Day dix-sept: Au revoir

Morning was slow because Carmen decided on another shower… did I mention we enjoyed the hot running water…? Eventually we were all up and running and Carmen toasted her tomato sandwich over the fire (which frankly was a pain in the ass to keep lit).

We eventually got packed up and checked out. we’d pretty much given up on the idea of running away to Grand Cache; we figured there were too many carnivores for competition and we’d eventually have to surface again…sigh. We cruised into town and gassed up; Carmen did her usual bang-up job of bug scrubbing and we were on the road again.

We figured a short hike around Maligne Canyon wouldn’t be too much of an imposition so we pulled in to the crowded parking lot. We took the high trail down and it was empty, but as soon as we started back up the main trail the tourists and their kids and dogs and pretty much everything else descended. I guess we’d been too many days away from the touristas cause they sure as hell were irritating. I guess the three of us really are misanthropes, although Leslie’s biggest beef was with the 25 or so dogs we encountered on the trail.

Fighting through the hordes for a bathroom break gave us a final bitter (sweet) taste of Jasper and we hit the road. Leslie finished off her abominable book for us and we groaned through the last chapter as we got a lurid description of Nell not getting any and no real resolution to the mystery except to blame it all on Rasputin. Jeez.

Leslie drove the last bit home and we unpacked around 5. We bid Carmen adieu and showered, sorted the mail and had a quick run through on the pictures. We have two more days before life starts again so hopefully we stay calm cool and relaxed. Carmen will be off to find her lion soon and our cats are busily ignoring us and then checking every 2 seconds to see if we are still there.

C’est tout…

Day Sixteen: dirty bears and a dirtier bunny

Rise and shine. I generously let Carmen get up early and make the hot water before arising and getting in her way. Because of the fire ban we had no morning fire to warm our cockles and had to make do with coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a mixture thereof.

Eventually coaxed the grumpy bear into toasting her bagel on the stove, but there is still some lower lip showing. We packed up efficiently and quickly using the patented Bruce method and soon were on our way. Today’s drive was to Jasper and Leslie sped the miles away by loaning us her melodious voice and reading her ridiculous novel about some American feminist who out wits Sherlock Holmes and carries around 10 tons of makeup. Suffice it to say that Tatiana’s large furry muff provided the highlight of the story… At least for the two 15-year-old boys.

We drove Leslie horse until we hit Tete Jaune and the end of our grand circle. About 2500 km around BC without back tracking… w00t! A quick picture, some pawing of Carmen’s chest and we were on our way.

We stopped at Overlander Falls just past Mt. Robson for a quick 30 minute hike. I nice walk but not overly spectacular and we wanted to hurry and get back to the truck to find out if Nell could vet any more insufferable or if Tatiana was still stroking her sable…

Speaking of stroking, we arrived back at the truck only to find Boingy Bunny in a rather compromising position with Bunny. Carmen swears it’s not Boingy’s doing but a chorus of “harlot” proves her wrong.

Soon we were in Jasper and stopped for lunch and a beer. A nice stroll around town and we loaded up and headed out.

As we waited in line at Whistler, we started to wag and drool over the thought of a shower. Suddenly…

Seems when I had made the reservation I had inadvertently put August 30, not July. There was mo room at the inn for us and, being the long weekend, no room anywhere around. Dahn dahn daa!

But fortunately the kind young ladies in the booth took pity on our pathetic visages and refered us to the ‘special’ clerk. This bastion of helpfulness found us a cancelation and scooted us on our way. Come to think of it, it might of been the smell of 3 unwashed bears that did the trick. Nonetheless we soon had camp set up and were sluicing grime from our bodies with abandon. C was a bit slow so we left her behind with hardly a twinge of guilt. Actually we couldn’t twinge because of the layers of dirt buildup: worse than Tammy Fae at a discount makeup blowout.

But eventually we a were clean and a quiet time of reading, blogging and itching ensued. Seems someone had left her Polysporin at home and, being delicious, was suffering from innumerable bites, cuts and rashes from incessant scratching (we plan on taping socks on her hands tonight). She is, as she said, as itchy and burning as a sailor on leave.

Dinner (smokies and s’mores) are in the agenda next followed by fire and sleep.

