Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 12 - Victoria Vancouver Island

We finally arrived in Victoria about 3 hours after we got off the barge which was annoying because we were losing our blue sky to clouds yet again.  Salena took us on an orientation drive around Victoria and we saw Beacon Hill Park which was really pretty which from memory was the end or beginning of the trans-Canada highway.
The Empress Hotel courtyard  - Fairmont Hotel Group
with Dandelion and Vintage Eye Candy 
We also went past the oldest Chinatown in North America and it had the narrowest alley in the world the Vict Fan Tan alley.  Apparently really good food there but not a place one walks alone of a night.
The Empress Hotel - Fairmont Hotel Group - with Film Days Eye Candy
When we got to the hotel it was like they weren’t ready for us.  Took forever to get out room keys and I just wanted to get Tania into bed.  Finally got them after much annoyance and also got the wireless code.  The girl at the front was a little useless when I asked if they were aware of the disinfectant required for our room. 
The Empress Hotel - Fairmont Hotel Group
Finally got up there but the rooms were really warm with no air con and it was actually a 2 bed room apt with a kitchen which was pretty cool.  Tania went straight to bed and hopped straight back out again to go to the toilet. It was not looking good for her.  I wanted to leave her be so she could rest and feel better.  So met Pete in the lobby and we went out and took photos. It was such a nice town to wander around in.  
Parliament Building
Signs of the British colony were more prevalent here than anywhere we had been. As Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia they have a strong English focus with a very beautiful capital building. 
Parliament Building
Also with the Empress hotel overlooking the harbour it was really beautiful and fairly typical of the Fairmont hotels. The town had a really nice feel to it.  Pete realised that he needed his other battery which was back at the hotel so he left me be and be a photo tart. Haha got lots of photos and luckily I had another camera card on me because I filled my 3rd one up.  I was really going to have to buy one when I got to the USA. 
the goof ball with pig tails 
While I waited for Pete I ran into Brian who was just wandering and looking for a place for dinner also taking photos.  He cracks me up because he is so English and proper he has all these single gals on the bus and not a single flirt or move. While I think he leads a very routined life he travels every single year mainly to the USA and Alaska so he gets out meets new people every year.  Although he could be batting for the other team and then Pete would be in trouble … LMFAO.
A Victoria one 
Then some dodgy Indian men started to talk to me as I was doing my fire hydrant photo luckily Pete walked up because I always seem to attract those guys.  Why are they always so sleazy it creeps me out.
Entrance to Bastion Square with Vintage EC
We walked up to Bastion square, which was such a quaint little shopping area with ole fashioned soda Shoppe on the corner. We found some places in town to shop at but a lot of the shops were closing early so that was disappointing. I did found Rogers Chocolate at least and stocked up and also made a stop at the convenience store to get some fluids into Tania. I decided to head back to get these drinks to Tania and got some more photos and ran into Dean and Angela who were photographing the ducks, and also Salena who was off to Chinatown for dinner with friends. 
Soda Shoppe in Bastion Square with Zap and Vintage EC  
I got back to the room and ran into the girls who were right next door.  Tania hadn’t really improved I tried to get hold of frank and some disinfectant.  When I needed to go to the toilet I went to the lobby and had a chat with the concierge about trying to get hold of frank, the disinfectant and it appeared that he was staying at his place that night.  I was really beginning to worry about her and she was worrying about ruining my holiday.  She was not well the poor thing…  That was my biggest fear that I would get sick like that on holidays.  I stayed in the room for a while doing some emails and internet banking so I would have some money for the USA and Canada when I returned.  Also made sure Tania wasn’t getting any worse and finished the claims form.
Bastion Square 
Still hadn’t heard from Frank and needed a toilet run again so I got the hotel manager this time so he was much more helpful. He faxed my claim form for free. He gave me franks mobile so I rang and left him a message saying that we probably needed to move one of us given how sick poor Tania was. 
Parliament Building
He should have just swapped rooms as soon as we arrived but then again he hasn’t proven to be the most proactive person so far.  Also the porter took like 3 hours to get the bags to the rooms because they had only just arrived as I got with the drinks. He was not the most proactive either with a bad attitude.  I heard the way he spoke to some of the people who were checking when they could expect their bags he said just take them now save me a job.  I was shaking my head at that one. 
