August 31, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Find more information about Victoria - Fishing
I have compiled this random list of what I think are the best things to do on Vancouver Island (mainly in the summer months).
10. Go Fishing:
There are so many fishing hot spots off of Vancouver Island it's
amazing, so many choices of location (Port Alberni, Campbell River,
Sooke, Port Hardy, etc) and so many choices of fish! (salmon, trout,
9. Nanaimo's International World Championship Bathtub Race: This occurs near the end of July and is one of the biggest events of the year for Nanaimo.
8. Vancouver Island MusicFest: This happens July 10-12 in the Comox Valley, the organizers try to keep
it as green as possible, local food, recyclable products, etc! 3 days
of great music!
7. Saratoga Speedway: Located halfway between Campbell River and Courtenay, drag racing,
monster trucks and modified stock cars will keep everyone entertained!
6. West Coast Trail: This 75km hike that stretches in between Gordon River and Pachena Bay
is a popular one, reservations required! Experience the natural world of
5. Strathcona: This is BC's oldest provincial park and the location of Vancouver
Island's highest mountain. Plenty of hiking, mountain biking and camping
can be done.
Lake Cowichan, Port Alberni, Goldstream, and Tofino are some popular
camping areas, but any community on the island is campable! (is that
even a word?)
3. The Beach: There are many beaches but the most popular ones would probably be Parksville, Rathtrevor, Long Beach and Pachena Bay.
2. The River:
River swimming is very popular on Vancouver Island. Sooke Pot holes,
Nanaimo River, Nimpkish, and Englishman River are some good areas to
1. Long Beach, Tofino:
With a population of about 1900 (this triples in the summer), Tofino is
the place for surfing, classy resorts/spas, amazing beaches, fishing
and the true West Coast.
Did I miss anything?
August 30, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Richmond, Historic & Heritage Sites
Find more information about Richmond - Historic & Heritage Sites
It’s 30+ degrees on a sunny Saturday afternoon- what to do? In my case, I headed down to the Steveston Wharf to check out the bustling activity and meet a few of the fishermen that frequent the docks. I’ve done a fair amount of video on Steveston before, and I’ve even mentioned the wharf a couple of times—however, today I wanted to show you in much greater detail what is in my opinion the heart and essence of this quaint little fishing village.
Every weekend the docks absolutely come alive with activity. Why is this? It’s because this is when all of the fishing boats return with their delicious wares on full display for everyone to see and buy. It’s a lot of fun heading down there, regardless of whether you’re buying seafood or not, to see the beehive of activity. There are always shoulder-to-shoulder people strolling the boardwalk, checking out wares on the wharf, relaxing in small waterfront cafes, and eating delicious ice cream everywhere you look. This is the main appeal of the wharf area of Steveston and why so many people come to visit it every weekend.
While I was there I met up with Fisherman Joe and his son Chad. Fisherman Joe is a local fisherman, a regular on the docks, and without question owns one of the busiest stalls on the entire wharf! The pair has been selling fish for about 25 years now and is very well known on the docks! This particular day he was selling halibut and lingcod. I had a chance to talk to him and his son about their lives working out of Steveston. They typically do most of their fishing in the Queen Charlotte Sound and bring back lots of fish every trip, often times sold out before they even reach the harbour. Yes, that’s how popular Fisherman Joes fish is! My parents have bought off of him for years now and we are always notified by telephone before he comes in. I’ve had more than one plate of delicious halibut from Fisherman Joe!
If you’d like to check out Fisherman Joe yourself, their season typically runs from April to September. Their last trip this year will be September 1st!
If you’re a seafood fan, the Steveston wharf has an incredible selection of goods. There are ton of vendors there offering everything from fresh prawns, salmon, halibut, lingcod, to even sea urchins! (and much more… this is just what I saw in my brief time there today!)
The Steveston wharf is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon in Richmond! You’ll meet all sorts of interesting people down there as well as experience a multitude of sights, smells and sounds! Fresh seafood! Yum! Get out there this summer and enjoy it!
August 29, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Salmon Arm, Kayaking & Canoeing
Kayak trip to the bay of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada.
The bird sanctuary along the bay's shore offers protection for many bird species. Raptors, especially eagles and ospreys are often spotted fishing on the water or nesting on poles or navigational marine installations.
August 26, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort Nelson, Sightseeing Tours
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On our last day in the Stone Mountain area my friend and I did some adventuring off the highway. We went by quad into what is called Moose Lake to do some fishing. In less then an hour we caught three fish. Just some small Dolly Varden, none the less it was exciting. It was my first catch of the summer! We then ventured on up to a creek he referred to as 'Sheep Creek,' who knows what it's really called. We continued through the rock cut, it was spectacular. Sun shining, water flowing, just an all around gorgeous day.
On the way back out my friend pointed out a very old native grave yard, he said it was a resting place for some people who lived in the Wokpash many years ago. It was hard to even notice it as it was on top of a large hill, and you could really only see a few crosses poking out of the hillside.
