Monday, August 23, 2004

A marmot that I met at the top of the hike (at maligne lake)

Maligne Lake where I hiked up 520 metres in elevation (over a 11km hike)

one of the tall ships at night, in Halifax

Calgaries strange indoor gardens!

A friendly squirell in the Rockies (on my first day)

Sunday, August 15, 2004


The Weather
Well when I got off the train in Vancouver (after a most enjoyable ride with Jamie from the tour), I found the weather overcast, and in fact quite wet... It reminded me of home.. ;-)

So for my first day in Vancouver all I did was find a decent supermarket and get supplies for the next few days and sit back and admire the rain pouring down... But that was ok. I felt like having a chance to just sit back and relax after the hikes through the rockies..

Jericho Beach to Downtown
Now if your staying out in Jericho Beach you'll know that to get to downtown there's really only one option (a 40min bus ride), that is unless your like me... Who decided just to wander along the beach enjoying the sand, surf and sun (which was now actually out!), so much of a wander that I made my way around the bay (all 13+ kms of it) climbing over rocks and generally enjoying myself and up into China town... Was good fun actually (and I slept well that night!)

And while in downtown I got to see some wonderful things:

  • Ming Garden Really nice place that I can't actually remember the name of, gorgeous though! Small but really interesting...
  • Worlds thinest office Not really that interesting, but funny story as the guy who built it did so because the council kept on taking back the land from him, so he built an office on what was left, 1.8 metres wide 2 or 3 stories high...
  • Stanley Park Nice place, I think it's bigger than Central Park (New York), really cool especially with the beaches all around... :-)
  • Final of the Fireworks competition And it was impressive!! I think Sweden was the one who won! Yay for them! ;-)

Next I'm going to try and post up a couple of photo's that I think people will quite like... Hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Rockies - Part 2

To continue the saga of the Rockies, well not too much of a saga thus far...

Day 3: Collaseum walk
Today we were given a choice of climbing either Baldie or Collaseum (sp?) and we all agreed on going the longer (but less steep) mountain... Both rising up around 500 metres.

It was a fairly nice walk through lots of trees, except when relatively close to the peak I slipped on some scree rolling my right ankle... And as most of you know OW!! Not a nice feeling, but luckily I was wearing my hiking boots, I didn't do any damage to the ligament, and I had my ankle strap in the backpack..

Also it meant that I seemed to provide a great excuse for a few other people to rest up with me at a spot with a great view (luckily I'd done it just around the corner from a great resting spot!) while the others continued along the ridge to the summit of Collaseum.

So as you can imagine that was a bit of a downer, but the day was salvaged at the rustic hostel we stayed at that night (I say rustic as there was no running water, including plumbing..), where right beside a glacial stream there was a proper japanese style sauna! Fantastic! I was even able to convince a couple of other people to join me (and got thanked for it afterwards), so relaxing and refreshing to soak in that heat, jump into the glacial stream and then back into the heat again... Followed by getting dry in front of a lovely warm fire! :-D

If you want to visit this hostel (aparently there's great rock climbing nearby) it is Rampart HI

Day 4: Athabasca glacier ice walk
Well today we had the option of going on either a Snowcoach* ride or a hike on the icefield itself...

Most of us went for the hike, and all I can really say is WOW!! This would have to of been my favourite part of the tour, and yeah it's an extra charge, but seriously worth it! I swear the stream flowing on the glacier (aparently at 0.8 degrees celcius) looked like awesome waterslides! :-) And feeling the chill in the air as you walk on all that ice! At the bottom of the hill all you need is shorts and t-shirts, about 20 minutes into the hike I was glad for the long pants, jumper, beanie, gloves & waterproof jacket. :-D

Just do it!

* Thanks to some guy for posting up pictures of the Athabasca Glacier that I could point to.

Day 5: Saying g'bye
Well because of my plans to head to Vancouver, I and Jamie decided to hop off the tour a day early so that we could catch the train from Jasper (the tour was heading back to Calgary the following day, and the train only runs 3 times a week).

