Friday, 25 July 2014

Vancouver and the beginning of our Canadian wanderings

We had the afternoon in Vancouver and used the 'hop on/hop off' bus to get around and see the sights, getting off to have some lunch and again for various beauty spots and also, to our pleasure, dropping off just a few doors from our hotel. On our second day, we picked up our hire car and headed off on our independent Canadian adventure.

First of all, down to the USA border and into Washington for the Boeing 'Future of Flight' tour. It takes about an hour and a half and as well as a brief history of the Boeing company, we were taken into the massively huge factories where their various planes are made including the new 787 Dreamliner. It certainly is an impressive set-up.

Our overnight stop was at Mukilteo Landing and probably the nicest accommodation we'll ever have on this trip.   Right at the water's edge, we had a large and beautiful room with all the usual amenities plus a fire place with gas log fire!
However with the warm weather, we made do with just opening the window and foregoing the aircon. Next day we took the short trip ferry to the next island and on our way to the next ferry, stopped at Freeland to post off home some excess clothing and a few things collected on the trip. We found the post office and packed our stuff into a large box, sealed and addressed it, then found we really needed to put a return address as well. As we stood in the small post office debating whether to put last night's Inn address, we had our first unexpected kindness shown when a smiling lady offered to let us use her own address. She took over and filled in the form for us giving her own details, and we gave her our own address card. We were most grateful and she said it was a pleasure and 'the island way' to be friendly. We've been the recipients of a few 'unexpected kindnesses' during our travels and it always warms our hearts. Such a nice memory to have.

The next few days were spent travelling from island to island by ferry till finally we arrived back in Canada to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Such a very pretty place and we headed to the outskirts of the city to visit the Butchart Gardens. It was created initially by Jenny Butchart, in an old disused quarry on the family property.

Over the years it has been enlarged and now has a Japanese Garden, an Italian Garden, Mediterranean Garden and a stunning rose garden. It also has areas with plants native to this part of the world. Being summer, it was ablaze with flowers and it was interesting to see not only the clever colour combinations but also the amount of flowers blooming happily beneath shady trees. We were happy to spend a good part of the day there but didn't stay for the evening fireworks held during the summer months and apparently quite spectacular.

We had an overnight stay in Victoria and next morning visited the wonderful Royal British Columbian Museum. A special exhibition was on Vikings and accompanying the exhibition was an IMAX show on Vikings and the areas to which they travelled all those years ago. There was a vast display of archaeological finds and all beautifully presented. Aside from the Vikings, early British Columbian history was imaginatively presented from the original inhabitants to the arrival of European settlers. In the afternoon we took our last ferry ride to the mainland and so began our travels to the east through the Rockies, stopping first at Chilliwack, then Princeton.

Washing cherries with old pump
We drove through Keremeos which is a big fruit growing area with many roadside stalls selling fresh produce. With cherries in season, we stopped to buy some - $5 for a 1kg box. They were big, sweet and beautiful and disappeared fast.

We stopped for a couple of days at Princeton, an old mining town, then drove about 400kms to Revelstoke through the Okanagan Valley - extremely pretty countryside alongside very long lakes. Revelstoke is high in the mountains quite near Glacier National Park and Mt Revelstoke National Park. The scenery is astounding - when it is fine. On our second day here the sky turned grey,it rained continually and visibility of the nearby snow-capped mountains was non-existent. What to do?

Well, we had a wonderful morning visiting the Nickelodeon Museum in town. It is a private collection of mechanical musical instruments on display which the owners have beautifully restored. We were given almost two hours of an extremely interesting talk and working demonstration of many of the items. The instruments ranged from 300 years old to the 1960s. Absolutely loved it.

After lunch Peter visited the Revelstoke Railway Museum (wouldn't you know??).

Hopefully the weather will improve for our drive through to the Banff area tomorrow.

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