Day 15: Long day running…

I was up first so I boiled the water. Eventually everyone crawled out of their sleep sacks and we noshed on breakfast. Carmen declared herself satisfied with her new bag. Some hot water to wash up and we took down the camp.

We hit the road towards Smithers with little more plan than eastward ho. A few miles outside of Smithers we saw two or three planes circling around. Eventually we noticed smoke off to the west and we realized they were water bombers. Unfortunately the fire was hidden by some trees so we couldn’t see the last part of their attack runs.

A few miles further along we saw a fish hatchery sign so I slammed on the brakes and yanked the wheel to the right. A bubbly young girl came out and and dragged us from dumbfoundedly gazing at a near empty artificial stream.

Inside the shack were huge troughs of 16-18 thousand coho fingerlings. The girl’s job was feeding these hungry buggers for hours on end. Sort of like cute mini piranha. They raise them for a year inside then clip the fin of each and everyone by hand. Then they move them outside for another year before opening the sluice. The salmon leave when they are ready.

The nearby creek had a few running chinook but we didn’t see any. In another month the previously released coho would be coming back and apparently they are a sight to see.

We stopped in Smithers for gas groceries and lunch we stopped at BPs for the worlds longest lunch. For the second time on this trip we got a n00b waitress. She tried hard but really, when you are in a hurry, it’s hard to take. At the Info centre we decided to make it a long day and camp on the other side of Prince George.

The drive is relatively nice.

We stopped again in Vanderhof for a break and a beer topup.

A quick stop in Prince George for gas and we arrived at Perden Lake around 6:30. Camp was setup pretty quick and Leslie whipped up some blueberry pancakes for dinner. Turns out the fire ban started today so C’s s’mores were called on account of dry.

A lovely late evening walk down to watch the trout jump rounded off the evening and we tucked in for the night.

Day 14: Carmen gives Bruce wood

And yes, she did say tee hee.

Morning was, up and breakfast at Timmies. We hit the road and stopped on the outskirts of town at a Petro Canada. This was the first time I had ever seen purple for sale at a public pump… Cool.

The road to Terrace follows the Skeena river and it’s a beautiful drive. I imagine this is what Vancouver looked like before it was developed and over developed. The alluvial washes were fascinating but didn’t tempt me to go trudging across what was likely just quicksand.

Outside of terrace the roadsides are clogged with trucks and every boat ramp choked with trucks and trailers. The salmon are running and the fishermen are out in droves. We stopped before Terrace and walked down to the river and hawked at the monster Chinook the fisherman had landed.

Lunch at the info centre and we decided to push on to New Hazelton. An hour later we picked out a campsite and started the bushman part of out trip. With little trouble we set up the tents and no lives were lost because of Bruce’s extremely precise and detailed instructions on how, when and where to do each and every task. Thank god for Bruce.

Since the non-Bruce contingent had forgot to replenish the beer (even after two stops for supplies) we loaded up and headed for town. Leslie picked up some black cherry cider to complement the Keith’s Red Bruce chose. Carmen wanted a Paddywhack but Bruce decided he could deliver that later for free.

Back at camp Carmen provided lots and lots of good kindling, all the whilst say she was good at wood and giggling to herself. Leslie and Bruce really are quite tolerant at times like these. Roasted hotdogs, beer, a walk and general fireside chatter rounded out the evening while the peanut gallery hounded your humble author with loud shouts of “what about now! Is it done now?”

The Internet is flaky, so you will have to wait for any images, such as they are…

Day Thirteen: Boiled girl turns red: lobsters jealous!

The morning started with the girls ordering my breakfast of the previous day. These are the best and biggest damn French toast I have ever seen. The weather was clear and warm so we knew we were a go. After arriving at the seaplane base we packed up with ever conceivable piece of gear we thought we’d need including full wet and cold– all unnecessary as it was one of the most beautiful days we’d experienced since leaving Squamish.

A quick orientation about life jackets and an introduction to Steve our pilot found us down by the docks and boarding a 1957 deHavilland Beaver; one of the best bush planes ever produced and Canadian to boot. Another orientation about doors and life vests ( quite similar to the one you get on a 767, but oddly eerier on a 6 person, 50 year old float plane about to cross 90 miles of ocean.

