The Big Ride – Homeward Bound (New York State)

Endings can sometimes be difficult but what I’ve learned is that experiences like The Big Ride live on.  A transformation of sorts, moving from on state to another.  The Big Ride feels like that for me.  The mileage is behind me but it lives on within me and within many of you who rode vicariously through me. That’s one of the gifts from living the dream – it’s never really over!

The final day arrived earlier this week, Monday August 10, 2015, when I rode from Rochester, New York to Ottawa, Ontario where home is for me.

Here’s a short video of me expressing how I was feeling that morning, followed by another of the ride through the scenic green farmlands of northern New York State.  I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day for the ride home.  The sky was blue and a gentle breeze danced across the fields and played with the clouds high in the sky.

And of course a few photos for your viewing pleasure.

Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride - Homeward bound

Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride – homeward bound

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I know how to get around! 🙂
Picking up my new cowgirl boots in Odgensburg,NY before heading home to Ottawa
Picking up my new cowgirl boots in Odgensburg,NY before crossing the Canadian border  and heading home to Ottawa
The Odgensburg Bridge - I love the sound of the grated steel grated bridge under my tires - looking down when you're stopped is freaky :)
The Odgensburg Bridge – I love the sound of the grated steel bridge under my tires – looking down when you’re stopped is a little freaky 🙂
My final milage
My final mileage on The Big Ride including the 3000 kilometers in the rental car in northern British Columbia  totaled 28,000 Kilometers and my butt isn’t even get sore
At home with Emma who was happy to see me return
At home with Emma who was happy to see me return

In Closing, here are a few final words that I would like to share with you.

Thank you for riding along and most of all for supporting me on The Big Ride.  It wouldn’t have been the same without you.  I hope you enjoyed the journey.  If you have a “big dream” that you haven’t been able to get off the ground, contact me – I can help you make it happen! After all, that’s why we’re on this journey called life – to live it to its fullest!

The Big Ride – When you know the end is near (The Great Plains)

After riding the incredible roads in Utah it was difficult psychologically to head out onto the Great Plains knowing that it was the ride home. I don’t know about you, but sometime endings are challenging.  It’s easy to “checkout” before actually getting to the end.  I tried hard not to do this and took in as much of the Great Plains as I possible could.  The time passed quickly and I was able to ride through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in only a few days.

I learned along the way that Kansas is the Sunflower State and not only are the fields adorned with beautiful yellow sunflowers, Black Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides.  As well, Illinois is the home state of Abe Lincoln – I stayed in his home town of Springfield, Illinois as I crossed the Plains.  The other thing I liked about the Great Plains is that it’s “cow country” and being somewhat of a carnivore…well you know what that means.

Here is a video of my ride, along with a few photos

welcome-kansas-state sign

Kansas is the sunflower state - in addition to the beautiful yellow Susan's grow wild long the roadsides
Kansas is the sunflower state – in addition to the beautiful yellow fields, Brown Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides
The ride through Illinois was expansive and it seems to stretch out ahead of me for miles and mile and miles
The ride through Illinois was expansive and it seemed to stretch out ahead of me for miles and mile and miles

welcome to Illinois state sign

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Indiana was beautiful with it's may corn fields and the soft rolling plains
Indiana was beautiful with it’s may corn fields and the soft rolling plains
I saw this crop duster at work while stopped for a break
I saw this crop duster at work while stopped for a break
Ohio was filled with wide open and expansive fields that allowed me to see forever
Ohio was filled with wide open and expansive fields that allowed me to see forever

 

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The Great Plains is cow country - when in Rome :)
The Great Plains is cow country – so when in Rome 🙂
While riding through the Great Plains I noted that many of the businesses and Rest Stops have storm shelters
While riding through the Great Plains I noted that many of the businesses and Rest Stops have storm shelters which would be a welcomed find during the tornado season!
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On the road again
A Blizzard was in order after a hot day's ride across the Plains
A  DQ Blizzard was in order after a hot day’s ride across the Plains
Group ride anyone/
Group ride anyone?

From here it means a short ride through New York State to the border and back into Canada where The Big Ride will conclude…but I’ll save that for the next post.  Until then keep smiling and enjoy the scenery – this moment will not pass by again!

The Big Ride – Natural wonders that make you wonder (Arches National Park and Colorado River, Utah)

One of the most spectacular sights I have experienced during my visit to Utah was Arches National Park located outside of the town of Moab.  The park contains over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and various rock formations and covers about 76,000 acres.  A hikers paradise for sure!

