Catchlight Canada: Blog http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog en-us (C) Catchlight Canada paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) Sun, 10 Jun 2018 16:36:00 GMT Sun, 10 Jun 2018 16:36:00 GMT http://www.paulabanks.ca/img/s/v-5/u607202838-o145322029-50.jpg Catchlight Canada: Blog http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog 80 120 Final synopsis and top 10 http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/final-synopsis-and-top-10 So, a few numbers:

-21 days

-over 10 thousand kilometres

-one driver for all of it.

-longest travel day: 10 hours/1000km (twice)

-shortest travel day: 5.5 hours/500km (twice)

-5 hotels, 3 lodges/cabins, 2 airbnbs, 3 chain motels (never again)

-2 ferries

-4 border crossings (all pleasant and straightforward. The nicest was Idaho)

-5 Canadian provinces

-8 US States

-3 time zones crossed each way

-7 sock monkeys made on the road, and now living in Saskatchewan/B.C., Washington, Oregon, Missouri and Northern Ontario

-3 imaginary friends (+ a couple of spouses) who are now real and all the more cherished

-5000+ photographs (six 32 GB memory cards filled and then some)

-15 postcards painted and posted

-half a day of rain

-1 birthday celebration

-20 days straight of running and exploring new surroundings

I can't honestly pick a best out of all of it, because the entire trip was filled with awe-inspiring scenery and beautiful moments, but my top 5 places, in no particular order, would include: Haystack rock, Lake Louise, seeing and hearing whales breaching in the Salish Sea, the Columbia River gorge, and the Qu'Appelle Valley, SK. 

Best moments included spending my birthday with wonderful people in Victoria; visiting with H&M at their lakeside home in Saskatchewan; meeting D&J at Hood River, meeting J at Snoqualmie; running in the early morning along the Spokane River; seeing the Rockies rise out of the prairies, standing beside the Terry Fox statue, marking the end of his run, overlooking Thunder Bay, ON; watching the dogs play in the Pacific Ocean; driving into an endless, golden sunset on the Prairies; watching the sun set across the bay in Victoria, as kayakers paddled in the gilded water; and seeing bald eagles in British Columbia.

As mentioned in the list above, I took thousands of photographs, and for the purposes of this blog, I generally took a quick scan of the thumbnails, chose a few as the ''highlight reel'' and edited and uploaded those. I'm eager to see what other gems may still await when I get a chance to take a proper, closer look at the memory cards. From the photos I took, I've narrowed it to a top 10 (ok, a top 13) below.

Thank you to everybody who followed along on this journey. I have always been a strong proponent of the incredibly enriching value of travel. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of summers in France when I was a student, and I can honestly say that I learned far more and grew far more as a person during those times than ever I did in the classroom. I feel that this journey has had the same effect. I am head over heels in love with Canada, my adopted and adoptive country, and also with the incredibly beautiful world that we have the privilege of inhabiting. I've struggled throughout these few weeks to find adequate words to describe the experience, the scenery, and the feelings that were stirred, and I think that the closest approximation is reverence. My only regret is that I waited this long to do it.

 

 

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/final-synopsis-and-top-10 Sun, 10 Jun 2018 15:34:23 GMT
Searchmont to Rosseau: closing the circle http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/searchmont-to-rosseau-closing-the-circle So after three weeks on the road, our adventure comes to an end. We've made it home to Rosseau, and the first load of laundry has hit the washing machine.

Tomorrow, I'll post a synthesis of the entire journey, as well as my ''top ten'' photos. But for now, I'll leave it with these few from today - we bypassed the house on the way into the village and took the dogs down to the waterfront, where they had a happy reunion with their lake.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/searchmont-to-rosseau-closing-the-circle Sun, 10 Jun 2018 00:31:48 GMT
Duluth, MN to Sault Ste Marie, ON – so.many.trees http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/duluth-mn-to-sault-ste-marie-on-so-many-trees Today’s journey was another 500 miles of easterly travel, from the westernmost tip of Lake Superior to the junction of it –at its other extremity – with lakes Huron and Michigan. We’re back in Canada.

 

Last night in Duluth was lovely, and certainly redemption for the godawful experience in Bismark the night before. The resort is right on the water, and there is plenty of ship traffic of all shapes and sizes, giving the lift bridge a good workout, and making for some great viewing from our room.

