Victoria, the Rockies, Calgary and Edmonton- Valued Friendships

April 8–13, 2015

We had a (too quick) trip up the Oregon and Washington coast from CA. So much we could have seen but we wanted to spend time with friends Natalie and John in Victoria before starting our trek East. It’s hard to fit everything into even a 4 month trip- tough decisions must be made.

We stayed overnight in Olympia, WA, a beautiful artsy town with lots of green space, biking trails along their harbour/waterways. It was obvious there were many opportunities for active living for another visit to this city. The trip next day along the coastal Route 101 to Port Angeles had stunning views of glassy surfaced water, quaint cottages on one side and Olympic National Park on the other side. It was obvious from the few hours we spent in Port Angeles before we left, that there were great opportunities to explore if you had time to spend.

It was a beautiful clear, sunny day for our ferry to Victoria. Looking at the map and talking to an American on the ferry, I didn’t realise there were so many more islands on the US side of the US/CA border to explore by ferry. That would be a trip in itself!

The deck view as we arrived in Victoria was as beautiful as I remember. The impressive Empress Hotel is almost lost, however, among the many more condos and boats than I remember from my previousl visits here.

In two days, we could hardly explore all Vancourer Island to offer, but Natalie was a perfect tour guide of Victoria highlights. Bikers, runners and walkers take advantage of the many parks/bike paths (Galloping Goose Trail, 55km old rail line from Sooke to Swartz Bay)) but alas we couldn’t partake without our bikes! Fisherman’s Wharf with its float homes ( you have to see this video on these homes!), merchants and performing seals was memorable. No, we didn’t do “High Tea” at the Empress.

The views from Mount Douglas and Mount Tolmie gave us perspective on the many islands in the Straight of Georgia. The spring flowers in Victoria were stunning, especially the flowering trees.

Natalie gave us an interesting commentary on the returning salmon that spawn each year in the waters of Goldstream Provincial Park. We were dwarfed by the huge cedars in this area. Victoria is surrounded by many beautiful regional parks. Altho we couldn’t explore them all, we had a taste of the lush rainforest feel of the Francis/King Regional Park.

A photo op of us in front of Mile O of TCH and we were off again on our travels. I plan to repeat a similar photo op at the end of TCH mile marker when visiitng St. John’s, NL in June for Sea Belles Atlantic Competition.

Not quite as nice a day for a ferry ride to mainland but beautiful none the less as the ferry wound its way between the many Gulf Islands. It would have been so great to visit Salt Spring or Galiano Is. again.

The Coquihalla Hwy from Hope, wetted our appetite for the Rocky Mountains with lots of scenic views despite some snow packed road/flurries, and cloud cover obscurring the mountain tops. A quick overnite in Kamloops where we enjoyed a long walk along the Thompson River and the colorful, historc Red Bridge spanning the river. The steep winding road out of the Kamloops Valley and into the Shuswap Lake region reminded us of our previous summer camping trip many moons ago BC (Before Children).

The drive thru Rogers and Kicking Horse Pass into the Rockie Mountains was still awe inspiring despite the overcast day. There’s something about looking straight up into those majestic peaks! No stops in Banff or Lake Louise area as we were just here 6 months earlier for a friend’s daughter’s wedding. Time flies! Before we knew it, we were in Calgary visiting NB friends now living there. Next time Cheryl and Garfield, we promise we’ll plan enough time for that overnight camping /hiking trip with you!

Then on to visit more NB friends in Edmonton, Terry and Dawn. It was great to have a few days to just “hang out”, catch up on news and share a meal with daughters/husbands under less time constrains than at weddings. We especially enjoyed the leisurely drive to Pigeon Lake to see the gorgeous renovations to your summer home. It is a little piece of heaven. No doubt you’ll spend more time there this summer now that Dawn has retired.

It was also great to drop in for a quick visit with our Nephew and his busy young family now living in Edmonton.

We’re so fortunate to have such wonderful friends across the country to visit and share in our adventures. We are so enjoying this opportunity to renew these valued friendships. Thank you all for sharing your homes with us!

19,000km under our belts and we’re on the Road again, this time bound for Chicago, IL., April 20–24. We’re looking forward to seeing all The Windy City has to offer!

Ann and Don

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