Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Nanaimo (Nan-eye-mow)

In a word: bland

In more words: nice but bland

We left you last time whizzing away from the delight that is the Turtle Hostile (sic) in Victoria, this time heading to Nanaimo, toward the Painted Turtle Guest House. They love their turtles over here, something to do with being safe under the shell!

 We arrive in Nanaimo on a sunny but windy day. We found the hostel on the corner of the old town, parked up Jeremy and headed in with fingers crossed for something better than the previous two nights. We’d already had good reports about the place from Paul in Kelowna, even so, we were so taken aback after the last place: it was more like a swanky B&B, beautiful dorm rooms (with only us in a 4 dorm, happy days :), clean bathrooms (!), free internet (which was later to become so frustrating as the managers didn’t have a clue how to reset a router – arrrgh!) and a lovely kitchen with a free shelf of delights, well mainly vegetables which believe me are a delight, Tim wasn’t as thrilled.

 We booked in quick before they could change their minds, then headed to the harbour (err… this stop was on the coast) for a wander round our new home…and how very lovely it was too with lots of sea planes coming and going (Vancouver in twenty minutes rather than our winding road journey taking hours).  We found a lovely ice cream shop where Tim had his first cone as we walked along the harbour, happy boy :-) We came across a grassy knoll where there were two real Easter bunnies, not your normal run of the mill bunnies, we’re talking black and white ones of the kind you get in pet shop, just being bunnies roaming around and not long after we saw there were many more bunnies (just for the record NO easter eggs were to be found).

The following day, after a great night’s sleep I got up early and ran along the harbour which was great; lots of boats, the odd dog walker, a “good morning” to the Easter bunnies and that was pretty much that, great morning run. Head back to get Tim, have a quick shower, then out to a cafe for breakfast before we are forced to volunteer to join the jolly Easter Sunday brunch organized by the hostel managers. Now don’t get us wrong, we like the hostel… and the brunch was a great idea, but when you’re only there for one day and you can’t get in the kitchen to make breakfast as it’s full of the rest of the hostel painting boiled eggs, we’re heading out to find food! Had a lovely breakfast in a lively café, where someone at the next table pulled out an early ‘80s mobile phone, about the size of a house brick, to the delight of his friends… a funny reminder of the past and I thought it was quite ironic that someone else at the table took a photo of it on their iPhone.

Back to the water-front to find a little ferry that would take us over to one of the two islands near Nanaimo called Newcastle and Protection. When the ferry eventually arrived, it was only going to (the smaller) Protection Island and as we had been told Newcastle Island had more interesting walks etc. we hopped-off to find the Newcastle ferry – which was actually more like a floating parmesan cheese grater (you know the one that Bodum make!), only to be told by some locals crabbing on the floating pontoon (and getting some really big snapping beasties too) that the ferry to Newcastle wasn’t making any more trips due to sea conditions… so we head back to the first ferry (with a presumably braver captain). He remembered us from our previous wait (an hour previous) and told us all about Protection Island; what it does have is a beach, a light house and wait for this the only floating pub in Nanaimo….a selling feature indeed. We hand over $8 for a return ticket and head out onto the choppy sea crossing which thankfully only lasts 20mins. We get dropped off at the floating pub, but decided to explore the island before exploring the bar.

 Off we went with our photocopied map (which was almost 1:1 scale) … we ticked off beaches and the light-house but also noticed almost every driveway had a beige golf cart (like I said it’s a small island). We ended up in some ones garden by taking a wrong turn through the woods, but yet another friendly Canadian couple put us back on track in time to hit the floating pub, where we were to be picked up by the friendly captain… a much more amenable waiting room. So we get to the Dinghy Dock pub, decide against food, as the water is a tad choppy out there and the interior was swinging away with the lapping of waves against the hull/pub, Tim goes for a beer and I get a glass of wine, which after a few sips my legs were gone, honestly it’s official, I don’t have sea legs or drinking legs. We get our boat back to the main land, stop briefly to watch a golden retriever go sea-kayaking, head back to the hostel, have dinner, read books, get really annoyed by the internet connection and head to our beds and that’s really all there is to say… a nice place but it won’t be one of our most memorable stops. Could have been great, but was actually just pretty bland after all the other places we’ve been to.

