Posted by: glenswatman | September 21, 2007

200709-1-CANADA BC,Alberta USA Alaska



SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2007 – It’s still raining
when we get up so we might as well press on. 
Since coming back into BC we’ve noticed most of the trees in their
autumn colours but this doesn’t seem quite right as they are supposed to be
evergreens.  It’s a scenic route with
fine views of rivers and mountains but the idiots who overtake us on the double
yellow lines don’t seem to care.  Not
only that but many come past us hooting their horns as they are far too
impatient to be held up by a motorhome chugging along at 80kph!  The rain has stopped when we arrive at the
turning to Wells Gray Provincial Park so we decide to drive in as far as the
paved road goes.  After 10km we are
impressed by Spahats Falls, leaping out of a crack in a tall gorge it’s really
stunning.  Nearby Shaden viewpoint gives
us a sweeping vista down the valley below. 
The drive takes us through a valley lined with Swiss style chalets and
ranches.  Dawson Falls are more on the
Niagara style, wide and curved and equally good viewed from below and
above.  The grand finale is Helmichen
Falls a very dramatic high single drop into a rocky gorge.  Backtracking to the main road we must have
blinked as we missed the town of Blackpool, certainly not something you could
do with the English counterpart.  Turn
off onto highway 24 aka the Fishing Highway because of all the lakes.  Soon find a forest track to provide us with
a quiet overnight parking place

FOREST TRACK OFF HIGHWAY 24                       


SUNDAY 2 SEPTEMBER – There are many lakes by
the highway but they seem to be either inaccessible by vehicle or the shores
are taken up with holiday homes.  A huge
area of forest has been cleared and a sign declares “savage harvesting of ice
storm damaged timber”, maybe this is why the trees have turned brown?  The road climbs over the hills and we get a
super view of Lac Des Roches and finally get the truth about the brown
trees.  Beetles have taken a hold and
devastated the forest in this area; man controlling fires has encouraged this
as they like the mature trees best.  We
try numerous tracks in an attempt to get a parking spot by a lake but holiday
homes are everywhere.  At least we get a
good look at all the different style log cabins.  Get the feeling we are not going to find any free camping in this
area.  Turn off to the touristy Green
Lake where it’s cheap to camp on the Provincial Park Emerald campground.  Secure us a site with a super view over the
lake and in no time at all Steve has a roaring log fire going.  He takes the bucket to the pump to fetch
some of the “safe drinking water” and comes back with a bucket of sludge, the
lake water being clear and much better looking.   Just starting to relax when the heavens open up and rain dowses
the fire and drives us inside.  Lying in
bed we hear a tapping noise and look out to see a magnificent red headed
woodpecker on the tree nearby.  Constant
observation reveals a black and grey one then a baby with red head.  The only time we open the door is when the
ranger calls for the money.


$14 (£7)


MONDAY 3 SEPTEMBER – The site is still full as
it is Labour Day public holiday today and the children don’t go back to school
until tomorrow.  Detour off route to
visit “painted chasm”, not overly impressive but we could have easily free
camped in the car park overnight.  Pass
through the old mining town of Clinton then enter the Marble Canyon with its 3
different colour lakes.  In the Fountain
area the scenery gets really impressive as we are high up above a wide gorge
and can see the river and rocks down below. 
Dropping down to Lillooet we see lots of blue tarpaulins at the side of
the river, first nation people drying salmon the feed themselves through the
winter.  We need to get on the Internet
to do some banking as the sale of our Keighley house went through on
Friday.  Fraser Cover has attractive
sites on the river, a sandy beach and free wi-fi.  All well and good except the funds have not gone in to our
account.  Still there are worse places
to hole up.


$15.90, (£8) without electric.


