Straight up West Coastin!

So we’ve hit the coast, and our road for the next week or so is Highway 101 – WOW – it’s spectacular – you need to see it to believe it! No picture, or me describing it will do it justice… j

First stop – Ecola State Park – I’ll let the pictures do the talking..

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Thousands of washed up jelly fish
Thousands of washed up jelly fish
One of the many amazing rockpools on the beach  - could look into them for hours, the colours are amazing!
One of the many amazing rock pools on the beach – could look into them for hours, the colours are amazing!

Onwards on our journey we called at Yachats – a quaint seaside town

Yachats beach
Yachats beach
Lilies growing wild on the side of the beach
Lilies growing wild on the side of the beach

We stayed just down the coast from Yachats, in a lay-by that over looked the ocean for two nights – whilst providing us with walking access to a beautiful beach, where we cooked tea and lit a fire and watched the sun go down.

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Messing around in the sun - throwing some shapes
Messing around in the sun – throwing some shapes

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On the road again, we headed on to Charleston – a quaint fishing town – having seen an abundance of mussels and clams on the beaches, we decided to buy a tourist shellfish licence (illegal to catch without one) it cost $11 and enables us to catch crab, clams and mussels for three days, so after a trip to Walmart to get kitted out with a knife (for mussels) crab pot, hook, gloves, bucket, bait and crab measurer we headed to the harbor, one of the top places to catch crab!

We caught five – however they weren’t legally big enough, as they have to be of a certain size, otherwise it’s illegal – now you might think you can easily get away with crabbing without a licence – well you can’t, within an hour of us casting our pot, the Local State Trooper, popped down and asked to see our licence – smug as ever I pulled it out of my purse and placed it in his hand! Success! It pays to be organised…. :)

Tom looking all excited to commence crabbing
Tom looking all excited to commence crabbing
Piles and piles of empty oyster shells just stacked at the side of the road!
Piles and piles of empty oyster shells just stacked at the side of the road!

At Charleston we were lucky to stay right on the beach for two nights – pure bliss, sleeping listening to the tide ebbing and flowing! Fully adjusted to life in the Van now – even though I have to forego showers and instead wash in cafes, going into their toilets armed with my toiletries, towels and change of clothes – being able to sleep on views like the below more than makes up for it!!

Here's the view we were on about - sleeping right on the beach!
Here’s the view we were on about – sleeping right on the beach!

 

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A nice glass of Malbec on the beach

 

 

Picking up Van Damme

Today we picked up Van Damme (that’s what it’s called) our home for the next 35 nights, as we tour the West Coast of Oregon, as far down as San Francisco, before taking it inland through Yosemite National Park, Utah and finally Yellowstone National Park before dropping it back off in Portland.

Now it’s not all-singing all-dancing but it does the trick, has a bed, facilities to cook and Tom tells me it is OK to drive… anyway I’ll save you the anticipation, here he is in all its glory!

Tom checking out Van Damme
Tom checking out Van Damme

Fully stocked up, we headed off to the coast to start our Boon-docking adventures (basically camping/parking roadside or in parking lots for FREE – hopefully legally without getting moved on by police – they are very strict on overnight parking down the west coast)

First stop Astoria.. boondocking success 1-0 – taking advice from boondocking forums online we resided for the night in National Park – Fort Catslop National Historical Park – now I think we got the wrong place, and we probably would’ve been told to do one, had it been peak season, however we slept right through until dawn. NB – I was scared to death, and all eventualities went through my mind – probably not helped by the fact that earlier in the day, when we first picked up the van, we got pulled over by the highway sheriff for not coming to a complete stop at the stop sign – anyway our British charm must of paid off as he didn’t give us a fine just a warning!!

Wish us luck!

Down to Portland, OR

Arriving in Portland we noticed how industrial it was, yet with a trendy vibe – reminiscent to scenes of Manchester! We slowed the pace down a little here, spending our days in sampling the local breweries and food trucks – Portland is known for its funky food truck scene.

