Whistler to Vancouver and Home
July 7 - 9, 2019
We left Whistler in the rain. In fact, it rained all the way to Vancouver, in varying degrees. Our guide was kind and didn’t keep pointing out the beautiful scenes we could not see along this “Sea to Sky Highway.” We did make a quick stop at the Shannon Falls for a look at this lovely large falls. We could not see to the top because it was in the clouds that surrounded us.
When we got to Vancouver we crossed the Lion’s Gate Bridge over to Stanley park. It is almost an island and in 1889 it was dedicated by Lord Stanley for the “use and enjoyment of all people of all colors, creeds and customs for all time.” It is a dense forest with many huge trees, walking paths, and beautiful beaches. After circumventing the island, and stopping at a couple of view points, including the totem poles, we crossed over to downtown Vancouver to have lunch at an old brewery in the Gastown section of the city. By the time we arrived at our rooms in the Rosedale Suites Hotel it was late afternoon and we were tired. Since there was a restaurant connected to the hotel, we just went there for something light for dinner.
Our one day in Vancouver included a couple of events. First we visited and had a tour of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The docent explained how this garden was in the style of the 15th-century Ming Dynasty and was built by Chinese residents from a certain city in China. They donated all of the materials so the garden is very authentic.
The second stop was to visit Granville Island and the Public Market. There were many small stalls with people selling all kinds of cooked food, so it was not difficult to find something to eat for lunch. The place was very crowded with all tables occupied , so we ate outside on the dock. It was a beautiful day and NOT raining, for a change. With bellies full, we wandered around more of the the market and some of the small shops on the island. One in particular caught our attention. It was the Granville Island Broom Co. It appears to be a family affair, and they make brooms right there on site using some very old equipment. The brooms are beautifully done with unique wooden handles. Some of the wood comes from Arizona, even.
While we were on the island, one of our group had some medical issues that needed to be evaluated, so he was taken via ambulance to the hospital. We learned that they did a number of tests and kept him over night. When we left Vancouver we had not heard any final results. His wife is with him. They are learning first hand how slowly the medial system works in Canada. From our experiences in both New Brunswick last year and Alberta this trip, each province can work very differently. The goal was to get him to a point where he can fly home for any treatment he needs.
We were scheduled to take a ferry from Granville Island back to the city, but our guide needed to spend the time she would have used to buy our tickets taking care of the medical issue. Hence there was no space left for us. So, our driver, John, had to drive all the way back to pick us up.
The rest of the day was spent confirming travel arrangements home and packing. I personally had decided to use the “cube” system of packing, so my clothes never got all messed up in the suitcase. In fact, because it was so cool/cold and rainy, I only used about half of what I took, so packing was not a problem.
The “Farewell” Dinner was in a restaurant a short bus ride away. We had pre-ordered what we wanted from a list of options, so serving us was easy. Paul and I had both ordered the steak and it was good.
“Goodbye” is alway hard to say, but we had to say it either there at the dinner or the next morning at breakfast. Some in our group were going on the “Post Trip” over to Victoria and our guide, Janine, was taking them. Arrangements had been made to get the rest of us to the airport on Tuesday. Taxis had been ordered for groups of us departing at about the same time. We left the hotel before 10:00, sharing a cab with two others, which gave us a little more time to visit.
This is when we are very thankful to have Global Entry Passes. Going through the security was not a problem, other than I get the full pat down because of my pacemaker. I can’t do the magnetic screening. In Vancouver you go through all of the Customs and Immigration before leaving for the United States. This is where the Global Entry Pass is so valuable. There was no line, just a kiosk where they scan your passport and fingerprints and take your picture. You just have to hand your receipt that the machine spits out to the agent and you are done. There was time to grab sandwiches for lunch. Our flight to Portland on Alaska was on time and only took about an hour. The plane was a little prop-jet, and our seats were in row 20; the very last row.
When we arrived in Portland it was just starting to sprinkle. We are happy to be picked up at the airport by a relative and were home by about 3:45. By then it was raining, and continued into Wednesday. We were able to visit with neighbors who were in the condo gazebo enjoying the new fire pit. Paul’s cold had gotten worse the last few days on the trip. We hope that being home and able to rest longer will take care of that problem soon.
It was a great trip with a very nice group of people and an excellent guide and driver. The weather was nice for the important Rockies portion so we got to see mountains and lakes like we wanted to. Including the pre-trip to Yellowstone we have been gone about 20 days. Now comes the hard part, editing photos. I came home with about 1500 on my big camera and I haven’t counted how many photos and videos I took on my iPhone. Lightroom, Photos and iMovie will be my friends for some time now.
This ends the narration of our Grand Circle Travel trip titled: “Best of the Canadian Rockies: Calgary to Vancouver” with the pre-trip to Yellowstone, in June/July 2019.
Check back sometime in the late fall when I hope to be able to add Ireland to the blog.
