Friday, September 25, 2015

The Canadian Rockies

It's been a long time since I last visited the Canadian Rockies, maybe 17 or 18 years ago, before Kathy and I were married, and then again maybe 16 or 17 years prior to that on a family trip with my parents and grandparents. I don't know why it's been so long between visits. Perhaps I had forgotten just how beautiful these mountains are. The Canadian Rockies are really unlike anywhere else I visited in the world. Over the past two weeks we visited and stayed in Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, and Waterton Lakes National Park and I feel like we barely scratched the surface for what these parks had to offer.
Looking down to the town of Banff, AB from Sulphur Mountain
I tried to write up my description of how these mountains are different than the US Rockies, and went looking online for help in describing the mountains. I found this description in Wikipedia that strangely looked very similar to my own, so I decided to go with their description:

According to Wikipedia’s article on the Canadian Rockies (
The Canadian Rockies are overall more jagged than the American Rockies, because the Canadian Rockies have been more heavily glaciated, resulting in sharply pointed mountains separated by wide, U-shaped valleys gauged by glaciers, where as the American Rockies are overall more rounded, with river-carved V-shaped valleys between them. The Canadian Rockies are cooler and wetter, giving them moister soil, bigger rivers, and more glaciers. The tree line is much lower in the Canadian Rockies than in the American Rockies.
Looking down from Tunnel Mountain in Banff, AB
In the US I've seen much of the Rockies from New Mexico, through Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and the US stretch of the Rockies is definitely beautiful mountains, but the Canadian Rockies truly are unlike anything in the US. It isn't difficult to imagine giant glaciers carving the valley thousands of years ago. From the main towns in either Jasper National Park (Jasper) or Banff National Park (Banff) you look in any direction to steep cliff faces of mountains stretching thousands of feet above the town. With seemingly endless options for hiking without traveling further than the edge of town, and both Jasper and Banff have easy access from the (relatively) warm valley floor to the cold snowy high mountain tops near town by tram (Jasper) or gondola (Banff).
On top of Whistlers Mountain near Jasper, AB

I really don't know why my three visits have each been separated by so many years. I would very much like to think that my next visit to the Canadian Rockies won't be so many years from now. We have already talked about returning in a couple years on a ski trip, or perhaps a future summer visit. However, I know that once back home in my comfortable life, the Canadian Rockies will seem too far away, too foreign, too cold. I will tell myself they are too far away to drive for a typical vacation. I will say that in the winter they are far too cold, even in the summer I'm sure I'll convince myself that I want to go to some place warmer. But maybe my daughters will remember this incredible place and demand a return trip, or perhaps I will remember to read this blog post and remind myself that it's worth the trip.
Athabasca Falls in Japser National Park

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Donuts or Beer - searching for free internet in Canada

The title was suggested to me by my friend Tom after reading my email complaints about the difficulty of getting internet access. Technically I'm on vacation, at least for the start of this trip I'm completely on vacation, and the last thing that anyone should be looking for while on vacation is a way to get on the internet. However, since this trip is quite a bit longer than a typical vacation, both Kathy and I need to work. Along with work, there are the little things in life that need to be taken care of like paying bills, and when you're living life as a transient you need the internet to take care of these things. Also, I think that because we are new to the transient life, there is still a bit of paranoia that we will miss something, forget to pay some important bill or forget to respond to some important email. These are fears that are easily put asside during the two weeks of a typical summer vacation, but when you are going to be gone for over 9 months, you can't just ignore these things until you get home. 

Before I started this trip I added a little bit of very expensive international roaming data to my AT&T plan, and added some roaming data to our Verizon cellular data modem. The AT&T has worked well where there was cell coverage, which as we travelled north (especially Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK) we found absolutely no cell coverage of any kind. Most of the paid RV parks we have stayed at had free (albeit slow) wifi. However many of the RV parks we have stayed in required you to sit yourself near a wifi access point that was never placed close to where they decided to have you park your vehicle. Along with the often inconvenient locations for wifi, the start of our trip was pretty much constant rain (unless we were somewhere where the internet was completely unavailable like the ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, then the weather was spectacular). I found myself, more than once, sitting under a tree with the rain coming down waiting for my email to finally download.