TUESDAY 4 SEPTEMBER – First port of call is
the town of Lillooet where huge chunks of jade are dotted around town as a
reminder of the mining days.  It’s a
funny old town, as it seems to have been built on the mining seams.  We need the launderette but its closed on 2,
3 and 4th September. 
Continue our journey towards Vancouver up over mountains then down into
valleys and over single lane rickety wooden bridges crossing pretty streams,
all very beautiful.  Once again it seems
the more scenic the highway the worse the condition of roads as we rattle and
bump our way along.  There’s an
abundance of really nice free camping spots by the river and we stop to check
one out at Roger Creek.  They are
properly signed recreation areas but there is no charge.  Walk around and pick a flat site by the
river then return to move the van but can’t. 
We are locked out due to me letting my door slam shut after putting my hand
on the automatic locking button.  Steve
can see the keys in the ignition and I can see my handbag on the floor with the
spare key inside it.  We have another
spare set of keys in the bathroom cabinet for dire emergencies knowing that at
a push we can break in through the skylight but first we want to check out
alternatives.  There’s a car parked up
and we ask if we can borrows his keys on the long shot that they will fit.  They don’t but it gives us an introduction
to Andy who emigrated to Vancouver 18 months ago from Derbyshire.  He comes over to try and help us as he has
some tools with him.  We try jiggling
the sliding windows but to know avail so Steve & Andy remove the rubber
around the back window hoping the window will drop out.  Meanwhile I go up onto the road to see if
any motorhomes like ours go past in the vague hope that their keys will
fit.  The first one to stop is another
fellow Englishman from down south.  He
is a panel beater and when his keys don’t work he says he knows how to break in
quite easily through the cab door.  He
tries his usual trick with a piece of wire but somehow this recent model
American Fords has him beaten.  He has a
deadline in Whistler so leaves us and wanders off muttering that he would have
been inside in minutes on an English motor! 
Steve and Andy now go up on the roof and prise the roof vent open then
use Andy’s knife to cut through the fly screen mesh.  We soon have the spare keys out and get ourselves back into the
van.  Lesson learned, as we will find a
better more easily accessible place for a spare key in future.  Meanwhile we realise that the flies and
mosquitoes are a problem here so we won’t stay anyway!  More stunning scenery as we pass Duffey Lake
with a log jam at one end and superb views of snowy mountains at the other.  It’s 400m to walk to the lower Joffre Lake,
a typical green one with a glacier in the distance.  The road becomes very steep, 11%, and winding down to Lillooet
Lake.  There’s free camping on the
shores but we soon realise the narrow bumpy road is not for us but can’t turn
around.  The road is rutted, has
potholes and rocks and we are giving Harry a real shake up.  After 3km we find a spot to pull over and
flag a car down to ask about the camping. 
It’s another 5km and he says the road is just as good as the one we have
come on!  Back on the main highway we
stop 3km south of Pemberton at Nairn Falls Provincial Park where there are some
lovely sites above the river.  It’s now
a hot afternoon so we sit out sunbathing then take a late walk to the falls, 1
½ km each way, not all that high but we get very close and the water is a
beautiful colour.  Final stroll of the
day is to the campsite beach area where I spot a salmon jumping out of the
water.  The ranger calls to collect the
fees and warns us to keep all our food inside, as there are bears in the


$14 (£7)


WEDNESDAY 5 SEPTEMBER – Arrive in Whistler a
pretty purpose built ski resort in a valley surrounded by snowy mountains.  It’s really very pretty and there are lots
of quirky artworks scattered around the pedestrian only centre.  At the library we find the money from our
Keighley house has now gone into our account so for a few minutes we feel rich
until we transfer it to a savings bond. 
At the visitor centre we are asking a few questions and somehow end up
at another desk where we are easily talked into giving up 90 minutes of our
time to go to a sales presentation. 
It’s not time-share but surely something like it however in order to get
the free $100 shopping voucher it seems worth doing.  Club Intrawest is similar to timeshare but you buy points and can
use them within many other organisations including RCI and Disney.  At US$21,000 (£10,500) for 125 points it’s
an interesting concept but definitely not for us.   Spend the next hour spending our voucher, not as easy as normal
as we will be leaving our motorhome parked up for 10 days and have just run the
fridge and freezer down.  Make use of
the launderette at the Riverside campground, $3 (£1.50) a load.  Cal Creek 15km south of town is our
overnight stop.  There are 3 campgrounds
and the 2nd one is supposed to be the best but we’re only here
overnight so take the first site.  OK
but a bit dismal being under the trees. 