Next stop: Tofino where we should hopefully have a whale of a time (Geddit? No? Oh, I forgot to mention it’s a top spot for whale watching).

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Vancouver Island - Part1

Leaving Vancouver, we headed south through sprawling and largely scruffy suburbs toward Tswassen and the BC (British Columbia) Ferry which would take us to Vancouver Island. Most hostel food storage has a ‘free’ area where people leave things they haven’t consumed before they head for home. As we’re not heading for home for some time yet, we are taking full advantage of the free-shelf! For the ferry trip we were lucky enough to have had an unopened box of brie so we stopped off en route for a bunch of grapes and a crusty baguette; to give you some extra chronology the bakery was full of hot-cross buns (HXBs if you’re in the business!). So as you can see, we are quite behind with these updates.

It was a sunny, blustery day and the ferry crossing was nice but uneventful. Dock. Unload. Remember which side of the road to drive on. Head to Victoria; the closest main coastal town and our next new home. As we entered Victoria it appeared to be another identikit town comprising the complete set of stores and diners (Walmart, London Drugs, A&W, Tim Hortons etc). We headed straight for our next accommodation: the Turtle Hostel. We nearly carried straight on. We met our new host Shu, a virtually incomprehensible Chinese lady (in fairness, her English was slightly better than my Chinese). She explained that whilst –technically – we could park on the street, it would be much more secure to pay her an extra $5 to park in the front of her place (or in her words, if you park on the street, you WILL get broken into). We paid.

One of the nice things about the trip is that we are always finding new and different places… this particular place was small and dark and best summed up by this photo. For the first time, we were staying in separate dorms. The men’s dorm was as stinky as you might expect but only four of the eight beds were occupied. I wedged the window wide open, safe in the knowledge that no burglar would make it through that fog. Katy had an eight bed room all to herself – result! Until an Israeli lady arrived: grumpy, even more incomprehensible than Shu and apparently with personal odour issues (I never got that close). Back downstairs, we met in the hallway to determine which of us had got the worst deal when the witch from episode three (Nelson) floated along the hallway. I suspect she recognized us (as we did her), but we all pretended we’d never met before.

Time for a stroll around town. We arrived on the same day as a massive storm broke across the island. Being right on the coast, Victoria suffered as much as any. Honestly they must have alot of wet weather here as we came across this camper that had definetly shrunk in the wash....Despite having all the right clothes for the weather, it was still pretty dismal, but all would be redeemed when we booked our whale-watching trip, so we squelched to the tourist office. One phone call later, we found out that whale-watching wouldn’t be happening until Wednesday (today being saturday)... hrmmph! Things could only be resolved by coffee and cookies, so we searched out Murchies on Government Street. The coffee was good, the cookie was even better and there was even a break in the weather, during which we listened to Darth Vader play violin.

After, we took a loooong walk along sea front. We saw massive starfish in the bay and harbour-seals would pop up every now and again, but what we thought might be a whale turned out to be two scuba divers. Earlier, I had obtained a metatarsal-pad to hopefully cure a very painful ball of my foot which had been with me since the start of journey. The pad cured the pain (yeah!) but I ended up with blisters upon blisters by the end of the walk. Due to our desire to get away from our abode as soon as possible, we missed the massive explosion from the power lines outside our building around 10:00am that morning (due to gales). What this meant for us was no power until 9:00pm that night, though bizzarely, Shu managed to find electricity for one light and the oven /hob still worked (though a pan of water took over an hour to reach boiling point). Strangely the conditions unified the spirit within the hostel and we had a great night exchanging stories between the various Scots, Aussies, Americans and Brits (including a woman who shoes horses in Birkhampstead!).