 

We drove out of Minnesota and into Wiscosin as we crossed the bridge from Duluth to Superior, WI. Not long after, we crossed the Michigan state line and began the long, admittedly tedious drive across the Upper Peninsula to Sault Ste Marie. None of this is interstate, so that kind of monotony was avoided, but another took its place, that of trees, trees and more trees. The towns were few and far between, and unlike the Trans Canada on Superior’s northern shore, very little of this route goes directly along the lake. So there wasn’t a whole lot to see. The terrain is flat, like the Prairies, but at least on the Prairies you can see for miles in every direction. Here you feel closed in, within an endless tunnel of mixed forest. I worked for a good part of it, until my laptop battery faded, then I actually ended up counting the mile markers for the latter hours of the journey.

 

We had a bit of a wait to get back across the border (after picking up Interstate 75 a dozen or so miles south, and seeing the desultory American signage: Canada – Straight Thru. Eloquent.

 

We’re back in the cabins in Searchmont, just outside of Thunder Bay, that were our first stop on our journey west, three weeks ago. Tomorrow, we do the final five hours to get home.

 

 

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/duluth-mn-to-sault-ste-marie-on-so-many-trees Sat, 09 Jun 2018 12:07:35 GMT
Bismarck, ND to Duluth, MN : our own little scene from Fargo http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/bismarck-nd-to-duluth-mn-our-own-little-scene-from-fargo So, Winnipeg, I owe you an apology. I'd take you any day over Bismarck, North Dakota.

We stayed last night in a chain motel just off the interstate, for convenience's sake, after a very long day of travel. We'd stayed in a handful of similar places during this trip and I knew that it would be unremarkable at best, and just hoped that it would be clean (first step is always to check the mattresses and linens for bedbugs, as Tim rolls his eyes).

This place got a basic pass on cleanliness (old coffee grounds still in the coffeemaker), but had zero atmosphere, and was more than a little bit worn around the edges. No matter, right? We were only there for a few hours of sleep.

I got up at around six-ish, took the dogs out for a quick pee, and had a small breakfast. About then I noticed an angry male voice. Initially I didn't think much of it, surmising that it was someone outside getting their car packed up or something of the sort. But the voice got louder and angrier, and it continued that way for about half an hour. I looked out the window to see where the guy was at, not wanting to cross paths with him when I went for my run. Nobody to be seen. I went into the bathroom and the voice became much louder, with audible bits and pieces of sentences. I realized then that the guy was in the room right next to us, that he was very, very angry, and that he was saying things like ''(inaudible) got away with murder'' and ''(inaudible) killed my (inaudible)". 

I've heard raised voices in hotel rooms before, but this time something in my gut told me that this was different. I prodded Tim awake (he was wearing earplugs and was fast asleep) and told him we needed to leave, now. He actually didn't question me, and we scrambled out a side door with our belongings and the dogs and were on the road, unwashed, unbrushed and barely awake. I don't know what ensued at the motel thereafter and don't want to.

It was an inauspicious start to the day, and the scenery was flat and unappealing even if I had felt the desire to photograph anything. It was as if the wind had come right out of our sails after a long, exhilarating cruise. We had 7 or 8 hours to do today, and it was a welcome relief when the second half of the journey took us off the interstate and onto secondary roads, through small towns and into the forest.

The descent to Duluth was lovely, and the hotel we are at is gorgeous, right on the water, with a view of the lift bridge right out our window. The dogs have had a good play in the park, I got my run in, and Tim has been scavenging in the rail yard. All is right with the world again.

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/bismarck-nd-to-duluth-mn-our-own-little-scene-from-fargo Fri, 08 Jun 2018 01:39:57 GMT
Three Forks, MT to Bismarck, ND – the long and not-so-winding road http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/three-forks-mt-to-bismarck-nd-the-long-and-not-so-winding-road We had another long day of travel: 900km/600miles, plus another lost hour from crossing time zones.

I did a run first thing this morning and (apart from my screaming hip, protesting the long confinements in a sitting position while travelling) it was sublime: I found a couple of dirt roads that made a basic triangle of 3.5 kilometres; I did three loops and didn’t meet a single car. Distant mountains rose to the left and to the right, with lush green fields in the foreground, and horses watching curiously from their pastures.

I had no idea Montana was so vast. It stretches over 500 miles from west to east. And it can be quite remote as well. There were some anxious moments when gas was running low in the middle of nowhere, but we did find a gas station in the end.

Montana presented us with varied terrain: a mix of pastureland and rolling mountains, with snowy peaks in the distance, toward Yellowstone. The interstate paralleled the Yellowstone River for a good part of our journey.