$10 (£5)


THURSDAY 6 SEPTEMBER – Clearing out the
freezer means we get to have a cooked breakfast.  Get a bit more than we bargained for when I see flames shooting
up under the kettle.  We have a couple
of small rubber mats to stop the cooker cover moving and one has got stuck to
the bottom of the kettle and is on fire. 
Luckily I was near enough to spot the problem and deal with it
quickly.  Continue south on the sea to
the sky highway (or in our case sky to sea). 
Preparations for the 2010 Olympics are well under way with the widening
of the road.  Squamish is a pleasant
service town presided over by a huge rock, the second largest to
Gibraltar.  Shannon Falls south of town
are worth a quick look but we can tell we are getting near to Vancouver as they
charge $1 (50p) hour for parking.  The
journey is still very scenic with more beautiful lakes and mountain.  Porteau Cove Provincial Park is on the
waterfront opposite some islands.  We
are early enough to bag ourselves a waterfront site and spend the day
alternating between sitting out in the sun and doing odd jobs.  It’s one of the more expensive provincial
park campgrounds but at least they have flush toilets, warm showers and
electric points in the ablutions block enabling me to dry and straighten my
hair.  Now not only can we hear the
railway but we can also see it as the track is directly behind the campground
with the road just beyond it, no chance of peace and quiet. 


$22 (£11)


FRIDAY 7 SEPTEMBER – Nice quiet night –
not.  Not only did we get the trains and
traffic noise but also between 3am and 5am they were blasting rocks.  It’s an easy journey to Vancouver and we
pick up the motorway #1 to avoid the city itself.  We’ve arranged to leave Harry parked at a host in South Surrey
and easily find his home as he lives quite close to where Auntie Joan
lived.  Bill is a retired fire fighter
and busy getting his home ready as he is off on a 7-week trip to Europe
tomorrow.  His wife Marlene works in the
city and stays in their apartment there through the week.  As a hobby Bill makes outdoor chairs from
driftwood and has some wonderful examples in his garden.  We have plenty to do in the van, packing to
go to cousin Chris’s tomorrow for 2 nights then on to a host in New Westminster
for 2 nights before setting off on our 1 week cruise.  Bill is having a leaving party and we are invited to join
in.  His father Bill is the first to
arrive and we have lots to chat about as he used to be a motorhomer.  Verne & Amanda arrive next, an
interesting couple that are building on Savory Island.  Other guests are Pat & Dodie, Terry
& Diane, Tim with his dog Molly and Bills kids Nathan and Sydney and Bills
wife Marlene.  Bill has cooked hockey
pucks and gravy, a sort of huge meatball cooked in gravy with onions and
mushrooms.  Bill, Terry & Pat are
off on a 3 week rugby tour around Britain so everyone is in a jolly mood and we
have a great time and stay on late around a wood fire in the garden.  Would have great to have spent even more
time with everyone. 



SATURDAY 8 SEPTEMBER – Chris drives a small
2-seater sports car so has rented a car in order to pick us up.  We’ve not seen her for 5 years but she looks
much the same when she calls for us. 
Drive to Earls restaurant where we wait for John (Auntie Joan’s partner)
to arrive.  He joins us for lunch and we
catch up on his news.  Think we tire him
out as he leaves straight after lunch to go home for a nap.  Back at Chris’s place in Coquitlam we settle
in before I go out with Chris to the local shops.  Her partner John arrives home after 7pm and joins us for our
evening chilli meal. 



SUNDAY 9 SEPTEMBER – John & Chris return
the rental car early then Steve & John go off together so that John can
give Steve a bit of a speed thrill in his sports car.  Chris takes me down to Granville Island where we wonder around
the interesting market selling produce and crafts.  It’s a gorgeous day so we sit out by the waterfront having a cake
and drink.  Call at an interesting
furniture store and arrive back early afternoon to spend the afternoon chilling
out.  John cooks a tasty pasta alfredo
with crab for our evening meal.