The first place where we spent any real length of time was Jasper. Originally we had only planned to spend 4 nights in Jasper, but with the weather being so wet we opted to abandon the Southeastern corner of Alaska and the western half of British Columbia head to Jasper early with the hopes that the weather to the east would be drier. In the end we lived in the town Jasper for 8 days. In Jasper National Park there aren't RV parks, it's National Park campgrounds which are clean, and very nice, but not set up for people to come and get work done on the internet. So one of the first things Kathy and I needed to find was a place with wifi so that we could get occasionally work done and pay some bills that had not been taken care of prior due to our travelling and general lack of internet access. The best options that we found were Tim Hortons (excellent donuts and coffee), Jasper Brewing Company, and a laundromat/coffee shop in Jasper. The first two had free wifi, and the later charged a few bucks an hour for wifi. The problem is that if you want to get any REAL work done you need at least a couple hours. I did this at Tim Hortons on a couple occasions, but I was not the only person attempting to get work done there, and the place was usually full of people with their laptops open. At the Jasper Brewing Company where we ate lunch a couple times, I tried to respond to emails, but it didn't feel right to be the only person working away on a laptop in what I would describe as a sports bar. Besides, the Jasper Brewing Company was the first place I had found in Canada with a good IPA, and drinking beer(s) is not always conducive to getting any real work done.

Eventually I suspect Kathy and I will get into the grove of subjecting ourselves to the internet only when necessary (such as posting this), and scheduling that time appropriately around all the other activities that are so much more important (like finding the ultimate Canadian IPA). Canada has been difficult, because cellular internet is so much more expensive for us here, and we are avoiding the large cities where internet access is everywhere and motels where it is provided free with your room. Once we are back in the US, the internet will be a little bit easier to access. For now at least there we are still recovering from the addiction for the need of constant internet access that we had become so used to.

P.S. This blog post is being completed via wifi at Starbucks in Banff. The ONLY place with functioning wifi in this town on a busy weekend. 

Hello Week Four...

Hello Week Four…  

We spent 8 days in Jasper and enjoyed all it had to offer. Even in rainy and snowy weather we still found fun things to do, hiking, swimming, hot springing and lots of exploring. And some not so exciting activities as well, including grocery shopping, laundry and hunting down Internet to get some work done. Now we are in Banff and Lake Louise, we have 4 full days here and have a bigger town and more area to cover. We hiked the most popular trail in Banff, the Tunnel Mountain Trail which offers awesome views of the town, mountains and the rivers around. We are visiting Lake Louise as well and will do more hiking and learning about the Canadian Rockies.
View from the Tunnel Mountain Trail 

As we make our way into our first month of the trip I am feeling once again grateful and happy for this opportunity (I feel like I say this in every blog post, but it is the truth and I don’t want to take it for granted). I am happy to see how we are all getting used to the ins and outs of the daily routine. Although each day is different, most days there are a lot of things that remain the same. Coffee, tea and some down town time each morning, with reading, mediation and relaxation before we start the day is something we try and do each day, we had this same ritual at home and it is carrying over here in the camper as well. And now, since we are all in the same tiny space the girls are starting to get in the same groove as well. We spend many mornings reading in our beds, and it is almost 10am before we realize we need to have breakfast. Even if this means we start our day a little later, it is nice to have something that feels like home. Another ritual that some times gets shuffled around at home is family dinner. These days, lunches are either out and about either sandwiches or quesadillas at a trail head  in the camper or at a local brewery with wi-fi so we can get check our email, but dinners have regularly been in the camper or around the camp fire. Most nights it’s a simple dinner, grilled meat and veggies or a bag salad – served right out of the bag (one of our new favorites). But the one thing that is always the same is that we are all together, we are not waiting for Andrew to get home from work or not fitting it in between after-school activities, but just dinner after a long, fun day. The girls also have figured out how to make the camper feel a little more like home, they were only allowed a small box of legos and Playmobile items, but they are so great with playing pretend with these guys,  they spread them all out and its like they go into their own little imaginary world. They also enjoy roasting pinecones on the fire and making little “wedding banquets” for the squirrels, but they like to have both indoor and outdoor activities.  