We ripped along the trails and creek beds, and in the mid-afternoon came about ten feet away from a deer. It was so neat to be up close, kind of scary but I felt fairly safe on a quad.
I took lots of photos of the beautiful wilderness. Being out in these kind of places is such a nice change of scenery. It's especially nice when the weather is good. Exploring by quad made it even more fun, since it allows you to go some places that would otherwise be difficult.
We ended off our day with dinner at the Toad River Lodge, which has always proved to serve delicious home style meals.
This great adventure was only a couple hours up the highway from town, it still amazes me every time I head up that way the grand "back yard" that is available to me.
August 25, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort Nelson, Hiking
Find more information about Fort Nelson - Hiking
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Sikanni River falls is a beautiful little hike that can help break up the long drive from Fort Nelson to Fort St. John. The turn-off to these falls is located about 183km south of Fort Nelson, 15km before the campground on the Sikanni river.
The turn off may look like a generic gravel trucker road, but after turning down it you will start to see signs pointing to the trail head. I chose to drive it after it had rained for about three days so there were some wet sections that some smaller vehicles might have trouble with. I would advise driving in a larger truck or SUV if it has been rainy, or just waiting for a dry day.
After the 17km drive down the road you will get to the parking lot for the falls. As you begin the short 1.5km hike to the falls you go down through the forest and come out to a 3 way fork in the trail. Going straight will take you down to the base of the falls, while going left or right will take you up on the rock beside the falls which provides the perfect opportunity for pictures showing the height of these falls.
The falls are a very nice little stop along this stretch of the Alaska Highway, but as with all hiking trails in this area, keep in mind that you could always run into some sort of wild animal. Make sure to prepare accordingly whether that means bringing your dog along with you, having noise makers like Bear Bells, or a can of Bear Spray.
August 24, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort Nelson, Accommodation
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During the end of July I went up to the Stone Mountain Safaris Lodge for an overnight trip with a friend. This was the first time I'd stayed there, however I had been to the Lodge in May just to stop in and see it. Being a counsellor at the Fort Nelson Visitor Information Centre, our boss thought it was a place we should be familiar with and I completely agree. It is such a wonderful place. The B&B should stand for beautiful & bliss instead.
Leif & Kellie Olsen along with their two charming young children Madison and Bryce run the place. They are excellent hosts, and Kellie is a fabulous cook. Breakfast is included in your stay and lunch and dinner are available upon request.
Their place is located just 6 miles north of the Toad River Lodge, you turn to your right off the highway at the sign and drive another 3.5 miles in.
During our stay we took in the wonderful surroundings and explored the area on a quad we brought up ourselves. We went up the Nonda Creek Radio Tour Road which has amazing views from the top. Approximately 26km in one way. We did this little excursion right after we arrived. When we got back to the house a bit late, Kellie along with some of their other workers were nestled into the living room watching a movie. They were so open and inviting, she pulled us up some chairs, got us a bag of popcorn and told us to relax and watch with them if we so pleased.
As already mentioned Kellie is an awesome cook, we had a delicious breakfast ready for us in the morning. As we were only able to stay for one night we headed out shortly after breakfast to do some more quadding and fishing. But I can't praise enough how delightful the Olsen family's hospitality was. I highly recommend spending a night or more there. You do have to have a reservation to stay there, if you're interested, which how could you not be after reading this, give them a call at 1-250-232-5469.
Please also note that although I am giving a great review of the Stone Mountain Safaris Lodge, there are also other options for you to stay at along this stretch of road. All of which are great accommodations! If you have the time check out as many as you can, and explore each unique section of the Alaska Highway.
..Photo credit goes to my fellow co-worker: Laurisha Bardal, this snap shot is of the front entry of the Lodge. Gorgeous.
August 24, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort Nelson, Camping
Find more information about Fort Nelson - Camping
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As an intro to my blogs to come on staying up the highway at Stone Mountain Safaris, I thought I would throw together a little pre-trip guide to getting everything you need for camping from the town of Fort Nelson.
So let's start with hunting & fishing licenses, available at both local sporting stores, C.M.P Sports and Wapiti Sporting Goods. C.M.P is on the far side of town as you come in from the Fort St. John end off to the left hand side on the frontage road, right next to the Shannon Motel. Wapiti is in the Fort Hotel Plaza on the corner of 50th Ave N (the frontage road on the right hand side) and 51st Street. Fishing licenses can be bought for 1 day, 8 days, or 1 year. Also note that the prices are different for B.C Residents then International Visitors. Both places carry fishing tackle, line, rods, anything you need for a fishing adventure. For bear safety, you can also pick up bear spray at either location.
Next up food, stock up on groceries at one of the two supermarkets in town, IGA or Overwaitea. Overwaitea is located on airport drive and IGA is just off to your left on the frontage road once again if your coming from the Fort St. John end. There is also quite a few restaurants, mostly located along both sides of the highway on the frontage roads. I always like to grab Subway on my way out of town.