But before we headed off I got to spend a nice relaxing day out to Maligne Lake, but instead of hiking around it we caught a boat ride out to 'Spirit Island', so named not because of the First Nations (known more commonly as the Native Indians), but because a famous photographer/painter (I'm not sure which) won a competion with a picture at this spot, and titled 'Spirit Island' when asked why? He responded "It captures the Spirit of the Rockies"... And so the island was named.

And that was goodbye for the Rockies and a cool bunch of people that I had the pleasure of meeting, and off to Vancouver and Vancouver Island to relax and enjoy before flying to the UK.


Sunday, August 08, 2004


Well when I got to Calgary and started chatting with the guy behind the desk at the HI, he highly recommended a very affordable and enjoyable way of seeing the Rockies: True North Tours

And I gotta say, it was well worth it! If you want a fun way of seeing the Rockies and actually getting out there to do some reasonable hikes (you can choose different levels), go with these guys!

The Group
Well what to say about the group? Other than that Joel (the guide) was a very excellent dude, who straight away got chatting about the dilemma of protecting the wilderness, and having a job bringing people into the wilderness (good luck on figuring that one out!) and the rest of the people made this a truely remarkable experience, thanks Jamie, Nick, Jess, Mette & Louise in particular!

Day 1: Lake Louise
Ok, I have no idea how to really describe the beauty of this place, it was absolutely gorgeous... Words really don't describe it.. So I'm going to pinch an image off one of those tourist sites:

After a short stroll around the lake, we got to sit back and enjoy a brewski in the Chateau bar, looking out the window at that wonderful view!

That night, I found that Glenfidich in Alberta only costs: $40-, but decided to split the cost of a Jameson's with Jamie instead...

Day 2: Marine Lake
The following day wanting to try a harder hike (rather than the flat stroll at Lake Louise) myself and a few of the others went on a 11 km hike up Larch Valley trail, for an increase of elevation of 520+ metres...

Not having as much energy as Jess (who's from the Swiss alps) I wasn't up for going the extra 200 metres elevation to the crossing over to Paradise Valley (aparently that's where some Grisly bears hang out...)

But I was glad of the time to just hang out, walk on some nearby ice and take some beautiful pictures of the sorrounding mountains, even got a nice closeup of a marmot crossing my path.... :-)

That night at a hostel that I've forgotten the name of, we got to have an ol' fashioned BBQ followed by Smores, and a jump into the hot tub... :-D Now that's the kind of roughing it I like!

Ok, I'm going to leave the rest for another post, I could write so much about each day, but trying to summarise and yet pass on the feeling of wonder for each day... That's hard to do... Suffice to say, I think I took well over a hundred photo's of the mountains we climbed or drove past.... :-)

Thanks Joel!

Rant about Broccoli

What is it about Broccoli in America?!?! This is something I've been meaning to get off my chest for quite a while so now is the chance..

The Size
Basically as far as I can tell the US has an obsession with everything BIG, with the exception of vegetables (I had to ask for more lettuce at Subway!)... Broccoli on the other hand seems to come under a rule of it's own. I actually saw several meals being served that had Broccoli on the plate, but was it a small portion nooo it was the whole bloody head, the size of the one you buy at the supermarket to last a family of 4 for several meals!!

Where no Broccoli has gone before and please let it never go again
I have seen broccoli in just about everything, but the number of pizza's (particularly in New York) was quite disturbing, seeing a lovely cheese coated salami pizza with Broccoli on it is just plain wrong!

A possible reason
I have brought this topic up with a few people in my travels with the obvious question of huh? being foremost in my mind... And this is so far the oddest (but strangely compelling) reason I have come across so far:

In a statement relatively early on his presidency George Bush (Sr) made a statement to the effect saying "I'm the president and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli" you can even purchase a GB doll that says exactly that!