The national park is on top of an underground “evaporate” layer which is what causes the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins and monoliths which are the large upright blocks of stone.  The salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places and was deposited there over 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated.  A number of layers of sandy sediments were deposited on top of the salt and then eroded away over millions of years.  This has resulted in the arches being formed.

Here are some photos of the incredible formations and arches that I experienced in the park.  The park is truly spectacular and a “must see” when you are visiting Utah.  Add it to your list – I promise you will not regret the visit.

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The rock formations look so spectacular up against the sky - one of Natures masterpieces!
The rock formations look so spectacular up against the sky – one of Natures masterpieces!

The vegetation is sparse but full of character
The vegetation is sparse but full of character
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This is one of the arches that you can hike in to see. This one was an easy walk, however there are other more challenging trails for those who are up to the challenge
This is one of the arches that you can hike in to see. This one was an easy walk, however there are more difficult trails for those who are up to the challenge

There are several arches that you can hike into - this is one of them.
There are several arches that you can hike into – this is one of them.
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I'm note sure if you'll be able to read this, but it explains in more detail how the arches and rock formations are created
I’m not sure if you’ll be able to read this, but it explains in more detail how the arches and rock formations are created
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This looks like a dinosaur was dong a little tail painting :)
This looks like a dinosaur was doing a little tail painting  🙂

I found more dinosaur art work in one of the stone walls
I found more dinosaur art work on one of the stone walls

It's an easy walk to this arch and it's also possible to climb into the arch
It’s an easy walk to this arch and it’s also possible to climb into the arch

Look whose in the arch :)
Look whose in the arch 🙂

I love the way this tree looks
I love the way this tree looks

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While in the park I felt like I was riding in another space and time. Does it get more spectacular than this!

Walking on the "wild side"
Walking on the “wild side”

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There are hiking and walking trails throughout the park that lead to some pretty interesting places – this is one of them

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Big Blue among the natural wonders

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This is Park Avenue – the panoramic view is spectacular but hardly compares to what it looked like in real time

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This is just one of the thousands of breathtaking vistas found in Arches National Park
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And for a smile of two:

I've got a sheep by the horns :)
I’ve got a sheep by the horns 🙂

On a local laundromat in Moab
A local laundromat in Moab
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing, my visit to the park was extraordinary and one that I would definitely like to do again.  It has so much to offer those who love to hike and explore the geological wonders that have been created over hundreds of millions of years.   That through alone is staggering.

I would like to leave you with a video of one of my favorite rides while in Utah which was along the Colorado river.  The canyons in the morning light as the sun was rising were breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

The last leg of my journey will be a spirited ride across the Great Plains of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana as I make my way home.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been on the road for almost three months!  It’s been an incredible experience and a trip of a lifetime!!  I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m so grateful to be living my dream out loud.  Most of all, I’m grateful to have shared it with you!

The Big Ride – Natural wonders (More from Utah)

My visit to Utah was filled with a number of great sights to see and some pretty amazing roads to ride.  If you checked out my last post you may have already viewed Part 1 of the video from Capitol Reef National Park.  I’ve broken up the ride into three parts.  Here’s Part 2 and Part 3 from what was a pretty awesome ride!

My time in Utah included a visit to Natural Bridges National Monument Park which has three natural arches all located within a couple miles of each other. The only other place in the world where such a marvel can be found is China.

The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed by erosion from water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods the streams wash against the rock walls and in time erodes the stone until the new stream bed then flows underneath the newly formed bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge’s opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the park.

Here are a few photos from my time in the park which happened to be the third “rain day” that I’ve had since leaving home on May 13, 2015 which is a marvel unto itself!

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The Park is located on Highway 95 and was designated a National Monument by President Roosevelt in 1908, making it accessible to anyone who wanted to come and see the amazing wonders of Nature.  It’s a haven for hikers!

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This is the oldest and the most delicate of the Natural Bridges located at the Natural Bridges National Memorial Park on Highway 95.  The river that formed the bridge has long since changed its course and is now many miles away from here
Owachomo is the oldest and the most delicate of the Natural Bridges located at the Natural Bridges National Memorial Park on Highway 95. The river that formed the bridge has long since changed its course and now flows many miles away from here
I love that way this rock has been formed over time
I love that way this rock has been formed over time

And here are a few more photos of my ride from Hanksville to Moab, Utah by way of the Scenic Byway (Highway 95) and Highway 191.