Parliament Building 
I didn’t hear back from Frank so I headed back out to take some night time shots … Which turned out really well and ran into some of the group members while I was doing it.  It was nice to get out with tripod and do some fun shots of a night time without worrying about safety or traffic. 
The Empress Hotel of a Night 
I headed back to the hotel about 10ish my feet were starting to feel it so decided it was probably best to head back and the fact it was starting to rain. Surprise surprise on that one. The manager Michael grabbed me as I walked in and gave me the keys to my new room.  So I moved rooms at about 10.30pm trying not to wake Tania but I think she remembered me coming in. So I got assigned to a massive suite it was bigger than my place at home so it was nice to have the room to myself. Fell asleep finally about 11.30 by the time I got settled in. 

Day 12 - Whistler to Vancouver Island - Victoria

With a very chilly 0 degrees we were leaving our last ski mountain resort on the tour. Tania and I were in a good mood this morning with lots of teasing going on. Especially about breakfast, while I was drinking my meal replacement and her eating a “very yummy” yogurt she was telling me how good it was etc. All the while dealing with my bad hair day with pigtails!!!!  Why I am talking about this you may ask you will understand shortly.  
Tantalus Mountain Range 
I tried to get the front desk to fax my claim form but it wouldn’t go through so I was going to miss another business day in Brisbane.  We took off for the bus and found out that a “certain” someone went bear hunting this morning and got pictures!!!!  Why that certain someone didn’t send me a message to say hey going bear hunting meet me in the lobby.  I thought we were friends!!!!  Sob sob sob …  talk about not sharing the love.  So there were a few people showing off their mumma and cubs photos on the bus this morning. 
Tantalus Mountain Range
Frank also told us that Banff had 6 inches overnight so it was very cold across the mountains at the moment.  I was very rugged up with 3 layers plus carrying a layer but the best thing apart from the fogged up windows was the blue sky.  Beautiful clear blue sky!!!! 
Howe Sound
Frank was telling us on the way out of Whistler about the level of security that he had to go through when he was working at the Olympics earlier that year.  It sounded pretty intense but what an amazing experience to work at something like that. We made a quick 10min photo stop at the Tantalus Range which is part of the Glacier Coastal Mountain ranges.  It was really pretty with lots of blue sky and snow-capped mountains. It was part of a first nation’s area so lots of history behind it and how they protect the environment.  Although I did get a photo of Pete with his new mate it I think they were showing off their bear shots … giggle!!!! I did however; notice that Tania was not looking well she was sitting on the ground looking very seedy.  I asked if she was ok and she said she needed to throw up but was going to try hold off until the boat.
Tantalus Mountain Range
Well that thought didn't last long with just before the next photo stop she had to rush to the toilet.  When we got there I had to go get some stuff to clean up the toilet for Tania.  This of course alerted Salena and Frank to the issue.  I left her be while we were at the photo stop and grabbed her camera so she wouldn’t miss anything. This stop was at Howe sound which was very pretty however there were a lot of trees at the lookout which is not conducive to taking photos. 
Horseshoe Bay
The only problem was the height thing because I am so short so I had to get on some rocks to get the photos – I think I gave frank a heart attack with my antics but given that I am yoga trained while I am clumsy I recover pretty quickly.  But apparently I look pretty cute with my pig tails and walking along the thin rock wall. When we got back on the bus Tania was a lot worse the poor thing.  We made the trip back to Vancouver relatively quickly and we went past the Squamish Rock Face monolith which was a solid granite rock and that was probably the last big mountain on the trip L
Horseshoe Bay
We got to the barge and poor Tania was not looking well at all and Salena reminded her not to stress about making a mess of the bus.  She thought it was food poisoning probably from the yoghurt – the poor thing and especially with her teasing me about how good it was.
Our Barge - The Queen of Oak Bay
We got upstairs on the barge and found the toilets and she seemed to be ok.  I said I would go check on her in a little bit.  I made it up to the top deck and it was nice to see Horseshoe bay in its full glory with sunshine and clear blue skies and no clouds hanging on the mountains.
