Travel Mumblings

May 22, 2008

Whistler-ler-ler-ler

Filed under: canada — Tags: , , , , , — paulparkie @ 12:44

erm… I left the Whistler blog on my laptop, and so won´t be able to upload my shananighans from there until I get back in July. I´ve just jumped straight to South America instead…

October 1, 2007

Vancouver Island

Filed under: canada — Tags: , , , , , , — paulparkie @ 00:45

At the end of September, after a few days hanging out in Vancouver, I went to see Van Island with Gen. Our only plan was that we wanted to surf in Tofino and check out Victoria, and as we were both on a budget, we decided we’d try and hitch. We got to the port early, booked our tickets and got on the next ferry to the Island. We made sure we were first off the ferry and tried to hitch with eVeRy SiNgLe CaR that drove off, and none of them stopped. Crap. Everyone I’d spoke to had told me hitching in Canada, especially on the Island, was easy!

We walked a bit up the highway and made our way to Parksville in two hitches, then the third ride pulled up and everything kind of fell into place. These guys (Denis and Michelle) were only on a day trip to Port Alberni and said they’d take us as far as they were going, which was about 2 hours down the road. But, after talking with them for a few minutes about what we planned to do, they decided to take us all the way to Tofino (about a 5 hour drive!), and hang out with us for 3 days with only the clothes on their backs! – how cool was that * and our flagrant geeky conversation and stunning scenery meant the time passed quickly.

We were up early to hire surf boards and hit the waves. We surfed Cox Beach in the morning, had a break for lunch and then hit Long Beach for a sunset surf which was amazing… the views and panoramas at sunset were completely erogenous… we just stopped surfing in the end and sat and just ‘watched’. Surfing was a larf, the ‘surf’ was pretty sweet and I managed to stand up aLmOsT as much as I face planted into the bottom.

Before Denis and Michelle left, we hiked the Wild Pacific Trail from Ucluelet which was an awesome trail that hugged the coast line and snaked through rain forest for about 4 hours. After just getting ‘used to’ (if that’s ever possible) the bears, we saw a few warning posters telling us there was a cougar in the area. Hmmm… slightly disconcerting, knowing that they’re around 5 feet long, and can jump 30 feet from standing still! That’s iNsAnE! Needless to say, we did the rest of the hike carrying pretty hefty sticks, which we pretended were just walking sticks when we met other people, little did they know they were in fact rudimentary weapons, to battle any mountain lions we may stumble upon… ha.

Every night on the Island seemed to consist of a collective BBQ with other people staying in the hostel, and then shooting the breeze into the early hours over a few beers. The pace of life in Canada is half that back home in England… and on the Island, that ‘pace’ halves again! Everyone is just so laid back, and never hurries to do anything. It took a few days to get used to, but then it was pretty sweet! During one of these twilight sessions Gen and I met a guy called James who just so happened to be making the 6 hour drive to Victoria the next day and wanted some company. As luck would have it, that’s where we’d planned on heading. So we plied him with a few beers and ‘Robert’s your mother’s brother’, we had a hitch to Victoria… wOoP wOoP.

Victoria was a pretty nice town; typically English and definitely busier than the ‘Tofino Time’ we’d grown used to. Just off the coast of Victoria was a pretty good place to see Orcas, and after managing to haggle a good price with a guide I plumped for a 4 hour trip and had a pretty fantabulous experience in the end. We found two pods hanging out together (about 80 whales) and ‘hung out’ with them for a while which was pretty special!

After a couple of days in Victoria we got a ride back to Vancouver via Nanaimo. The ferry on the way back passed through the Southern Gulf Islands, which were pretty stunning and some of the channels we had to pass through didn’t leave much room for error. The Island was much bigger than I thought it would be, and the scenery was out-of-this-world… I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings half the time [hmmm… if I was in Lord of the Rings, I think I’d be an Elf… I’m totally onboard with that whole longevity of life business they’ve got going on]. Anyhoo, Vancouver Island is definitely ‘unfinished business’. I’ve got a couple more days in Vancouver now before I head up to Whistler for the seeeeeeaaaaason … booyakasha *

September 19, 2007

Vancouver, B.C. and The Rockies

Filed under: canada — Tags: , , , — paulparkie @ 19:35

Ok… so I’ve been here a little over two weeks now, and I’m still coming to terms with how unimaginably, erogenously, vast the scenery is out here!

I spent a few days when I first arrived in Vancouver and took some time to explore the city. It’s a cool city, and I love the fact that it’s only walking distance to the sea and a short bus ride to the mountains. There’s more homeless people than I was prepared for, but after seeing what most of them spend there money on, it’s easy to become hardened to it all. Though their scrawled messages on pieces of card, or street tricks to inveigle a few cents from passers-by are always entertaining!

And so, I’ve walked the sea wall around Stanley Park which took the best part of a day, I’ve perambulated China Town (which is apparently the second largest settling of Chinese outside of China), which was an experience… I’m convinced there’s nothing that the Chinese won’t ‘salt, dry and eat’… there were octopi, lungs of some description, flying squirrels (I think), all manner or innards and sea creatures, and many more unidentifiable animal parts! It was there I also thought it’d be ‘fun’ to try chicken feet… yup, that’s right… feet. I thought it’d be good to be able to tick it off my list, but when they came, man-o-man, nothing has instigated my gag-reflex more quickly… they were like little Jeremy Beadle hands… and crunchy, yet slimey… and alas, I couldn’t finish them! Eurgh!

When I haven’t been in Van, I’ve spent about 12 days trekking around Rockies which are awesome, and I’m sure that my photos will never do the scenery justice! We’ve done loads of hiking in ‘bear country’ which was slightly disconcerting to start with… every Canadian I’ve met has had bear stories to tell, and it did take me a few hikes to come to terms with the fact that I was not top of the food chain! The funniest/scariest bit of advice I’ve read for a grizzly attack is as follows: “If the bear does follow through with a charge and attacks, play dead. Lie faced down with your hands round the back of your neck and your legs apart to prevent the bear rolling you over. However, if after 2 minutes the attack persists, playing dead probably isn’t working and you need to start fighting back!” … can you believe that!!?? … Give it 2 minutes, and then have the wherewithal to start fighting back!! Haha, that bit made me laugh, …and cry a little bit at the same time! Still, there’s plenty of ways to make it safer, mainly by making plenty of noise and singing, which is always fun, though I’m not sure how we’re supposed to enjoy the serenity at the same time… meh, serenity versus a good mauling though is a no-brainer! haha

We stayed in a few wilderness hostels with no electricity or running water which were cool… really cool, the pace of life just slowed and time became so insignificant… we sat around the fire, cooked ‘beer can chicken’ and met loads of great people, swapped stories and got the ‘down-low’ on surviving bear attacks if they were Canadian! haha … needing a wee in the middle of the night was also a bit ‘sketch’ … having to walk through the trees to the outside toilet always kept me on my toes…

So yeah, I’ve seen more amazing lakes, mountains, glaciers and canyons than you could shake a stick at… I’ve done kayaking, climbing and white water rafting … this is just the best place to play-out!

I’m off to an ice hockey game tonight and then I’m heading off to hitch around Vancouver Island (all being well)… where bears are only the second scariest thing to mountain lions… aah, the joy!

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