MONDAY 10 SEPTEMBER – Chris & John have to
go to work but say we can stay until it’s time for us to leave late
afternoon.  Needless to say I spend the
time on the computer and Steve watching TV. 
Chris has told us how to exit via the parking bay but not how to get the
door to open.  Eventually figure out
that we must pretend to be a car and tread on a pipe that crosses the road to
activate the remote.  Walk down the hill
to catch the sky train, $2.10 (£1) for one sector, to New Westminster
station.  From there we head off to find
our host Janice.  New Westminster is on
the Fraser River so we make our way down to the waterfront to walk along the
boardwalk.  Steve pops in to check out
the casino on a paddle steamer.  It sit
underneath the biggest tin solder in the world and whist waiting a lady coasts
past in her disability scooter and I admire her ice cream.  No sooner has she gone past than it occurs
to me that she looks like the picture we have seen of our host Janice who has
recently had a foot operation.  However
I can’t for the life of me bring her name to mind quickly enough to shout after
her!  Steve comes back and we begin our
walk with the trolleys rattling along the boards.  Cross paths with the scooter lady and almost simultaneously make
the connection.  She leads us to her
Quayside 17th floor apartment with stunning views as far as
snow-clad Mount Barker in America.  On
the River below we see the tug boats pulling the logs and acting rather like
sheep dogs as they double back to push any strays into line.  We’ve so much in common with Janice that the
time goes fast and we appreciate sitting out in the warm sun on her balcony and
even eat supper there. 



TUESDAY 11 SEPTEMBER – Janice is a teacher but
not working full time at the moment so around to spend the day with us.  She has a boot on her foot just like I had
last year but can’t stand up for more than 10 minutes.  As well as the mobility scooter she has a
wheelchair so we take this down to her car for a ride out.  Luckily it’s her left foot in the boot and
she has an automatic vehicle.  We head
out towards the airport and park parallel to the tarmac runway and also the
river that the floatplanes use for their landing strip.  Next we move to a viewing area laid out like
a miniature version of the airport complete with numbered runways.  Now we can lie down directly under the path
of planes that are landing but unfortunately today it is only the smaller ones
using this flight path.  Next stop is
the area known as Little India where Janice recommends the vegetarian buffet
$9.99 (£5) lunch at “India All Sweets”. Follow this up with a visit to Queen
Elizabeth Park with views over the city, albeit mostly obscure by trees.  Return to New Westminster where we stay in
the apartment whilst Janice goes out for the evening giving me chance to iron
and pack our stuff ready for the cruise. 
A tug goes past with an incredibly long log load behind.  So much so that we can’t see from one end to
the other and 2 other tugs are escorting it. 
They all come in to play when one section breaks away and they
congregate to push the logs back in line with some of the men climbing onto the
logs themselves.



WEDNESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER – Janice is working
this afternoon so we tag along with her back to the skytrain station.  We are like a convoy with Janice on her
scooter between Steve & I with our trolley bags.  We have to travel 2 sectors on the skytrain $3.25 (£1.60).  They are unmanned so the person on the
single seat at the front looks like they are driving.  Arrive at waterfront where it’s a short walk to the cruise
terminal at Canada Place.  There are
huge queues at check in but most people have arrived by other means and been
relieved of their luggage.  We are
segregated to a seating area of non-Canadian or Americans.  American security was beefed up due to the
anniversary of 911 so we have quite a delay and it’s well over an hour before
we are ready to board the ship and that’s with us doing an on line check in
procedure.  Board the, 1400 passenger
carrying ship, Holland America Zaandam to be directed to the Lido deck and
poolside area where there are buffets. 
Outside you can get tacos and beef burger type snacks and inside is a
full buffet including an ice cream bar. 
We attempt to restrain ourselves but you may not think so looking at our
plates!  An announcement soon goes out
that our cabins area ready and this is where we benefit from bringing our
luggage along, as we don’t have to wait for it to be delivered to our
cabin.  We’ve been upgraded from HH
class to C and have a lovely outside stateroom on the lower promenade deck
3.  It’s quite spacious with a mini sofa
seating area, TV & DVD player and bathroom with a small tub.  There’s a nice bottle of red wine in the
room with a “Happy Anniversary” gift card and we are stunned to find it is from
our Dutch friends Henk & Clara from Hungary.  Steve finds sport on TV so I leave him channel surfing whilst
exploring the ship in order to find where to change our dining arrangements to
an earlier sitting.  Certain areas of
the ship are a bit like a “Hard Rock Café” with lots of musical memorabilia
including guitars from Queen and Bill Clintons Sax.  It’s a very luxurious ship with many different themed bars and
seating areas and I am suitably impressed, especially given that we have only
paid £317.50 each!  The atrium runs
through 3 floors with pride of place a very ornate 3-story organ with moving
figures.  I manage to change our
mealtime but the 6pm is full so I get 5.30pm. 
We have a programme of events so I pick up Steve to join me for a tour
of the spa where all the treatments are tempting, but not the prices.  4.15pm is a very comprehensive lifeboat
drill with everyone checked off by name upon reaching the muster station with
lifejacket in place.  By the time we
have done that and another orientation walk of the ship it’s getting on towards
our sailing time of 5pm so we head back to the cabin to change.  Tonight is casual dress, men in collared shirts,
and no jeans.  From the aft pool deck
there are stunning views of Vancouver as we head up the coast, keep having to
pinch myself to believe it is real!  We
have been given a window seat on a table for 6 but seem to be the only ones
attending tonight.  The food is first
class and I enjoy an unusual starter of chilled blueberry soup and we both
finish with baked Alaska.  In spite of
the dress code the majority of people look extremely casual with many in jeans
and T-shirts.  Leaving the restaurant we
catch the liqueur sampling at the duty free shop en route to the early show.
Dave Levesque is a fantastic violin player who combines his skills with a
comedy act, different and rather good. 
We then wander around the ship checking out the different entertainment
and pick up some popcorn in the cinema followed by a late night snack.  In the casino they have a late night free
raffle and champagne so we make that our last stop for the night.




