The Rocky Mountains

The drive from Cranbrook to Calgary, which saw us cross over from British Columbia into Alberta was stunning, we traveled up route 22, which is known as the cowboy trail, owing to its sweeping arid fields, long straight endless road and snow capped Rocky Mountains which dominate the backdrop, it truly was breath taking.

Cowboy trail to Longview – first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains
Longview Gas Station
Longview Gas Station

Calgary was literally a two hour flying visit, and then onto Canmore in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Everywhere you look is a perfect picture from a glossy travel book, the rockies are stunning and majestic, awe inspiring and just plain gorgeous – no picture will do it justice

Transcanada Highway - Calgary to Canmore
Transcanada Highway – Calgary to Canmore

We stayed in Canmore at this amazing penthouse condo with views looking out to the Rockies for a week and provided us with the perfect base to go out and explore Banff National Park (one of the most famous parks in the world). During our stay we walked Ha Ling Peak, a steep and popular hike to a mountain summit in the Bow Valley Corridor above Canmore, it took us about 4-hours, with the terrain proving difficult, ranging from black ice and thick snow, however the view from the summit was something else.

ha ling 1
Reaching the summit – Ha Ling Peak

 

View from Ha Ling
View from Ha Ling
Tom on the ridge
Tom on the ridge

ha ling 4

unnamed

Took a trip out to Johnston Canyon, a spectacular walk that gives fabulous views of the Johnston Canyon, past the lower falls and to the breathtaking upper icefalls. (again the walk proved hard as we were walking on sheet ice – note to self, definitely need crampons)

Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon – Banff, Alberta (upper falls)

Another day we rented ‘Trail Fat Bikes’ and set off to take on the mountain trails through the woodlands, noting the warning signs for pumas and lynx’s and how to defend yourself against them. On the other days we headed to the slopes of Sunshine Mountain for some skiing, it didn’t live up to its name, visibility was poor and the sunshine was non-existent, but the ski and the runs were good! The following day we went for a gentle stroll around Lake Johnson, it was so peaceful and quiet, it was like seeing double looking into the lake and seeing the mountain reflection.

Lake Johnson - double vision
Lake Johnson – double vision

One night we decided to walk from the condo for a few beers in Canmore, it’s a 10 minute drive, so we didn’t think the walk would take long, we were wrong, it took us an hour and a half… on arrival at The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, having worked up a thirst and a bit of an appetite, we decided on the sample tray, where we sampled ten local craft beers and ordered up a plate of ‘Poutine’ a dish originating in Quebec, Canada, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds (comparable to English chips and gravy, with a rubbery like cheese) it went well with the beer.

beer poutine beers list

Leaving the bar and dreading the long hike home, Tom suggested we hitch a lift, we put our thumbs up, two SUV’s went buy (by the way pretty much everyone drives SUV’s/4×4’s), but the third vehicle stopped, a guy, also called Tom picked us up, went out of his way taking us right to our door – the people of Canada are so friendly!!!

 

 

Kelowna to Cranbrook

From Kelowna, we ventured through Gladstone National Park, through Castlegar and onto Nelson, where we had a brief one night stopover. Despite our short stay, Nelson was really picturesque, the first place we’d come across that had some sort of resemblance to a quaint high street away from the unsightly retail parks, complete with commercial fast food chains.

Downtown Nelson B.C - courtesy of BCgirltravels.com
Downtown Nelson B.C – courtesy of BCgirltravels.com
smokehouse
Smokehouse BBQ – so good!

 

Having spent most of our travels eating in, we decided to venture out to Smokewood BBQ, which serves up great authentic southern BBQ food. We shared a combo box, consisting of heavenly pulled pork, melt in the mouth sliced beef brisket and ribs, served with homemade BBQ sauce, southern style beans, mac & cheese, coleslaw and cornbread – it was amazing, we left feeling humble and pleasantly filled! (we’re already contemplating a return visit, when we make our way back to Vancouver)

The following morning we headed up to Cranbrook, where we stayed in another motel, this one outdid the last one, we even used the kitchenette facilities, where I knocked up an all time American favourite, packet mac and cheese.

ac and cheese
Kraft Mac n Cheese

Now contrary to believe Kraft mac and cheese is not nice, after one mouthful mine ended up in the bin, Tom’s did after four. Will NOT be buying that again…

 

 

 

 

Salmon Arm to Kelowna

Having spent the night in Salmon Arm we headed on through Vernon, down to Kelowna – fully immersing ourselves into the American road trip, we decided to check-in to a motel (say Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn!!) and my god what a hovel that was…. just as well we were only using it as a base to drive to Big White each day.

Kelowna Motel - hell for three days!
Kelowna Motel – hell for three days!

Big White Mountain 2317m provided us with three great days of skiing (unfortunately for me only the one, as I twisted my knee and had to sit out the other two.. booo!),  plenty of nice runs through the trees and lovely blue sunny skies, followed by a fresh snowfall on the last day.

Bluebird, Big White
Big White Piste map
Big White Piste map

On one of the nights we bought tickets to watch a Western Hockey League game, where we saw The Kelowna Rockets take on The Vancouver Giants, not going to lie, me and Tom didn’t really have a clue what was going on, but it was fun to experience and absorb some American sports, better still the home team won..

ice hockey2 ice hockey1

Enjoying the game - beer in hand!!
Enjoying the game – beer in hand!!

 

 

Onwards from Squamish!

After Squamish, we headed the scenic route, engulfed by dramatic snow-capped mountains up the highway 99, passing through Pemberton, Lillooet, stopping to capture the landscape, frozen lakes and emerald blue lakes – Seton Lake at Lillooet was beyond idyllic.

Frozen lake en route
Frozen lake en route
Seton Lake
Bear warning signs litter the roads - however we’re yet to see one yet!
Bear warning signs litter the roads – however we’re yet to see one yet!

After an eight hour drive we ended up in Salmon Arm, a city in Shuswap Country of the Southern Interior, which sits on the shores of Shuswap Lake and is famous for millions and millions of British Columbia’s famous Sockeye Salmon returning each October to the nearby Shuswap and Adams River Salmon run, as they make their way up the river.

 

Arrived – Vancouver to Squamish, British Columbia

After teary goodbyes, a long drive to Gatwick, followed by a 10-hour flight, we finally arrived in Vancouver on the 17th March 2015 to sunshine and warmth, much warmer than we expected! Having stopped off to pick up our chariot for the next month, a sturdy blue Nissan (probably the smallest car on the roads of Canada), me and Tom started the journey following the breath taking coastline over to Squamish, BC where we spent three nights pretty much recovering from lack of sleep and adjusting to Canadian life…

Horseshoe Bay, BC
Horseshoe Bay, BC
Ossa, our hosts dog..
Ossa, our hosts dog..

Excited for the snow on our second day we headed over to Whistler for a day’s skiing, however it was somewhat disappointing, slushy, rainy and made for a lacklustre day on the piste – however the hot tub and a few bottles of Dos Equis back at the place we were staying made up for it.

Sniffle Station  - for those days when you've got a runny nose
Sniffle Station – for those days when you’ve got a runny nose