After walking the seawall in downtown Vancouver to work off some of our lunch it was off the Granville Island.

Granville Island is a mix of farmers market, boutique stores, entertainment, restaurants and more and is a “must see” when visiting Vancouver.

We were able to leave the car where we had parked it and take a cute little ferry to Granville Island.

While we were there we were able to meet up with our niece (who is expecting within a couple of weeks and simply cute as a button), her husband and their six Afghan hounds – that’s right, I said six and they are all amazingly beautiful.

Back to Stanley Park

After taking the little ferry back to where we had our car parked, we headed back into Stanley Park and made several stops throughout the park including one at the totem poles.

Wildlife Encounter

Finally! An up close and personal wildlife encounter.

Okay, it was only a raccoon with attitude, but it was exciting anyway.

Family BBQ

From there we headed, with the help of Madge (our GPS), to the family BBQ. It was lovely to meet many family members that we have not met before and to see a few that we hadn’t seen in more years than I care to mention.

The conversations were interesting, the food was great and there was most certainly lots of it. Many thanks to my brother-in-law’s family for including us in their get-together.

Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Little Mountain, Old Country Market, Cathedral Grove

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

June 17 ~Day #38
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$3800
$6.27
$4906.69
$129.12
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
4917
3826
000
69
9385.9

Current Location: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC)

Today’s Total Expenses: $6.27

Food: $6.27 Costco hot dogs

Vancouver Island is about 300 miles long and 60 miles wide so even though we were driving all day yesterday we have only explored a small section. Vicky’s sister-in-law ‘F’ was a sales rep for grocery products for many years and traveled the island extensively so she knows the area very well. Since Vicky’s brother had to work today, F offered to drive us around to explore some of the communities close to Nanaimo. I think she was trying to sell us on the idea of moving to the island because she made a point of showing us places where we could buy some nice properties.

We drove through Parksville and in Qualicum Beach stopped at an artsy store full of cute carvings, home made jams, jewelry and furniture. You know, the sort of store a man can check out and dismiss in about five minutes and a woman can wander around in for hours.

Since I was outnumbered I found myself a comfortable chair and just dozed a little while waiting for the girls to reappear.

Surprise, ‘F’ actually bought something – a plaque for a friend. Usually the women spend hours browsing – they call it shopping – and then never buy anything.

Cathedral Grove
Our next stop was Cathedral Grove on Hwy ##. This was the highway we took to Tofino yesterday but we didn’t have time to stop.

Cathedral Grove is one of Canada’s oldest pine forests containing trees up to 800 years old. These things are immense, over xxxft high and xxxft in circumference.

A forest fire swept through the area a few hundred years ago so there are not many of the 800 year old giants left but most of the others are over 400 years old and they are pretty big, too.

Little Mountain
On the way back to Nanaimo we took a short detour up to the top of Little Mountain. The road has one of the steepest grades I’ve ever seen. There are some spectacular houses all the way up to the top. I can’t image how they manage in the winter when the area gets some snow.

Goats On The Roof

One of the oddest sights you will ever see is at the Old Country Market in Coombs. This single storey log building has a grass roof and on the roof lives a family of goats.

The property has developed into quite a tourist attraction with various art, trinket and clothing stores taking advantage of the traffic the goats provide.

Canadian Costco
Supper was still several hours away so we stopped at a Costco for their famous Polish Sausage and drink deal. Except this was a Canadian Costco and for some reason they only have hot dogs – oh well it was still good and a good deal.

Banana Cream Pie
One of my favorite desserts is Banana Cream Pie and it just happens to be one of ‘F’s’ specialities. It was well worth the extra belt notch – thank’s ‘F’.

Nanaimo, Tofino and Ucluelet, BC

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

June 16 ~Day #37
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$3700
$14.00
$4900.42
$132.44
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
4917
3826
000
69
9385.9

Current Location: Nanaimo, BC
Mileage: 258 (Nanaimo to Tofino and back) Total:

Today’s Total Expenses: $14.00

Food: $14.00

Discovering Vancouver Island

My brother and sister-in-law were both free today so we decided to spend the day by going all the way to the West Coast of Vancouver Island – all the way to Tofino.

It was a beautiful day for the drive and we packed a picnic lunch to take with us.

The 2 hour or so winding drive through forests, lakes and mountains was a treat in itself.

Ucluelet, BC

Our first stop was in the town of Ucluelet, a quaint little town with a few shops and a small aquarium.

Tofino, BC

Our next destination was Tofino where we stopped on a wide beach, perched ourselves on a sun-warmed log and had our lunch.

Geoff and I simply had to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean as we were all the way on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Where the water was really shallow it was fairly warm but as soon as we were ankle-deep – Yikes! – it was pretty chilly – for us, anyway.

Then we drove into the town of Tofino and wandered around for a while popping into touristy shops and art galleries.

Coulson Flying Tankers

On the way back R & F mentioned that the world’s largest flying tankers (http://www.martinmars.com/) were berthed right here on Vancouver Island, so we made a little detour hoping they would be visible.

Luckily they were there and it was quite a sight. It’s hard to imagine how these huge planes, filled with water, can even get into the air. But, apparently, they are used worldwide.

Ice Cream!

On our way back home we also stopped for some amazing ice cream at Whiskey Creek. If you happen to stop here for a cone, make sure you only ask for a single scoop. Trust me, it’s huge!

We each selected a different flavour – I believe they had about 40 flavours to choose from – and enjoyed our cones while soaking up some sunshine before heading back home.

BBQ and Trivial Pursuit

The perfect day was topped off by a lovely BBQ, some great conversation and a roaring game of Trivial Pursuit.

We played the girls against the guys and it was a very close game. We all did very well but okay, okay – the guys won.

Many thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for a wonderful day.

VIA Rail to Nanaimo

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

June 15 ~Day #36
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$3600
$39.90
$4886.42
$135.73
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
4917
3826
000
69
9385.9

Current Location: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC

Early Start
Our train to Nanaimo left Victoria at 8am this morning so we had to be up and packed much earlier than we had been doing lately.

VIA Rail Station
It was a short $11 cab ride to the train station which turned out to be just a tiny ticket booth on the platform. We had pre-booked our tickets online and they were waiting for us when we arrived.

The train is just two carriages with a built in engine. More like a subway car than a train but very comfortable with lots of leg room. Way more comfortable than any airplane.

Vancouver Island Scenery
We had been told that this was a very scenic trip and we pictured traveling through the mountains and along the coast. But I’m afraid our imagination was a little more vivid than the reality.

It is a pleasant trip but a lot of it is through fairly dense forest and there is not a lot to see. It is certainly the most economical way to do the trip, at $39.90 (CDN) for both of us it is less than the cost of gas.

Vicky’s Brothers House
Vicky’s sister-in-law “F” was at the station to meet us and took us on a short tour of Nanaimo and to where Vicky’s brother “R” works.

Then we went on to their house. Vicky had been there before but I never had. I had a mental picture of what it was like but it was no where near the reality.

They live in a subdivision of custom houses built around a man made lake. Their lot backs on to the lake and F is an avid gardener so the landscaping is spectacular.

Friends For Dinner
We finished the day with a wonderful dinner on the patio overlooking the lake. R & F had invited some neighbor friends and there was lots of interesting conversation over several bottles of wine.