The Ferry Crossing

It took about 90mins to cross to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  It was a big barge and lots of people and it is like that on most crossings.  Had a nice chat with Tracey and it was sad that it was all coming to an end so quickly and we will miss the comrade of the tour group.   I went to look for Tania and couldn’t find her so I wandered around took some photos and ran into Dean and we got some photos together,  then we sat on the deck and enjoyed the sunshine and chatted.  I couldn’t believe that Angela didn’t want to come out and enjoy the sunshine. It was so warm and nice.  I had a nice chat with Dean about all things Geeky haha and it was strange to talk about work after 2 weeks of no work bliss. 
The Ferry Crossing
I went off to see us coming into the islands while Dean went to find Ang and I saw dolphins … Yes dolphins. Actually bona fide wildlife… I finally found Tania when we arrived at the bus and she was not looking well and she was hiding in the toilet which is why I couldn’t find her.  We arrived in Nanaimo and progressed our way to Chemainus for our lunch time stop. Although like everyone we weren’t too sure why we were stopping here considering it was about 40 mins from Nanaimo instead of heading straight for victoria since most of us ate on the barge, well except me I was too busy chatting and enjoying the sunshine.  Also given Tania’s delicate state it would have been better to head straight there. 
The Wood carvings in Chemainus 
Personally I think this is one part of the tour that could be changed.  Instead of going to Nanaimo landing in Sidney which is not far from Victoria by only 30mins versus 1hr 40 to Victoria from Nanaimo.  It gives you more time in Victoria and more time to explore or go do a boat cruise etc.
Autumn Colours 
While Chemainus was very pretty and bit of fun it was an unusual town in how it exists.  I did promise the story on how the town relies on tourism.  When the town first established it built on labourers so mainly a blue collar town.  The main industry was Forestry and lumber yards.  When that industry began to fail the town needed to reinvent itself. So using the talents in the area they created some amazing wall murals of the stories of the surrounding areas.  The main park areas were beautiful with a musician play in the rotunda thing down there.  I just wandered found some souvenirs and subway for lunch, which I left to eat until we got back on the bus which I kind of regret now. 
The water wheel in Chemainus 
It was nice to not need 4 layers and just walk around in a thermal and my Canadian adventure shirt which I had purchased from Roots on my first day in Vancouver. The sunshine was so nice and beautiful. Warms ones soul right to their toes.
One of the wall murals in Chemainus
As soon as we got back on the bus and started moving again Tania started throwing up again the poor thing.  I felt it was my lunch that set her off again.  I did however once I finished go have a chat with frank about the fact we really didn’t know what was wrong with Tania. Also given my very weak immune system that I tend to pick up everything that goes around and he should probably ring the hotel and get them to ensure there was some disinfectant was in the room. I had my doubts if he would …  

Victoria Blog to Follow 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 11 - Sun Peaks to Whistler

Starting off with some fun this time...  because this is what this has been about Living, Laughing and Loving every moment and Taking photos :) 

Today is going to be another long day on the bus as we travel from Sun Peaks to Whistler which is just on 400kms away.  But all was good in the world again because I was sitting back up the back with Pete and Tania.  While they might not think so but it felt good to me J
Good Morning Blue Skies and Sunshine at Sun Peaks 
We awoke this morning to blue skies and sunshine… Direct sunshine – Not coming through Cloud cover…  I took a moment as we left to enjoy it.  But it was nice this morning to have brekkie at the hotel which was fairly reasonably priced and because we were leaving at 8am it gave us enough time without being over tired like we are with the 7.30am starts. 
Warm Sunshine - Sun Peaks Lodge
As we made our way off the mountain there was amazing cloud cover in the valleys which was amazing.  But I have to admit VERY hard to capture…  I got some of it but nothing really outstanding. It was actually kind of beautiful to watch.  
The foggy Morn
As we made our way down the mountain Frank was talking to us about the controversy over the introduction of the HST. Basically what has happened is that recently like us BC went through a tough election which was very close and one party got in on the promise of no introduction of the HST which was proposed by the federal government.  Then with a couple of months of them coming into power the HST was introduction. “Incentives” were given by the federal government in the way of just over a $1 billion to take on the HST and it is one of the 3 states that have it.  It now being looked at as unconstitutional because the people voted them into power based on the promise of it not being introduced so that was the big news item for the day.  You have to love politics – it is one the most selfish professions that people vote on because lets face it in reality it is about the politician and their agenda.  All I know it has cost more than I planned on and ruined the budget. Because of the little quirk with how the HST is applied that they are not allowed to show the HST along with their GST (yes they now have 2 GST’s) so it always costs you more than you think. 
