We’re back, the following is a short report of our trip

Last update August 18th 18:00 UTC

Thursday, July 21st Sunny, 25C

Flying over British ColumbiaWe left home for the airport where a British Midland airbus would took us to London Heathrow where we continued on an Air Canada Airbus A330 to Vancouver, British Columbia. We landed at 16:00 as planned and after going through customs and immigration we went to pick up our rental car and started the drive to our first hotel. After a quick bite to eat (we felt it was the middle of the night so we were not really hungry) we unpacked and I checked if I would be able to find an internet connection. Minutes later I was online from the hotel’s free wireless network. I send a few mails and went to sleep.

Friday, July 22nd cloudy in the morning sunny in the afternoon, 26C

We woke up without needing an alarm clock this morning, our bodies are still on Belgian time.... I connected the GPS and 2m handheld and made sure I could send my locationbeacon via APRS (follow the Findu link to see where we were)

Capilano Suspension BridgeAfter breakfast we drove to North Vancouver to see the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was still early and there were not a lot of visitors yet. It was 10 years ago that we were here and we found the site has changed a lot. There’s now the first treetop walk in North America, a series of boardwalks high up in the trees. The big totems were still there and there was a performance by ‘first nation’ (native Canadian) people. We drove on to Grouse mountain, a 1200 meter high lookout with a cable car. At the top there is a grizzly bear sanctuary, birds of prey performance, lumberjack presentation and a few movies are shown in the theater. Unfortunately the view over the city of Vancouver was a bit foggy.

From Grouse mountain we returned to the city. In Gastown we watched and heard the steam clock whistle. Close by is Vancouver’s Chinatown. The only thing left was a stop at a supermarket and dinner before we returned to the hotel.

Saturday, July 23rd cloudy in the morning sunny in the afternoon, 22C

Butchart GardensYesterday we made reservations for the 9 o’clock ferry from Tsawwanan to Swartz Bay. When we left the hotel it was cloudy and we even had some drizzle however, during the ferry trip the weather cleared and we arrived with bright sunshine on Vancouver Island. Our first stop was Butchart Gardens The flower gardens have lots of different plants and flowers. From here it was only 2 Km to Butterfly gardens, an indoor butterfly sanctuary where we walked though a tropical forest setting with lots of big butterflies. We continued to Victoria for walk around the harbourarea with the parliament and Thunderbird park. A short walk further is Victoria’s Chinatown with it’s typical gate. After dinner we drove north to Malahat where our next accommodation was waiting.

Sunday, July 24th sunny, 25C

Duncan TotemsWe had a 300 Km drive today to Tofino. Along the way we stopped in Duncan ‘the city of totems’. The yellow footprints that are painted on the ground form the trail to follow along all the totems. Next stop was Chemainus. Here the same sort of yellow footprints take people along the different murals. From here it was nonstop to Tofino and our next hotel.

Monday, July 25th sunny, 26C

Black bearWhen we looked out of the window there was a thick fog over the beach behind the hotel. We were booked for a bear watching tour and we thought that it would be canceled or maybe we would see much on this trip. Fortunately when we were 10 minutes out there was no more fog and soon we saw the first black bear turning rocks looking for food along the waterline. We saw a lot more bears later on, even one with 3 cubs.

In the afternoon we rented bikes and made a trip to Radar Hill, about 10 Km from Tofino. From this hill there’s a nice view over the surrounding area.

After dinner there was finally some time to ‘play radio’. I set up everything for PSK and found that this worked very well with low power and the mobile antenna.

Tuesday, July 26th sunny, 25C

Vew from the seaplaneToday is whale watching day. At 11:30 we step onboard the Stormwolf. After 45 minutes we were in open sea and little later we saw a whale looking for food close to the shore. It was the only one we would see before docking at the Hot Springs. A 30 minute walk on a boardwalk got us from the dock to the hot spring. Water pours into a little pond between the rocks with temperatures over 50 C. The place smelled like sulfur because of the volcanic origin of the spring. By 16:00 we were back at the dock for our return trip, this time on a seaplane instead of a boat.

Wednesday, July 27th sunny, 28C

View from the picnicsiteWe left the hotel at 10 for a 500 Km drive. After getting some supplies for the picnic in Port Alberni we continued to Campbell River where we found a picnicsite at the beach. Also in Campbell River is a First Nations Museum where artifacts from the native people of Vancouver Island are displayed. We continued to Port Hardy where we arrived at 18:30. The hotel had free internet via wireless... time to get mail again.

Thursday, July 28th partly cloudy, 20C

Humpback whale mother and calfAfter checking the BC Ferries ferryterminal where we got our tickets for friday, we made our way to Telegraph Cove. The 50 Km drive ended with a 5 Km gravel road. Telegraph Cove is well known for it’s whale watching toursand is very busy during the summer season. Since we booked months in advance our tickets were already waiting for us We departed with covered skies but soon found ourselves in birght sunshine. A nice day on the water... It didn’t take long before we saw the first humpback whale. It was far away though and soon we moved away looking for others. We already heard that there would be no killer whales in the area. A little later we found another humpback with a calf. We stayed with them for a while and then moved to another area where we saw a few porpoise. By 16:30 we were back in the dock and after a hot drink (it was chilly out on the water) we headed back to Port Hardy.

Friday, July 29th Overcast some drizzle, 16C in Prince Rupert

Sunset near Prince RupertWe had to get up VERY early today. We needed to be at the ferry terminal by 6:15. The BC Ferries ‘Queen of the North’ set sail at 7:30 for a 14.5 hour, 400Km+, trip through British Columbia’s coastal islands, the Inside Passage’.Along the way we had changable weather from slightly sunny to overcast and light rain. By 22:30 we arrived in Prince Rupert where the sun was already under the horizon.

Saturday, July 30th Overcast some rain, 18C

Bear catching salmonWe visited the Museum of Northern British Columbia before leaving Prince Rupert. We then went on our way for 430Km drive to Steward.20 Km before we arrived we stopped at Bear Glacier, probably the only glacier in the world that’s just next to a main road. After checking into our hotel we made a 9 Km drive to Hyder Alaska where a boardwalk is made next to a riverwhere salmon come to spawn. Bears find this spot exellent for getting easy food. In the short time we were standing on the boardwalk we saw 8 salmon being caught by a bear.

Sunday, July 31st Partly cloudy, 20C

Old HazeltonBefore leaving Steward we went back accross the border for another glimpse at the bears. This time we saw a grizzlybear. It was very tempting to stay watching but we had to move on... Next stop Smithers. We stopped at Bear glacier again since now the sun was out. We stopped in Hazelton at the Ksan museum where we visited the ‘First Nation’ exhibit. Closeby is Ols Hazelton a town where many buildings still look like the ‘western times’. After crossing the suspension bridge and drove non-stop to Smithers.

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