What people tend to do on a wet Sunday in Victoria is go to the biggest “thrift” store we have ever seen, really there are some true finds and some fantastic people watching, with plenty of “stuff” to view (as you can tell Victoria really isn’t a fun place with that much weather), but heading out along the road we did come along is this beauty of a BBQ, Katy insisted we take a picture for all you Percy Pig, M&S type people, (honestly she’s always working!) Hope you appreciate it, maybe an idea for the summer gardening range?

Gales and rain continued and people turned up looking for a bed all through the night. By morning, my previously half full dorm was completely full and for once I wasn’t the main snorer (some of you might remember my facebook entry from the time which was written at 2:30am as I lay wide awake sure that Jeremy was about to be broken in to). As a special treat after the previous night (and lets face it, the accommodation was pretty cheap),we treated ourselves to breakfast at a café… anything to avoid the hostel kitchen! Being Easter Sunday, the town was virtually closed but after some wandering we found Willies. A cosy eatery which wouldn’t have been put of place in Crouch End.

As you can tell Victoria in bad weather on a tight budget and dire accommodation really doesn’t have a lot going for it, so we arranged with Shu that we would be outta there first thing the following morning. Katy was up at 7am, getting her own back being loud and packing around the grumpy, stinky Israeli, by the time I got up Katy had packed the van and was waiting in the “reception area” for us to get the hell out of Dodge. So we did, leaving on a bonus that we hadn’t paid for the extra night parking and had more cash in hand as we we’re given an extra $10 for key deposit, so leaving Victoria on a high and heading to our new home, Tofino.. go go go, fingers crossed for a better experience……we’ll keep you posted!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Vantastic Vancouver

[note: as I write this, seven bald eagles are soaring on the thermals directly above me and in the tree in front of me, four red-headed woodpeckers are doing what woodpeckers do best!]

In the previous episode, we were just leaving Whistler in the middle of what turned out to be a dumping of 70cm of snow over three days. As some of you will know, when it’s snowing up there… its absolutely pouring with rain down here (cats and groundhogs to be precise)! We headed toward Vancouver on the Sea to Sky highway which all the guide books had forewarned us was the most spectacular of road trips: 100km of majestic views and awe inspiring vistas… set cameras and camcorders to stun! What we actually saw was a fog-bound highway which had temporarily turned into a river. Undaunted and with pac-a-mac’s at the ready, we stopped-off at one of the many tourist attractions dotted along the highway: we were met by a big yellow barrier and a sign informing us that this natural wonder was closed until May… hrmmph! We stopped off at another (Brackendale) notable for being home to large numbers of bald eagles… they’d all migrated a month earlier leaving us with just a duck to look at. In the rain.

Back in the red rocket, we eventually reached Squamish with a stop that was open: Stawamus Chief (a most impressive monolith) and Shannon Falls; as if to celebrate, the rain also paused briefly to allow us to enjoy the stop that little bit more. It is easy to become complacent about the vastness of nature around here, but the waterfalls were very impressive; the torrents of water flowing over and crashing into the massive rocks was almost mesmerizing, churning the water until it looked like a freshly popped bottle of champagne. After I’d realized I’d been staring at the water for quite some time, I wandered back to the trail where I found Katy pretending to be a tree.

On with the journey. On with the rain. We approached Vancouver increasingly desperate for fuel and with only a vague idea of where we were going (TomTom mysteriously having deleted all its files). We followed a sign for fuel which unfortunately took us miles away from the highway… but fortunately (and completely coincidentally) it was the right road. Having purchased petrol and a map we continued on our way and promptly got lost again as we got caught up in our first rush-hour for two months (Its ok, we’re talking to each other again now). Back on track we headed over the bridge taking us into Vancouver but not before driving through Stanley Park: a welcome – if brief – return to greenery. After some fairly pain-free navigation, we made it to our next temporary home: Jericho Beach HI Hostel. Right by the coast and surrounded by fields; it was a big but uninspiring white block.

In its previous life, the hostel was apparently used for military housing (haven’t had chance to google it yet). As such it was an efficient rather than cosy stay! Big rooms housing up to 18 people (but only five in ours, including us); huge bathrooms and a massive kitchen (but bizarrely, no oven). The facilities were fine but this was the first ‘city’ hostel (rather than snowy-mountain hostel); consequently some of the other residents were both older and weirder. We kept mainly to ourselves.

