Coming from the Glacier National Park in North Montana we cross the border to Canada without problems. The Waterton park close to the border is very busy at this time of the year.
We stay at the Campground at the park entrance where we meet our friends from Switzerland Kurt & Elisabeth which we’ve met already in South America and Mexico. Certainly, we have a lot of attention at the campground with our two Monster Mobiles next to each other. The next Morning, we explore the park and make a nice hike to the Goat Lake. In the evening, we celebrate Manfred’s birthday with a glass of Champagne.
We move on and drive along the Forestry Trunk road thru a wonderful landscape which you normally only see on advert pictures from Canada. We stay at the huge Lougheed Provincial Park for some days and make a couple of nice hikes in the area. It’s Grizzly time here and carrying Bear Spray is strongly recommended. In the afternoon, we see already the first bear who comes thru the lake and walks along the shore. And during our evening walk we see a Grizzly not far away and can make some nice pictures.
We go on to the Spray Lake and establish our basecamp to explore Banff and Canmore from here. Especially Banff is packed with tourists and a lot has changed since our last visit 30 years ago. However, we make at least use of the large variety of restaurants and have a good meal at an Indian place. On our way back we stop at a specific German Deli and buy German sausages and other typical food we cannot get abroad. Looks like we have not been at home for longer.
Our next destination is Calgary. It’s weekend and we find a good parking place in downtown without problems. All attractions are near-by and we first climb up the tower and view the city from high above. After this we visit the cultural museum and stroll thru downtown. The major attraction is the Calgary stampede which takes place every year in July but for this we are a little bit too late. As there is not much more to see in downtown we soon continue our journey to Drumheller.
Drumheller is the heart of the Dinosaurs. You meet them on every corner but unfortunately, or better Thanks God, they are all dead. Compared to this creatures a Grizzly is a handsome cuddly toy. More than 75 Million years ago the climate here was subtropic and over 35 kinds of sauriers were active in this area. After the last ice age 14000 years ago wind and water erosions have excavated the remains and even today they still find new bones. The Royal Tyrell Museum shows over 40 different specimen and it is really worth a visit also without kids.
Around Drumheller are the badlands with interesting stone formations along the Horsethief canyon and also some Hoodoos as we have seen already at Lake Powell in the USA. To complete our Dino tour we visit the small village Wayne with the famous last chance saloon with bullet holes in the wall from the earlier days of the Wild West. We stay overnight on a campground in town and take the Campground hosts Deb and Niels by surprise. We got to know them last year in Mexico. Was fun meeting you. See you again in winter in Mexico.
We continue to Edmonton and visit Anne a friend of us from our hometown Grafing. She immigrated to Canada some years ago. We spend a nice time together and visit the Edmonton mall which is basically an amusement park with the possibility to go shopping but this in over 800 shops. Not really a must see. On our way out of town we visit Fort Edmonton a historic village with original streets from 1885, 1905 and 1920 and a rebuild Fort from 1846. The employees are dressed in old fashioned costumes and we feel like in the past century.
Then we move on to Jasper and Banff and all of a sudden, we feel like in the center of mass tourism. No free campsites in case you have not made a reservation one year in advance. The Icefield Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world but unfortunately it is foggy and rainy and we are happy that we have seen all this back in 1984 with much less tourists. We only make a few stops at different hotspots and around midday the sky gets clearer for an hour and we can even see a part of the Eclipse on 21.8. The lower part of the parkway is the best but also at Lake Louise and other tourist attractions is no way to get even close. Parking lots are already full at 8am. So we leave the area and better come back next year in spring on our way to Alaska with hopefully less people and better weather by then.
In Vernon we make a stop for the night at the guest parents from our son Michael who was here 6 months in high school back in 2008. Nevertheless, we cannot cross the Okanagan valley without a visit of some wineries. With hundreds of it in this area it’s not easy to determine what to choose. But we find some good wines and cool down from all the tasting in one of the many lakes before we move on to Harry.