You will want to fill up your mode of transportation here with gas or diesel as prices will, if you can believe it, increase further. There are 5 fuel stations located along the two frontage roads that follow the highway through town. They are Petro Canada, Fort Nelson Husky, Shell Service Station, Fas Gas, and UFA. All rates are fairly similar as we are a small, isolated town. Any prices too significantly cheaper would run all the other stations out of business.
For people with trailers or motorhomes, free Sani-dump and fresh water fill up are available at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.
If you want to have some cash on hand when you head out on the highway, stop at one of our three banks: C.I.B.C, Scotia Bank, or North Peace Savings & Credit Union. The Credit Union has a drive through ATM and is located just down the road from the Visitor Information Centre.
Obviously I haven’t covered every single thing you need for a camping trip but definitely touched on some necessities. Always remember warm clothes and rain gear, being cold and wet in the outdoors can be miserable. My mom always says dress with lots of layers, since it is much easier to pull clothes off when your hot and not so easy to put clothes on you don’t have when your cold. Be prepared for the unexpected everyone and most of all enjoy the great outdoors!
August 23, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Richmond, Bird Watching
Find more information about Richmond - Bird Watching
Richmond is host to a number of very cool events each year. When I heard that the 4th annual Raptor Festival was to be held in Terra Nova Park, I immediately made plans to go check it out.
A raptor festival? What the heck is that? Raptors are the broad term for ‘birds of prey’. This is a one day event where the public can get up close and personal with eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, owls, and many other predatory birds. They have educational displays, talks, and even live shows where you can see the birds in action. Very cool!
When I arrived I met up with one of the handlers, Robyn, and she introduced me to her harris hawk ‘Tuari’. Tuari was a beautiful bird and was very happy posing for my camera. I learned that harris hawks are considered ‘social birds’ as they hunt and travel in packs. They are referred to as the ‘wolves of the sky’ because of their pack mentality and teamwork in taking down prey. Known for being exceptionally intelligent, they have been traditionally used to help in places like landfills, airports and vineyards to deter problem birds.
Harris hawks are not native to BC; they are found around the South Western United States, especially Texas and Arizona. Our particular bird, Tuari, was three years old and expected to live to around thirty. Birds in captivity generally live a lot longer than birds in the wild as their food and shelter is provided for them. As Robyn joked, it’s like they are at the ‘Raptor Resort’. When asked why they don’t just take off and fly away when released, she stated that the birds realize the lifestyle they’ve been given and enjoy the perks. Would you leave an all-inclusive resort with free food? Neither would the hawks!
I was eager to see Tuari ‘in action’ and I soon got my chance! She put on a great show swooping over the crowd, soaring around the sky, and gliding in between Robyn and another handler. We saw several other birds during the show too, all of which entertained the excited crowd garnering loud applauses for their spectacular displays.
If you’ve never seen a birds of prey show before, I can’t recommend them enough. They’re entertaining, unique, and a fabulous way to spend an afternoon! Definitely keep an eye out for them when they return to Richmond!
August 22, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort St. John, Dining
Find more information about Fort St. John - Dining
Arrived in the morning we stopped at first at the Tourist Info to get the sticker for our BC Parks Booklet. Further we got information for fuel prices and some internet cafes. The handed brochure is great. Loads of useful information in a modern style. We saw a lot of brochures, but this one is one of the best with Salmon Arm and Grand Prairie. Unfortunately Grand Prairie couldn't proof all the nice infos in the brochures. We were totally unhappy there. The better we feel now in the Whole wheat and honey cafe at the city center of FSJ with a Mint Brownie and a small double shoot Latte. Yummie...
August 20, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort Nelson, Guide Outfitting
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The rest of our evening at the Northern Rockies Lodge was spectacular; we walked up and down the shore, watching little birds hop along. We saw animals, across the lake on the far shore. The smells of campfire, pine trees and the lake are something only believed once you experience it yourself.
Among all the great things that the Northern Rockies Lodge offers, they also offer some very cool tours, including Flight seeing Tours; Fly in fishing trips, Outpost Cabins, and the Nahanni National Park Flight seeing tour. They always have daily deals on seats for the Local flight seeing tours and also have Hotel/Flight deals offered to anyone coming to spend a few days at the lodge.
The Nahanni National Park is Canada’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is located in the Northwest Territories. They offer reasonable group rates on all flights, and also offer guided tours for those wanting the full experience.
These tours are perfect for anyone who wants to experience the untouched beauty of Canada’s North. The staff at the Northern Rockies Lodge are helpful, kind and always accommodating.
Muncho Lake is a perfect stop on your Alaska Highway adventure because; there are so many options for adventure for all age groups. There is hiking, great fishing, five accommodation choices and so many places to explore.
Reluctantly we packed up our truck and hit the highway once more, we stopped at Toad River Lodge again and enjoyed some home made cream of broccoli soup and home made bread straight from the oven.
We also stopped at the Erosion Pillars and did the short 1km hike to them, they were spectacular and beautiful. A great way to stretch your legs on the long journey, they are located 149 kms north of Fort Nelson, BC.
Although we only had the chance to explore a small piece of the vast Alaska Highway, we had a great time. Leaving us with only a hunger to explore more of it!