So the theory goes that as a bit of a backlash against GB's dislike of the humble broccoli Americans start to add it to everything and (as only they know how to truly do well) eat it to excess... Luckily GB (jr) doesn't seem to mind these little vegetables...

If anyone has some odd/bizarre theories on the American obsession with Broccoli please post a comment...


Saturday, August 07, 2004


What to say about Calgary? Too be honest, not a fan of the place from a tourist perspective... There's a few things to see, but it just didn't grab me... Particularly as it's just not that friendly, though that could of been more the dodgy area of town that the Hostel is located in.

What to see?

  • Devonian gardens is a really surreal place as it's a garden with ponds, fish, tortoise and all the usual garden stuff 'cept it's on the 3rd floor of a massive shopping mall... Literally you've got the usual shopping mall music piping through the garden and through the glass walls you can see the shops right next to these plants... bizarre!
  • Prince's island nice little island that takes about 30 mins to walk around and admire, bit of nature amidst the concrete.
  • Kensington I didn't find this until very late in my stay, and if I'd rocked up here first I'd probably have a different opinion of Calgary, very funky area with lots of cool shops.

And that's it.

Only stay there the weekend, though I have heard that it's actually a really cool place to live there as the various communities are really nice, but as a tourist you don't get to see that...


Tall ships and friends

Well my last post was about Newfoundland, and what I got up to there, so this one should be about Halifax, eh? Excuse the ramble that shall no doubt be part of this post, am very tired and trying to stay awake (it's only 3pm), also Halifax seems sooo long ago... But here goes *shake* *shake*

The setting sun
After having a great time in Newfoundland it was time to leave St John, unfortunately the only bus from St John to Argentia (which is the ferry terminal, as in there is nothing else there) leaves at 5pm, and considering the ferry doesn't actually leave until 11:55pm that leaves an awful lot of time to watch the sun set, also a good chance to play around with all sorts of ways of taking photo's of said sun setting... ;-) I'll have to post some of them up (I think I took about 30)

Interesting characters
Aside from travelling back to Halifax with Gavin (who intends to find some work there) I got to meet a couple of interesting characters on the way down, one in particular standing out.. A certain young lass who I only chatted to for about 30mins (never found out her name), who it turns out had arrived in Nth Sydney to head to Louisburg because she is an Underwater Archaeologist a proffession I had never heard of till now... But makes perfect sense.

She did offer to give us a lift to Louisburg and was contemplating dropping us off in Halifax, 'cept I don't think she fully understood the geography of Nova Scotia:

  • Nth Sydney to Louisburg: 45 mins
  • Nth Sydney to Halifax: 5+ hrs

Fully appreciated the offer though!

Tall Ships
Well onto actual halifax, I was lucky enough to be in Halifax on the day the Tall ships started arriving, aparently it only happens every few years or so, and so it's quite a big event with lots of tourists rocking up, and plenty of opportunities for people to hope on these Tall ships from around the world... Was actually quite interesting, and I hope that the guy I met in Newfoundland who was heading to Halifax in order to stow away in a Tall ship made it. :-)

More people!
This re-visit of Halifax (even if the other one had been ultra brief) was highlighted by the cool people I met in the hostel, most of them through the lovely Annemarie who is planning on staying even longer in Halifax (good for you!) so a big Hi everyone! to all that I met in Halifax!


PS: Don't worry about going to the Citadel in Halifax, the one in Quebec City is much better!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

St John cont... (whales & mile 0)

Ok, to continue...

Other than the exciting time of Jen's b'day not much really happened on the Sunday as it was pouring down with rain, and most of the day was spent recovering, particularly by Dane and Marcus! ;-P

Wandering the town
Now on my last day after getting up quietly so as not to wake the still slumbering gang (who probably wouldn't of woken with a herd of elephants!) I started to wander St John on my last day, having a look at the:

  • mile 0 sign being the start of the Trans Canada Hwy
  • labrador and Newfoundland statues Didn't actually realise this is where those dogs have originated from..
  • the harbor admiring the harbor of St John, it is actually quite spectacular, and there's lots of signs about the history of the place along the waterfront.