North Dakota showed us the Badlands, or part of them, which are fascinating in their own right.

Today’s pictures were again taken from a moving car. The speed limit out here is 80mph.

Tonight we’re in a nondescript highway-side hotel in Bismarck, North Dakota. Tomorrow, onwards to Duluth, Minnesota.

For anyone who guessed about yesterday’s picture, it was the single horse on the hill.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/three-forks-mt-to-bismarck-nd-the-long-and-not-so-winding-road Thu, 07 Jun 2018 03:30:18 GMT
The road home: Spokane, WA to Three Forks, MT: not so carefree highway http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/the-road-home-spokane-wa-to-three-forks-mt-not-so-carefree-highway Today was one of our longer travel days, and added to that we lost the first of our three homeward hours by crossing from Pacific to Mountain Time.

 

I had a beautiful, beautiful run in Spokane this morning; having stayed at the same hotel less than 2 weeks ago, I now have my bearings and was able to enjoy the scenery and not play an orienteering game to stay on the bike path.

 

When I got back, reality landed with a thud…almost all of my translation customers wanted something done, including one very urgent job that was wanted within the hour. 90% of the time I love being self-employed and the freedom it brings, but sometimes it’s a real drag when you have to attend to client needs at any and every hour, and you have to take vacation on the sly. I’m grateful that things have been relatively quiet up until now, and haven’t interfered with things we wanted to see and do, but this week feels like it might be very different. I ended up delaying our departure from the hotel until 10:30 so that I could get the one job done. I’d really wanted to see the mountains, as this would be our last full day in that kind of terrain, but needs must.

 

We did detour south to Palouse (grassland) country, with the intention of visiting Steptoe Butte state park, but one of the roads had rolling closures and pilot vehicles, and then we managed to screw up the google maps directions, and there was no cell service to try to improvise. So we saw a bit of the Palouse, just not the exact spot I wanted to go to.

 

 We got back on I-90 at Coeur d’Alene, and that was pretty much the rest of the day. I had my head down at the laptop for most of it, but Tim was really good about alerting me to photo opportunities, and the collection from today is all taken through the side or front car window, albeit with my good camera. I’m quite pleased with them, actually, and one in particular makes up for the missed photos at the Palouse…I’ll let you guess which one is my pick of the day by a long shot (and no, it's not one of the dogs).

 

We are staying at the nicest hotel of our itinerary, the Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, Montana, near the headwaters of the (flooded) Missouri River. It’s a lovely place, and Tim is treating himself to a (well-earned) feast in the restaurant while the dogs and I hang out in the room and catch up on email and whatnot.

 

The weather has still been holding beautifully, and tomorrow promises to be warm and sunny for our drive through the remainder of Montana, then onto I-94 into North Dakota.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/the-road-home-spokane-wa-to-three-forks-mt-not-so-carefree-highway Wed, 06 Jun 2018 03:44:59 GMT
The road home: Victoria to Spokane, Washington http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/the-road-home-victoria-to-spokane-washington (I've also added a few irresistible pictures of our final sunset in Victoria, on the eve of our departure)

We were up bright and early this morning to say our goodbyes to B&D, who are staying on in Victoria until later this week; they don’t fly home to St. Louis until Friday, yet they will actually get home before we do.

 

We had to be at the ferry dock 90 minutes before sailing time in order to clear US Customs before even boarding the boat. Of course we managed to get lost (again) in Victoria and arrived just in the nick of time. It was a sold-out sailing this morning, with plenty of Ironman competitors included in the mix.

 

After Customs, we were more or less ‘in jail’, i.e. confined to a secure area, until the time came to drive aboard. The cars were packed in like sardines in a can, and it was difficult to even get doors open, or to walk between vehicles without knocking mirrors. You have to leave your vehicle on this ferry; there is no option to stay down in the hold. So everyone piles upstairs. We found seats in the dog-friendly lounge. Soleil and Arwen were less panicky this time, but still quite clingy, and Arwen climbed onto Tim’s lap a few times and gave him a face-wash, much to the delight of other passengers.

 

We left a sunny, warm Victoria (the city was sparkling this morning, and all the prettier for it, compared to how it had been under the rain yesterday) and crossed the 37 km of Juan de Fuca to arrive in a dreary, cool, rainy Port Angeles, Washington. The rain did clear off as we drove eastward, and the travel gods were kind to us in and around Seattle – we made remarkably good time and didn’t face any serious bottlenecks.

 

Just outside of Seattle, we stopped off at a beautiful dog park, where we met up with a photographer friend – another one of those ‘imaginary friends’ I’ve met online but never before in person, though it feels like we’ve known each other forever. It was great to see J in person and spend some time with him, and the dogs adored him too.

 

Then we were on our way again, with four hours still to go to Spokane. The first hour went through beautiful mountainous terrain, then we made a dramatic drop to the magnificent Columbia River, and once we crossed that the terrain became rolling prairie. By this time, the rain had cleared away, and we had a bright blue late afternoon sky with feathery clouds – it looked simply stunning crowning over the endless fields.

 

Door to door, we had 12 hours of travel today, albeit with some down time on the ferry. But it didn’t feel like a long day, with all of the different surroundings to enjoy, as well as the breaks we took and of course the people we shared time with.

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/the-road-home-victoria-to-spokane-washington Tue, 05 Jun 2018 06:29:33 GMT
Victoria coda http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/victoria-coda On many different levels, our final full day in Victoria started slow and gained momentum.

B&D were up and out of the house between 4 and 5am, to get to the half-Ironman start line. The forecast had been predicting an 80% chance of rain, but fortunately the arrival of the rain got pushed back to 10 or 11am, allowing B to complete the bike portion of the tri on largely dry roads.

I did a free-form run, on no planned route, since the place we are staying is very close to the Ironman course, and I didn't want to encroach upon those roads while the race was going on. So I discovered a bit more of the neighbourhood, including a short trail along the waterfront, bordered by people's back yards: one of the yards had a gate with a sign on it saying ''chemin de merde de chien''...I wasn't exactly expecting to come across French in B.C., but that one made me smile. Obviously there's a bit of friction about between home owners and dog owners who use the trail.

When I got back from my run, I took the dogs out for a walk (and picked up after them), along a sidewalk bordering part of the Ironman course. I watched dozens of bikes whiz by at speed, including a pack of about twelve who had to take sudden evasive action when a white cube van decided to back into a driveway, blocking 80% of the road. I had no idea that Ironman does not close the roads to traffic, nor even cone off a lane or part of a lane.

Tim and I then drove into Victoria, via a swap meet/flea market that Tim wanted to check out. It began raining at this point, and honestly the weather made Victoria a bit of a disappointment, at least in terms of photography. We did however find Munro's books - yes, that Alice Munro - and that was my big wish for the day, to make a pilgrimage there. We also found Chinatown and the famously narrow Fan Tan Alley.

When we got back, B&D had just arrived back from the triathlon. B was tired and hungry but in remarkable shape.

We spent a couple of hours just hanging out, and I opened my birthday presents. Then we all went back to the same beach Tim and I had taken the dogs to yesterday, and it was even more deserted today. We let the dogs play in the water while we beachcombed for pretty stones. Then D pointed out a bald eagle, high in a pine tree, that was being dive-bombed by a crow. I only had my 24-105 mm zoom of course, but I did manage to get a few photos at least. Seeing an eagle had been one of my hopes and wishes for this trip, so I was beyond thrilled.

And now we are packing up the car ready for an early departure tomorrow morning to begin the first leg of our long journey home. We will be getting the ferry back to Port Angeles, Washington, and crossing Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and a bit of Michigan before crossing back to Ontario at Sault Ste Marie. It will be a fairly straight, no-detours, no tourism trip home, but I'll still be taking pictures out of the car window!

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/victoria-coda Mon, 04 Jun 2018 05:22:34 GMT
All creatures great and small http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/critters-of-a-different-kind This morning the four of us all went off in different directions: B&D went to deal with triathlon check in and prep; Tim headed out on a garage-sale tour, and I went for a run then took the dogs for a walk.

In the afternoon, B&D and I went to the butterfly garden; not only did the place have butterflies, they also had insects, scorpions, an iguana and various birds, including flamingoes, macaws and some small parakeet-type birds.

In the late afternoon, Tim and I drove the girls over to the eastern shore of the peninsula and found a beach for the dogs. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the water was calm as glass. Surprisingly, we had the place more or less to ourselves.

And finally this evening, I walked down to Brentwood Bay and watched the sun set, as a bunch of kayaks and SUPs headed out into the golden waters to pay reverence to the dying day.

It was twenty years ago today that I met Tim for the very first time.

 

 

 

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/critters-of-a-different-kind Sun, 03 Jun 2018 05:04:34 GMT
Thar she blows http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/thar-she-blows Today was all about the whales. And they did not disappoint, oh no they didn't.