Grace and Paul
PS: I will be putting the best of my photos in the “Photo Gallery” under Canada as soon as I get them edited.
Click on the pictures and they will get bigger.
Kamloops and Whistler
July 4 - 6, 2019
We left Jasper on the 4th of July headed for Kamloops. Right away we began celebrating our Independence Day by singing a bunch of patriotic songs, lead by one of our tour members. Not far down the road it was time to turn our watches back and hour as we passed into the Pacific time zone. We stopped at a cafe where we packed our own sack lunches. They had a selection of drinks, sandwiches, salads, and deserts from which we could choose.
About 11:00 we stopped in the small town of Valemount where we listened to a presentation about Salmon and their life span, their different types, and their importance to British Columbia. After the talk we ate our sack lunches before getting back on the bus. It became obvious that we were out of the Rockies as we approached Kamloops. We arrived late in the evening but we had a pre-ordered dinner in the hotel. Kamloops is the tournament capital of Canada for many sports. We were in cattle country, cattle being the leading industry. It is also known for pulp and paper, and education. There is an International University that specializes in nursing.
On July 5 we left Kamloops for the very windy drive to Whistler. Along the way we have learned about controversial topics faced by Canadians. We met one head on that morning when we made a visit to the Kamloops Indian Residential School. It was created in 1893 and ran until 1977 with a goal to “Christianity and civilize” the native Secwepemc population. These First Nation children were removed from their families and placed in the school where they were punished if they tried to speak their native language or practice any of their tribal customs. The lady who told us about this school had been a resident there herself. This practice was a deep dark secret, unknown to the other residents of the town. Needless to say, it had a very traumatic effect on these children, lasting into their adult lives. It took a long time, but eventually the Canadian government somewhat apologized for the atrocity. We also learned more about the First Nations current challenges and those they face in the future. In ways they live in two different worlds.
We made a number of timely rest stops along the way to stretch our legs and use the “washrooms.” A little before noon we stopped in the town of Lillooet where we visited the Hat Creek Ranch. This is a restaurant, but also a place where they put on a fun show. We sat on bleachers around a wood floor, under a tin roof. A lady “cowboy” rode up on a horse drawn stagecoach and jumped out to give us a performance. She set about showing us how ladies dressed at the time of the gold rush. She dropped her accent, pistol, chaps, cowboy boots, and cowboy shirt. This left her in bloomers, chemise and a corset. She explained the difference between bloomers, pantaloons and drawers. She then put on a bustle, skirt, top and gloves to become a proper lady of the time. By then it was time to have lunch. We had pre-ordered from a few choices. I had a grilled chicken sandwich and Paul had a beef hamburger.
The very windy part of the drive was after lunch. There were a number of interesting things to look at. Our guide had asked me to give my “Smartphone” Photography talk. She really wanted me to give it, and thought it might be a diversion for the group as the road was curvy. I knelt on the front seat so I could show what I was doing, while Janine, our guide, held the microphone for me. I’m not really sure how long I took, but there were a number of the group who were following along and testing the things I talked about. There was no way for me to show my example photos, but it worked when I presented to the Yellowstone group on the bus, and again with this one. Afterwards I received a number of compliments and “Thank You’s” for sharing. The road got really curvy as we came down from the pass, and we negotiated a number of hairpin turns. We all cheered as John, our driver, brought us down to the flat land.
We arrived in Whistler in late afternoon. It was somewhat comical when our group filled both elevators in the Delta Hotel and kept going up and back down and couldn’t get the doors to open on any of the floors. What they eventually learned was that you had to put your room key into the elevator console to make it then open the door. It is a security thing. We went out to grab some dinner and turned in early. It had been a very long driving day.
July 6 was spent in Whistler. The weather hasn’t gotten any better. It goes from sprinkle to downright raining throughout most of the day. In the morning we walked to the Upper Village section to visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center. It was a beautiful building and several guides showed us around and explained to us the various exhibits depicting the two different First Nations people who had agreed to share the land in the area.
The afternoon and evening were on our own, to explore Whistler Village. At one location they had converted ski lifts to bicycle lifts that would alternate with bikes and people going to the top. The bikers were decked out in all kinds of protective gear for the challenging ride down the mountain. We had lunch at a restaurant where we could watch the riders come down the final run to the base. It was raining quite hard all afternoon and evening, which didn’t make it very inviting to do much walking around, but we did some, then got packed ready to leave in the morning for Vancouver, BC.
Vancouver is next. Still having a good time with a good bunch of fellow travelers.
Icefields Parkway and Jasper
Banff and Surrounding Areas
Grace and Paul Pitzer are retired school teachers who love to travel and share their stories and photos with others.
Grace and Paul Pitzer
We hope you will keep checking back regularly to see what is new. I'm always out and about with some camera and love to stretch my skills and add to my volume of work.
Motto: "Pack light and take lots of pictures."