After our visit here in Banff, we will head south, making one stop in Waterton, AB and then back to the USA and into Montana. One thing I have been enjoying (and kind of cursing at the same time) is the lack of internet and connection. I find it freeing that I have limited phone service and no data on my phone. I realize how connected to my device I am at home. I like the fact that we have to schedule our internet time to get our work done and then that’s it for the day. Although I do miss sending random texts to my friends and family back at home, I would love to share simple moments with them when the time comes up, I do know there will be time for that as the trip goes on and being gone for 9 months it will be nice to have more of those moments to stay connected, but for now, I really enjoy the simplicity of our life less connected (she writes as she posts this blog using the Starbucks wifi). 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

More Adventures in Jasper - Start of Week 3

Moving into week 3 of our trip, we are currently all on our devices in a laundromat/public shower/coffee shop. Every day I feel blessed and grateful for this opportunity, but each day I also have a bit of frustration around the lack of space (or possibly the overload of stuff) and the challenge of doing normal things - like checking email on public internet services, something that seems so easy normally, can make me so frustrated. But again, as my husband points out to me each time, relax - its a little thing. Yes, he is correct, the internet can wait. I think I get the most frustrated because when I am away from it for so long, when I go back to it, if its not immediate I am annoyed. Another activity that I need to remember to breathe through in our "new normal" is grocery shopping. We haven't quite figured out how to make this a relaxing event. Not sure it ever will be when shopping with 4 people all wanting different things, in small packed stores (especially in a tourist town like Jasper), not to mention the unfamiliar environment on top of it all, the combination of all this makes me a little crazy, but again, we are figuring it out and maybe for future trips we will split up - two of us to the grocery, two to the liquor store - because in Canada - no wine or beer in the grocery store. 

Outside of these little quirks, we have been enjoying our time in Jasper, we found a nice campground at Whistlers area that we stayed at for about 4 days and today we will be moving on to our reserved spot for another 4 days and then we will head South the Banff and Lake Louise. We have had some amazing hikes and adventures while we have been here. We took the tram up to the top of Whistler Peak and then hiked all the way back down to the parking lot. My Garmin said the trip was a little over 10 miles, but my legs thought it felt more like 20! The next day we did an easier hike around Maligne Canyon, which in my opinion was absolutely gorgeous! The waterfalls and small pools all along the trail were beautiful to look at and I took more photos I know what to do with. 


After 2 days of hiking we took a little break and spent the next day at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge. I had been wanting to get some yoga in and I found a flyer that mentioned the Fairmont had classes throughout the week. Saturday morning we all made our way over to the lodge, while I took my yoga class and enjoyed the steam room, sauna and an amazing shower, the girls and Andrew had some coffee, hot cocoa and took a walk around the lake. After lunch on the deck of the Fairmont, Andrew stayed in the lobby and got some work done (using more public wifi), while the girls and I went horseback riding at the near by Jasper Park Stables. After our ride, we still weren’t ready to call it a day and hadn’t felt like we did EVERYTHING possible at the resort, so we rented a canoe and paddled around the lake for an hour. It was a lovely day and we really felt like we were spoiling ourselves at the luxury hotel. Next stop was the grocery store, as I described above and then back to the campsite for some school work, dinner and evening fire. The girls had some visitors (aka, elk in the campground) during our school work, which makes things a little more exciting. Although, Nadia gets a little freaked out when the male or buck comes around. There are tons of signs and advertisements around town about staying away from the buck and never coming between the buck and the females, so after a run in with the elk at the playground the girls are more aware of their surroundings and make sure that they need to stay far away. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Starting week 3

As we are entering our third week away it still just feels like a long vacation. We are beginning to all get into the groove of life on the road. The girls are offering to help out more with the daily chores (making the beds, making dinner, daily math and reading homework) but I think everyone in the family is still haunted with the occasional nightmare or at least weird dream associated with the anxiety of our sudden and dramatic change in lifestyle.