wedding anniversary and we wake just before 7.30am and peer out of our window
to see – nothing.  It’s daylight but
raining and misty.  Minutes later there
is a knock on the door, room service delivering our breakfast.   Steve gets stuck into the activity
programme flagging the things we want to do or making choices where things
clash.  We are at sea all day and he
seems determined to make the most of the things on offer.  At 9am we are in the theatre for the
shoppers presentation where we learn the best buys within each port,
particularly appropriate as there is only 1 cruise after ours so end of season
sales proliferate.  This presentation is
immediately followed by one about our destinations, a sort of shore excursion
sales ploy mixed with great info.  There
are many different specialists on board in addition to the personal shopper,
and this guy is a naturalist.   Steve
ducks out part way through to go to the casino for free gaming tuition before
we rendezvous back in the cabin.  Must
schedule a sleep for later as this is already getting quite tiring.  The weather improves and we have lovely
views of the shore and many islands as we continue north along the coast of
Canada.  Free champagne is provided at
the art auction after which we get a break until the evening.  It’s formal night tonight and I must say we
do scrub up rather well although it’s strange seeing Steve in a suit when we
are not going to a wedding or a funeral! 
Take Henk & Clara’s gifted bottle of wine to the evening meal where
Aussies Tony & Helen from North Adelaide and sisters Anna and Joan from
Tauranga New Zealand join us.  After our
main course the dining staff come over with a chocolate cake complete with
candle and Happy Anniversary.  They
gather round and proceed to sing the Happy Birthday songs replacing the words
with Happy Anniversary lovely couple! 
Don’t think I will be mentioning Steve’s birthday later in the
week.  Anyway it’s another excellent
meal with good company and a great way for us to celebrate.  Steve goes to the evening Broadway musicals
show whilst I enjoy “Shrek 3” at the cinema amongst about 30 adults and 2
children.  Meet up back at the room
where I find Steve fast asleep.