The flight over was unremarkable except for the start when Steve tried to fly low over a channel to look for whales and flew straight into a cloud bank. As we were between two mountainous island s he had bank and climb rather drastically at 120 kits to get above the clouds for the rest of the trip: about 1200 feet until we approached Haida Gwaii (the new name for the Queen Charlottes for those who don’t know).

Our first approach to Skedans was aborted as the pilot tried to bring us in close but the water was too choppy. He added some throttle, pulled back on the stick and banked right to try again. 2nd try he landed farther in to the bay and we touched down smoothly.

Skedans is an old Haida village abandoned in the late 1800s after smallpox etc decimated most of the islands population. The Watchmen (native guides) gave us a tour and a handbook full of pictures from the 1880s that showed what the poles etc. Had looked like. They are pretty well gone now and another 10 or 15 years will probably remove the last traces.

We had about an hour and half there which was really not enough time to soak it in. But they limit the visitors to a max of twelve and there was a boat just coming in. Steve brought the plane back into shore and we climbed aboard the back of the floats and on board. Once agin we were into the air. These beavers have an amazingly short takeoff, which is what made them a great bush plane.

10 minutes later we circled in around Hot Spring Island (Gandll K’in Gwaay. Yaay ) and landed right in the cove. After we slid up on shore we grabbed out gear and hiked for about 10 minutes through rainforest until we reached the Watchmen’s cabin. He showed us the change room and left Les and I to change. Steve had to head back to the plane because the mooring was fouled with seaweed and Carmen hadn’t brought a suit (unfortunately there were signs against nude bathing).

The watchmen returned and showed us the 3 natural pools. The first was 105 to 107 degrees and we left it to last. The next was right by the ocean and we tried it second. It had the benefit of allowing you a dip in the cold sea between hot dips. I tried it but Leslie abstained. The third pool was up on the cliffs and afforded a spectacular view. We soaked here longest and enjoyed the scenery. The guide mentioned soaking her in the evenings and watching humpbacks breach.

Boiled and done we packed up and tromped back to the plane thought the woods. A beautiful experience.

The flight back was mostly at 100-200 ft over the waves. We didn’t see any whales unfortunately but it was a wondrous experience. As we approached the coastal islands the clouds formed again and we brought the plane back up to 1500 feet. A short time later we were over Prince Rupert and circling back over the seaplane cove. Steve dove on one of his fellow pilots trying to beet him to dock but the other fellow was already lower and dive as he might, Steve was beaten to the water.

A short cruise to the dock and we were all clambering ashore. We bid our pilot adieu and jumped in the truck to head for celebratory beer. It was a stunning day and the only thing that could of made it better was for it to have been longer. Dinner was at Breakers Pub, where L made the mistake of ordering the rock fish dinner special. It came to the table and was approximately the size of her torso.

At this point beer ensued with lime Mikes for Leslie. Carmen abstained. We took her temperature, but her nose was cold so we figured it must some sort of psychological aberration. After Leslie had done away with her mammoth fish, we crawled home to early bed and a quick shower.

Apparently Carmen also got up in the middle of the night to buy nail clippers but she didn’t die… At least afaik… I may have been traveling with a zombie all day… Can’t really tell…

Day Twelve: wordpress ate my blog post

So stay tuned to see if I decide to try again…

Version 2

Stupid app lost my long and witty diatribe and now I am pissed; so you get the condenseed version. The morning started with C violating a pancake with peanut butter and jam. I refrained from punishing her but I have go admit that I was sorely tempted… It really was just wrong.

Out next stop was Inland Air and a date with a Beaver. I forgot my jacket so we left C behind and went back tom the hotel. On the way back we saw a lovely black tailed deer and her two fawns. Momma had them all lined up at the crosswalk, looking both ways.

By the time we got back a gale warning had been posted and our trip was put off for a day. Since we’d been warned to lay off e dangerous activities by someone’s mom, we decided to try Pacific Cannery instead and maybe Butze Rapids. Unfortunately for the unnamed mom, the first thing we saw at the cannery was this:

Sorry Mrs. H, we tried. This salmon cannery dates back from the late 1800’s when they existed all the way from California to Alaska. It was an awesome museum and well worth the visit. One of the machines was called unpolitical-correctly an Iron Chink because it replaced so many Chinese workers. Coincidentlaly, Carmen seemed to have a problem with the Chinese guide there, but she claimed it was more to do with his excessively over exuberant personality… But I have pictures…

After the cannery we drove back towards Prince Rupert and stopped off at Butze Rapids. About 5 klicks, lots of differing terrain, huckleberries and no wolves, it was a great hike and while the rapids were not at there peak (you need high or low tide) it was definitely a plus.