enjoying a hike down from Whistler Peak in Jasper

Life is made easier by a change in the weather, at least for a few days. After almost 2 weeks of mostly rain, Jasper Alberta has presented us warm dry days. Today and yesterday have neared 25 degrees (that’s 80 or you folks south of the border). And although Jasper is an expensive tourist town, I believe it is still cheaper than life in Seattle even when we do go out and enjoy the town. As I type this in the lobby of the Jasper Fairmont Lodge sipping a wonderful local IPA, I am fully aware that this horribly overpriced resort is still reasonable for a boy from the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Between Jasper and it’s Southern neighbor Banff we have another 10 days of luxury Rocky Mountain bliss then it is off into Montana and beyond that the unknown.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Eastbound and down

We decided to cut short our stay in Alaska. As beautiful as that particular tiny corner of Alaska is, we really needed to head somewhere with dryer weather. Everything in the camper was starting to take on a dankness, including my daughters.

We had chosen to visit Hyder Alaska to view its famous Grizzly Bears, see the Salmon Glacier (5th largest in North America), and possibly try a local concoction at the saloon and get "Hyderized". Unfortunately, the bears had gorged themselves completely on the still plentiful spawning salmon and were refusing to make their presence known. The glacier which was up a long mining road was completely hidden from view in thick clouds. The saloon and much of the town of Hyder was closed or closing for the season.
Kathy and I looking for a glacier
Even the RV park (Camp Run-A-Muck) was closing up for the season. Camp Run-A-Muck's owner (or manager?), Sully, was closing up the park the day we left, then would be following us East in his giant class-A RV to his home in Maine. Sully was kind enough to exchange tips in crossing the continent from Alaska and Maine. I was pleased to find my planned route nearly matched his suggested route.

Despite the fact we were unable to enjoy the advertised attractions, the quiet towns of Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK offered amazing scenery when the clouds and fog cleared enough: mountains climbing right out of the fjord up into snow covered peaks, waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet from glaciers hidden from view to the valley floor, and lots of green, not Western Washington green, but a green that reminded me much more of Hawaii. Even on the drive to Stewart, we saw numerous black bears and even a grizzly, all wandering along side the highway. I found myself driving cautiously along the roads the way I would in areas where I was concerned with hitting a deer.
Estuary in Stewart BC

Fish Creek, near Hyder BC

View from Hyder, AK

Bear Glacier, outside of Stewart BC

Now we are headed eastbound and down, to Virginia and ultimately Florida, but we are taking the long way, and stopping as often as we can along the way to see what there is to be seen. Tonight we only go as far as Houston... the other Houston (Houston, British Columbia).

Here's What Were Doing...

9.6.15 -- written by Nadia: 

We just got into Hyder, Alaska and it is rainy! I can just imagine the hot weather. But it has been fun with my family. We have seen a few bears when we were driving to Stewart, BC and we saw a family of bears just walking across the street. And in Telegraph Cove, BC  there was a cub.

Here is a little video update from the trip as well. (Video should be uploaded now - internet service is few and far between and uploading videos is not an easy task on a slow connection). 

We had to cut our video a little short due to some giggling. But what I wanted to say is a Kinder Egg is a hollow chocolate candy egg with milk chocolate on the outside and white chocolate in the middle and a toy inside. And it is only found in Canada. 

I am looking forward to the next part of our trip, in about 2 weeks we will be heading to Bozeman, MT to visit my uncle Dan. We’ll blog and make some more videos soon… 

Our family heading out for a walk in Stewart, BC

My Take On The First Week…

We have been on the road for about a week now and although the weather has been rainy and soggy we are still enjoying our adventure. Andrew and the girls have all put together great recaps of the first week’s adventures - see the other blog posts on this site. I think my highlight of the trip has been our visits to Telegraph Cove – whale watching and seeing the bear just wondering the town was amazing – the town was so tiny and it seems like it is stuck back about 50 years, which I find really charming. Our ferry boat ride from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert was also amazing, it was one of the nicest days we have had and it felt like a little cruise, we had a delicious outdoor lunch on the deck, the girls met some friends on the boat and were super happy to play and explore the boat on their own. Since there was not too many places they could go they had free reign to explore and be on their own. After the ferry boat we arrived in Prince Rupert, which is a little port town in Northern BC, there is not much to this little town, but the day we spent here the weather was finally nice enough to hang out outside and although I would have loved to find a great hike or explore the mountains, Andrew and I decided this was the day we needed to reorganize and clean the camper, spread things out and let our gear dry out. We still did get time explore the waterfront area of the town and buy some fresh fish for dinner. 

