Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Full Circle ...

Well where has the time gone eh, in some respects it all went too fast, in others it slowed to a snails pace, all in all it was great. i really can't believe another world trip is over and ive been away for only 5 weeks, it kinda feels longer, maybe because of the lag in flying all the way back round the globe to Perth.

To those that we met along the way, thank you for your friendships and good times, please stay in touch and our door is open anytime you decide to venture down under to this big brown land of Australia and come explore. no matter if your heading west or east, we can help you out. opposite to that, when we trek out again, if we are stopping through your home towns, be sure to have a cold beverage on hand. last but not least, thank you to our employers, and families who allowed us the opportunities to do this, without them all we would not be here. we are both so appreciative just to have great jobs to come back to.

I really can't explain what a fantastic journey it all was, and standouts for me would have to be Mexico and San Diego. those times will stay with me for a long time, and im so glad i got to venture into those jungles whilst i still can, and not at the age of 64. really thinking about getting back in 2012, Dec 21st, maybe see the new year in there ... maybe a new something. Canada was also great, however due to bad luck, bad weather and bad timing things weren't explored as much as possible. would love to go back, but bigger and new locations call first. California id have to say im kinda done with, America in general i guess, for a while ... however i have a strong urge to hop back for an east coast trip and or another Comic Con. but from an outside perspective, the US is heading into really god awful times, and i dont want to be involved in that.

Where next? well no concrete plans, i need to hit Melbourne preferably this year, but the bank is saying no lol, other than that, SE Asia, China, North Africa, the Moon. really looking forward to just getting back into the swing of things and re-appreciating the life we have in Perth. we live in an amazing place, you all just dont have any idea how lucky you have it. from owning homes, clean and healthy foods, safe medical centers, stable jobs, raising families in safe surrounds, still having strong and open connections with our heritage pasts .... being able to walk to the beach, the park, an open space, to breath clean air, to not have to worry about natural disasters taking away everything in a rumble or a swirl. take a moment and just be thankful. see you all on the other side.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Vancouver : Last Goodbye

Whistler : I Want Snow ...

This famous resort ski region is just 45 mins away via air from downtown Vancouver. its the site of the majority of the 2010 winter olympics and is bound to expand in size and world scope in the next few years... but is it ready?

After a story of setbacks to try and actually get up there, on the morning of our delayed flight, both Mark and I said to each other, should we just call it quits and forget trying to get around the closed rail line (Sea to Sky high way closed due to landslide) well this question would reappear numerous times and generally i guess we just should of stayed in Vancouver. after a delayed flight due to weather, we were only flown half way to Whistler and had to spend another hour on a bus ride up the mountains to get in (which we were not informed of until landing) so basically our first day in the place was gone, we arrived tired, hungry, angry and too late for alot of things, not to mention a hotel where we couldnt even check in till 4PM! oh did i mention the weather was pouring with rain and freezing outside. hello summer ......

Skip to day two, after hearing the phrase "This weather is extremely unusual for this time of year" over and over we were both ready to just hit the valley air and walk a trail for 3/4 of a day. we took a path into the surrounding base of Whistler and Blackcomb, round the village and golf course's, round Lost Lake, onto Green Lake and round again. boy was that a slog. harder too was trying to judge the weather. its still chilly up there (ice / hard pack snow is still on all the mountain peaks) and packing jumpers became tiresome half way through the walk.

Never the less the scenery is pristine and breathtaking. well cared for and maintained as are most things round here in general. trash, and the alike are all kept to a minimum, if nothing at all. i found it cool how they have special bins around here with kiddy safe lids to ..... keep the bears from opening them and also tipping them over. never did see a bear though, although Mark almost got his leg ripped off by a huge dog led by a jogger on the trail lol. so we got out finally and gave it our best shot, but as you can imagine after the hit and miss of the last few days we were just ready to ship out by days end. mentally more than anything else. if we were there for more days there is plenty we would like to have done. lastly gotta mention, if your into mountain biking, come here, this sport takes over from skiing in the summer and every man and his dog is an extreme biker. the trails offer the perfect adrenaline circuit.

Pack Stack and Repack : News

Hey guys, currently just finishing things off on Whistler, heading back to Vancouver tomorrow for a day and then off the next day to Germany, next day to Singapore and then same day Home. its gonna be a rush but more so for Mark who is skipping out earlier than me, heading back with no stop overs, im flyin solo from Germany onwards.

Canada has been great to see, however alot of things were slowed down or canceled due to the turn of bad weather here along the way. particularly in Whistler where we barely even got here to begin with .... so i guess i should explain that one a bit further, the story begins a day earlier and i don't know if you guys would have heard about it back home.