16 years ago today, I donned white silk and satin. married my true love, then we rode away in a horse-drawn carriage. Today, we donned bright orange survival suits and headed out on a whale tour boat with B&D plus four other people and Captain Dave, an Indigenous local who is obviously passionate about the whales and the land and water he lives and works in.

We were out for nearly four hours; first we followed a pod of transient orcas as they hunted near Salt Spring Island. Then we headed into more open water to catch up with a larger group of orcas traversing a the strait. And to crown the entire experience, Captain Dave said that there were a pair of humpbacks 10 or 15 minutes away, and we travelled over to watch them...they are enormous!

I loved the fact that the various whale watching boat operators not only kept a respectful distance from the whales, but they also communicated with one another and remained with the different pods until another boat could take up the watch. As well, they were in constant communication with one another...that's how we were alerted to the humpbacks.

The survival suits kept us nice and warm on the water, and we had a simply brilliant day that will remain in our memories for a very long time.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/thar-she-blows Sat, 02 Jun 2018 04:06:50 GMT
Tofino to Victoria http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/tofino-to-victoria We left Tofino this morning, after another rollicking play session on the beach for the dogs. We had 300 kilometres to cover, and the first half of it was through some rather remote mountains, with beautiful scenery; however the road was to be closed for construction from 12 to 1pm, so we had to get a move on in order to make it through before the closure happened.

We stopped back in at Cowichan Bay and let the dogs have a dip in the water there. The tide was low and the shore was...gooey. But they had fun anyway. Though they smell kind of fishy now.

We made it to Victoria, to the airbnb we will be staying at for the next 4 nights, and we met up with B&D, two extremely special friends, who have travelled all the way from St Louis to spend time with us here. B will be doing a half-Ironman triathlon here on Sunday. We've already made some exciting plans for the next few days.

In the meantime, a few last shots from Tofino.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/6/tofino-to-victoria Fri, 01 Jun 2018 04:12:55 GMT
Touring round Tofino http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/touring-round-tofino We had a quieter day today, i.e. no travel; a rest day. I did a run into Tofino and scoped out town a bit. Unfortunately, it was bike to work and school day, and I was sharing the bike path with quite a few adults and kids on bikes, so there was a lot of crowding and dodging.

When I came back, I took the dogs down to the beach and let Tim have a lie-in to recover a bit from all of his driving. We gave the dogs a slightly early lunch and then drove into Tofino and wandered around for a couple of hours. It's an interesting mix of a few high-end boutiques, a regular grocery store and a drugstore, and some tacky souvenir and shell shops, plus a few restaurants, of course. Tim got some smoked, cured salmon from a Native vendor. 

We were back at our rental house by mid-afternoon. We took the dogs back to the beach and managed to pick up a friend called Harriet, a lovely fox-red Lab with a bit of a limp on her hind leg. She just had this look about her that she was searching for someone, and I sensed she was lost, though perhaps not panicking about it. We asked the few people we encountered on the way back up the beach if they knew anything about her, to no avail, and as is to be expected, the various dog people and their dogs all congregated and problem-solved together. Harriet had a phone number on her name tag, and someone managed to get a cellular signal and call, only to get voicemail. In the end, Harriet attached herself to some dogs and people who were staying just a few houses down from us, and who were local to B.C. We exchanged numbers so that we could do further assistance if need be. We came back to our house and did reverse lookup on the phone number and it appeared to belong to a construction worker from Ucluelet, 30 km to the south. An hour or so later, we got a text to say her person had been tracked down. But we did come this close to bringing a third dog home with us...if we weren't crossing the US border again next week, I think we would have genuinely done it.

The sunset is in about an hour, so I'll have a wander down to photograph that. It's patently obvious why this is called the Gold Coast of B.C. - everything was gilded in sunlight last night.

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/touring-round-tofino Thu, 31 May 2018 02:20:40 GMT
Cowichan to Tofino http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/cowichan-to-tofino Today was a ''leisurely'' three and a half hours, compared to the usual 7 or 8 hours of travel. We drove from Cowichan (just north of Victoria) to Tofino (halfway up the island, and on the Pacific Coast). We took plenty of side trips and made several stops to look around, including Qualicum Beach, where the dogs had a great swim while we did some beachcombing, and Cathedral Grove, a roadside provincial park en route across the island to Tofino. Everything is so beautiful and lush here. I saw wild raspberries ripe on their canes when I was out for my run this morning in Cowichan.