Labrador & Newfoundland dogs

Signal Hill
This was all before starting my walk up the Battery (so named because there was a military batter for protecting the harbour), with a really nice hike up to Signal Hill a thouroughly cool place... Particularly as it was really misty and quite chilly... Added to the atmosphere.

Thoroughly beautiful place though!

While wandering along the path back down from Signal Hill, I kept hearing this Thump! ... Thump! coming out from the ocean, so at the next clearing I looked out to sea where I could see this foam as though something big had landed out there... And then what did I see? Two whales jumping up out of the water!! (I think they call it breaching) absolutely spectacular!! Went on for about 15 minutes! :-D

Not great resolution, but there's one jumping!

And that was the piece-de-la-resistance of my trip to Newfoundland... (by the way it's pronounced New-fen-land), fantastic place, the most friendly people I have ever met, and I wish I could spend longer there! One day I shall go back, and see if I can just spend a month or so making my way around the island... :-D

Now I am in Calgary and about to head on a Rockie adventure tour, so I may not get net access for about a week, in which case hopefully I'll be able to find another place (like here) where I can actually load some piccies up for everyone to see... (Big kudos to Dan for setting it up so I could load those up!)

Take care of yourselves everyone, and I hope you enjoyed this latest addition!


Ok, now to post a wee bit on the the Newfoundland trip... :-) Now that was a fun time!

The Ferry
For those who have been on ferries this part you can probably skip, me however I'd never really been on ferries before and so was actually quite enjoying the journey.. It's about 14hrs to go from North Sydney to Argentia (which is literally just the ferry station), followed by a 2hr shuttle ride to St John.

I was really surprised at how roomy and how much stuff was on the ferry, you don't need to get a cabin or bunk bed as the seats in the tv area recline and are actually quite cumfy, even if others found them not comfy enough to sleep on... They've got a decent-ish bar, games room, theatre, tv rooms, cafeteria, the works... :-) Finally got to see 'School of Rock' and some other movie I can't remember the title of (something about child-hood stars)

St John
Ok, this place is hilly! And considering that the hostel is up the top, and the shuttle drops us off down at the bottom, dang that was a walk! Added to the hostel is on Young St, which is not on the lonely planet map, and most of the locals don't know where it is... So after a long and sweaty uphill slog I and this other Aussie Marcus (that I met on the shuttle) made it to the hostel, and a needed shower, ahhh... :-)

The Gang
At the hostel I got to meet some great people who I proceeded to get into mishief with for the rest of my time in St John... They are:

  • Marcus A bit of a nutty Aussie I happened to run into on the shuttle.. Have you found that number yet?
  • Jen A full on party machine from Toronto, lots of fun though, particularly as it was her birthday over the weekend!
  • Dane A Canadian from Jasper who I'd previously met in Halifax. What were those girls name again?
  • Gavin Another Aussie from Brisbane who enjoyed a good drink and chatting up every female in uniform (not that I blame him, they seem to love the accent!) Hope you've found some work in Halifax

Cape Spear
Well on the first day in Newfoundland after that refreshing shower, we (being the gang 'cept for Dane), were able to talk Bill (the Newfie manager of the hostel, and a great guy) into driving us down to Cape Spear and showing us a bit of the local area... Now Cape Spear for those who don't know is the most easterly point of Nth America, and has one of the oldest lighthouses in Nth America (may even be the oldest..), it's also a great look-out point with some spectacular views! Jen tells us she even got to see some whales off the coast, but I saw none... :-(

Well I'll only mention this the once, but let's say the locals and us (being the gang) did enjoy to partake in the amber liquid, and we did... frequently... and at length... ;-) And much merriness was had by all! :-)

Ok, given the length of this post, I'm going to continue Newfoundland on another post... Where one of my personal highlights (a whale sighting) occurred, I'll also see if I can get a piccy up!