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I love the way the road winds through the canyon - it made for an awesome ride!
I love the way the road winds through the canyon – it made for an awesome ride!

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One of the beautiful vistas found on Highway 95, one of the Scenic Byways in Southern Utah
One of the many beautiful vistas found on Highway 95, a Scenic Byway in Southern Utah

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Another of the beautiful wildflowers found in Utah
Beautiful wildflowers found on my ride
Church Rock is quite amazing in that it stands alone in a field - It makes you wonder how it ended up there in the first place
Church Rock is quite amazing in that it stands alone in a field – It makes you wonder how it ended up there in the first place
The wind and rain continue to smooth out the many rock formations that are found in Utah
The wind and rain continue to smooth out the many rock formations that are found in Utah

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Wilsons Arch is south of Moab on Route 119 and just one of the many natural arches that Nature has carved out of the stone
Wilsons Arch is south of Moab on Route 119 and just one of the many natural arches that Nature has carved out of the stone
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Such an incredible array of unique formations can be found in Southern Utah

Local art

ATVs can be rented at a number of locations in Moab, Utah and is a great way to cehck out the area - rock climbing with 4 wheelers is very popular
ATVs can be rented at a number of locations in Moab, Utah and is a great way to check out the area – rock climbing with 4 wheelers is very popular
Local art
Local art
Enjoying one of the many excellent cafes and restaurants in Moab, Utah after a great day of touring the  amazing sites in the surrounding area
Enjoying one of the many open air restaurants in Moab, Utah after a great day of touring the area

There was so much to see and do in Utah that I’ll have one more post from the area before moving on.  Stay tuned for the final episode which will include some awesome photos from my visit to Arches National Park and a video from my ride along the Colorado River. Until then, go with the flow…it’s easier to paddle in that direction.

The picture hardly does justice to what this actually looks like in real time - vistas such as this one left me in a state of awe!

The Big Ride – When you know you know (Part 2 – Bryce Canyon, Utah)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, when I was planning The Big Ride, Utah was very high on my list.  So much so that I purchased a book on motorcycle touring of the State.

Any motorcyclist would agree that when you can combine a great technical ride that offers a few hills and challenging curves along with breathless vistas it’s a ride made in heaven!

That’s what riding in Utah was for me – a ride made in heaven.  Here’s a sampling of what I lived while in Bryce Canyon National Park along with a video of the ride through Capitol Reef National Park.

Outside of Panguitch, Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park
Outside of Panguitch, Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park
Riding through the high desert on the way to Bryce Canyon
Riding through the high desert on the way to Bryce Canyon
Riding through the Red Canyon on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Riding through the Red Canyon on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Another great photo from my ride in Red Canyon earlier in the day
Another great photo from my ride in Red Canyon earlier in the day

Here is a video compilation of a few of the lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park, a haven for anyone who happens to enjoy hiking, cycling and rattlesnake watching.  Yes I did see a Diamond Back Rattlesnake while in the park!

Bryce Canyon City is located at the park entrance and has numerous touristy spots to check out
Bryce Canyon City is located at the park entrance and has numerous touristy spots to check out
Bryce Canyon National Park is a bucket list item for anyone who loves hiking, biking, motorcycling, rattlesnake watching and more!
Bryce Canyon National Park is a bucket list item for anyone who loves hiking, biking, motorcycling, rattlesnake watching and more!

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Natural bridge Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of the many natural bridges found in Utah and are created over several millions years from water erision
Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of the many natural bridges found in Utah that have been created over several million years from water erosion

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Inspiration Point is one my favorite vistas in Bryce National Park – I can’t count the number of photos I have of this 🙂

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Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon
Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon

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Black Birch Canyon  is one of the many outlooks  in the Bryce Canyon National Park
Black Birch Canyon is one of the many outlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park

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Agua Canyon is one of the may spectacular lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park
Agua Canyon is one of the may spectacular lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park

The picture hardly does justice to what this actually looks like in real time - vistas such as this one left me in a state of awe!

