BC Trip 2012

"Sea to Sky"


Mid Vancouver island was really out in fall color. It may have not been peak season but in the PNW the trees are always in some state of limbo during autumn. They are either green, just turning, NICE or just about done... rarely are they ALL in peak.
These are the types of  roads we are traveling at this point. The new van did a great job but it is a bit lower than the last one. I did hit bottom once on a baseball size stone.
The maples were exceptionally gold this year. I love the warm golds with the cool blues and cool greens of the reflective water. I felt like my eyes were drinking their fill of beauty where ever I turned.
The rain settled in on us again as we moved on our way through the Port Alberni valley (and another lunch break at Subway). We had planned on visiting Ian and Jan at their house in Comox but the forecast was for 50 mile an hour winds across the Straights of Georgia. I had set a tentative schedule for crossing the straights at Comox to Powell River. Then another ferry at Saltery Bay through the fjord like inlets to Earls Cove and then down the Sunshine Coast.
But this seemed doubtful, as the ferry system is shut down down during gale force winds. So we adapted our plans to fit the weather and headed for the Naniamo ferry. A BIG seaworthy vessel able to withstand some pretty rought waters.
We made the 3 PM ferry by a scant 15 minutes. As you can see there are two boarding areas on these big boys. There are 3 or 4 car decks  and each side has 4 rows of cars. This ferry holds 192 cars. AND it's NOT the biggest BC ferry!
This was about an hour and forty five minutes. 86.00 dollars for this excursion. NOT a commuter ferry that's for sure. But very comfortable with dining areas, two topside decks for seeing the inlets and passages while staying warm and dry. FREE WIFI unlike the U.S. ferries, now charging for Boingo WIFI service.

Our time on the ferries for me was a rush to glean as much info via the WIFI as possible. I learned that you can pull up a website full of info and it will reside on your phone even after your data connection is gone. I was able to load several sites with weather, travel, lodging and points of interest while on the ferry and use the information later on the road.
This is the typical scenery while on the ferry ride. BC is a drop dead gorgeous area to visit. If you like outdoor scenery and outdoor activities, this is hard to beat!
From the ferry we headed up the "Sea to Sky" highway. Completely renewed for the 2010 winter Olympics. One complaint... There are no damn pullouts, vista points or rest stops! World class scenery and no way to stop and take a photo!

This was taken 10 miles from the beginning of the highway. Most of the incredible scenery was done and gone by the time we found this obscure overpass that gave us a few vistas.

Low clouds hanging over the inlet. This is another fjord like inlet that is a finger which has it's origin in the glacial ice fields that surround Whistler... Oh yea, did I mention that we are on the way to Whistler here! More world class scenery!
We enjoyed a night's stay in Squamish which rests at the base for the mountainous peaks of Whistler and at the end of the Fjord we traveled up on the Sea to Sky highway. Best Western Squamish has reasonable rates and decent dining with affordable pricing. The night we stayed, they featured Greek cuisine complete with belly dancer and Greek music!


Next morning, it was an hour ride through some heavy deluges of rain to the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler. Unfortunately when we arrived at Whistler we were not able to see the many peaks surrounding the area. We did drive up to a portion of the Olympic Village (10 miles) to see where the ski jumping happened. At the end of the 10 miles there was a guard shack with a gate. I figured we would have to pay to see the deserted plazas and buildings... NOPE... it was closed! and there sat a ranger telling us to turn around and drive back. This was a common occurrance in BC. Do you think you could put a CLOSED sign at the highway??? Sheesh!
That's Whistler in the background of this sign along Green Lake. We didn't stop in Whistler. We checked the prices of the Best Western in Whistler and they are about 60.00 more a night. I doubt Cosmo would have been invited into the room :(

 I'm not much for shopping and it looked as though that was the main purpose to stop there. Beautiful area... better if it were not raining I'm sure.
So off we went to Pemberton. Which is about 30 minutes east of Whistler. I think this may be an interesting area with a combination of ranchland and glacier peaks. We stopped at the local coffee shop where WIFI was free and the snacks were healthy and yummy! Oh, I think dieting hit the wall here and the night before when we had triple chocolate truffle cake!

We decided to go eastward toward Lillooet instead of staying over in Pemberton. We stumbled with the name Lillooet, pronounced LILL O ET... and wondered what kind of an enchanted place it might be.

There are many First Nation (The Canadian equivalent of Native American) towns, Bands and namesakes in BC and especially in the Lillooet area. First Nation Xaxli'p, First Nation Ts'Kw'aylaaxw... Makes Puyallup in Washington seem pretty simple huh?!


This highway, between Pemberton and Lillooet,  is a continuation of the Sea to Sky highway. This leg of the journey was the closest to the sky that we had seen to date with countless pass crossings.

This is the Cayoosh creek that we traveled along for a few hours. Cayoosh is the First Nation word for pony, according to my reading of the area. Lillooet was originally called Cayoosh Flat due to the plateaus of grassland where the First Nation people would feed their ponies.
I'm thinking fishing.... This water way has to have some excellent fishing!
As you can see the fall color was pretty spectacular for the west coast. The trees are a combination of cottonwood, birch, vine maple, maple and aspen.
Steep... felt like we were dropping off a cliff! Had to shift into our manual transmission several times and use the engine to slow us down! There were quite a few of these!
I would say we probably saw 12 cars in the four hours of travel we had on this section of the highway... Yup, that is a picture of the highway!
Seton Lake which has quite a bit of history in it's own right. To the north there is another river called Bridge River. In the early 20th century the "Officials" thought they should divert the water (most of it anyway) into Seton Lake. Well, they did it, and nearly wiped out the salmon population of Bridge River. The diversion took the pristine clear waters of Seton Lake and flooded them with milky glacier melt from the Bridge River.  The officials were NOT popular after that decision!

I took this photo in a gale force wind of 50 miles an hour plus.... That wind, on that highway, going down those grades was as close to an adrenalin rush as I wanna get!

To get the full effect watch the short video I shot from this point.



This is east side of Lillooet on the Fraser River. Lillooet has a lot of history. This is the gateway to the Cariboo Region of BC. This is "Mile Zero" on your way to the gold fields (Cariboo Rigion) of the the BC gold rush. Towns, bridges, settlements etc. were named with a mile denotation after them so travelers would know how far the particular location was from mile zero (Lillooet).

We stayed the night in the 4 Pines motel. 69.00 a night including Cosmo's fee. It was clean and when we woke the next morning the sunshine broke in from the east along the river canyon. Lillooet is not enchanting but the Greek cuisine there was not too bad. What's with all the Greek food?



Just north of Lillooet, another river canyon empties into the Fraser River. We traveled up this canyon along the Bridge River toward Gold Bridge where there are still remnants of old gold strikes, saloons and trading posts... Well so I have read. As we traveled westward we could see the skies clouding and our sunshine disappearing. The trip to Gold Bridge is 68 miles and there is only one way back... the same way you came.... Or a nasty Forest Service road, and you end up in Pemberton again with a 4 hour drive to Lillooet. So we got this gorgeous shot of a beautiful stand of aspens on the sunshine and continued with a watchful eye. 
The road stayed a couple hundred feet off the river so all the color on the water was not accessible. Our blacktop turned to gravel and the road went from two lanes down to one lane with pull outs... and the clouds continued to thicken. We finally decided to cut our losses and turned around at this old cabin and head back... about 16 miles into the trip.
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