October 29, 2007 | Tips from Travellers >
Mackenzie, Bear Watching
I sit in the passenger seat of our comfortable rental vehicle as my colleague drives along a bumpy back road in Mackenzie. The late afternoon light is turning the leaves a brilliant golden colour and I feel the crisp autumn air as I step outside. I haven't seen fall colours like this since growing up in Ontario. The sound of crunching leaves under my feet takes me right back to being a child and the thrill of jumping in newly-raked leaf piles. We have arrived at Alexander Mackenzie's Landing: a spot where in 1793 Scottish fur trader Alexander Mackenzie along with French- Canadian voyageurs passed by en route to the Pacific Ocean. The first thing I notice is the silence. Just last week I was in Bangkok (not well known for its silence!) and now I stand before a crystal clear lake surrounded by forest and hopefully a wild animal or two. This morning I caught a 9am flight out of Vancouver and was having lunch in Mackenzie by 1pm, after an easy drive from Prince George. On the highway, my eyes scoured the roadside lakes and marshes for the rack of a bull moose, but I had no luck.
I am in town for a planning session with tourism stakeholders and I find out when I arrive at the meeting that one of the participants saw MY moose just yesterday while he spent the spectacularly sunny day fishing at a nearby lake. We set our next meeting for November and I am keen to return and see the very deep snow that this part of the world is known for. Maybe I will even find myself on the back of a snowmobile for the first time…
The day of our meeting is filled with blue sky and brisk temperatures. After we wrap up, we jump into the car again, crank the heat and head out of town. My eyes again search the roadside for signs of anything wild. I am rewarded with a mama bear and two cubs! This is my first bear cub sighting and I am absolutely thrilled. I am sure the locals driving by smile to themselves as the city slickers in the rental vehicle sit in awe of something that residents in Mackenzie see on a regular basis.
October 28, 2007 | Tips from Travellers >
Last night I stayed at the renowned Fairmont Empress Hotel, in Victoria BC. I have never experienced a more comfortable bed. The pillows were perfect. The service was second to none. We had our breakfast served in our room. Both the young lady that delivered and the one that took it away again, were both extremely curteous. Everything about our stay was five stars out of five stars!!!
October 27, 2007 | Tips from Travellers >
North Vancouver, Train
View a larger image on flickr.com
This train ride was one of the most memorable of our visits to B.C.
Starting off in the railroad yard just out of Vancouver, early one morning my wife and myself were to start a journey paid for by our son / daughter and partners.
We had been in Vancouver for two weeks holiday last year (2006) enjoyed every minute, seen a lot of the surrounding areas and the great city.
Now we are waiting to board this special train for a ride along the coast and then following the sea to sky highway towards Whistler.
Two engines arrived pulling carriages which included the observation car,we were entertained by the train staff to a song and a wave goodbye, we then boarded and found our seats, very comfortable with a table.
Out of the railyard the train pulled, with a wave goodbye from the staff. We then made our way slowly along the twisting railway through the built up areas of North Vancouver, waving to the occupants sitting on there balconys having breakfast.
We were served breakfast at our table,which was very enjoyable. Now i was ready to find the open observation car, with my camera set ready to get some shots.
The scenery was great as we had the road on one side and the sea on the other, the train was only travelling slowly so it gave a good chance to take some great photos, you were told when you are going to come across a place of interest and the train would come to a virtual walking pace.
Watch out for Howe Sound,Brittania Mine,Shannon Falls, Squamish and then Brackendale and its Bald Eagle population. This open observation car is ideal for those of you who have a camera. The train now heads into the backwoods climbing almost 2,000ft through the coastal mountains and heads over a trestle bridge, the train stops and all staff appear on the outside of the two engines for a photo call!!! all above the rapids below.
Off we go again with Mount Garabaldi in the distance and approaching Brandywine Falls the train slows again for photos.The scenery is spectacular in every way you look and this is scenery you would not see from a road trip to Whistler.
We arrive at Whistler having been aboard this spectactular train for about three hours, it all went to quickly for my wife and myself,this was by far the best morning we had spent in Vancouver, and one of the most memorable we have spent in over ten years visiting B.C
We would reccomend it to everyone if they get the chance to visit North Vancouver.
Regards Mac and Chris.