If you are familiar with the West Coast and specifically Vancouver Island, you know that there are only three ways in which to leave. You can fly, take one of the ferries or if you have very strong arms you could swim…just kidding of course.
As my visit in Nanaimo and the surrounding area concluded, I made my way down island to Victoria in order to continue the next leg of my journey on “The Big Ride”. The ferry that I decided to take sailed to Port Angeles, Washington three times daily. To take advantage of leaving on an early ferry it meant spending a day in Victoria and taking in the local sights. I know it’s hard to take!
For those of you who might not be familiar with the city of Victoria, it was established in the early 1840’s and it is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. It was settled by the British and is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. When news of the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland reached San Francisco in 1858, Victoria became the port, supply base and centre for miners on their way to Barkerville, BC and other Fraser Canyon gold fields. Victoria mushroomed from a population of 300 to over 5000 literally within a few days. Victoria also has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s. Much like Victoria, its Chinatown had its beginning with the mass influx of gold miners from California. The historic city of Victoria, which is also the capital city of British Columbia, has retained many of its period buildings. Two worth mentioning are the British Columbia Legislature Building and of course the Empress Hotel – a Fairmont classic.
There are a number of interesting ways to tour the city including double decker buses, water taxis and harbour tours. I chose the latter as it provided an excellent way to see the Inner Harbour and the Gorge. An excellent choice as it provided me with a new perspective of this elegant city.
Here are a few photos of my short visit to Victoria located at the southern most point on the Island.
At the Empress Hotel – A Fairmont Classic
There are numerous other historic buildings in the city that are rich in architectural design. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Here are a few other photographs that I hope you enjoy from what was a short but very enjoyable visit to Victoria, BC.
For the next leg of my journey I’ll be returning to the United States to tour the west coast of Washington, Oregon and California before starting to make my way east towards home. I hope you’ll be joining me for the rest of this incredible trip.
My visit to British Columbia wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Vancouver Island where I lived for a decade before moving to Ottawa. If you have been to the Island you will be familiar with with eagles that soar high above the majestic Douglas Fir trees, the fresh scent of the cedar trees that lingers in the air and the sound of the sea as it washes against the shoreline. Regardless of the season, Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to visit and my return home to the west coast this summer was no exception.
For me, being on the Island was about taking the time to reconnect with old friends and former colleagues. It was wonderful being back, enjoying walks on the beach, time spent at the Nanaimo Harbour and walking on the seawall, enjoying good food at some of my favourite restaurants and most of all sharing time with friends new and old. The challenge of course was trying to fit it all. My good friend Sue graciously allowed me to stay with her, using her place as my home-base during my visit. Thank you Sue for your wonderful hospitality!
I also got in some great riding, including a day out on the road with Barry Switnicki. Barry is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a senior trainer and mentor coach with Ericksons International, the college where I acquired my coach training. Barry was one of my “distant” mentor coaches and although I had connected with him by telephone on a number of occasions I had not met him in person. Barry lives in Nanaimo where he has a thriving coaching business, Pacific Change Mentors, and he enjoys motorcycling! Barry suggested we connect for a motorcycle ride when I got to the Island, an offer I just couldn’t refuse – Barry, thank you for the awesome day out on the road!
The ride took us through Cathedral Grove – a majestic stand of old growth trees, located west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4. If you’ve not visited Vancouver Island or taken the time to walk through Cathedral Grove, it’s a must do!
The forest is composed mostly of mature Douglas fir trees and ancient western red cedar. The trees are 300 to 400 years old, but some go as far back as 800 years. These older trees stand like giants with some reaching 250 feet high and trunks that measure over 30 feet in circumference. The grove of trees is one of the last stands of old growth on the Island and are survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago. The Park is protected from logging and has a wooden walkway through parts of the forest allowing visitors to experience its majesty!
Here are a few photos from my visit to the Island, along with with a short video of the ride.
A few photos from the Ladysmith area
My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂
When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.
And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,
And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.
From here I was Victoria bound where I spent an incredible day enjoying the sights of this historic city prior to boarding the ferry for the State of Washington. Stay tuned for my post that will include a few photos from the area. Until then, enjoy the moment…there will never be another like it!