The hostel was on the outskirts of Kitsilano, which itself was on the outskirts of Vancouver city. Kitsilano appears to be quite a trendy district, housing all manner of independent businesses: boutiques, bakeries, bars… anything beginning with b really. It is also home to Sophies Cosmic Café, where we treated ourselves to breakfast. If I were being typically cynical I would say it was like a junk shop which sells food; but in the spirit of the place I can report it was a quirky place full of memorabilia which served a very respectable bacon and eggs and a wicked turkey sandwich whilst surrounded by Miss Piggy, Peewee Herman and the Queen (gawd bless ‘er). The place was packed with people and we were lucky to get the last table for two.

Refueled, we walked into Vancouver City; a not inconsiderable walk which included Granville bridge where we looked over Granville Island. Into the city and to be honest, we were a bit disappointed; we wandered around many of the streets but didn’t find anything of significant interest. The place seemed to be going through a post-olympic hangover; it must’ve been a hell of a party! All things related to the Olympics were either in the process of being removed or had already been removed. We came to the conclusion that it’s a place that can only really be enjoyed if you have a bit of spare cash (we don’t!). We found JappaDog but unfortunately not until after we’d already had lunch. Maybe next time. We wandered the rest of the city and ended up at Canada Place, walked along the harbour, watched sea-planes flying this way and that and took photos of geese. From there we strolled along Gas Town – the old part of town – full of expensive shops and bars… we strolled on! From there we headed toward Chinatown which was only a few streets away, but what a couple of streets… I am still amazed that we didn’t get mugged! Just a couple of streets down from Gas Town appeared to be a holding-pen for all of vancouver’s homeless / drug addicts / down-and-outs… and for a few minutes, us! With anything remotely valuable hidden, we kept our heads down and carried on walking… it was like being back in London! We eventually made it to Chinatown unscathed but didn’t bother staying long. Altogether a bit of a disappointment.

A bright new sunny day and things are looking up! We decided to head to Cypress Mountain (home of snowboarding for the Olympics) for its first day re-opening since the end of the games and after a massive dump of snow... result! Best boarding conditions so far and the lift pass was half that of Whislter. I confess that this hasn’t been the epic snowboarding trip we’d dreamed of (for several reasons) but that was a great day. I like to think that having shared the same slope as Shaun White we now also share some of his star qualities :o) To finish off a great day we stopped off at Granville Island: a small collection of quirky shops dominated by a large indoor market. Vancouver is definitely a place to return to if/when we have money again!

PS - To our list of 'firsts' we can now add a hummingbird and... a bear!!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

‘Firsts’ since we’ve been in Canada…

  1. Otters
  2. Bald Eagle (watching the otters)
  3. Chipmunk
  4. Rambo film set
  5. Car auction
  6. Plymouth Voyager!
  7. 1000 miles in Jezza
  8. Nearly running outta gas
  9. Ferry
  10. Canadian coastal storm
  11. Power-cut
  12. Ice hockey match
  13. Canadian Trivial Pursuit (virtually impossible for the group of british, aussie and kiwi teams playing… and even some canadians)
  14. Whale!
  15. Greyhound Bus
  16. Natural hot-springs
  17. Eggs Benny on a Bench
  18. Cougar / wolf / big dog (he disappeared too quickly)
  19. Grebes
  20. Beard (Tim)
  21. Snowboarding on the same slope as Shaun White
  22. Rainforest
  23. Motel
  24. Youth Hostel
  25. TimBits :o)
  26. Snow-shoeing
  27. Breakfast pasty
  28. Topiary peacock

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Reveling in Revelstoke

Saturday: left Rossland mid-morning heading for Revelstoke which has been recommended by many people. We ended up going through Nelson again and decided to stop at Ainsworth Hot Springs which was ‘sort of’ on the way. The hot springs were about the size and shape of a swimming pool (surprise!) with the addition of a horseshoe shaped cave pool. It is set on the side of a hill, at the bottom of which is an immense section of the Kootenay lake, by far the biggest lake I’ve ever seen and home to the Ogopogo (their equivalent of our Lochness monster, ie, doesn’t really exist but gets a few more tourists in). Dare I say it again but the views really are breathtaking!

