More hiking reviews

Hike #15: Joffre Lakes Hike: 4 Km.
Sorry for the hiatus, but we were off the grid for a bit enjoying B.C.’s Sunshine Coast of B.C. I will pick up a week ago while we were in the Whistler area. This hike was a lesson that in Canada a hike considered easy/family friendly, means something a whole lot different than it does in the States.
The Joffre Lakes hike took us past three different glacier fed lakes with the most amazing blue you’ve ever seen. The first lake, was a quick jaunt from the parking lot, and consisted of many folks wearing flip flops. To access the other two lakes, the trail took us up through rock and tree root scrambles, across a path of boulders that looked like a giant tossed them there, and past workers doing construction. More than one time along our hike the only clue we were still on the trail was locating a simple orange diamond nailed to a tree. We were at a stand-still at one point with Noel swearing on one direction while I was certain it was the other. Like life, this trail was long, strenuous, worth the effort but sometimes easier for someone else.

Us trying to look like it was an easy hike!

Us trying to look like it was an easy hike!

Hike #16: Wetlands Nature Trail, Sechelt , Sunshine Coast B.C.This was short board walk trail through a small wetland along the coast. It reminded me how much wetlands ROCK! They are natural purifiers of our water, a superb habitat for many plants, species and animals. How awesome is that?

Wetland hike

Wetland hike

Trail #17 Coast Purple Banner Trail:
Along the sunshine coast, the arts community is full on strong. Flying a purple banner outside a home/studio was an invitation for folks to come in, talk and tour the place in which these artists art comes alive. Henna, whom is our artist in residence, was excited to get a first- hand look at the places in which the art forms that she loves is created. We visited: a finger painter (and no this artist was not five years old), a weaver (who also knits, and makes her own yarn), glass blower, and a blacksmith. In each studio we were introduced to such a cool way of life, in which artist go from their home straight to their studio, while enjoying the slower paced feel of the coast. We talked about the coast, life, Chicago and what got them started in the art form that led to their lives work. It made me so wish that I had some kind of artist skill. So I’ve decided that in my next chapter I will definitely learn something new that is both artsy and amazing.

Trail #18 Skookumchuck Narrows trail:
Skookumchuch means “strong water”, and since I had such difficulty pronouncing this trail I was at least glad to know what the heck it meant. This trial is a coast favorite, and leads you to tidewater that is forced through Skookumchuck Narrows and forms the Sechelt Rapids. The rapids are best viewed at high tide, and this specific day the rapids were being rated as XL. This 4K trail led us through a cedar nursery as this area was logged about 50 years ago, to drop us off at Roland point in which we were able to view the rapids. The viewing platform was simply an exposed barnacle covered rock that was assumedly much bigger before the tide came in. We especially enjoyed the small tidal pools filled with jelly fish and crabs. Henna explored these small worlds, and I fought back the fear of her falling back into the giant Hawaii sized waves behind her. We met some nice folks from Washington who took our picture. The guy taking our picture was a videographer and I felt like we were part of a vide shoot with the seriousness he brought to taking our picture.

Our photo shoot!

Our photo shoot!

We hope all is well at home and everyone’s summer is going great!

Great City Parks: Stanley Park, Vancouver

Our ride into Vancouver contrasted well with the majesty of Stanley Park.  After waking up in Surrey, B.C. we asked the teenagers at the Holiday Inn Express the best route into the city.  They suggested going west on Hastings Street.  This path into the city was gritty and bad ass and felt more Miami Vice than Northern Exposure.  After weeks of being in gentle and kind Canada, the shirtless man being hauled away by the police and the menacing youths looked all so … American.   As we got closer to the park the scenery changed into high end cafes, local coffee shops, and hipsters out for a stroll.  We stopped several times to ask directions (we hardly ever ask directions once due to Corey and I being incapable of processing more than a few sentences of any direction related paragraph spoken to us).

Stanley Park is beautiful and even more so when you realize that it is set in a world class city full of bustle and industry.  Within the sanctified air of dense evergreens it easy to forget the millions living nearby but out of sight.  But the park still has its quirks.  For one, the famed miniature train is set in an “Aboriginal Village” that charges you admission to enter.  That would be OK if the village offered genuine insight into aboriginal life, but apart from some dancing and story telling that felt more like preaching, the village mostly consisted of shops and overpriced coffee.  The train ride was cool, but this was another fee paid on top of what it cost to enter the village.  However, the ride featured an inspired Aboriginal story that incorporated costumed dancers acting out scenes as the train passed by and made me forget the $30+ (village fee and train) the short trip cost.