Foodcarts - Portland
Foodcarts – Portland
Sampling Deschutes brewery offerings
Sampling Deschutes brewery offerings
Smoked Pork Shoulder from The People's Pig
Smoked Pork Shoulder from The People’s Pig

 

 

 

Goodbye Canada – Hello United States of America

After taking a greyhound and crossing the border (a breeze, compared to some of the horror stories I’d read!) we started our decent down the west coast, with Seattle, WA being our first stop!

Perfect Seattle Skyline with Mount Rainer  in the distance
Perfect Seattle Skyline with Mount Rainer in the distance
The famous space needle
The famous space needle

 

We stayed in Fremont, one of the quirky arts districts, with craft beer and breweries on every corner, as well as great food joints – the place just had a great vibe about it, and at times, owing to its lush green trees you could forget you were in the city.

Fremont Bridge
Fremont Bridge

We walked a lot in Seattle (a lot being an understatement) however we also ate a lot! We gorged as we ambled around Pike Place a huge market, famous for its fish throwing fishermen and huge selection of fresh fish, yet also encompasses a vast range of cuisines from American to Mexican to Italian etc, all with their very own stalls, offering their very own delicacies – you could say me and tom were like kids in a sweet shop!

Pike Place Market is also home to to the first ever Starbucks, having opened its first store here in 1971 – we didn’t go in as it was so busy, however we poked our head around the door and took a photo…

First ever Starbucks
First ever Starbucks
Me and Tom outside first ever Starbucks
Me and Tom outside first ever Starbucks

Pike Place is also home to Post Alley Gum Wall – it truly sticks to your memory! It is quite literally a wall covered in chewed gum. Market officials recognised the wall as a tourist attraction around 1999 – so it’s here to stay and a must have place to get your photo taken..

Post Alley Gum Wall
Post Alley Gum Wall

 

 

Heading back to Vancouver

Can’t believe we’re nearing a month – oh how time flies. We left the mountains and headed back to the city, Vancouver – staying in a squat of a place (not ideal) but extremely cheap – silver lining!!

Heading downtown
Heading downtown
Vancouver is such a nice city, it’s charming – something about it just draws you in! Sushi is renowned here, so we went for sushi and it didn’t fail to deliver – the best I’ve EVER had! So fresh and flavoursome and the sockeye salmon was fantastic!
The best sushi EVER..
The best sushi EVER.. Spiced tuna..
The sun shone for the days we were there, the cherry blossom out in all its glory provided the perfect backdrop against the blue azure sky.
Cherry blossom at the harbour
Cherry blossom at the harbour
Escaping the buzz of the city, we headed to Stanley Park, Vancouver’s urban oasis and one of the top city parks in North America –  where we sat on the beach and soaked up the atmosphere!
Stanley Park - one of its many beaches
Stanley Park – one of its many beaches

From Jasper to Pemberton 

Leaving Jasper and after a 9 hour drive which took us through Mount Robson and Greys Provinical Park we ended up back on the east coast, in Pemberton (about 60km from where we first resided in Squamish!) perfectly located so Whistler was accessible.

Looking at the snow reports we were in for a fresh dump of snow – it didn’t fail to deliver. For four solid days we skied fantastic champagne powder conditions and on two of the days we got bluebird! Great runs, great resort – a vast improvement from our first visit!!

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Our abode was in the form of a quaint little wooden hut, overlooking the mountains – it was truly idyllic. The weather was good so we managed to BBQ and light the fire pit – a great way to unwind after an exhilarating days skiing.

Our cozy cabin!
Our cozy cabin!
Relaxing by the fire pit!
Relaxing by the fire pit!

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Home to one of the World’s largest Dark Sky preserves, Jasper by day offers a universe of outdoor fun in a wilderness playground and at night, Jasper is a stunning wilderness of stars.

Blue skies in the day led to a brilliant clear sky at night, doing a spot of research we discovered that Pyramid Island was one of the best places to take in the constellations, so we headed there. After heading down to the lake and adjusting my eyes, I looked up – WOW!! I was in awe… it was a truly spectacular diamond sky – I felt honored to have seen such a majestic night sky… On some nights you can even see the milky way, and the Northern lights have been spotted from here many times.

Unfortunately we couldn’t capture the scene on our camera, even though I’d read up on the settings etc – however I’ve included some images other people have taken so you can get a feel for what we saw…

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Photo by Thomas Pleiss

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Jasper National Park

Today, we took a walked, The Valley of the Five Lakes in Jasper National Park, known for being one of the best valley bottom hikes near the town of Jasper. Whilst walking we passed ‘you guessed it’ five lakes, the lakes themselves were striking in their beauty and the ones that weren’t frozen varied in colour, from emerald blues to turquoise clear glacier waters.

View of the valley
View of the valley
Valley of the five lakes - turquoise tones
Valley of the five lakes – turquoise tones
Lovely contrast of colours through the trees
Lovely contrast of colours through the trees
It was so peaceful here, I could've sat for hours just looking out to the lake
It was so peaceful here, I could’ve sat for hours just looking out to the lake

 

Ambling through stunning Icefields Parkway to Jasper

At a loss for words as to how breathtaking and rewarding this drive was, the words “Scenic” or “beautiful” don’t give it proper justice. It’s by far the most spectacular drive I’ve ever been on, and is without doubt the best I’ve seen in Canada – Stretching 232km through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, the journey offered access to a vast wilderness of pristine mountain lakes, ancient glaciers and broad sweeping valleys.

The snow had fallen over the last two days and it made for beautiful but cold (-9C) scenery – snow covered trees as far as the eyes could see, mountains with snow that looked like whipped up marshmellows, frozen lakes and majestic glaciers made it look just like a scene from a Christmas card, better still, the sun was out and we had blue skies for the entire length of our journey!

I think the drive took us close to four hours, as there was so many places to stop and soak up the many vistas along the way –  pictures don’t do it justice, but I’ve included a few below…

One of the many stunning views on Icefields  Parkway
One of the many stunning views on Icefield’s Parkway
Me and Tom at the Glacier
Me and Tom at the Glacier
icefields glacier
Icefield’s glacier

 

We didn’t get to see Elks, Wolfs or Grizzly Bears, however we did manage to see a heard of Horned Mountain Sheep just leisurely strolling on the road…

Horned mountain sheep
Horned mountain sheep – they are known to charge!!

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Tom at one of our many stop offs

 

 

 

Happy Easter from us..

On Good Friday we left Banff (where we stayed for one night!) and headed West. On our travels we stopped at Lake Louise, a glacial lake, considered by many to be the most beautiful setting in the world of its kind, sparkling turquoise waters surrounded by lush green pines… or that’s how it is in summer. As expected, it was completely frozen, which was still pretty spectacular! It’s also home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America, so we’ll be back to ski/board next week!

A very frozen Lake Louise
A very frozen Lake Louise

Leaving Banff National Park and entering Yoho National Park, we arrived at Golden, our destination for Easter weekend – On Saturday we woke to snow, these last few days we’ve had quite a cold snap, however it’s expected to warm up next week, anyway thermals on, we took a drive to Emerald Lake, as expected it was frozen solid, still, was fun walking on the vast white canvas  – our first time walking on ice!!!

Lake Emerald - walking on ice
Lake Emerald – walking on ice

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From the lake we took a short hike up to Hamilton waterfalls, it was enchanting walking through the carpet of snow that covered the forest floor and Christmas scented pine trees. To get to the waterfall, we walked straight up the frozen river, which was still flowing underneath the deep ice – pretty impressive!

Hamilton Falls
Hamilton Falls

Easter Sunday saw us set the alarm for 6am to venture the 75km back to Lake Louise for a full days skiing/boarding as we’d heard the conditions were good – and they didn’t disappoint. Fresh powder, blue skies followed by further scattered snow showers throughout the day = happy ski day!

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A view from one of the runs - Lake Louise
A view from one of the runs – Lake Louise

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