Continuing our journey, we realized that the avalanche warning signs were more than just decoration; as we rounded a corner we saw a massive rock in the middle of our lane and the whole road littered with smaller rocks from the sheer rock face by the side of the road. We navigated our way through without problem but it was a reminder of the potential dangers, especially as the place was deserted and we would go for miles without seeing another vehicle. Maybe we will invest in a phone! We caught a ferry to get across the lake, then it was a race against the clock to reach Reveltsoke before nightfall (technically our headlights do work but their range is somewhat limited and the roads in these parts have not embraced the idea of catseyes).

Our current residence is not too bad. We have an 8 bed dorm all to ourselves plus we have a double bed – bonus!! We’re in the basement so is pretty quiet; looking out of our bedroom window we are at lawn level!

We’re sharing it with a couple of Aussies (natch) plus a few Germans who are as bitter as us about the irony of how much snow Europe is having. It’s about $10 a night more expensive than other places we’ve stayed and I am currently struggling to understand why. Never mind, still way cheaper than the alternatives.

We managed to have a Skype video chat with mum & dad (Marsh) yesterday which was great - so lovely to see and talk with them :o) And today we had a leisurely morning with time to skype-text Lady Chandler and Mikey. We love technology and free wi-fi!
As I write this now I am in the Revelstoke day lodge halfway up the mountain… I should be looking out of the window at people whizzing by on snowboards and skis but all I can see is mud and stone, it’s a sorry sight. Conditions are BAD! Most of the mountain is closed, but unsurprisingly Katy is up there somewhere… apparently the snow at the top of the mountain is still really good, but I begrudge paying full ticket price when you can only get to ~20% of the mountain.

As a consequence of the poor snow, we move on again tomorrow. We’re slowly making our way to Whistler; it’s around a six hour straight drive so we’ll probably take our time and do it over two days as there are a few interesting places to see on the way: Kamloops, Hells Gate and my particular favourite… Spuzzum! We might also call in at Chilliwak which is where I think Jerem-y came from (or at least got ‘pimped’) :o)

Whistler while you work

Hello Katy here, I thought I should 'do a blog!' as we haven’t chatted for a while.

So leaving Revelstoke bright and early we headed to our next stop: Hope County. The drive truly was breath-taking and another sunny day to get through the mountains, useful for avoiding boulders! The scenery really is amazing, you tend to drive along and just happen upon a massive lake that will follow the road for miles and miles (or km and km over here). On the other side you are shadowed by monstrous snow-capped mountains. Quite frankly we’re spoilt for scenery. On our way, we stopped off at Kamloops; a large town that seems to be very happening and depending on which side of the street you go, you can see drunk homeless people fighting or city types taking lunch and pretending not to notice. So obviously we had to stop and people watch for a while, Tim took some shots (with the camera!) of a couple of Mustangs (in his heart he would love it if we were doing this in one of them, but Jeremy is doing us just fine, and you couldn’t fit the boards in a 'stang). So after a coffee, a sandwich and a ring-side view of a fist fight we jumped back into Jeremy and headed off to Hope.

Now, we had booked ourselves into the Park Motel - our first ever motel - and as we only had American TV shows to give us our vision of what to expect, we were both very pleasantly surprised, it had everything that you could ever dream of in one room, including 2 microwaves (in case you have guests?), coffee making machine (with timer) and a fridge, oh and a proper size bed, happy days. But no vibrating bed. Now then, for those of you who don’t know, (me being one of them) Hope was the setting for Rambo (First Blood), oh yes they love him here despite being filmed 25 yeasr ago, you can do a tour, go to the museum, go and chat to people who we’re extras, we did none of these things although Tim wanted to find the bridge that Rambo comes in on, but we couldn’t find it. A lot of the settings we’re made with fake fronts and so longer exists, such a shame for those die-hard (sorry, wrong film) Rambo fans. We decided we would not use our plethora of microwaves, instead we spoiled ourselves and ate out (first time since the UK!), now Hope is small and you can either eat in what looked like a service station, a Chinese that was very empty or go to a Bistro that shuts at 8pm, like I said small town. We went for the bistro it was just gone 7pm we had an hour, and it was lovely a proper grown up meal, I had fish and Tim had meat (what more do you need to know?!). We went to sleep to the rumble of the Trans-Canadian railway clanking and screeching just a block away. Very much like being back at home. Soothing!