In the past two months I have had the opportunity to ride in some pretty amazing places. Building the Duffey Lake Road into my itinerary allowed me to do it yet again and this time in my own backyard. While living in British Columbia I had taken this road in the early 1990’s but had forgotten how spectacular it was. This is not a road for new motorcycle riders and I would not recommend it to just anyone but if you are an experienced rider and happen to live in the area or plan on being in the area, I would encourage you to check it out. If you’re not a motorcyclist it would be a pretty darned good ride in a car as well. This really is one amazing ride and I’d bet that when you’re done you’ll agree with me!
If you aren’t familiar with the road, Highway 99 connects central British Columbia with the southern part of the province and is made up of a number of sections including the “Sea to Sky Highway” which is the southern section from Horseshoe Bay (where the ferry to Nanaimo is located) to Pemberton. The highway travels along the coast of Howe Sound to Squamish and on to Whistler. From there it goes to Pemberton where the Sea-to-Sky Highway ends and Duffey Lake Road begins. This section goes on for almost 100 winding kilometres in very steep mountains where it connects with Lillooet. In my view it is the most breathtaking section! Not only is it very challenging with the speed limit dropping as low as 30 km per hour due to the tight curves, it twists through some of the most pristine countryside you will ever see. The highway runs through the Duffey Lake Provincial Park, alongside numerous lakes, streams and waterfalls. From there the road connects Lillooet with central British Columbia near Cache Creek just south of Clinton.
Here is a video of my what I experienced on the ride. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
In addition to the video, here are a few photos from my ride from Clinton, BC to Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry over to Nanaimo to spend a few days connecting with friends in Nanaimo and the surrounding area.
These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.
The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC
To close this blog, here are a few photos taken while in Horseshoe Bay as I headed over to Vancouver Island to reconnect with friends. I spent ten years on the Island before moving to Ottawa so in many respects it felt as if I was “homeward bound”.
While on Vancouver Island I had the opportunity to do some great riding. When I have the video ready for posting I’ll share it with you! Until then, live life out load and laugh a lot!
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted so in the next few days I’ll be bring you up to date on my travels over the past week. I’ve found it difficult to find the time to blog while passing through Beautiful British Columbia as not only has there been a lot to see and take in, it’s been a time that has been spent reconnecting with family and friends.
When I left Edmonton, Alberta, I headed west towards Prince George BC to connect with my longtime friends Lynn and Ron Wahl who go back a very long way. It was an exceptional visit which included reconnecting with their three boys Darren, Brad and Brent. It had been 15 years since I had seen Ron and Lynn and even longer with the boys. What an awesome time that was!
From there I stopped off in Barkerville, BC which is about an hour south of Prince George and east of Quesnel through the Cariboo Mountains. I had visited the historical “gold mining” town of Barkerville as a child. To my amazement it has grown considerably since then and was well worth the visit. If you add it to your bucket list I’d suggest taking two days to go through the town as I wasn’t able to fit it all in.
It’s hard to believe but Barkerville was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago and was named after Billy Barker who was among those who first struck gold there in 1861. Barkerville became a boom town and grew overnight when others heard about Billy Barker striking it rich. His claim would eventually yield 37,500 ounces of gold. Now that’s striking it rich!
Before the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road, people hauled their own supplies to Barkerville, either on their backs or by pack trains. Because supplies were scarce, the prices of everyday items were extremely high. An example of this was butter being sold at $5 a pound – roughly the same price you’d pay today. In an effort to feed those who came to Barkerville cattle were driven north up the Okanagan valley via what is now Highway 97 into Canada to provide meat for the miners and its residents.
In the beginning the town consisted of makeshift cabins and tents. By the mid-1860s, however, Barkerville had a population of approximately 5,000. Even though its population was transient and largely dependent on mining, Barkerville was becoming less of a service town and more of a real community. It had several general stores and boarding houses, a drugstore that also sold newspapers and cigars, a barbershop that cut women’s as well as men’s hair, the “Wake-Up Jake Restaurant and Coffee Salon” and Theatre Royal where live shows are still performed today.
Here are a few photographs from the historic little “gold mining” town of Barkerville.
From here, I made my way towards the west coast of British Columbia by way of the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway. It twists its way through Lillooet, the spectacular Duffy Lake Park and Reserve and beyond, winding its way through Whistler, Squamish and of course Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry to Vancouver Island. The ride on Highway 99 was absolutely breathtaking and worthy of its own post. More to follow….I promise!
