Vancouver Island

Our second to last destination on this trip is Victoria, Vancouver Island, and what a wonderful place! We felt at home here right away, and there’s lots of lovely things to see and do. We spent our first day exploring and walking around, then went for dinner at a place featured on the TV programme “You Gotta Eat Here“, which was really good.

Today, after a quick run, we’ve been to The Royal BC Museum where we learnt a lot about the history of British Columbia, and other parts of the US and Canada. Tonight we had a bit of a walk before our dinner.

Now I’m writing this it seems like we hardly did anything, but this place really is amazing and I keep having to remind myself how far from home I really am.

So tomorrow we head back to Vancouver for the final three nights of our holiday. We keep saying how long ago everything that we’ve done seems, but at the same time how quickly it’s gone.

Seattle

After a brief interrogation at the US border, we were in Washington (state, not DC!) and then onto Seattle. We called in at the Boeing factory on our way, which is absolutely huge. You don’t really notice when you’re in it though, as everything is relative, but when you think that there are four 777 (huuuge planes!) in front of you, you kind of realise! We don’t have any photos of the inside, as cameras aren’t allowed. Apparently the FBI wouldn’t be too pleased if you managed to sneak one in either.
         

    
We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, which was absolutely amazing. So much choice, so much food, and it tastes really good too. Definitely need to get back on the running once we’re back! Then we popped down to Union Lake for a 4th of July firework display, which started with a helicopter flying past with the American flag dangling down!
We spent our last day in Seattle mostly at the Space Needle, where you go 500 feet in the air and get spectacular 360 degree views of the city. We also saw the first ever Starbucks – it’s unbelieveble when you see what they started from and where they are now. 
This morning we took the ferry to Vancouver Island. It’s a lovely place, and warrants a post all of it’s own, so watch this space!

End of our Rocky Mountain trip!

Today we’ve been in the hot springs – the water is naturally heated to 38 degrees! It was like being in a hot-tub, and you couldn’t stay in for too long without overheating! We also did a little walk to a viewpoint in Banff called “Surprise Corner”. It was pretty rubbish to be honest, but we’ve put this down to the amazing views that we’ve had on the drive here. The photos below are from Vermillion Lake and Minniwanka (it’s seriously called that, I haven’t made this up!).

Tonight is our last night in Lake Louise, which brings the Rocky Mountain trip to an end. Tomorrow we begin to head back east west (editorial note: whoops!) towards Vancouver. We have a little stop off on the way in a town called Merritt. There’s nothing much there, it’s just a place to stay for a night and break up the drive.

Jasper and Banff have been truly beautiful. We’ve taken loads of pictures, but they don’t even come close to doing these places justice.

I’ll miss them, but I can’t wait to see Vancouver Island, and, of course, the Boeing factory!

Jasper National Park

After a four and a half hour drive we made it from Whistler to Jasper. Unfortunately the rest stop we used to swap driving duties was the mosquito capital of Canada, and I’m now sporting 20 (no joke) bites on my legs. Itchy doesn’t even begin to describe it!
So once we arrived yesterday we went for a quick hike, saw some really long trains and ground squirrels (very cute!) and then settled in. Today we’ve been on the Jasper Sky Train, which, if I’m honest, I was absolutely dreading due to my fear of heights. Once we were up there though it was well worth it – the views were amazing – and we got to see some more ground squirrels.

So that’s it for Jasper. We’ve been a bit unlucky with the weather as the pictures show, but the forecast is looking a bit better for the next few days. Our drive to Banff will be around 3 hours tomorrow, and we may or may not have Wifi so there may not be an update for a while. We’ll take plenty of photos of course though – it’s going to be fun sorting through them all (not!).

Vancouver to Whistler

What an amazing journey! I mean, we knew this place was going to be beautiful, but there are no words that will do it justice. Even the smell of pine and fir trees, just like Christmas but much stronger and sweeter. There’s so much to see, and it’s literally breathtaking.

After a quick morning run it’s time to have breakfast then start the four hour drive to Kamloops. The weather has been incredible so far, lovely and hot. It looks like we’ve been lucky, as it’s not normally this hot.
We can’t wait to see more of this amazing place. I’m certain you could spend a lifetime here and hardly see any of it!

Hello Vancouver!

Well, after a 9 hour flight, we’re finally here in Vancouver, and just about managing to stay awake! The journey here was a lot better this time, as Air Transat fly from Manchester Airport (which is around 15 minutes away from us by road), so we didn’t have to travel to Heathrow. Much better, even if the plane was a little less comfortable than British Airways.

It’s only a one-night stay here before we head off to Whistler tomorrow. We have more time in Vancouver at the end of our trip, so will get to see it properly then. No doubt we’ll be on our way at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning – our body clocks have some adjusting to do!

Return to SF

Our road trip is now complete *sad-face*. We dropped the car off earlier, confirmed it hadn’t exploded (he did ask us that!) then were let loose on the public transport. One slight mishap later and we’re settled in our hotel in the Union Square area of San Francisco.
This afternoon we had a look around, then headed into Chinatown for some dinner. We chose a place that looked rather touristy, as we’ve been told that on the streets you can find shops with various “animal parts that you would not see on sale anywhere else”.
After a safe set meal for two, we headed back to Union Square, and on the advice of Sarah’s family friends who’ve been to California a couple of times, we went to The Grand Hyatt Hotel for a drink. The cocktails weren’t too expensive, and the views were spectacular. The shot above is a long exposure taken from our table; this was our actual view. Really amazing.
We’ve got a few things in mind for the next few days, enough to keep us busy and combat the end-of-holiday blues! This part of the trip feels different enough though, more like a city break, so it’s not too depressing actually!
We hear the weather is pretty shocking back home; we’re not joking when we say we can’t even remember what rain is! Other than a little fog in the mornings, the weather is fantastic here. Fingers crossed things will improve by the time we arrive back in England!
Goodnight from us, although it’s good morning to everyone back home!

Elephant Seals

Today we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to the locals) from Pismo Beach to Monterey. Had some lovely views of the ocean and cliffs along the journey. We also saw some Elephant Seals!

Once in Monterey we walked down to the pier and went on a boat ride where we saw Sea Lions and Sea Otters! Jon also ate some Kelp (we were told it’s actually good for you!).

We had some American size ice creams after tea, if this is the size of a single scoop what would happen if I’d said yes to a double scoop?!

Off to San Francisco tomorrow for our final stop and time to say bye to the hire car.

Santa Barbara, and Happy 4th July in Pismo Beach

Wow, the days are going by really quickly now! We had a night in Santa Barbara, which was really nice actually. We agreed that it’s like the undercurrent of South America which seems to be present a lot in California really comes through here, and in a very good way. You can easily forget you’re in the USA; it has a very Mediterranean feel!

Today we’re at Pismo Beach, a nice little place just off Freeway 101. We had a walk down to the beach where we saw many many Americans celebrating 4th July (Independence Day!), with barbecues and all sorts going on. Luckily we were a walk away; some locals were charging $50 (no, I didn’t miss a decimal point!) to park in their yards.

One more stopover in Monterey tomorrow, then we’re back to San Francisco for a few days before heading back. Really starting to feel sad that it’s coming to an end now, it’s gone so quickly but we’ve done so much, and really feel settled in here now. Not sure what to do for tea tonight; we had a burger from Jack In The Box for lunch, then snacked on leftovers from the Mexican last night, so we’re not all that hungry. I’m sure we’ll find something though!