Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway

alcanday2034Today we crossed the border into British Columbia and arrived at Dawson Creek, the location of mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. From there, it will be about 1,200 more miles to the border of Alaska but we have reached a milestone that we have been looking forward to for some time.

alcanday2041But before all of that, Hector spent part of the morning vacuuming glass and rocks from the car and making a temporary cover for our now non-existent sunroof. Fortunately, it is a small sunroof. Delivery of a replacement part will take about a week, so we plan to schedule the repair in Anchorage, just over a month from now.

alcanday2036alcanday2037And we are thankful for Grande Prairie, where we found supplies to deal with our broken sunroof. This booming city’s economy is based on canola, cereal grains, fescue, honey, livestock, forestry, and oil and gas. There is a Walmart, a Costco, a Home Deport, several large grocery stores, several car dealerships, a mall and who knows what else. So it is a good spot for provisioning and/or taking care of other business.

After Hector installed our “new sunroof”, we had a short drive to the town of Beaverlodge, a regional center for grain transportation, seed cleaning and seed production. Wheat, barley and oats are the main crops in the area.alcanday2039 Continue reading

A Japanese Celebration of Light

4500231.banner-mainOur stay in Vancouver coincided with the Honda Celebration of Light, the largest offshore fireworks competition in the world.  Wow, a summer fireworks show sounded like something that we should definitely check out.Celebration of Light  002

This was the 24th consecutive year that Vancouver hosted this competition.  Every year three different countries compete.  And this year the three countries were the United States, France and Japan.  We’d missed the United States display but both France and Japan were competing while we were in town.

Celebration of Light  004Celebration of Light  007So we went into research mode and found that Japan’s show had good seats available; we opted for bleacher seating instead of free viewing from the beach to guarantee a good spot for tripod photography.  And I was able to get seats by the aisle through some messing around on the website.

This event draws lots of tourists as well as locals; crowds are estimated to be between 300,000-400,000!  So the parking situation was bound to be tough, especially since several streets were closing prior to the show.  Although we could take the Skytrain, we figured there would be crowds trying to get on after the show.  So after consultations with a few locals, we planned a driving and cycling combination so we could park away from the event.Celebration of Light  006

The day of the show we parked a few miles from the main event area near the bicycle path along the seawall, rode our bikes over to a free bike valet parking provided just for the event and walked about a quarter mile to the bleachers.  Easy!

The competition is held over a two-week period, with each country’s representative company performing a twenty-five minute fireworks display set to music on one night. The fireworks are set up on a huge barge just across from the West End neighborhood of Vancouver.

Celebration of Light  003The beach area was packed, there was music and tons of food trucks. Also hundreds of boats all around the fireworks barge.  Definitely a happening.  In the bleacher seat area, we had our own bar and our own port-a-potties.  So classy 🙂

Before the show, we noticed several young Japanese ladies in traditional geisha attire.

Akayira Fireworks was representing Japan.  The Japanese anthem played right before the display.  A real Japanese celebration of light.Celebration of Light  048 Continue reading

Vancouver

Vancouver  105Vancouver  002Once again we took Island Girl boating.  This time crossing from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to the city of Vancouver.  It is always so interesting to see how they pack all these vehicles in so tight on these giant ships.

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Vancouver  106Vancouver  107As we approached the city of Vancouver on the ferry, we were greeted by skyscrapers in the foreground and Mount Baker in the background.

The ferry operations in these parts are elaborate affairs with huge terminals and many ships and routes.

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Campbell River

Campbell River  005 Campbell River  002We traveled south to our final destination on Vancouver Island, Campbell River, about halfway between Victoria and Telegraph Cove. We’d booked a waterfront campsite, a bit of a splurge, but it was to be our last campground near the ocean for a while.Campbell River  004Campbell River  003

Campbell River is a pretty large town with a population of over 31,000 people and is a supply point for Northern Vancouver Island and a couple of other islands. The river, which the town is named after, drains into Discovery Passage, a channel separating Vancouver Island and Quadra Island.Campbell River  008

The channel links Johnstone Strait with the Strait of Georgia. It is part of the Inside Passage to Alaska.

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The Northern Residents

Northen residents  021 Northen residents  002Northen residents  003It seemed as if our chances of encountering whales on a one-day kayak trip were not very good. And the kayak tours are kind of pricey. So we opted for a whale watching tour on a regular boat to go look for the Northern Residents.

Since we try to avoid big groups on tours, we chose a 5:30 p.m. departure with Stubbs Island Whale Watching. Apparently, that time slot never gets full. Which is surprising since it’s a beautiful time of day to go out on the water.

That afternoon, which was pretty cloudy, there were 14 people on a boat that accommodates up to 49 people.  Very nice.Northen residents  005Northen residents  004Northen residents  006

As our Captain, Geoff and the young naturalist, Sofia, were giving their introductory and safety talks, someone looked up and pointed to a bear that was walking by the marina just across the water from us.  Right in front of our campground!  A good omen.

Northen residents  054Northen residents  008So off we went once again to Johnstone Strait, this time powered by motor.  Some of the Northern Residents had been spotted earlier and the captain went in search of them.Northen residents  024 Continue reading

Kayaking in Johnstone Strait

Telegraph Cove Kayak  003Telegraph Cove Kayak  002Telegraph Cove offers a number of different tours for kayaking in Johnstone Strait with opportunities to see all sorts of wildlife.   And for those that want to see orcas, or killer whales, the best time of year to do so is during the months of July and August.

chinook2That is when the chinook salmon are running and a group of orcas called the Northern Residents arrive to feast on the tasty fish.   Johnstone Strait is the body of water between the northeast of Vancouver Island and the Broughton Archipelago.Orca-Sea-Kayaking-Map

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to see some of the Southern Residents, the group of salmon eating orcas who frequent the waters around the San Juan Islands in Washington.orca range

The Northern Residents arrived in Johnstone Strait a few days before we got there. Some said that they were a bit late, but the timing varies according to the salmon run.

whale_labeledTelegraph Cove Kayak  004Our plan was to sign up with a kayak outfitter to look for the whales.   We wanted to go out with someone who knew the waters, as the tidal currents in the area can be quite complicated. Also, the kayak companies keep in communication with other boaters and get updates if whales are spotted. Continue reading

North to Telegraph Cove

Duncan Telegraph Cove  023vancouverislandWe got an early start for what we anticipated to be a long drive to the North of 290 mile long Vancouver Island. Allowing for a couple of stops along the way. Our route north to Telegraph Cove entered into a much more remote area of the island.

Duncan Telegraph Cove  002Duncan, about an hour north of Victoria and nicknamed the City of Totems, was our first stop. The town, located in the Cowichan Velley, borders the Cowichan Tribe’s Reservation, and the two communities work closely together on local issues.

Duncan Telegraph Cove  022 Continue reading

Stately Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria  021Victoria  023Stately Victoria, British Columbia sits on the southeastern end of Canada’s second most populous island, Vancouver Island, with the Olympic Mountains as backdrop. This city, with its lovely Inner Harbour, has a population of over 80,000 people in a metro area of over 360,000, and is quite cosmopolitan.

It’s also the capital of Canada’s third largest province, British Columbia. But for us, what makes it stately is its British flair – double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages and lots of tearooms and formal gardens.

 

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