Andrew and I enjoying lunch and wine on the ferry to Prince Rupert

We only spent one full day in Prince Rupert then headed north again for the long drive up to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. We were about half way through the trip driving through Terrace, BC and the check engine light came on in the truck. Luckily, we were in Terrace and this is the biggest town between Prince Rupert and Stewart and there was a Ford dealership there – the light literally went on right after we passed the dealership. We made a 2 hours pit stop at Ford to have the mechanics do a bunch of tests and fixed a troubled computer chip and then sent us on our way, unfortunately once we drove off about 15-20 minutes later the light came back on. They seemed to think that the light was a result of a dirty sensor or a computer issues, so our anxiety is a bit more under control knowing it has been checked out. 

The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful, we made the turn to head up the Alaskan Highway and on the desolate road we saw 5 bears either on the side of the road or crossing the highway. We also were amazed by the huge glaciers that are on the sides of the mountains that surround the road. After the long day on the road we found a tiny little campground in the town of Stewart. Even though the campground is in the middle of the town it is still surrounded by trees and we have a spot on a small creek. The population in Stewart is 699 and the town is about 2 blocks long. This is why we have come here, we are on this crazy journey to see all we can in this beautiful country and it is fascinating to see how others outside of our Ballard bubble live. The town is small and simple but it has everything that anyone needs: a post office, a grocery store, a specialty grocery store and a few small shops and restaurants.

Bear Glacier near Stewart, BC

My favorite part of this trip so far has been seeing the different aspects of all the different towns we have popped into. Whether it’s a small coastal town like Telegraph Cove or tiny Stewart surrounded by enormous mountains. It is really cool to see how differently people live. We are still trying to figure out how we are living in this little camper of ours while we struggle with the new routines (or lack there of), shuffling gear in and out before we do anything, coming up with a school schedule that works and doesn’t enlist groans and frowns every time the subject comes up and for me, specifically, figuring out how to get a work out in that raises my heart rate to keep my mood up and my anxiety down. I have figured out how to do a few yoga poses in the center of the camper while I make my tea – but it’s a little weird for Siena considering its in also her bedroom. We’re working the kinks out and hopefully the weather will improve so our adventures and routines can be more outside than inside. We had a lovely campfire last night, and we are hoping the bears will still come out to eat at the river even if its raining. There are ups and downs of the trip and the main thing is that we are all together, working as a family as we embark on each new experience. 

week 1 + 2 days recap (Siena)

(this is Siena's post)

Friday day 1 - On Friday we left home and drove into Canada and spent the night in Whistler, BC. 

Saturday day 2 - Saturday was the first full day and we walked down to Whistler Village and it was very, very, very wet but Nadia and I still had a lot of fun. We did a maze and when we started the maze we were trying to stay dry but around the end we didn't really care and we came out soaking wet. Then we went bungee jumping on a trampoline and Nadia was really good at it and at the start when I went in I was scared  but for my last jump I did a double backflip.

Sunday day 3 - On Sunday we drove from Whistler down to a ferry to take us to the winery we were staying at for that night and we got really good bread and there were lots of little birdies
and there was a dog too.

Monday day 4 - On Monday we drove down to Port Hardy and we went to the beach and we were playing in the rain at high tide and I found a stump in the waves and I jumped on to the stump right as a wave came and my feet got soaked.

Tuesday day 5 - We were at Telegraph Cove and we were having lunch when Daddy went to get the umbrellas and he came back with the umbrellas and a picture of a bear so like a completely normal person I took my umbrella and ran to try to find a large group of people with cameras when I found all the people the bear was in a tree so I stayed for a while then I went back to the restaurant to finish my hot chocolate and when I went  back to find the bear I found the bear coming down the tree so we followed the bear for a while then we went to the whale museum and Daddy and I went to find the bathroom (or washrooms as the call them in Canada ) anyways when we went to the bath/washrooms they were in a whale watching store so we signed up to go whale watching.