in the early hours of the morning so have to put our clocks back an hour (now 9
hours behind BST).  Steve is wide away
before daylight at 5am enabling us to see the pink sunrise over the land.  Taking an early breakfast on the Lido deck Steve
spots whales quite close to the ship. 
We sit out on the promenade deck and then have fun watching people point
out all the whales, many of which are icebergs.  Pop up to Rotterdam restaurant for a hot chocolate and end up
being Hobbits and having a second breakfast. 
It’s nearly 10am and time for the ship to turn into Tracey Arm for our
scenic cruise.  Instead we get an
announcement from the Captain saying we have a lady on board who is in ICU so
we are going full steam ahead for Juneau to get her to a hospital.  I spoke to a passenger early in the cruise
who said there is an “incident” almost every week on the Holland America line,
maybe a reflection of the general age of the passengers.  No sooner are we under way than we hit a
huge bank of fog and that’s about it until we approach the capital city of
Juneau.  Amazingly it is not raining,
anything without rain is considered a beautiful day in Juneau.  It can be 50 below, blowing a gale, ear high
in snow with a tsunami coming through the bay but it doesn’t rain it’s a
beautiful day.   We disembark at 11.30am
3-hours ahead of schedule.  Our centre
of town docking leads us straight into the touristy shopping area.  We stroll around and use many of our coupons
to get little free gifts whilst being enticed into buying other things once in
the store.  Surprisingly many things are
very cheap compared to the lower 48 (Alaskans name for the rest of the
USA).  Return to drop the shopping off
and have a bite to eat then explore a bit of the old mining town before our
2.30pm rendezvous with Couch Surfing host John at the State museum.  John soon establishes that we are a bit
museumed out and would prefer to skip through the highlights of town then see a
few lesser-known things.  He begins by
walking us to the Centennial Hall rooftop viewing point, talking about the city
history en route.  Once back from the
waterfront the city rises quickly up towards the mountains so streets are steep
and often have pedestrian staircases between them and sometimes lifts within
buildings that you can use.  In the
State Capitol building John points out a portrait of a lady with a pair of
earring in the bottom of the frame.  She
must have found many of the meetings boring because one earring says “in” and
one says “out” (i.e. in one ear and out the other)!  We quickly cover the city highlights and end up in the hills near
dramatic waterfalls.  John walks us
along the start of the Perseverance Trail leading us across the river so we can
walk back along the covered wooden flume to meet him at the other end.  He picks us up in his car, an ex police
vehicle giving us our first ride in an American Police car.  Heading out of the centre we are amazed to
see a dual carriageway running beside the old road.  Juneau is inaccessible by land so these roads all lead to nowhere
but are very busy doing so.  Stop to
look at the salmon ladder at the hatchery where fish are making their way
upstream to spawn before dying.  Alaska
Gold brewery gives a free tour and very generous samples.  The tour guide has a passion for beer and
gives an unusually interesting talk whilst constantly making sure everyone’s
glass is topped up.  Steve particularly
likes their smoked dark ale.  By the
time we get to Mendenhall Glacier on the outskirts of town the tour buses have all
left so it’s easy to wander around the boardwalks.  It’s quite a spectacle as the glacier is calving and there are
lots of bergs in the lake below.  Salmon
are in all the meandering streams and it’s easy to see where bear have trampled
the grass to catch them and then abandoned the fish after eating their
favourite bits, also pretty smelly. 
John drops us back at the ship at 6pm after a most interesting
afternoon, far better than doing an organised tour sights and we’ve learnt a
lot about his life in Alaska to boot. 
We’ve missed our early meal sitting but get in on the 8.15pm one and sit
with a Taiwanese family.  David Deeble
features in the evening show. He’s from Los Angeles and also known as the
world’s funniest juggler and has us in stitches when he juggles ping-pong balls
out of his mouth.



SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER – Wake up in Skagway but
are still surprised to look out of the window and find we are face to face with
a cliff face plastered in graffiti.  Not
your normal graffiti but a record of the different ships and captains that have
been anchored here over the years.  It
is far from a beautiful day with rain and accompanied by a strong cold
wind.  Skagway became famous as the
gateway to Dawson City during the gold rush and we walk to the nearby town info
centre to learn more.  There are many
attractive buildings along “Broadway” fronted by raised wooden (slippery) paths
to walk along.  A&B building, the
most photographed in Alaska, has a false facia of 1000’s of pieces of driftwood
but almost all the other buildings also make for good photos.  Interesting as it is we don’t hang around in
the cold and give up on the idea of our planned walk to the cemetery and
waterfalls up in the hills.  Opt for the
cinema in the evening to watch the latest Bruce Willis movie.




  1. Hi,Do you have second hand lcds, used laptop lcds and used LCD displays? Please go Stars).We are constantly buying re-usable LCD panels.We recycled LCDs.The re-usable panels go through strictly designed process of categorizing, checking, testing, repairing and refurbishing before they are re-used to make remanufactured LCD displays and TV sets.Due to our recent breakthrough in testing and repairing technology of LCD, we can improve the value for your LCD panels.[dcdaheffebedjej]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: