An Autmn Sunday in Vancouver

A sleep in, catching up on wifi stuff and a cloudy morning slowly resolved into a pleasant afternoon of exploring this nice city. It could do with a bit more sunshine though!

We checked out the walking route for our departure by Greyhound bus in the morning, it seems safe enough!  Over the road was a skytrain terminal – suburban underground, or above ground light rail with driverless trains.   $6.95 each for a day pass and off we went, first into the city, then a change of trains to head south on a different track and make our way to the Queen Elizabeth Gardens

Had a lovely chat with Keith and Peter who where the early starters for the Vancouver Bowling Club. First job was to sweep the entire green clear of worm castings. Crows get into the green as well chasing the worms. Fortunately no moles were around as they leave much bigger piles of dirt.

We spent a nice couple of hours wandering around this old rock quarry, admiring the subtle colours, hues and textures that are different from a Kings Park in Perth for example. They soft lighting too makes a difference to how the city feels.

Red Burritos was our lunch destination and another short train ride and longish walk. Another 12km walking today – surprised how it builds up each day.

Jeff let us print off our tickets the bus ride tomorrow, a slip up on my part for not doing this before I left home, and making arrangements for the next few days in Seattle as we head south to join the Schrieffer family from Montana.

Our little hidden gem was a pretty garden and library box on the verge of one house. Their efforts to create some community feel next to a 6 lane main feeder road to the city is to be applauded.

 

 

 

 

An interesting arrival in Vancouver

As far as international arrivals go, this one was dead easy.  Canada collected our completed travel forms, didn’t even want to see our passport, so sadly no stamp!

We found our way to the real outdoors – it was 7:50am on a Saturday.

I had the directions on my phone mapping app and thought it was only 1km to our AirB&B for the next two nights, so plotted a walking route and off we set  – confident intrepid travellers towing our suitcases.  It was a quiet Saturday morning with not many people about.

East Hastings Street, right into Main, left into Keefer or Union and we’d find our place part way down Union with out any trouble.

First sign of interesting came in the form of a ragged guy zooming along in an electric wheelchair. He stopped – ‘Welcome to the jungle’ was his cheery sounding greeting.

100m further on, the footpath was covered by a construction canopy and as I picked my way past various discarded items of clothing and needles, I tried to avert my eyes and not attract any attention from the fair number of locals who had slept rough. I look up – “Mercy Mission Hostel”, another building with something about needle exchange.

Wikipedia says:  The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The area, one of the city’s oldest, is notorious for its open-air drug trade, sex work, and high rates of povertymental illness, infectious disease, and crime. It is also known for its strong community resilience and history of social activism.

 

Kerry, let’s cross the street……

That side was not any better – off into the distance wasn’t any better either. Things weren’t looking good. No one gave us a hard time, we weren’t hassled for money, it just had a feeling of bad place for two strangers to be dragging suitcases through. Unwise to continue I felt.

A Police car was parked up by the road and we’d walked past it a few metres when I stopped and turned back.

“Excuse me, we’re not from around here ….”

“I’d figured that”

“We’re trying to get to our accommodation up on Union and aren’t too sure it’s wise to continue to down here. I was going to head to Main and turn there, but um, well, what’s the safest option out of here?”

“A taxi” says one

“where are you going again?” says the other.

“Here, jump in, we’ll give you a lift”

So dear readers, we arrived at our accommodation in a guaranteed very hipster and cool section of Vancouver – although not very far from the opposite – in a Police Car. It only took about five minutes drive – clearly I’d misjudged the distance and the hassle of dragging suitcases. Fail…..  🙁

Hearty thankyou’s from us and instructions that they never wanted to see us again from them, we are pleased to be a little wiser and unharmed.

Our host Jeff greeted us, but the room was not going to be ready until 3pm – that was nearly 6 hours away. He kindly looked after our luggage and we found our way back into town via the safer option of Chinatown and made it onto a Hop On Hop Off bus. Not cheap, but we did one full circuit that took at least an hour and a half, so we could work out what to do next. Back we went to the very pleasant Stanley Park – 1000 hectares of parkland in the middle of this city of many waterways. We found our way through little trails, following the mapping, yes the same mapping from earlier today….  and by the well marked signs, and up to Regency Point. Ahhhh, a Commonwealth country – how friendly and sensible they are.

img_7556

img_7558

This little duck had glorious colours.

img_7563

This one was really hiding away and staying very still when I poking around trying to get this shot. It was great colours too. What is it?  The bird has a mullet!

img_7568

img_7580

My fitbit records me having walked 13km today.

Vancouver is like Melbourne, in that it wins awards for being a liveable city. I can see why it’s appealing for people who don’t mind a cooler climate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last day on the ocean

We left Ketchikan in the evening, and before not too long the wind started to pick up and affected the ship. A few shudders here and there, and an awkwardness when walking about.

The entertainment crew put on ‘The British Invasion’ which had some nice music and they   tried hard to be entertaining. We’ve had three nights out in four days now – some kind of cultural record I’m sure.

The talk of the tables at breakfast was how rough it was. Really??  Hardly any real movement in the ship. The captain told us there were force 7 winds overnight which is hard to believe but maybe we benefitted from being mid ships. The day started cloudy but soon that cleared and we left with a lovely sunny day to sail down the inside passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

Before we took shelter in the narrow channels it was great to have ship moving through the proper ocean swells, forging it’s way forward and leaving a neat wake behind.