The park is hard to get a handle on the first time out and we did what most people do; drive from parking lot to parking lot.  Locals and smarter tourists than us whizzed by on bikes as we parked next to over packed tour busses.  We did do some light hiking in the Cathedral Forest (with me realizing that our family was both completely alone and within a few blocks of seedy Hastings Street).  We also admired cargo and cruise ships docked near a beach within the park. 

Reminiscing about Stanley Park is putting me in a comparing type of mood; Central Park vs. Stanley Park (I think Henna and I would choose Stanley, Corey always goes with NY), Stanley Park vs. Prospect Park (I call that one a tie), Central Park vs. Prospect Park (Prospect Park going away) and that great big rose garden park in Portland vs. Stanley Park (I go with Stanley Park because of the beach and totem poles).  There are so many great city parks out there with each one a reflection of its host city.  Please, tell us about your favorite city parks.  Hennacornoeli minds want to know.

A quick thought

I am really posting this in order to share the photo below.  I tried to do so last night, but the wifi would not let me do so.  But, since I have your attention I may as well give a brief comparison between camping in the US vs. Canada.  First, the people:  Canadians are much nicer and friendlier than us.  Last night I mentioned that we are at a happy, family filled campground.  What I did not say is that our neighbors, despite almost being on top of us, do not return conversations.  Walking to the bathroom this morning only a few people returned my good morning.  In Canada several people introduced themselves to me.  A RCMP sought us out just to give us directions.  When we asked directions (and we did that a lot) people often stopped what they were doing and then led us to where we had to go (I should say that this also happened once in MN).  Second, it is much cheaper to camp here but you do not get as much.  At Waterton we had showers and teams of teenagers patroling the grounds for our comfort (and I am guessing a chance to escape their boss).  In the US you pay between $12 to $20 for a campsite (at Waterton it was $27) but you may not get soap in the bathroom.  No showers.  Usually one older man in a golf cart patroling a 100+ site campground.  You get what you pay for.  Finally, a quick word about camping.  Last night was our 15th night sleeping in a tent.  We also spent 4 nights so far in KOA Kamping Kabins which are small cabins where you supply the bedding and do not have a private bathroom (I think this would be the perfect way for a non-camper to camp; you can see America via these cabins and save a lot of dough, eat better, meet more people, etc).  So far the roughest nights were at Pacific Rim where we had a walk-in site a decent walk from our car.  I felt we were in our own private little rain forest and it did rain almost the whole time we were in our tent.  Last night and Waterton were probably our least wild nights- here we have wifi, little privacy, a nice bathroom with showers, friendly people working here, and are not to far from an overpriced store that could supplement our needs.  There also is a small resteraunt here.  Most of our sites have been inbetween these two extremes.  If you have not guessed it, we love to camp.  I like sleeping in my own portable home that I can set up almost anywhere (with a different tent Corey and I once set it up on a ship headed down the coast of Alaska).  Unlike an RV, we can still go anywhere we want.  I also love the ease at which I can make my own food via the small propane stove we have and/ or grill that is often at our sites.  I think I eat better on the road than at home.  Anyways, enjoy the pic below.  We are headed to the Tetons and Yellowstone and may not be able to post for awhile.  I promise lots of photos when we do (post).

West Coast Swing

June 14, 2011

The west coast of Vancouver Island, following route 4, or as we referred to it as “The Road To Tofino”, was like traveling to another continent.  We found ourself in a rain forest, complete with the appropriate, rain soaked weather, along the ruggid western coast of the island.  We settled into our campsite among the trees, moss and rain glad to have found a place to all home.  We started our day, as Noel previously posted, very early in the morning along a deserted beach at low tide.  The tide pools were teaming with sea creatures, star fish, battling hermit crabs and bugs that could both swim and make us scream as they scurried towards us on land.  At that moment, we felt very possesive of that small piece of the beach.  The beach is swaddled with rain forest along it’s edge, and the paths leading to them are labeled 1,2,3, so that travelers can find their way back to that parking lot.  At any moment a wolf, black bear or cougar could walk along these shores looking for breakfast at low tide (although no story of the such will follow thank goodness).  We then headed off toward the small town of Ucuclet to find our whale watching tour for the day.  This town is exactly what you think of when one ponders a fishing village.  Every kind of fishing vessle lines it’s harbor while small but not trendy shops dot the streets.  Our tour was decided and we took off with our tour guide named Marla upon a zodiac named Hell Fish.   Marla was a spunky, adorable gal who was as instilled confidence.  She was young but had already been working this harbor for 7 years.  She also was a fisherwoman in Holland. I find it amazing the lives peope lead, no two are ever exactly alike.  I wanted to take her and put her in my pocket for the remainder of our trip.  But Henna knew she belonged free to roam the water.  Our tour was a wild ride, as we searched the broken Islands (chain of islands just off the coast), into open waters in search of a whale.  We did spy bald eagels, habor seals, seal lions fighting, black comorat birds and the elusive sun.  One highlight was a massive bald eagle nest perched upon a cedar tree.  Marla noted that because of it’s size it must be around 15 years old, and is home to a very old eagle couple.  Around 2 hours into our tour, and no whale yet to be spotted, Marla heard word of some humpback whales that were found far out in open waters.  She kicked the kodiak into high gear and we flew and bounced along to get our look see.  It felt funny to be searching for the whales, I felt like an intruder on someones lives.  At last we saw them, and to see Henna’s face light up when she witnessed the tail come out of the water made my heart happy.  We were watching a mama humpback, her calf and a companion hoping for some future mating privledges.  We watched the whaled breach up to feed!  Wow.  In the meantime, I got to visit the bathroom on this rocky boat…..quite an experience. 

