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.

 

The Big Ride – Reconnecting with the old and embracing the new

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.

The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
A working fish boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
A working fishing boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
An interesting bicycle rack
An interesting bicycle rack in Nanaimo

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Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Snagged!
Snagged!

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Trolls is a flooting restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips  on the Island!
Trolls is a floating restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips on the Island!
One of the heritage buidlings owntown Nanaimo, BC
One of the heritage buildings in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street

A few photos from the Ladysmith area

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Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC
Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC

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There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith

My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂

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Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Cooling off on a warm summers day
Cooling off on a warm summers day

When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.

The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 - It's known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store - yup you read that right goats!
The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 – It’s known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store – yup you read that right “goats!”
The notorious goats on the roof of Coombs Market
The infamous goats on the roof of Coombs Market
Inside the Combs Market where you can find a little of everything!
Inside the Coombs Market where you can find a little of everything!
The Combs Market has a little bit of everything!
The Coombs Market has a little bit of everything!
With Barry Switnicki at the Combs Market
With Barry Switnicki and the “lucky” Budda at the Coombs Market
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
I'm a tree hugger at heart
I’m a tree hugger at heart
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
I stopped in at Cathedral Grove which is located between Qualicum Beach  and Port Alberni on Highway 4.  The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 9 feet!
Cathedral Grove is located between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni on Highway 4. The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 30 feet!
Another perspective :)
Another perspective 🙂

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And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,

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A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn - the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn – the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!

And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.

Mahle House in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo - they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and is provide a quaint setting - a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.
Mahle House Restaurant in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo – they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and provides a quaint setting – a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.

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And when it's hot...there's another way to cool off!  Cruising with the top down works :)
And when it’s hot…there’s another way to cool off! Cruising with the top down with my friend Sue 🙂


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Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo - It's to die for!
Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish Market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo – It’s to die for!


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Some interesting local art
Some interesting local art

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!

The Big Ride – When expectations are exceeded ten fold! (Duffey Lake Road, BC – Highway 99)

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.

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One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels
One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.

Duffey Lake - This is just one of the many prestige lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the "Sea to Sky Highway"
Duffey Lake – This is just one of the many pristine lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the “Sea to Sky Highway”

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Loving it here!
Loving it here!


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Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffy Lake Highway - what a magnificent ride
Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffey Lake Highway – what a magnificent ride
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99

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There are s number of train tunnels along the Duffy Lake Road Highway 99
There are a number of train tunnels along the Duffey Lake Road on Highway 99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC
A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC

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Local native art
Local native art

The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC

Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler - this is definitely a young persons sport!
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler – this is definitely a young persons sport!

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In the Village at Whistler
In the Village at Whistler
Checking out the Village
Checking out the Village
Whistler Village
Whistler Village

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Near Squamish, BC
Near Squamish, BC
South of Whistler, BC
South of Whistler, BC

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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”.

Homeward bound
Homeward bound
Waiting to board the ferry Nanaimo bound
Waiting to board the ferry to Nanaimo
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I hung out in Horseshoe Bay Park while waiting for the next sailing to Vancouver Island. There is always lots to see and do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe one of these :)
My next ride perhaps…you gotta love an Audi!
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country – those are Quebec plates
A new friend
A new friend
An angel in the making...progress not perfection :)
An angel in the making…progress not perfection 🙂

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On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. Must say Big Blue was the nicest bike in the lineup :)
On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. I must say Big Blue was the prettiest bike in the lineup 🙂
Sweet
Sweet sweet…very sweet

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A beautiful day for sailing
A beautiful day for sailing

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!

 

The Big Ride – Stepping back in time (Barkerville, BC)

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!

Mount Robson just outside of Jasper Park
Mount Robson just outside of Jasper Park

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Horse Lake outside of Jasper
Horse Lake outside of Jasper

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.

The main street in Barkerville
The main street in Barkerville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A little water?
A little water?
Barkerville had it's own Chinatown
Barkerville had it’s own Chinatown which housed the many Chinese who came to work in the gold mines.  Chinatown grew as many opened businesses that serviced the transients who came to Barkerville to find their fortunes
One of the many beautiful historic homes in Barkerville, BC
One of the many beautiful historic homes in Barkerville, BC
There were several carts and carriages on display
There were several carts and carriages on display

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My friend Bridget Conboy would love it here...retro hats at tere finest!
My friend Bridget Conboy would love it here…retro hats at their finest!