The coast was very windy today; I don't know if this is normal or not, but the wind was gusting so hard it was picking up swirls of sand and driving them into our faces, making the temperature of 13 degrees feel a lot colder. Nevertheless, the scenery is stunning, and the briskness simply added to the powerful sense of wildness that makes this place so special.

We have a day here tomorrow to look around and get a real feel for it, but I'm in love with it already.

 

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/cowichan-to-tofino Wed, 30 May 2018 06:42:52 GMT
Somewhere in the Strait of Juan de Fuca http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/somewhere-in-the-strait-of-juan-de-fuca We left Cannon Beach this morning, not so much with regret, since there is a lot more to look forward to, but certainly with wonderful memories of a beautiful place. Even though it was the first long holiday weekend of the summer, and the weather was beautiful, there was plenty of beach to go around, and everybody just seems so laid-back.

I went out for a run early this morning and the beach was wide (tide out) and largely empty. The day dawned more overcast and misty than yesterday, so it was actually quite cool to see the landscape under a different light.

I took the dogs down for one more play in the ocean while Tim packed the car up, and we were on our way shortly after 9am. We drove up the coast to the Washington State line, crossing the vast mouth of the Columbia River, then following Highway 101 inland around the Olympic mountain range, and along part of Puget Sound. Our ferry departed from Port Angeles, and at the moment we’re sitting comfortably in a solarium-type room midship. The dogs are with us, curled up on the floor at my feet. It’s sunny but quite cool and very windy, so I don’t think I’m venturing outside for pictures. At the moment the view is nothing but water anyway.

Tonight we stay just north of Victoria, in Cowichan Bay. Tomorrow, we drive up to Tofino to spend a couple of nights there, before coming back down to Victoria for a few nights.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/somewhere-in-the-strait-of-juan-de-fuca Tue, 29 May 2018 01:36:50 GMT
Cannon Beach http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/cannon-beach At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's been an absolutely beautiful, exhilarating day.

I was up with the dogs at just after five (keeping in mind that we are 3 hours behind Toronto time now, and our internal clocks really haven't adjusted, since we gained the hours one by one, over several days of travel. We'll lose these time zones back gradually as we drive back home). In any case, I took the dogs out for a quick pee, then took my camera and walked for 2 hours. Somewhat surprisingly, the beach was nearly deserted at that hour (the place is full; there is not a room to be had, as it's the US Memorial day weekend), and the sky was reflecting in the wet sand, and it was simply enchanting.

I came back, had breakfast, then went out for a run up the beach...again with a (smaller) camera while Tim cooked himself some breakfast. Then we took the dogs down for a romp and a swim, then came back and toweled them off and sat outside with them for a bit to let them dry off. I gave them lunch and we left them to sleep, while we wandered down to the village, which is your typical seaside collection of art galleries, ice cream shops, restaurants and other such shops geared to tourists. It wasn't tacky, though...it was quite nice. I bought a dress and Tim bought me a silver necklace with a bird sitting on a little branch.

We took the dogs for another outing on the beach late this afternoon, and I've spent a couple of hours editing and posting photos. I'm just about to head down to the beach to photograph the sunset.

We have to be on the road for 9am tomorrow, because we are driving up the coast to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island. We'll be spending a total of 7 nights on the island before catching the ferry back to Washington State next Monday and then spending 5 days driving home. It was 5100 kilometres just to get to the Pacific, and it will be a (just slightly) shorter route back.

The pictures below are a tiny sample of the hundreds and hundreds that I took. For my photographer friends, I'm already on to my third 32 gig card.

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/cannon-beach Mon, 28 May 2018 04:18:32 GMT
Spokane to the Pacific http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/spokane-to-the-pacific What a great, memorable, excellent day this was!

I began it with a run in Spokane; there is a 23 mile path called the Centennial trail that runs along the Spokane river, and it was gorgeous. Lots of Canada geese with goslings of various stages of development, from tiny yellow hatchlings to half-grown, gangly adolescents. Spokane also seems to have a fair amount of 'campers' (vagrants?) living in tents or under tarps. But everyone was very friendly.

We drove through Washington State on I-90 and I-84, and I was surprised by how much of Washington is prairie land. I was expecting all mountains, all the time. We took several people's advice and did the I-84 drive along the Columbia River gorge, which is simply spectacular. Today it was incredibly windy, to the point that the river had whitecaps on it, and the car was buffeted by gusts of wind as we drove along. From time to time we caught glimpses of Mount Hood, a snow-capped peak standing tall and alone, with its head poking up above the clouds. 