At last we found our sea legs and found that our back cab had been open for the entire three hour tour!  Only the secod time we have done that, but it ended fine, nothing stolen.  We quickly visited the local acquarium which follows a catch and release policy.  Every exhibit is set free back to the waters at the end of the season …how nice. We then visited Tofino for a wonderful sushi dinner while watching sea planes land and take off in the harbor.  Tofino is a bigger community that ucucllet and is a big surfer town.  Before we took one last hike into the rain forest along the schooner cove I looked back at Henna and she was asleep!  I knew we had a busy day when she falls asleep.  We  found ourself once again along a beach with no people.  Ahhhhhhh…..At that moment it began to mist as we headed home to crash in the tent and sleep while the rain pattered above.  What a day.   


Greetings from a crowded coffee shop in Uclulet, B.C!  We are killing time before our whale watching tour.  We already checked out some super cool tide pools at low tide (7 AM- very proud of the ladies for getting out of the tent that early).  Anyways, I have located a cord and have some photos to share.  Enjoy!

From Surrey, B.C. to Ladysmith, B.C.

The distance between Surrey and Ladysmith is 100 miles give or take.  To travel that distance one needs not to get sea sick, patience to wait for a ferry, and enough money to pay for the one way fare (about $80 for two adults, a child, and a loaded down Subaru).  The passage lasts about an hour and a half and offers amazing scenery.  We were told we might see whales but were not that lucky.  I scanned the seas with my binoculars and got very excited the first time I spied a dark mass only to discover it was some driftwood.  I have no pictures of the passage because I wisely (sarcasm) left the camera in the car.  I also should let everyone know that even if I had taken pictures, I currently have no way of uploading them to my computer (I lost the miniscule cord needed to perform that task).  I am hoping to replace the cord and when I do I will upload many, many photos.  I promise.  We got off the ferry and stumbled through Nanaimo.  I was surprised to be back on HWY 1- island version.  Four lanes here but moving at at Jamaican, laid back rate.  Speed limit 80 KPH (about 50 MPH).  We got lost headed to our cousin Lucretia’s house and had to call her from Ladysmith.  Once there we had a lovely evening with Lou’s friend Roy, David and daughter Mariah (whom is my daughter’s age and has been a sporadic pen pal to her and is now a bff), Pam and Dan.  Lou made a wonderful dinner and an amazing pie for dessert and conversation touched on the Canadian education system, fishing, and travel.  After being on the road for over two weeks we felt at home.

Prior to the ferry trip we spent the day at Stanley Park in Vancouver.  Vancouver is a hard city to label.  We entered via W. Hastings street and were amazed at the grittiness of it.  Shirtless young man in handcuffs, questionable woman on the telephone, open drug sales, and a true sense of chaos just around the perimenter of the downtown.  Downtown looked like any downtown and then the park which is a jewell- a forest in the middle of a city with beaches, totem poles, bike trails, and plenty of child friendly parks.  And busloads of tourists, many of whom were on some sort of cross Canadian tour.  It cost us $3 an hour to park.  If I drove a tour bus it would have been $40 an hour.  Our first stop was an Aborigional (Native American) “village” complete with traditional dancing and a miniature train ride accompanied by a story that I had trouble following.  We then drove around the park and did some light hiking in the “cathedral” forest.  Leaving the park we saw a glimpse of the city that people fall in love with- interesting little shops and resteraunts, plenty of coffee shops, and people of every nationality walking about.  I would love to see Vancouver again.  Today we are off with David and Mariah hiking to the water to maybe see whales.