Kamloops Lake with the fog cloud in the distance 
Our first stop was about a 1 hour later at Kamloops lake which was quite beautiful with the cloud hanging over the end of the lake of course with the blue sky it was nice.  Although I was fairly rugged up because it was quite chilly it was still a nice day.  
Hat Creek Ranch - Polaroid Action
It is funny because mum washed that jumper when I got back (which was the only one I took with me) and apparently it was in desperate need of a wash and repair. To my defence I have had that jumper since the 90’s when I worked at Witchery so of course it was going to need some repairs.  The beautiful earthy tones never go out of style J but it kept me warm so that was the important thing. So at Kamloops it would have been the dodgiest toilet yet and the old kangaroo move definitely comes into play. It is amazing what you can do in 10 mins… the photos, chat with Salena, toilet and back on the bus J
Hat Creek Ranch - Eye Candy Actions - Velveteen & Vintage
We made our way towards Hat Creek Ranch which was also past a couple of movie sets which for the life of me I can’t remember which ones sooo annoying.  I thought I wrote them down.  By the time we got outside of Kamloops we had grey overcast blah skies again.  So annoying…. 
Hat Creek Ranch
Hat creek ranch stop was at Cache Creek and it was a cute little stop with decent toilets which is always a good requisite for any good morning tea stop.  I wandered off and took photos although Pete did get me on the saddle out the front … THAT photo is not seeing the light of the day.  
Hat Creek Ranch - Eye Candy - Vintage
See below I have had some fun with some of the Photoshop actions and the photos that I have taken.  I think they have turned out pretty cool. 
Hat Creek Ranch - Eye Candy - Vintage with Destat at 40% 
We headed out towards Lillooet and the one thing we know about Lillooet is that it has an awesome German bakery and it is yum yum yum.  Also that is a predominately a first nation town because it was a large first nation area and the various settlements that we saw along the way. 
Hat Creek Ranch - Vintage 100%
The one thing I got from today is how the fighting began between the first nations and the settlers.  Because the first nations don’t believe in boundaries and buying up parcel of lands and this is because they believe that is a gift from god the land and the animals along with the food it provides.  So when the settlers moved in and starting to set up boundary lines they didn’t understand that they couldn’t cross or hunt across the boundary lines.  It seems so simple and it was a really sustainable way of living off the land and when the settlers moved in the balance was moved.
Hat Creek Ranch - Wheel Vintage 100%
We passed along past Marble canyon and Marble Lake which had the most amazing colours in the lake that we have seen so far. The aquamarine edge of the water was so beautiful and it looked like an amazing holiday spot with the water’s edge and the canyon reflecting into the water. 
Marble Lake
We also saw the Fraser River again which was overlooked by the coastal mountains – we were seeing some pretty amazing contrasts today which we hadn’t really seen since the first day on the bus. One minute we were next to beautiful lush rivers and the next minute we were going past arid hills and mountains where you can almost hear the prairie winds rushing by along with imagining the spinifex on the ground.  It was a pretty amazing landscape. 
Marble Canyon
We had a quick stop at a river with salmon hatchery it was pretty amazing how dry it was right on the river and with the Canadian National railway running beside it.  The blue tarps are the hatcheries which was pretty cool. 

We finally got to Lillooet and had lunch at the yum yum German bakery.  Definitely wasn’t the healthiest lunch I have had.  But I needed a toilet stop first at the servo and then had to queue even though I was one of the first off the bus with my tricky little move off the bus. 
I made a stop at the pharmacy/chemist/drugstore/variety store trying to find some contact lens solution before I forgot not to pick it up again and went in the search of an ATM. I have to say it wasn’t the nicest stops we have had in terms of location but the people were lovely.  A guy even let me ahead of him at the ATM because he realised I was on the tour bus.  Although I had plenty of time it was really nice of them. I love the Canadians – well the English speaking ones!!!! 
Lillooet - Just for you Pete
After we left Lillooet with the requisite fire hydrant shot which I had to take twice because I was giggling too much for the first one.  We were going through some pretty dry and arid conditions and then we hit this really rough road…  and I mean really rough…  it was some pretty amazing landscapes considering that we left Lillooet only 5 minutes earlier to dry conditions then all of sudden we were in lush greenery again and with snow-capped peaks. I have to admit there was no sleeping on this stretch of the road it was quite simply too rough, we were being thrown all over the place. 