We stopped off at Hood River to meet up with someone I've always wanted to see in person, and somehow knew that this would happen. D is a photographer friend, a retired English teacher and basketball coach in Oregon, who has been called back to teach because he's one of those inspiring people who have a true gift for educating and inspiring others. He and his beautiful wife J drove from their place in Oregon to spend some time with us; they suggested a marina and beach right off the highway, and the dogs had a fantastic time playing in the shallows of the Columbia. D&J had brought us a bag of local cheese, meat and wine to take along with us. They are such kind, thoughtful people, and I feel a real connection to both of them. It's definitely another highlight of this trip.

 

We had another three hours on the road, taking us into the Cascades, a mountain range very different from the Rockies, though equally awe-inspiring. These mountains are lush and verdant and sculpted, with waterfalls nearly everywhere you look.

Through Portland, and another 90 minutes took us out to the coast, for our first, magical glimpse of the Pacific ocean and Haystack rock. We arrived at about 17:00 and we took the dogs down to the beach to run and play to their hearts' content. It's doggy heaven here, with no restrictions about leashes or hours when they can be there. And everybody else on the beach seems to love dogs. We even had a woman approach us and ask if she could give our dogs a biscuit, because they'd left theirs at home and were missing him. Arwen ran into a game of boules and made off with one of the balls, and all the players did was laugh and say they wondered how long it would take for that to happen. 

We have a full day here tomorrow, and the weather forecast is good. My only worry is running out of camera memory cards!

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/spokane-to-the-pacific Sun, 27 May 2018 05:31:53 GMT
Yoho to Spokane http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/yoho-to-spokane  

Today was another travel day, but as usual it began with a run. I’d taken some iPhone pictures during my run along the ‘grizzly bear road’ yesterday, and despite the worry/danger, I was determined to go back there with a better camera this morning. Which I did. I only ran 2 kilometres out, got the pictures I wanted, then came back at a fast clip. I saw a large herd of elk on the way out.

 

We continued along the TransCanada to Golden, B.C., a stretch of about 60 kilometres that is probably the most technical of the entire road, with steep inclines and declines and sinuous curves. I wouldn’t want to be a trucker on that road!

We turned south at Golden, and drove down the Kootenay valley, with mountain ranges to either side, and the Kootenay river running parallel to the road. It is quite high and even flooded in places.

We crossed over with no problem at Idaho, and spent 2 and a half hours driving south to pick up Interstate 90 for about 30 kilometres and get to our stopping point for the night, Spokane, Washington.

Tomorrow, we head onward to the Oregon coast, with a very special meet-up planned at Hood River.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/yoho-to-spokane Sat, 26 May 2018 03:20:55 GMT
Lakes and bears and RVs oh my http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/lakes-and-bears-and-rvs-oh-my The weather gods continue to be on our side. There were a few light sprinkles during my run very early this morning, and it was a crisp 5 degrees Celsius, but things eventually warmed up to the low twenties. It was a more-cloudy-than-sunny day, but the sporadic rain seemed to save itself for when we were in the car getting from Point A to Point B, and there was patchy blue sky for most of our stops.

We began at Emerald Lake, which is just 10 kilometres or so from our lodge. It was surreal: a bowl of green water, surrounded by conifer-girdled mountains, and dotted with little red canoes that the national park service rents out. There were also the remnants of an avalanche that we hiked to.

We then backtracked into Alberta, across the Continental Divide, and we headed north toward Jasper on the Icefields parkway. Those mountains mean business. Stern and tall and angular, they are the higher peaks of this chain, and they soar above the road, laced with glaciers and snow.

We turned around at Bow Peak and headed to Banff, which unfortunately was chock a block with people, and not somewhere we wanted to tarry. We took a chance on the way back that Moraine Lake might be accessible – it is a steep 14km climb on a narrow road, and there is limited parking at the end point, so the entry point is often closed, once the parking maxes out up top. We were lucky and managed to get in. And wow, what a way to finish the day! The drive up to the lake was spectacular (I’m fully aware that I am using far too many superlatives, but they’re justified) and the lake itself is a jewel of green and blue, nestled in rugged, boulder-strewn crags.

On the way back to the lodge, we spotted a couple of bears scampering up scree at the side of the Trans Canada. They look like black bears rather than grizzlies, but it was cool to see them.