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The local Post Office
The local Post Office

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The local church in Barkerville - beautiful constructed building
The local church in Barkerville – a beautifully constructed building

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Beautiful glass work in one of the antique doors
Beautiful glass work in one of the antique doors

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Fine dining in one of many beautiful homes that have been restored
Fine dining in one of many beautiful homes that have been restored

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Anyone you know? :)
Anyone you know? 🙂
The Assayer's Office where the gold was weighed and assessed
The Assayer’s Office where the gold was weighed and assessed

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Barkerville came to like with the many actors onsite that were dressed in periodical attire
Barkerville came to life with the many actors onsite that were dressed in period attire
Another actor whom I had the opportunity to speak with - it brought the old town alive
Another actor whom I had the opportunity to speak with – it brought the old town alive
I can only imagine what this experience would have been like
I can only imagine what this experience would have been like

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I'd love to have this in my kitchen
I’d love to have this in my kitchen

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The accounting records from the Assayer's office.  I was told that gold prices today are 25 time higher in value today
The accounting records from the Assayer’s office. I was told that gold prices today are 25 time higher in value today

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One of the may General Stores on site in Barkerville
One of the may General Stores on site in Barkerville

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The "locals" enjoying an afternoon visit on the veranda outside the General Store
The “locals” enjoying an afternoon visit on the veranda outside the General Store

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A peek into the past
A peek into the past

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The local bordello was among the many old buildings that had been restored
The local bordello was among the many old buildings that had been restored

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The town well where locals would come to fetch the water needed for the many household chores
The town well where locals would come to fetch the water needed for the many household chores

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What would be a town without a local saloon where the  locals and the many travellers who came to strike it rich met to share their stories  of wow as few were actually successful in finding gold
What would a town be without a local saloon where the locals and the many travelers who came to strike it rich met to share their stories of woe as few were actually successful in finding gold

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Inside the local saloon
Inside the local saloon

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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!

 

The Big Ride – Stepping back in time (Fort Nelson BC Heritage Museum)

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.

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My visit to the Fort Nelson Museum was amazing.   If you have an opportunity to stop in it's well worth the visit!
My visit to the Fort Nelson Museum was amazing. If you have an opportunity to stop in it’s well worth the visit!

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When was the last time you saw one of these?
When was the last time you saw one of these?

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Nice curls on this one!
Nice curls on this one!
Finding this at the Fort Nelson Museum was a real remember when! One of my first jobs as a student was at the Alcan Theatre.
Finding this at the Fort Nelson Museum was a real “remember when!”  One of my first jobs as a student was at the Alcan Theatre.

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I remember Stella's Motel as a kid
I remember Stella’s Motel as a kid while living in Fort Nelson

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Nice
Nice

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The curator of the Fort Nelson Historical Society, Marl Brown
The curator of the Fort Nelson Historical Society, Marl Brown – nice beard!
One ring-a-dingy....two ring-a-dingys :)
One ring-a-dingy….two ring-a-dingys 🙂
The curator, Marl Brown in his glory!
The curator, Marl Brown in his glory!
All of the vehicles at the museum are operational!  Now that's impressive.
All of the vehicles at the museum are operational! Now that’s impressive.
Yes this one runs and was on the road earlier this week when the curator of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, Marl Brown turned 83...he took it out for a ride with his brother!
Yes this one runs and was on the road  recently when the curator of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, Marl Brown turned 83…he took it out for a ride with his brother!
This car is 109 years old - the curator Marl Brown started it up while I was visiting the museum!
This car is 109 years old – the curator Marl Brown started it up while I was visiting the museum!
Marl Brown starting up his 109 year old Model A
Marl Brown starting up his 109 year old Model A

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One of the many cars in a very fine collection at the Fort Nelson Museum.
One of the many cars in a very fine collection at the Fort Nelson Museum.
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And of course…what collection could possibly be complete without a couple of motorcycles!

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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.