Wednesday day 6 - On Wednesday we went whale watching and we saw a bunch of orcas and humpback whales we also saw more bald eagles then I could could count (probably 30 something ) and we also saw a rock covered in sea lions and thousands of birds.

Thursday day 7 - Thursday was probably the longest day of our trip 15 hours on a ferry we played for most of the day and we watched some movies and we had all three of our meals on the boat.

Friday day 8 - Friday we woke up took a shower and when we came out there were two deers in our camp site and we met new friends and played most of the day. 

Saturday day 9 - Saturday all we really did was drive but we did see some bears and we had a campfire and I carved a salmon out of wood. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

One week in

I have made a number of attempts at blog posts where I attempt to discuss (flawed) descriptions of the the meaning of this trip and how its suppose to change me, and what I hope to gain out of this trip, and my ponderances on my executive directors parting comment to me, "I hope you find what you are looking for". None of it was really working out, so I think I'll just go for a quick summary of how the past week has gone.

Currently, I am sitting outside our camper in an RV park in the far North British Columbia port town of Prince Rupert, under the warm sun enjoying the pathetic attempt at an IPA from a Nova Scotia Brewery (these Northwest Canadians don't seem to be big fans of hoppy beers). Today is the first fully sunny warm day in a week of mostly pouring rain and I'm loving it! This warm sun is that more appealing with the knowledge that it is about to change back to the rain that we've been living in as we head further North. So what follows is my attempt to sum up the past week...

Our trip started with a couple days at Whistler Village, my first ever summer visit to the ski town. It was nice and I think I would choose to come back again if I could have some assurance that the weather would be a little drier. During one night at the RV park we stayed at in Whistler I seriously had an anxiety attack in the middle of the night as the rain was dumping, believing that the river we were parked near might overflow its banks and I would be awoken by Siena's screams as she would be the first person to notice the water level had raised itself above her bed. This would not be the last time I had this particular middle of the night anxiety attack, as this was not our first RV park situated right next to a river. Despite the rain at Whistler we marched a couple miles by foot into Whistler village, where we purchased some expensive umbrellas and enjoyed as much as we could with the pouring rain. The girls even attempted a kids bungee jump in the pouring rain, screaming with glee and attracting other kids much to the dismay of the their parents and the bungee jump operator who had previously been enjoying her dry indoor hut with no customers.

From Whistler we headed south to Horseshoe Bay and the ferry to Nanaimo, mine and Kathy's first experience on a BC ferry. Washington ferries will now forever seem very much lacking. In Canada, or British Columbia at least, they do ferries right! From Nanaimo we headed North, almost to Campbell River where we experienced our first stay at a Harvest Host location, Coastal Black winery, which makes berry wines and meads. The winery was a bit off the beaten path, and we never would have sought it out if it wasn't for Harvest Host, but was quite nice. We showed up to an empty winery about an hour prior to closing, but they were still willing to let us do a tasting. We ended up buying a bottle of Raspberry wine and a bottle of what I've been calling Blackberry Port (they call it Blackjack 21). Then we had their parking area to ourselves for a quiet night of boondocking at a winery.