The only blemish on the day was the ubiquity of RVs. There seems to be an entire culture surrounding them, and they like to travel in packs. I know they have as much right as we do to be here, but between them and the tour buses, I shudder to think what ‘high season’ is like, in July and August.

 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/lakes-and-bears-and-rvs-oh-my Fri, 25 May 2018 02:38:23 GMT
Swift Current to...speechless http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/swift-current-to-speechless Today we covered another seven or eight hundred kilometres. No time zone changes today, only because we're in a tiny corner of B.C. that observes Mountain Time rather than Pacific Time.

I began the day with a run straight out into the prairie. Our hotel for the night was right on the northern edge of Swift Current, and from our room window I could see a road heading off into the grassland, and it called to me. Tim wasn't too keen on me running on what looked like a busy road, but only the first kilometre or so was busy, and the shoulders were wide. Surprisingly, it was a constant ascent for 4 kilometres, and the communications mast that was at the crest of the hill had looked to be only a kilometre or so from the hotel.

I saw an osprey perched on a telephone pole, and stopped to admire it.

We were on the road by 9:30. The stretch between Swift Current and Medicine Hat is cattle country, with progressively more rolling hills and scrubbier land than the farm fields of central Saskatchewan. Beautiful, in its own way.

The stretch between Medicine Hat and Calgary, though, was rather dull and flat and unremarkable. 

Just before Calgary, Tim told me to look over to the left, and there were the ghostly profiles of the Rocky Mountains showing on the horizon.

From then on in, it just became more and more glorious. I pride myself on having a rich vocabulary, but for once I just don't have the words. There is no describing the enormity, the grandeur, the beauty. I think this has been one of the happiest days of my life.

We put the cherry on top with a stop at Lake Louise; we arrived at about 18:30, and found parking easily. There were remarkably few people around, and I don't think we could have timed it more opportunely. The sun was just arcing its way towards the peaks for the night, and the light was simply lovely.

I took tons of pictures at Lake Louise with my ''proper'' camera, as well as hundreds through the car windshield with my little camera, but I think this one will have to do as an eloquent summation of the day.

 

 

Tomorrow, we are not travelling anywhere; we intend to spend the day exploring Banff and Jasper and Yoho parks. 

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/swift-current-to-speechless Thu, 24 May 2018 03:41:14 GMT
on to Swift Current http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/on-to-swift-current So, if you read yesterday's blog, you'll not be surprised that we got an early start this morning, because why stay any longer in the place-that-shall-not-be-named?

(I actually got chastised for whining too much about it).

The pièce de résistance was still to come this morning, though. I was out the door for a run at 7am, and I found a small river valley with a trail system lacing through it. I’d just reached the turnaround point and was heading back when this happened:

me: (running along path, nobody else in sight)
(noise of bicycle bell behind)
woman: (singsong voice) helloooo, hellooo, hellooo!!!
me (over shoulder): I can hear you
(moves left)
woman on bike (drawing even, still in singsong voice):  You should have moved right
me: (in equally singsong voice) F*@k you.

 

Yeah. Ok. ‘Nuff said.

 

We were on the road by nine, and we covered the rest of Manitoba and got well into Saskatchewan before detouring north to the Qu’Appelle Valley, an amazing, fairy-tale landscape of rounded hills, lakes and a serpentine river. There we stopped for three wonderful hours with Uncle Harley and Aunt Marianne, who have a home on Pasqua Lake. The dogs went for a swim and we chatted on the deck and had a delicious meal. Then we reluctantly said our goodbyes, with 300 kilometres still to go to Swift Current. Fortunately, we ‘gained’ another hour as we crossed the Saskatchewan border, so our 8-hour drive is only 7 hours by the clock.

 

What to say about the Prairies? I was honestly steeling myself for a boring, tedious drive, but the vastness is simply indescribable, magical. The skies have a well-earned reputation for hugeness, and the horizons are endless. I was constantly taking pictures through the car window…these are the ones that I am posting today. Though some images may look stormy, we actually encountered only one downpour.  The quality may not be perfect, but I hope that these images capture and express some of the beauty that we drove through.

 

Tomorrow we forge onward, through the rest of Saskatchewan and a slice of Alberta, with our next stop just across the border in British Columbia. I am excited to get my first glimpse of the Rockies rising out of the horizon.

 

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paula.a.banks@gmail.com (Catchlight Canada) http://www.paulabanks.ca/blog/2018/5/on-to-swift-current Wed, 23 May 2018 01:12:26 GMT