The Big Ride – The gift of remembering when (Dawson Creek, BC)

Being back in western Canada is all about visiting family and friends.  My first stop was in Edmonton where I spent a few days visiting my sisters Phyllis and Lori, along with other family members, such as my favourite niece Shirley.  The stop also included installing new tires on my bike and having it serviced at one of the local Harley dealers….and yes they have “oil field” service rates…ouch!

From there my intention was to ride  just south of the Yukon border, where my Dad rests.  Given the current situation with a number of major forest fires in the area I reluctantly left my bike in Edmonton in safe keeping at my sister’s and instead rented a car to make the trip.  In hindsight it was a wise choice as I’m currently in norther BC and the Alaska Highway is closed to the south of me preventing my return – stay tuned as that’s another post!

This is what I looked like after leaving my bike in Edmonton - but with the forest fires and road closure it was a wise decision!
) This is what I looked like after leaving my bike in Edmonton – but with the forest fires and recent road closure it was a wise decision!

When I left Edmonton I headed north to Dawson Creek, BC where you can find the start of the legendary Alaska Highway.

The Historical Alaska Highway was built during World War II as a way of connecting Alaska with the rest of the United States in a joint effort to protect both Canada and the US after the invasion of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese. The highway begins in Dawson Creek, BC and continues into Alaska via Whitehorse in the Yukon. It was built between 1942 and 1948 and originally was about 2,700 km (1,700 mi) in length. Since that time the road continues to undergo constant reconstruction and is now just over 2200 km (1,400 mi) long. The legendary highway was known for being a rough, challenging drive, however it is now paved and continues to be straightened.

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The Historic Alaska Highway Mile 0 sign in Dawson Creek, BC
The Historic Alaska Highway Mile 0 sign in Dawson Creek, BC
Dawson Creek - Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway
Dawson Creek – Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway
Dawson Creek Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway where I started my career with Service Canada (formerly CEIC)
Dawson Creek Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway – It’s where I also started my career with the Federal Government

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The Art Gallery in Dawson Creek
The Art Gallery in Dawson Creek is located in the “retired” grain elevator

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While passing through Dawson Creek I returned to the location where my career with the Federal Government began over 34 years ago!

I worked here for a very short period in 1980 when it was Cargill Grain - I left to start my career with Canada Employment and Immigration Commission aka known today as Service Canada.
I worked here for a very short period in 1980 – at the time it was Cargill Grain – I left my employment there to start my career with Canada Employment and Immigration Commission which today is known as Service Canada
This is where my career with the Federal Government began more than 34 years ago.  It was then the  Dawson Creek Post Office and housed the Canada Employment Immigration Commission - in those days aka the
This is where my career with the Federal Government began more than 34 years ago. It was then the Dawson Creek Post Office and housed the Canada Employment Immigration Commission – aka the “UIC Office”
If you were ever at the Employment Insurance Office in Dawson Creek this would be familiar to you - and it makes where my career in government began more than 34 years ago!
If you were ever at the EI Office in Dawson Creek this would be familiar to you and is where my career in government began!
This is where my career with the Federal Government began.  It was the former location of the  Dawson Creek Post Office and office for the Canada Employment Immigration Commission - also known as the Employment Insurance Office - it's now and arts centre.
Having recently retired from the Federal Government after an amazing 34 year career, it felt like I had come full circle by  returning to the  location where it all began.
To complete the circle, I visited the current location of the Service Canada office in Dawson Creek - I know I'm biased in saying that I like the former location better :)
To complete the circle, I visited the current location of the Service Canada office in Dawson Creek – I know I’m biased in saying that I like the former location better 🙂

During my quick stop in Dawson Creek I did a drive-by past the first house I owned.  Yup…it’s a little cutie.  It was nice to see that its owners have taken care of her over the years.

This was the first house I owned - I was a proud home owner at 23 years of age - and I'm still feeling grateful  :)
This was the first house I owned – I was a proud home owner at 23 years of age – and I’m still feeling grateful 🙂

I didn’t have much time for visiting on my way up the highway so I’m looking forward to connecting with a few folks in Dawson Creek  on my way back to Edmonton where I’ll be picking up my bike.

When leaving Dawson Creek, I deviated from the beaten path and followed the historic route where the original highway had once been  in order to visit the first “curved” bridge of its kind which spans the Kistatinaw river located at “Mile 21” on the Historic Alaska Highway.