We finished our day at the pub and tried a new beer, Okanogan Black. Cold and delicious. One of those sent us home and off to bed.

MacBlaze’s Weekly Tweets for 2010-07-26

  • I is in Squamish halfway up a 5.5. I is in my happy place! #
  • The hostel life is actually very pleasant. Especially if you can get a private room. #
  • RT @EnjoyCentre Travelators are being installed today. http://yfrog.com/jtbaofj #
  • RT @mastermaq How 2 Tell a Journalist from Blogger? How about the former being divorced from reality like most of this: http://bit.ly/cPmwy0 #
  • Do, or do not… There is no "hmmmmmm…" #
  • 7:30 ferry. Be there 2 hours early or else. Very very tired. #
  • Bulk shampoo, bath gel and conditioner in my hotel room. Awesome! (small ones a well for the finicky) Prince Rupert Coast Hotel #
  • Prior planning prevents… Well it prevents spending a shit-ton of money to get what you want. But I got what I wanted… #
  • Wild grizzlies N of Prince Rupert. http://twitpic.com/28re5b #

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Day 11: Carmen finds a soul mate

Starting at 7:45, Prince Rupert Adventure Tours took us on a trip aboard their 100 person catamaran to the Khutzeymateen Inlet and the Khutzeymateen Grizzly bear sanctuary. It was about 1.5 hour boat in to this long fjord that is home to over 50 grizzlies. The steep valley walls and sandy beaches conspire to create excellent viewing of bears in their natural habitat. We saw a couple if eagles and seals on the way in and listen to the tourists mistake jumping salmon for whales.

As we slowed into the fjord, the scenery was awesome and as the guide announce spotting the first bear we all crowded to the outside decks. I never would have believed we could get so close. The first bear meandered around eating grass and we all oohed and awed for half an hour.

The next bear was walking around in a creek bed and the third bear (the biggest of the bunch) decided to wander down tot he shore and show off for Carmen. Needless to say she was completely taken in by his shenanigans and she is currently planning renovations to the condo to accommodate a new companion: bearhugs anyone?

This bear decided a bath was is order. He tromped down to the water and waded in. After splashing around he rolled over and waved his massive paws in the air. This was the point that C was irrevocably hooked. Pedro, if you are reading this, be afraid… be very afraid. Thar’s a bear comin’ to town.

But soon it was time to head home. The captain revved up the motors and we were screaming across the waves towards home.

Leslie:

Saw a seagull
Standing on a log
Floating though the channel

On the way home, the captain stopped in the channel outside the harbor to try and entice some eagles. They through some meat in the water and soon 6 to 8 bald eagles were swooping and diving in the water beside the boat. I never got a picture with the cell phone but I think I got some awesome shots with the camera… No blog pictures though.

Afterwards we walked up to the museum again and Carmen bought herself a spirit ring. There were no bears so she settled for an eagle. But lovely nonetheless.

After we checked into out hotel we headed down to Smiles for fresh seafood. Poached halibut, scallops and charbroiled salmon were on the menu. Very very large portions! Someone ( of the feminine persuasion) had to go to the washroom and left their reading brain at the table. Much to my surprise she came waltzing out from under the Men’s sign complaining about how ‘scary’ the washrooms was. Hmmmmmmm.

I guess no on really does ‘read this crap.’

Anyway after dinner, we walked the docks and admired the yachts. A washroom break in the pub turned into another beer (or Pomtini’s for the girly girls) and eventually we staggered out into the light. A stop at the Cow Bay Spirits produced some wine and the evening ended in the room, blogging, yakking and yattering.

Day Ten: money for nothing

Morning for us started better than morning for our waitresses. Apparently someone slept in and they were overworked and irate.

Eventually we were all up and fed, but with the lazy sleepers-inners, it was late morning before we were off.


A sign down in the seaplane cove.