From the winery we headed to the North end of Vancouver Island to the quiet town of Port Hardy, for a few days before our 15 hour ferry to Prince Rupert. A stop at the visitor center in Port Hardy provided us with numerous options for outdoor activities, but the weather didn't seem to be agreeing with long hikes to the Pacific Coast so we opted to head an hour South for a day trip to the little tourist town of Telegraph Cove. The town reminded me of the setting of the 1980s Robin Williams movie, Popeye. With the rain starting and stopping the outdoor activity of kayaking, which the town is known for, didn't seem like a good idea with the clothes we had. So we explored the town and decided to check out the The Old Saltery Pub as we waited out a downpour of rain. The rain didn't seem to be letting up, so I opted to sacrifice my dry clothes and be the one to run to our truck and pick up our umbrellas. Almost immediately after grabbing the umbrellas the rain started to let up. As I made my way back to the pub with the umbrellas, I noticed a large group of people standing in town, who saw me coming and immediately shhh-ed me (I wasn't being loud or even making any sound). As I got closer I noticed large numbers cameras (iPad cameras) pointing at something out of my view. I was thinking, how quaint, the tourist see a deer and have to photograph it. As I finally got close enough to see what they were looking at I noticed it was not a deer but a juvenile black bear wandering through town as if it were just another local. I checked my pocket and was happy to realize my point and shoot camera was there. I quickly got my photos and continued back to the pub with a giant grin, realizing that one of Kathy's biggest goals was to see a bear on this trip. As I went in and told Kathy and the girls what I had seen, I was greeted with "you're lying", then a display of the photographic evidence I was given a "SHUT UP", then I was suddenly alone in the restaurant waiting for the bill.

The next day with the weather forecast promising to not improve much, we opted to splurge a bit and take a whale watching tour. I mostly kept my apprehension about what to expect from a whale watching tour to myself. I kind of expected to not see any whales and spend a day in rough water in the rain. What we experienced and saw far surpassed my wildest expectations. Dozens of orcas sometimes coming within jumping distance from the boat, one fairly active humpback whale, countless bald eagles, several seals, and a rock covered with sea lions all seeming to argue over who is biggest and best. After the tour we had to eat and return home for an early bedtime. Our ferry to Prince Rupert, even with an early check in the day before, required us to be there by 6 am.

After what seemed like a long wait to board, the ferry ride started off with a view of a humpback whale in the bay just outside Port Hardy as we started its journey. The first hour or so was cloudy, but it started to clear as we headed into the Georgia straight, a 90 minute crossing which was the only part of the trip where we were exposed to the Pacific. The ferry rolled up and down back and forth as a few nice sized swells from storms far off in the Pacific made there way to the British Columbia. After that crossing it was nothing but endless views of the beautiful islands of the inland passage with almost no towns or civilization to be seen other than the other fishing and sailing vessels. At times the sun was so warm on the deck of the ferry that all you wanted to do was to have a beer and sleep on deck. Along the trip we were greeted by at least a dozen humpback whales and a few orcas all pointed out by the ferry crew. Then the sun went down, and the ferry kept going and going. Around 10:30 PM they told us we were 1/2 an hour from Prince Rupert and that we could head down to our cars. The RV park we were staying at for the night was 1/2 a mile from the ferry dock and was set up for folks coming off of a 11 PM ferry. By midnight we were set up. Which brings me to where I started this.

So I set out to write a couple paragraphs discussing the pros and cons of the trip, and here I am on paragraph eight with mostly just pros (except for the rain). I swear this was completely unintentional. I should in all fairness mention some of the cons other than rain: after months of planning and trying to figure out the minimal amount of stuff we could live with for 9 months it turns out we brought too much (surprise). After all the criticism I laid on Kathy I'm really questioning why I have six different sets of footwear just for myself (seriously?). Every time we stop and start our travels we need to spend a good 20 minutes moving gear from the camper to the truck or vise versa. There may be a care package of unnecessary gear that gets sent home soon. For equipment failures, it turns out one of covers for the front lights on the camper fell off without notice. With all the rain I believe we have pretty much soaked the interior walls of the front right side of the camper. Kathy's reading light has died and when I checked it out, water literally poured out of the ceiling. I'm hoping for no mold. The inside of the light was completely rusted out. Not good. While checking out the town of Prince Rupert today for some fresh fish to grill, I stuck the key in our camper lock and and whole lock mechanism fell out. I fixed it, but not good. Mosquitos are growing more obnoxious with every mile we travel north. In Prince Rupert, they're tiny little guys who can fit in between the mosquito netting. Itchy - not good. And worst of all, for the life of me I can't find a decent IPA anywhere in this part of the world. But if you put your fingers over the "CA" and the final "N" in a MOLSON CANADIAN, it turns into a MOLSON NADIA. I suppose when in Rome (or Canada)...