The beautiful Random Stop of Duffy Lake
About 45 mins after we left Lillooet we hit Duffy Lake …. Little piece of paradise in the middle of nowhere and the most photographed bird in Canada I think.  Haha like Tracey said it was amazing that we were in such dry and nothing landscape and then we were in this beautiful lush valley with real sunlight.  It was truly amazing and the snow-capped peaks…  But I think it was like 5 degrees so I just stood there and lifted my head and enjoyed the sunshine… truly warming ones soul.  I loved it and didn’t want to leave. 
Duffy Lake
We continued to make our way through the valley towards whistler and along the bumpy road.  We made pretty good time and was in Whistler just before 4 for the sea planes and guided tour people.  Kind of glad to be there because we hadn’t really had a afternoon break as we kept going so was in desperate need for a toilet.  Whistler is probably the most commercialised of the ski towns but then again being only a few hours from Vancouver it is understandable.  It was really pretty with the greenery and the lakes with the ski runs overlooking it all.
Duffy Lake
We made it to the hotel which one of the largest we had stayed in out of the regional centres and the rooms were a good size and looked really comfy. I went for a wander in the town centre which was really quaint and pretty. I took a stack of photos of course.  
Whistler Village - Town Centre
I tried to get some new camera cards but they were expensive so I figured I would just wait for New York next week.  Yes I couldn’t believe it was only a week away.  I didn’t want to leave Canada so soon.  I was going to go up on the gondola but because I was trying to sort out insurance camera dramas I lost half hour and didn’t get out until 4.30pm so missed the last gondola at 5pm. It closed early unlike the rest of Canada which most things like that closed at 6pm which was disappointing. Apparently there were bears up there!!!!
Whistler - Ski Slopes
I was supposed to meet Pete in the lobby at 7 but didn’t make it back in time because I got lost in the town centre.  It is confusing the way it is set up.  But ran into the girls, so we decided to go to dinner together.  We dashed off and got changed and I foolishly decided to leave the big camera at the hotel silly me.  As we were walking thru the town centre we actually saw a really pretty RARE sunset…  dufus dufus I got a blurry one with the iphone. 
Whistler Sunset 
But the girls went to the brewpub where they had a memorial for the luge Olympian. Signs of the Olympics were everywhere with the rings still on display in the village.
The Olympic Rings
It was a nice dinner with the girls… lots of fun and girlie talk. We made our way to the hotel and Tracey and Tania when off to find food for tomorrow and Carolyn and I wandered back.  Carolyn was coming to the last week of a 4 month trip and she was reflecting on her journey and it was really great to hear that she has had an amazing time.  I can only hope that one day I get to do a journey like that.   While there were things that definitely can be improved on the tour it was still a great tour and this was her 3rd so she had a very good perspective on it.
Whistler - Brewpub - Autumn Colours
Tania went off and did her laundry with Frank … haha and I did some emailing and tried to sort out the repair company… it was frustrating to say the least.  I was definitely piggy in the middle between the insurance company and the repair and couldn’t ring any of them without it costing me a fortune because by the time we got in every day New York was closed and Brisbane wasn’t open.  So I printed off the form finally and hopefully be able to fax in the morning mind you I had to kick Robyn off the computer to be able to print it off. Took me a while to convince her I would be all of 2 minutes.  This is why I travelled with my laptop. 
Whistler - Town Centre
While I was filling in my form… Tania comes rushing up and goes we are going bear hunting and took off… I quickly got out my pjs and put on the warm clothes and found the guys wandering the streets with Salena, Robyn, Tracey, Marilyn and me looking for bears… Okay we were nuts…  but so much fun haha But as it turned out the ranger had scared them off so no bears for us.  Apparently it was wandering through the village which happens on a regular basis.  So disappointed…  
Whistler Parks - Almost got run over by a very cute boy with amazing Blue Eyes taking this photo
I think we finally got to bed about 11ish which was quite late for us considering that we had a very early start due to the ferry trip across to Victoria the following day.  While I would have loved more time in Whistler because we didn’t really get to experience it, it was scary to realise it was all going to be over in a couple of days because I have loved it so much and really enjoying getting to know everyone but off to the beautiful victoria by ferry tomorrow so here is hoping for a nice day … fingers and toes crossed.