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
The rock formations have been sculpted over 35 to 50 million years - a meer moment in time
The rock formations have been sculpted over 35 to 50 million years – a mere moment in time
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Tommy (left) and Richard (right) were from California and happened to be staying at the same hotel in Panquitch, Utah and as chance would have it we ended up running into each other over the course of the day while touring Bryce Canyon National Park - I hope you had a safe ride to Sturgis
Tommy (left) and Richard (right) were from California and happened to be staying at the same hotel in Panguitch, Utah and as chance would have it we ended up running into each other over the course of the day while touring Bryce Canyon National Park – I hope you had a safe ride to Sturgis guys

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Wildflowers in Utah are abundant despite very little soil in the canyons
Wildflowers in Utah are abundant despite very little soil in the canyons

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After leaving Bryce Canyon National Park on my way to Hanksville Utah where I stayed the night, I had the pleasure of riding through Capitol Reef National Park.  This was a ride that I will never forget!  The Canyon was amazing to ride.  Here’s a video of only a small part of what can only be described as a ride Divine!

Capitol Reef National Park was incredible to ride through - it took my breath away!
Capitol Reef National Park was incredible to ride through – it took my breath away!
Another amazing photo from the Capitol Reef National Park
Another amazing photo from the Capitol Reef National Park
On the road in Capitol Reef National Park - if you are in Utah this is a must
On the road in Capitol Reef National Park – if you are in Utah this is a must
Riding through Capitol Reef National Park - simply amazing
Riding through Capitol Reef National Park – simply amazing
A stop to admire one of the many incredible vistas in southern Utah
A stop to admire one of the many incredible vistas in southern Utah

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The rock formations are incredible  in Utah
The rock formations are incredible in Utah

If you liked what you saw here keep an eye out for my next blog as I have more to share with you from my time in Utah.  Until then play safe and enjoy the journey of life.

The Big Ride – When you know that you know (Part 1- Red Canyon, Utah)

Throughout The Big Ride I’ve felt blessed to be living my dream and for being able to share it with you.

If you have been following my blog you know that I’ve been on the road now for two and a half months.  I left Ottawa, where I live, on May 13, 2015 and I’ve ridden 20,000 kilometers so far – for my friends on the US side of the border that’s about 12,500 miles.  I still have another month of travels ahead of me and will likely put on another 6 to 8,000 kilometers.  This excludes when I left my bike enroute and drove 3000 kilometers in the rental car to visit my dad’s resting place in Northern BC – A wise decision given the forest fires at the time!

During The Big Ride I have seen and experienced some pretty spectacular and incredibly amazing things.

I’ve ridden roads with sweeping curves that were so sweet I felt completely at one with them and I’ve ridden others that were so steep and so high that I thought I was in the heavens; I’ve seen vistas with such beauty and grandeur that it literally took my breath away – nope it wasn’t the altitude 🙂 ;  I’ve spoken with individuals along the way that had lost all sense of hope of being able to live their dreams and before I left them I saw a sparkle of optimism in their eyes;  I’ve been inspired by others that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way who are also living their dreams;  and I’ve been moved by the wonderment of Life, its magnificence and amazed at how everything works out when you let it; I’ve returned to where I was raised, reflected on where I’ve been in my life and the long winding roads have provided me the time to envision what I’d like the next chapter to look like; I’ve shared precious moments with family and rekindled friendships that will remain with me forever;  and you likely won’t want to hear this but on three occasions on this  trip I have felt the wings of the Angels brush by me.

When I started planning this trip over a year ago I purchased a motorcycle touring book on Utah.  When I started reading the book it was so exciting I couldn’t put it down.  It actually kept me up at night! Over the past few weeks it was looking doubtful that I would be able to include Utah on this ride.  The weather in southern California was extremely hot and riding south in 40+ degrees celsius didn’t seem plausible.  Instead I stayed north and when I got to Salt Lake City it was a critical “go no-go” decision point for me.

As it turned out the weather in Utah shifted and was more moderate so I decided to head south to make my way to Bryce Canyon National Park over a couple of days.  I must say I was filled with excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead.

When I turned onto the highway that would take me the last few miles to Bryce Canyon, I found that I had to drive through Red Canyon – to be honest I hadn’t heard of it and the sign I passed looked like any other that I had seen along the way.  When I turned the corner and the Red Canyon came into site I was literally swept away by its magnificence.  A strange feeling swept over me and I knew in that moment that this was why I had taken The Big Ride.  This was why I needed to ride the 26,000+ kilometers that will eventually complete this trip.  I knew in that moment that despite still having a months travel ahead of me, this was what I had come to experience.  This is what would make this incredibly amazing journey complete!

A feeling wonderment flooded over me.  As I stood in awe on the side of the road looking up at the sheer beauty of the massive red peaks of stone that Nature had so wondrously sculpted over time, I could no longer contain the joyfulness within me as tears ran down my cheeks. I knew in that moment that it was okay for me to start heading home. Being in Utah allowed me to complete this part of the journey.