First things first and we headed off to the seaplane base to see if that was in the cards. We wanted to see bears, whales, the Queen Charlottes and anything else interesting. After a lovely chat and a walk around we came to the conclusion that we either took the ferry to the Charlottes right away as travel time would eat up two days or we gave up on it and headed home slowly. OR… We could spend a shit-ton of money to charter a floatplane to take us there for a day trip. Guess which choice we made…

We walked down to the Coast Guard base to see what was up and had a lovely chat with the gate guard. He showed us some pics and gave us some gossip and we walked back to the truck. A little bit later a chinook helicopter came winging in and landed at the base.

That done with we headed to the info booth which was in the museum. There we decided on the next couple of days activities and toured the exhibits. We saw awesome basket weaving with cedar bark, carvings and bent cedar boxes, which are boxes made from 1plank of cedar that is steamed and bent into a seamless box.

After the museum we walked down to Cow Bay where there were shops and tours. Leslie decided we needed to see bears so she booked a tour for the following day. 6 hours on a boat… Woot. After a bit of a wander we decided to eat. The Japanese place wasn’t open yet so the girls grabbed a berry crisp to tide them over and we went for a drive to charge some batteries and see the sights.

We found Butze trail which is scheduled for later in the week and generally mapped out the town. Then we had some truly truly fresh sushi (with a delicious miso for the chilly Carmen).

The handy dandy smart phones gave us information on the movies in town and we decides to take in Inception: awesome changing gravity fight scene! Afterwards we got some advice from the hotel clerk on a nice lounge and walked for a beer. Then it was bed time cause tomorrow’s bears were coming early.

Day Nine: Humpbacks off the starboard bow

The morning started early. I think C was in the shower by 4. Eventually we all started to crawl out of bed and I grabbed a quick shower cause there was time. While the girls primped and flattened, I packed the truck and generally made antsy noises.

At exactly 5:15 we pulled out and headed for the ferry. Somewhere along they way Boingy Bunny settled in for a snuggle with the Chalkbag bunny, and they are still going at it.

After being asked for our ID about fifty bazillion times we finally pulled into the ferry though a bow door that lifted vertically.

The Northern Expedition is a recent addition to the fleet. It was built in Germany late 2008 to replace the ferry that sank a few years back. It traveled from Germany via the Panama Canal in spring 2009 and was in service by May.

I’d gotten a cabin in case we wanted to rest (which Leslie is doing right now) and it was fitted out with bathroom, shower, tv and more.

The sail started out with a sunny dawn breaking though clouds in the east. The ferry hustles along as Leslie and I explored the ship. Eventually we ate breakfast at 7 and as we finished up the ship backed out and into Port Hardy’s harbour.

Another roam around the ship decided us on the aft sundeck on deck 6 as our home and we met up with Carmen and camped ourselves in the morning sun. Eventually it clouded over but it was pleasant while it lasted.

By noon we’d spotted an orca, a few far off whales and the girls saw a humpback dive right in front of them. The ship reversed course for a scheduled man-overboard drill that had a slightly comical twist to it when the rescue boat failed to start a bobbed pathetically along side. Eventually though they got it going and the dummy was saved after all.

Right after that the bridge announced humpbacks breaching about 3 miles ahead off the starboard bow. We could see the splashes with the naked eye and as we got closer, the binoculars provided an excellent show. It was mostly a big cow splashing around with her fins and her calf exuberantly breaching alongside. This went on for 5 or 10 minutes and the captain even slowed the ship to a crawl. A few more whales provides a glimpse or two, but it was primarily mother and daughter show.

When we resumed it was BBQ smokies on the sundeck and a bit of a relax.

The afternoon brought clouds and misty fog making for a very coastal experience. Eventually the mist drove us inside to a cup of hot chocolate and/or tea. After tea: nap!

While we were napping the mist turned to rain. We wandered and explored for a bit trying to decide on dinner. Eventually we hit the gift shop for some exercise in commercialism then decided the buffet’s $29 price tag was too steep. It’s only 6:29 and we’ve likely got another 4 hours.

The last four passes quietly with occasional staring out the window, solitude and meandering. We pulled into Prince Rupert at exactly 10:30 and were quickly unloaded and on our way. Separate rooms tonight as I guess we are all tired of each others company 🙂

Night night