For this you must know the following; Back in 1986 we’ve made a three week canoeing trip on the Yukon. That’s where we met Harry from Germany who was travelling alone. He immigrated to Canada shortly after and now lives in Mission together with his wife Lora and always has Bavarian Wheat beer in the fridge. We spend some nice days together and have a lot to talk about after so many years. On one day Harry takes us out to the Fraser River for fishing and I really got one of these huge sturgeons on my rod and finally managed to get him out of the water, with “a little bit of help” from Harry. The sturgeons have survived two ice ages and can get 200 years old. That’s why he now cannot be a victim of Manfred and must go back to water after photo shooting. They are protected and only catch and release is allowed. However, it was a great experience. Dear Lora and Harry, once again thank you very much for the wonderful time we could spent with you. Was a lot of fun and we certainly come back next year on our way to Alaska. Including Rum from Nicaragua and Tiramisu.
Vancouver is just around the corner and we find a street parking place in North-Vancouver. From there we are in downtown by bus and ferry in 30min. We have just parked as we were videoed and interviewed from Justin. He lives in his Minivan since a couple of years and runs an interesting YouTube blog. See here: Interview with Justin
Vancouver is the most attractive Megacity in Canada and the location on the Pacific Ocean and the Fraser river surrounded by mountains is really outstanding. Unfortunately this is also true for the living costs and prices go steady up. More and more people are forced to leave the city and move to the outskirts which in return increases the prices there also. Chinese and Asian people are the majority in town and also own most of the properties. We’ve never seen so many European luxury cars. Even more top-notch BMWs and Mercedes than in Munich or Stuttgart. In contrary thousands of homeless people are in the streets who take the advantage of the mild climate. We stroll thru downtown and admire the sky scrapers and the steam clock in Gastown. And of course, we eat a lot of Sushi which comes fresh from the sea. At least we hope though.
On the second day we visit Stanley park which is in walking distance from downtown. The park has a walking system of 81km with a beautiful view to the harbor and the city.
The next morning, we take the ferry to Vancouver Island and drive up North via Parksville to Campbell River. The salmon run has started and they now go upstream to spawn and die afterwards. Apart from humans and other creatures the bears are waiting already and need the food to survive their hibernating phase in winter. We always wanted to see Grizzly bears hunting salmon and book a tour accordingly. Around midday we start a 2 hours boat ride to the Bute Inlet on the mainland as Grizzlys are not on the Island. During the tour we see already humpback whales. Our destination is a remote area and Indian property. They have invented a good business model and we drive around with a bus for more than 2 hours. They have erected viewing platforms and we see some Grizzlys and a river full of salmon. As highlight a mom with two cubs comes out of the bushes and teaches the kids how to catch fish. On our way back we see again a humpback whale and an Orca family.
In the morning we buy a lot of smoked salmon for our fridge and drive to Chemainos to see the wall paintings. From there we continue to Duncan. My uncle immigrated to Canada back in 1936 and we’ve visited him and his wife Flora in 1984 and 1986. Meanwhile both passed away but his son John now lives in Duncan together with his wife Audrey and they love to see us after so many years. Also my cousin Carol and her husband Kelvin come for a visit on one evening together with John’s sister Dorothy. We stay two nights and have a lot of fun together and a lot to talk about. Thanks again for your hospitality and the nice time. We enjoyed it very much.
We drive via Lake Cowichan to the Pacific Coast and stay overnight close to the trailhead of the famous West Coast Trail. Unfortunately, the weather changes and it gets foggy and rainy and we cannot see much from the beauty of this area. So we decide to move on to Victoria earlier than planned.
In Victoria we visit an old friend which we got to know 1986 while we were hitchhiking from Port Hardy to Duncan. This takes a few hours and you talk a lot about everything. So we learned that he had a German Girl friend at this time who is a good friend from the two of us. To make a long story short we kept contact over the years and now visit Shane, Val the two kids and the dog in Victoria. We stay two days in front of her house and have a lot of fun together and Shane takes us to a great sightseeing tour around the city. Thanks again very much for your hospitality and the time we could spent with you. It was great to see you again after so many years and get to know your family and the dog.
We now take the ferry back to the USA and spend some time in the Olympic National Park before we travel down the West Coast and fly home for 4 weeks mid of October from Los Angeles. But what we experience there is as always part of our next blog. Until then enjoy reading and watching the pictures.