Once in the channel, the marine life picked up. Kerry and I found a spot down the back of the boat in the sun, out of the wind and enjoyed the baitfish being chased by the birds, the hundreds of dolphins chasing the baitfish and whales now and again.

img_7531

img_7532

img_7537

img_7538

img_7541

Some special shots of the dolphins jumping and the gorgeous autumnal lighting on the water and forest.

img_7543

And then the humans came to capture what they could.

img_7549

img_7552

As a special treat we ate at a proper restaurant again so I could enjoy the free Salmon, and feeling rather bloated we packed up our stuff in preparation for a 6am rise tomorrow. Disembarkation scheduled for 7:35am for us who chose to carts our own luggage.

 

 

 

 

 

Ketchikan

Walking tour of Ketchikan

Rain was forecast as 100% chance of rain by 1pm, and in the end, that wasn’t far wrong. And what cold rain it was too when it arrived.


We met Joe on the dock along with 14 others. Joe’s been doing these walking tours for 25 years, and unlike the guy in Juneau yesterday, appreciates the cruise boats coming to his town.

We walked and he talked, trying to teach us some of his language along the way. He was an informative and gracious host and I enjoyed the morning.   He left us at a salmon creek so we spent a bit of time watching these fish fighting against the strong current. I’d heard of a fish ladder and now have seen one – this one was a concrete structure that assisted the fish climb over the highest rapids by giving them an easier way around in a series of zigzag rises – neat.

The light cold rain started just before the tour finished so it was a good thing to get back on the ship and into the relative warmth of the cabin. The on board laundromat was used for the first time today. Tokens are purchased with our ship ID card, then the token inserted into the machine. Fortunately Kerry got in early and purchased her tokens for when we went back to empty the drier, the token machine wasn’t functioning. A call had been made to the help desk, and the two Australian women were waiting patiently. For the other with a more local accent, the wait was intolerable. The Princess Cruises motto is Come Back New. We’re a couple of days away from Vancouver, and sadly I think she still might need a few more days.

Just Juneau

Gold panning and Salmon Bake

Beams of sunshine shone through the clouds at times, but like anywhere here, when the wind blows it gets uncomfortable.

Standard attire for an outing is long woollen thermals under jeans for the bottom, and two or three woollen thermals for the tops, layered with a shirt to make it all appear normal, a cheap fleecy top and dependent on the weather, my Mountain Designs waterproof hiking jacket for rain, or a quilted heavy overcoat with hood for windy weather. On my feet I have waterproof, i.e. Goretex membrane style outdoor hiking shoes and some nice thick socks. I wear my possum fur beanie and gloves once outside and the preparation is complete.

Trouble is that the cabins are pleasantly warm, so it gets very hot very quickly with all this gear on, and a quick disembarkation is called for. I’ll often carry a scarf to cover most of my face too, and must look a bit of a sight when waiting outside the souvenir shops – the Police haven’t questioned me yet.

So at Juneau, our tour started later in the morning and we had some time to spare. We walked about 2km into the centre of town, and first off was to head for the local library for their free wifi. Unfortunately it was closed until after our tour started. We wandered and killed some time in the state capital, which didn’t seem like a terribly flash place, and was picked up at the ship to go gold panning. This was my second and Kerry’s third time. Ho hum. We’d not realised this was the situation when we’d booked. However this time it was a lot better as we were taken up a gravel road, through a locked gate and to Gold Creek, where no one makes their fortune, but locals are building tidy amounts from their hobby time.

The first pan was pre prepared with a gold bearing sand and true to expectations, everyone found some colour, some glitter in their pan. The guide then loaded several pans for each of us with grit he’d just dug from the creek. I was quite chuffed to get a few flecks from that as well – neat. It’d be a fun way to spend a few hours  – perhaps just not days months and years in rainy bleak weather…..

I’m pleased we did this little tour, it was a bit more authentic than hundreds of tourists lined up at troughs

Our guide dropped us off at the Salmon Bake, which was a nice alternative to on board eating. Here was a nice fire going, a well laid out outdoors eating area under cover and about fifty people at an all we could eat. The nice pink salmon was proper fish, it had bones and covered in a very sweet maple syrup and sugar dip.

Hidden away behind the kitchen was a delightful stream and waterfall 


Our captain had asked us to return to the ship early so he could leave and get into Ketchikan and dock before weather arrived, so we whilst we didn’t feel too rushed, we had less time in Juneau than initially planned. The driver taking us back to the ship was normally a fisherman who was full of woe at the build up of whales who are eating all the baby salmon, the proliferation of cruising tour company jewellery stores on the waterfront pushing up the rents for the local companies, the lack of training up of new marine mechanics and the dodgy behaviour of the locals to the point where he found it better to fly up a proper mechanic from Seattle to spend a few days fixing things properly. Chatting to him after all the passengers got off, he complained at the lack of benefits to the local community from the vast volumes of people who come into town – 2,500 – 4,000 per boat with three or four boats a day.

Being outside in the cold got to me, and unfortunately the water in our cabin shower was not steamy hot this afternoon, so I faded quickly in the evening. A ventriloquist show was on in the showroom and, like the comedy act we’d seen a few nights before, it was quite good and a fun night out – apart from being partially zonked out on pills and what someone called bronchitis.

A light dinner at Horizons and off to bed.