The Rockies, Vancouver Island
and back -
Opening note from Bob:
Just in case anyone thinks my writing has changed for the better, let me assure you it hasn't.
This lovely story of a dream vacation was written by Margaret ... all I did was supply the photographs.
Sometime last February, Bob asked if I would be interested in going to an RCAF Reunion in Comox. 'Where's Comox?' 'Vancouver Island.' 'Oh yes, please.'
The proposed reunion became the nucleus of our summer holiday planning, and other ideas formed around it at lightening speed. We decided to fly into Edmonton, rent a car, and return via Calgary. Only when we were on our way, did we hear that the reunion was finally cancelled, as so many people were no longer able to come, mainly for medical reasons.
A little disappointed, but undeterred, we had an absolutely super few weeks. Our now predominantly touring trip was highlighted by cameo visits to friends in Edmonton, and on Vancouver Island.
Lorne & Lesley welcomed us once again to their interesting home in a quietly mature area of Edmonton. We spent time sitting and chatting in their enclosed garden, enjoying Lorne's special BBQ chicken with its hint of beer and herbs as well as making at least one journey downtown. It was great to see them again, especially as Bob and Lorne had so many flying experiences to recap.
As we said our goodbyes to the city where one senses that the frontier of climate and wilderness is not far away, our long drive began in lovely sunshine that just went on getting hotter.
Bob chose an interesting route, one that took us slightly away from the major tourist places; we had spent some time in the Rockies several years back. At the end of a baking day 2 we reached Jasper, to stay at the same hotel as before and to eat dinner at a fondly remembered Italian restaurant where the only difference was the name - now Miss Italia Ristorante.
Our drive westwards took us through a constantly changing panorama of mountains, valleys, and lakes with the occasional glimpse of railway tracks; along twisting roads, at times seeing layers of mountain ranges, from the snow capped in the distance through the purples to the deep green of the nearby wooded slopes. The roads link the passes through the mountain ranges, sometimes in near desert lands, but eventually taking us down to the sea.
We over-nighted in places with colourful sounding names: 70 Mile House, Lillooet, and Squamish, the latter being noted for Stawamus Chief, the second largest free standing granite face in the world (Gibraltar being the greatest).
Taking the coast road we reached Vancouver, undoubtedly a startlingly beautiful city when approached from this direction.
The Queen of Westminster ferry took us from the Duke Point terminal on the mainland to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island where we were escorted in by two small naval boats - all part of the ongoing naval exercises in these watchful days. Not sure how they would have coped had the ferry suffered a terrorist attack! As we now had more time than previously anticipated, we spent just two nights in Comox, making
contact with former RCAF buddies and taking a restful wander around the town in the summer sun.
End of Part One
From Comox, we drove the winding country road further west, through Port Alberni and on to Ucluelet on the Pacific coast, passing by some beautiful lakes and stopping off to see magnificent old redwood trees.