Leaving Hope bright and early and in search for fuel for both Jeremy and us we found a gas station and diner, result! all fully fuelled we set off to Whistler following Highway 1 then cutting off to what I would call a trail, Canadians call highway 12! We we’re heading along the Fraser Canyon that would lead us to Hells Gate where the Fraser River reaches its awesome crescendo, well that is if the viewing station is open which is wasn’t, (you’ll want to go between April-October), so we drove past it and carried on along our way thinking something so big, surely we’ll be able to see it, well not if you’re driving on the other side to the canyon and there is no stopping because you’re in an avalanche area. So there you go, a shame but I’m sure we’ll see bigger better Canyon’s on our way, well there’s the Grand Canyon to name one.

So after we passed the canyon and Spuzzum (great name), we were Whistler bound; on a map it doesn’t look so far until you realize that there are bloody big mountains in the way. So, as we headed into Whistler we still had no accommodation; where we wanted to stay was full for the first couple of days, so looking at our guide book we we’re advised to stay in neighboring Pemberton, which is a 35min drive to Whistler and supposedly cheaper. We couldn’t get any internet access anywhere (long gone are the days when people didn't encrypt their wireless... they don’t like to share in Pemberton), so we couldn’t google where to stay, only I had written a few address and numbers down before we’d left Hope, so we drove to our first port of call where we we’re greeted by the grumpiest lady we’ve met so far who said she only had private rooms left and that would be $80 a night - thank you, but no thank you. Another one, off the beaten track - literally (it was in a wood): I went in to the house, which was mainly covered in tarpaulin while Tim keep the engine running. I walked-in, called-out, and was greeted by at least ten (10) cats who we’re just roaming around the kitchen surfaces and the chairs, now I like cats but I also like hygiene as does Tim, so after no one appeared and the cats weren’t telling me anything I left. We found a phone and called the last address on our list, it was a little bit out of Pemberton, toward Mount Currie (mmm… curry!). I chatted to a nice man on the phone who said they had space for us and off we went, he did say it was quite rugged roads, and he wasn’t lying, thankfully Jeremy is equipped with 4WD. After driving over the rail track, and up through the forestry we came to the bottom of a very steep, rugged track, when we got to the top, it was beautiful - a lovely big log cabin with a veranda and horses, dogs and cats and the smiley host of the ‘Shiloah Works’ hostel, Roamy. She showed us our lodgings which would be just us, no one else, it was lovely to have our own space, lounge, kitchen and bathroom and the most amazing views of the mountains. It was like someone had picked up our flat and placed in the mountains (albeit we only had a cassette player so we listened to wobbly sounds of Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon and Genisis - gave me flash backs to being in the kitchen at the Harp:) So we booked ourselves in for 2 nights popped upstairs to say hello to the family and pay and it wasn’t until Tim asked about internet and the password that it dawned on us…….the password was “JESUSLOVESYOU”. Yes, yes he does…… back in our new lovely (if temporary) home, we viewed the bookshelves of limited reading, the odd Whistler and Pemberton guide and, lined up with them “your guide to the steps of heaven” and “true enlightenment through god” so Tim left his Tom Clancy, Hunt for Red October with them as he couldn’t get into it, so something’s there for everyone now. Did I mention that the place had a remote-control fire? Even without the fire, it was just the best hostel to stay at!