My trip to northern BC was truly heartfelt on many levels. The decision to leave my bike behind in Edmonton and rent a car wasn’t what I had originally intended but proved to be a wise decision. It was one that that was made based on “intuitiveness” or a sense that something wasn’t right. While enroute the Alaska Highway ended up being closed due to a forest fire that jumped the highway which prevented my return until the road reopened. Riding through the area on a motorcycle would have been an unpleasant experience. Here’s a bit of footage from a local newspaper along with a short clip that I recorded when I drove through after the highway reopened after the fire had ravished the area.
News paper link with a video of the fire: click here
My video taken when the road reopened:
Despite the forest fires in the area and experiencing smoke throughout much of northern BC, my trip up the Historic Alaska Highway was spectacular. I had forgotten how incredibly beautiful and pristine this part of the country is.
For those of you who may not know, I was raised in northern British Columbia and lived in Stone Mountain Park as a young girl. The park is located at Mile 392 of the Historic Alaska Highway. The purpose of my trip was two fold. Not only did I want to visit where I was raised, but to also visit where my Dad now rests. My Dad left us five years ago and rests in a cemetery at Toad River, BC which is located at Mile 422 of the Alaska Highway. Returning to northern BC allowed me to reconnect with my “true north”.
Here are a few photos of my trip to the land where it remains light throughout the long summer nights and mountain air that is filled with the sweet fragrance of pine forests whose scent dances in the warm summers’ air.
I continued north to Stone Mountain Park where Summit Lake is located, and where I was raised as a young girl. My father worked on the Alaska Highway when I was young. We lived in the park and my sister and I attended a one room school with 8 other children who lived in the park which also happens to be the highest point on the Historic Alaska Highway!
After a memorable visit to Stone Mountain I drove north to Toad River to where my Dad rests. Here are a few photos of the area.
While visiting in the north I stayed at the Northern Rockies Lodge located at Muncho Lake, which is a fresh water mountain lake that is seven miles long and runs along side of the Historic Alaska Highway. The resort was nestled in the mountains next to the lake and was an incredibly wonderful place to spend a couple of nights while visiting the area. Here’s an idea of what it was like.
While staying at the resort I took advantage of the fact that the owner, Urs, also operates a small flight service that provides his guests an opportunity to see this amazing area by air. My flight was about a half hour in duration and can be described as being simply amazing and incredibly spectacular! Here’s a few aerial shots from my flight over the lake and the surrounding area.
A trip north would not be complete without a visit to the Liard Hot Springs located at mile 495 of the Historic Alaska Highway. It’s one of the few remaining hot springs that remains in it’s natural state compared to many that are pumped into a concrete pool.
Here are a few additional photos from along the way.
From here I’ll be going south to pick up my bike in Edmonton, with a stop in Dawson Creek to visit family and friends that I wasn’t able to see on my way up the highway. From Edmonton, I’ll be heading west to Prince George and then to Vancouver Island, connecting with more friends along the way. For me, that’s what this leg of the trip is all about – “true north” indeed!
As you know from my past blog a part of my trip north included a stop in Fort Nelson, BC, one of the towns where I was raised. You might wonder what there would be to do in a little northern town like that? Well that’s what I would like to share with you in this blog.
After checking into my room at my friends motel, Kacee Northern Suites, I went up the road to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum where I was reconnected with Marl Brown, the curator of the museum and the Fort Nelson Historical Society. What an amazing experience that turned out to be!
Marl lived only a few blocks from the street where I was raised and at that time he already had a fine collection of antique automobiles. In addition to his collection, he was an individual that was well known throughout the community for his love of the past, his fine sense of humour and his beard. Yes, his beard! If you’ve lived in the north you know about Trapper Days or what we called a Rendezvous. Marl Brown was the long time champion of the beard growing contest and to this day he is still referred to as “The Mad Trapper”.
A tour of the museum revealed an incredibly rich history that encompassed the construction of the Historic Alaska Highway, memorabilia collected from the local townsmen and of course Marl’s awesome car collection. To say that there were thousands of exhibits would be an understatement!
Here is a sampling of what I found most interesting during my visit to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.
This was only a glimpse of what I saw at the museum. There was a lot more to see including multiple outbuildings with artifacts that are far too numerous to mention. In closing, I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.
From here I am northward bound and my journey continues to be amazing…even with four wheels under me instead two.