Whistler, British Columbia ~ August 25-29, 2014

Ferry Crossing to Vancouver

While there was no gorgeous sunset to mesmerize us during this ferry crossing, we stayed entertained.

 

The drive took us into the center of Vancouver and across its harbor via the Lions Gate Bridge.

 

 

Sea-to-Sky Highway

Howe Sound, Sea-to-Sky HighwayThe Beartooth Highway, which crosses mountainous passes between Montana and Wyoming, was distinguished as “the most beautiful drive in America,” and the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler, British Columbia, was by far, our most beautiful drive in Canada.

 

The first half of the 120 kilometer drive hugs the coastline of Howe Sound and offers breathtaking views.

Howe Sound, Sea-to-Sky Highway(3)

There are several lookout points to safely take in the beauty which stretched the hour and half drive into two and half hours.

Whistler, British Columbia

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived and checked into Lost Lake Lodge, located in a wooded area west of Whistler Village near Lost Lake Park. Although drained from the day’s travel, we explored the area by foot after eating dinner.

Lost Lake at Sunset
Lost Lake at Sunset

We discovered a series of foot and bicycle trails that we later learned were cross-country and biathlon tracks used in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The trails were fabulous for forest walks, and we were able to use them to bike into the heart of the village and all over the Whistler area.

 

We fell in love with Lost Lake that first evening in Whistler. Not only is it peaceful and beautiful, but it’s also off the tourists’ beaten path (hence its name).

 

We’d end each day with a walk or ride to its banks, stopping to watch for tiny Western Toads migrating out of area marshes.

 

Alta Lake is the area’s main water attraction with its beaches and canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddle board rentals. Challenging due to steep hills, we bicycled around the lake via the Valley Trail, a great way to experience both Whistler’s beauty and eccentricities.

 

Another great (but pricey) way to observe Whistler’s majestic surroundings is via the Whistler-Blackcomb Peak2Peak Gondola. Glass-bottom compartments cross the world’s longest and highest free-spanning wires joining Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

 

Probably not an ideal ride for the faint of heart.

The $53 pass gave us all-day access to lifts, providing easy access to great hiking trails. We rode to the top of Whistler Peak for more phenomenal views.

Panoramic from Whistler Peak

 

Then hiked down to Harmony Lake and continued onto, and looped around, two lower lakes.

Trey on Harmony Lake Trail

A steep, and somewhat strenuous trail, but we loved hiking among the fir trees, around glacial lakes, and along rocky ridges.

Arriving at Harmony Lake
Arriving at Harmony Lake

Our time in Whistler helped to rejuvenate this road weary traveler. It’s lovely and relaxing. In fact, Whistler is one of only a couple of places we have revisited since concluding this six-month tour.

Olympian Travelers

More pics…

 

 

Mini Inukshuk, Whistler Peak
Mini Inukshuk on Whistler Peak with The Black Tusk in background

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria, British Columbia – August 22-25, 2014

After a restful night in a Seattle hotel, and a fun breakfast at the Totem Diner in Everett, we entered British Columbia, Canada — a detour from our original plan to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca via Port Angeles, Washington.

Welcome to BC Sign

Our mistake was assuming our second ferry crossing experience would be as our first, where we drove to the landing, purchased a ticket at a drive-up booth, and then drove directly onto the ferry to cross Lake Champlain.

All crossings to Victoria from Port Angeles were sold out by the time we rose and attempted to purchase a ticket. In fact, our only option was to drive into Canada to the Tsawwassen Terminal, catch a 6pm ferry across the Strait of Georgia to Swartz Bay, and then drive 30 minutes to Victoria.

Ferry Crossing

It was a long day, but the sunset views across the strait were well worth the trek.

Sunsetting over the Strait of Georgia

Our cozy Airbnb apartment allowed us quiet time to sleep in and recuperate from the previous day’s travel.

Catch up time at Victoria Abnb

It was afternoon before we ventured into downtown Victoria, where vibrant colors enhance the city’s energy – it was bustling, yet laid back and friendly.

Victoria, BC

The city’s center surrounds a busy harbor and is comprised of a mix of Victorian architecture, modern condominiums and shopping/tourist areas. It works, and we enjoyed walking around the harbor interacting with street artists, musicians, and other tourists.

Provincial Legislature, Victoria
Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia

 

Fisherman’s Wharf & Whale Watching

Float Houses, Fisherman's Wharf, Victoria
Float Houses in Fisherman’s Wharf

We arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf well before our scheduled tour in order to explore the area and try Barb’s famous fish and chips.

Barb’s lived up to the hype. We both agree they were the best fish and chips of our six month trip, a perfect mix of crunch and tender flaky cod. And not too greasy.

Eagle Wing Tours had favorable reviews and offered a wide range of whale viewing opportunities.

Although a beautiful, warm day, the speed of the boat amped up the effects of wind and sea spray requiring us to break out our rain gear.

The waters surrounding the San Juan Islands provide an ideal home to wildlife, and the perfect feeding environment for Orcas.

Subsequently, Victoria is home to many marine biologists who study and research the great mammals. Their decline in population, compounded by a lack of new births, is the greatest concern.

Orca Pod

Orcas roam about in groups referred to as pods, and we encountered both the K and J pods during our outing. Overall, we witnessed six full breaches, and too numerous partial breaches and fin and tail slaps to count.

It was an incredible and magical day!

Orca

Our stay in Victoria passed quickly and did not allow time to explore all that Victoria has to offer, including Butchart Gardens. Gladly, we would have another opportunity to revisit the city three weeks later.

More pics…

Cross the Strait of Georgia
Sun setting over the San Juan Islands
Victoria, BC 5
View of Victoria from the harbor
Capitol Tree
Amazing tree on capitol grounds
seaplane landing
Seaplane coming in for a landing
Sailboat, Strait of Georgia
Sailboat, Strait of Georgia at Sunset