The following video is only a glimpse of what I’ve seen in southern Utah.  I’ll be sharing more photos and video with you in the come days but here’s what I saw that morning as I rode through the Red Canyon. Enjoy!

This is what I saw when I came around the corner when I entered Red Canyon - and it continued to get more spectacular as I went along - just wait until you see some of the photos and video from the rest of my visit to Utah!
This is what I saw as I came around the corner when I entered Red Canyon – and it continued to get more spectacular as I went along – just wait until you see some of the photos and video from the rest of my visit to Utah!

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Big Blue loved being in Utah as much as I did - she loved the ride!
Big Blue loved being in Utah as much as I did – she loved the ride!
One of the two natural rock tunnels I rode through in Red Canyon
One of the two natural rock tunnels I rode through in Red Canyon
What could possibly be more beautiful than this?
What could possibly be more beautiful than this?
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These peaks have been formed over the space of 35 to 50 million years. How incredible is that!
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Living the dream in real time

Stay tuned for more awesome photos and videos from my ride in Utah. Next up will be Bryce Canyon.  I’m betting that you will love it as much as I did!

The Big Ride – When elegance meets beauty (Victoria, British Columbia)

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.

The BC Legislature - one of the orginal historic buildings in Victoria, BC
The British Columbia Legislature – one of the orginal historic buildings in Victoria, BC
One of the many native totem poles found in downtown Victoria
One of the many native totem poles found in downtown Victoria – this one is located on the front lawn of the BC Legislature

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At the Empress Hotel – A Fairmont Classic

The Empress Hotel - one of the original historic buildings in Victoria BC and a Fairmont Classic
The Empress Hotel – one of the original historic buildings in Victoria BC and a Fairmont Classic
What would be a visit to Victoria if you didn't enjoy "High Tea" at the Empress Hotel - an elegantly rich experience fit for any Princess :)
What would be a visit to Victoria if you didn’t enjoy “High Tea” at the Empress Hotel – an elegantly rich experience fit for any Princess 🙂
The entrance to the Empress Hotel
The entrance to the Empress Hotel
An amazing ceiling in the Empress Hotel
An amazing ceiling in the Empress Hotel
a statue of Emily Carr, a renowned  Canadian authour
A statue of Emily Carr, a renowned Canadian artist who was born in Victoria, BC

There are numerous other historic buildings in the city that are rich in architectural design.  Here are a few that caught my eye.

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A little of the greenery in the "Garden City"
A little greenery in the “Garden City”
One of the many historical buildings located along the waterfront
One of the many historic buildings located along the waterfront

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Another great historic buildings in Victoria
Another great historic building in Victoria

 

Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco
Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco

Here are a few other photographs that I hope you enjoy from what was a short but very enjoyable visit to Victoria, BC.

The Inner Harbour located in downtown  Victoria
The Inner Harbour located in downtown Victoria

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One of the beautiful homes found on the Gorge
One of the beautiful homes found on the Gorge
An old trestle  that cross the Gorge that now serves as a pedestrian crossing
An old trestle that crosses the Gorge that now serves as a pedestrian crossing
Camping anyone?
Camping anyone?
This is a picture of the rock ballast unloaded by the ships that once sailed into Victoria Harbour - as you can see they were put to good use.
This is a picture of the rock ballast unloaded by the ships that once sailed into Victoria Harbour – as you can see they were put to good use.
A west coast sunset
A west coast sunset
A new friend :)
A new friend 🙂
Mermaids with musical talents do exist...but only in beautiful BC
Mermaids with musical talents do exist…but only in “Beautiful BC”

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Local native art found in the Victoria Conference Centre
Local native art found in the Victoria Conference Centre

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A local water taxi is an excellent way to get around the Inner Harbour while visiting Victoria
A local water taxi is an excellent way to get around the Inner Harbour while visiting Victoria
Another great way to see the city of Victoria
Another great way to see the city of Victoria
One of the local native totem poles in the area
One of the local native totem poles in the area
The water was rough out at the point as it was quite a windy day
The water was rough out at the point as it was quite a windy day

A windy day on the point of Vancouver Island where the city of Victoria is located

A little creative floral artwork found along the Inner Harbour
A little creative floral artwork found along the Inner Harbour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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zzzzzzzz Enjoying a short nap  on the front lawn of the BC Legislature Building
zzzzzzzz Enjoying a short nap on the front lawn of the BC Legislature Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.