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Kiskatinaw Bridge – Mile 21 on the Historic Alaska Highway – This curved bridge was the first of its kind when built in 1942.

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Kiskatinaw River and Campsite  - Mile 21 on the Historic Alaska Highway - home of the curved bridge!
Kiskatinaw River and Campsite – Mile 21 on the Historic Alaska Highway – home of the curved bridge!

From here I traveled north towards Fort Nelson where I spent a number of years while growing up.  This took me over the Alaska Highway, through Pink Mountain and beyond.

A stop in Pink Mountain...wildlife galore :)
A stop at Pink Mountain…wildlife galore 🙂
Outside the Fort Nelson Laundromat owned by my friend Cheryl
Outside the Fort Nelson Laundromat owned by my friend Cheryl
An artistic touch outside of the laundromat in Fort Nelson - nice touch Cheryl!
An artistic touch outside of the laundromat in Fort Nelson – nice touch Cheryl!
Snugglying wildlife in Fort Nelson
Snuggling wildlife in Fort Nelson

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Feel the grip :)
This place has quite the bang! 🙂

My visit to Fort Nelson, BC was filled rich with memories and is worthy of a post unto itself so stay tuned for my upcoming blog.

Until then be safe and remember that when you smile at life it smiles back at you!

The Big Ride – Nature at its finest! (Yellowstone Park, Wy)

Over the years I’ve only imagined what a visit to Yellowstone Park might be like.  It’s like an institution.  It’s to the US what Jasper and Banff are to Canada and to the world.  I’m sure that if you took a poll, everyone has heard about it and it’s on the bucket list of many including mine!

I couldn’t imagine doing the The Big Ride without including a visit to this awe inspiring National Park that was established in 1872 and spans almost 3500 square miles comprised of lakes, canyons, rivers and some pretty incredible mountain ranges.  It has an abundance of wildlife and many geothermal features, including Old Faithful Geyser.

When I arrived at the park after a couple of hours of riding, it was as if Old Faithful had been waiting for my arrival.  I parked my bike, checked out the facilities at the lodge, including the purchase of a tasty ice cream treat and headed over to the information counter to see if there was any indication as to when the geyser was going to erupt.  Within minutes she was blowing steam like crazy.  Here’s a clip of her spectacular performance!

In addition to seeing Old Faithful spewing away, I was able to take in a few of the sights in the park including coming across some wildlife during my visit.  Here are some of the photos from my visit to the park.

Welcome to Yellowstone Park!
Welcome to Yellowstone Park!
Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone Park - great ice cream store in this locations...then again every ice cream store is great!
Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone Park – great ice cream store in this location…then again every ice cream store is great!
The Ol' Girl blowing off here steam!
The Ol’ Girl blowing off her steam!
Geothermal activity can be found throughout the park with many geysers throughout the basin
Geothermal activity can be found throughout the park with many geysers in the basin
A meadow in Yellowstone filled with wildflowers
A meadow in Yellowstone filled with wildflowers
A field of dreams!
A field of dreams!
The wildlife was plentiful in Yellowstone Park.  Here is a young elk enjoying its mid day snack
The wildlife was plentiful in Yellowstone Park. Here is a young elk enjoying its mid day snack

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A big bison in Yellowstone Park.
A big bison in Yellowstone Park.
I hope they aren't coming this way!
I hope they aren’t coming this way!
Buffalo Gold!
Buffalo Gold!
The impact of the forest fire that devastated Yellowstone Park in 1988 can still be seen today.  Please be careful in the forests!
The impact of the forest fire that devastated Yellowstone Park in 1988 can still be seen today. Please be careful in the forests!
Yellowstone Lake is that largest natural lake at high elevation in North America at more than 7000 feet and is about 20 miles long and 14 miles wide!
Yellowstone Lake is that largest natural lake at high elevation in North America at more than 7000 feet and is about 20 miles long and 14 miles wide!

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The jagged majestic peaks can be found throughout Yellowstone Park
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A typical scene found throughout this beautiful 3500 square mile park
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I’m sure a few mountain sheep are hiding out here!

From here I’m heading north through Montana and back into Canada.  I will be following the Canadian Rocky Mountains into Banff and Jasper, some of the  most spectacular parks in the world, as well as visiting family and friends along the way.  Stay tuned as the next chapter of  this amazing trip unfolds!