We had a lovely sleep in our new home and got up early for the drive to Whistler to hit the slopes, we got there and it was so very wet, but in true boarding mind “raining down here, snowing up there”…so I bought a pass and left Tim heading to the coffee shops at the base station and I went up into the clouds, now the “snowing up there” line is true but it was a blizzard. Honestly, so windy and snowy I couldn’t tell where I was or which way up I was at some points, not good on a mountain you don’t know, so staying in the trees for a bit of helpful visuals a tried to enjoy myself not knowing really what I was about to jump off or into. By 1.30pm I needed food and water so headed down in the gondola to meet Tim, with walkie-talkie trying to call him, now it would seem I may of landed on my walkie talkie as I could hear Tim but he couldn’t hear me and Whistler village is a vast place of coffee shops and bars, so after walking around in the rain going into several shops trying to find Tim I decided I should go back up onto the mountain and make the most of the extortionate ski pass, so off I went with an emergency granola bar to a blanket of “the white abyss” I wouldn’t say it was a great day, but it was an experience. Eventually I met up with Tim at Jeremy he must of sensed my” time to go and eat” vibes, as he arrived only a few minutes after :)

We had arranged to pop into our next stay place to give our credit card details so we drove through Whistler to Alta lake, where the Hi Whistler hostel is situated - right on the lake with the most amazing views. When we got there we had to wait a while for the guy to arrive so we just watched the ice on the lake; as we watched, two little heads appeared - otters just swimming and doing their stuff, breaking through the ice and then as we were watching them a (massive) bald eagle landed on the ice and just sat and watched too, needless to say we’re looking forward to our Whistler stay. So our nature handbook is getting quite a few ticks. After that we headed back to our wooden home, the hot tub had been put on for us to use if we wanted, it was outside under a gazebo overlooking the mountains, we decided against it. Tim wasn’t shedding any clothes and I had had a shower and was very snug and warm, but a lovely thought :)

We left Pemberton for Whistler in the morning sorry to say goodbye to our lovely home and lovely hosts, but we knew we had a new lovely home to hang out at Whistler itself is by no surprise an expensive place to live, so we did a lot of walking and cooking in our new home. It had a lovely feel about it, right on the lake, very relaxing until a train went by (trains and hostels seem to be inextricably linked!) you had to cross the tracks to get to the hostel via some pretty steep wooden steps. We did lots of reading and I ran round the lake which was lovely lovely lovely. As the days went by all the ice quickly melted on the lake and we didn’t see our otters or eagle again. Apparently it’s rare to have seen them at all, so we felt lucky indeed, unfortunately have no photographic evidence of our nature viewing as the dumb-arse aussie went outside and scared them off before I returned with the camera so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Honestly that bird was HUGE! It will be even more rare to see soon as the hostel closes this year (the value of the land must be massive!); there is a new purpose built hostel just being finished in Whistler village. We met (another!) nice Aussie called Erin who had been working at the games and told us all the stories about it (she was right by the bobleigh course)... i believe she was 'stoked'! And she gave us a few more horror stories about Australian wildlife :-()

Maybe syuprisingly, I haven't got much to say about about Whistler the place - its designed as a massive resort for skiers / boarders which it caters for very well and that's about it (but who knew Hitler was so into golf?!). I managed to get Tim up the mountain on our last full day in Whistler, rain in town snow up top, but hey it had to be done. They have a high speed gondola that takes you from Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain (the Peak2Peak, nearly 3km long) so we took that into a big cloud of nothing, apparently the views are break taking, we couldn’t tell but the mountain was lovely lots of trees to help us down, we had a good days play in the snow and as I’d been boarding by myself for most of this trip nice to have a board buddy to play with. In true Katy and Tim form, the day we left the weather was amazing (-ly bad!), torrential rain and sleet hammering down in town meant thats overnight it had dumped over 40cm of fresh powder on the mountain (with another 30cm to come), our only smug thought was that none of the lifts we’re open so we couldn’t have boarded even if we’d wanted too. So there you go, that’s us for know; our next stop is Vancouver where our little Canadian adventure will be shortly be coming to an end, but don’t you worry there are mountains in Vancouver we’ll be boarding if I have my way :)