So we've had this run of bad weather and alot of rain everyday since we have been here so far, and on Thursday we decided to actually tackle it head on and just do what we always do, stuff the weather and hit the sights. it was overcast but not raining on the morning so we booked ahead and went out on a sea harbour excursion, a two hour bay tour on a Zodiac holding 12 people. the tour takes us through Howe sound and the bay area, lying at the base of the mountains, it too was carved centuries earlier by the same glaciers that had an impact on Yosemite and the mountains of the west coast. booking the tour we were told that today was the only day we could do it as Sunday was fully booked due to a landslide over the Sea to Sky highway (the way to Whistler via Rail and Car). We panic .....

Leaving the tour for a moment we start to freak out as now we hit the net, no emails or notifications from the rail services or float planes we have booked, but seeing the news, over night there had been a rock landslide covering the highway and rail line preventing all transport up to and down from Whistler and the surrounding mountains. now we are in a situation where we are unlikely to even make it up there and we have no other hotel reservations for Vancouver ..... not good.

Long story short we phone the Rail company, "oh yeh the rail link is closed can we rebook you" "No you can't", we're still after a refund, but we then figure if we can phone quickly we can possibly get the Float Plane service up there as well as back to Vancouver, a few phone calls later and we are booked on a plane for the next morning .... oh but the fun had only just begun.

Skip back to the Howe Sound sea bay tour and it begins to rain as we step onto the boat. it doesn't stop for another 3 days. so we shuffled round the bay on this awesome speed boat, raining, overcast, cold and windy ... just the way we like it lol. but positives were it was cool just to be out there. Dad, it reminded me of the Albany bay fishing trips we took out there in the dingy, minus the huge swells. i felt like dropping in a line. as we circled the islands on the two hour tour we got to see many Bald Eagles, Seals, marine life and forests. do it if you ever get out here. but linking these two stories, on the boat ride back in we actually passed the Sea to Sky highway and were able to view the landslide from the ocean, and man what a mess it was, this was expected to clear in a weeks time.

Skip onwards to the next morning and we get out to the float plane expecting, well, expecting what we paid for, a full flight to Whistler uninterrupted. this was not to be the case, not only had the bad weather stuck round, it had now sealed off Whistler in a cloud and rain bank that prevented flying. we were left with a delayed flight, and only flew 20mins, half way there, up to Squamish, and then we were bussed up the mountains a further 40mins. the best bit, no one bothered to inform us of this segway, and there were no compensations, hence to say i will not fly and will not recommend Whistler Air to anyone. unfortunatly we leave with them tomorrow as well, hopefully this time round we get out full flight, and a safe journey. (update: flight out of Whistler was a full flight, but passengers who booked during the weekend, post landslide were made to pay 30% more in ticket fares .... DO NOT FLY UP HERE WITH Whistler Air)

So things have been hampered here in Canada a bit but its all coming to a gradual end, and to be honest, its about time, we are kinda knackered and ready to just end the living from a suitcase life. when we make it out again i think it will be for a shorter time frame, but the same amount of hijinks. glad to have you all following along and commenting when you can. its been a great way to keep in touch and i wouldnt do it any other way. as a good friend in San Diego said on departure, go back to work, save your money, plan, travel, rinse repeat .... seeyou all soon. updates as we hit the floor home.


Vancouver Aquarium : Morning Tour

The Aquarium is situated inside Stanley Park itself, accessible via walking or car. we got there round 10AM and really saw the crowds grow as the day went past lunch. its extremely popular and having the kids summer holidays on at the same time kinda fills the place up real quickly. smallish in size, but similar in theme and scope to Sydney's the Aquarium is basically 3 zones. outer pools and marine life, arctic mammals. inner frog and swamp zone. freshwater basin and rainforest leading to ocean climates.

I found it to be great, especially the regions featuring sections on the local marine environments from the local bays. each one fully populated by heaps of fish and marine life in each tank, beautifully designed and maintained giving a great glimpse into what we don't see from above. i kinda feel a strong connection to these sorts of things generally because of living on the coast all my life and enjoying fishing as a past time. you get to respect what many just pass over. its also nice to feel that, seeing the sharks and dolphins etc in the tanks, i can stick my hand up and say ... you know what, ive feed, caught, released and watch those out in the wild, the real world.

Stanley Park : Hop Skip Jump

Located towards the western side of Vancouver City, Stanley Park is a nature reserve set aside near the city as a public park much the same as central park in NYC and Kings Park in Perth. the size of Perth CBD roughly, the park it self is rounded by a "seawall" barrier which not only provides protection against erosion and the large tidal flows, but also acts as a round trip tourist walk which flows onto the city's foreshore and around the whole harbour area all the way round Granville island (google maps if you want to follow along).

Through the Park itself runs a major freeway and connecting minor roads, never impacting on the park to a great degree, but the freeway connects through the park via Lions Gate Bridge to the opposite side of the harbour, and Northern Vancouver. it also house a few beaches, cafes and the Vancouver Aquarium, which we trekked out to on the second day we were in town. all of this is accessible via foot and is the main reason why Vancouver is so tourist friendly.

Once we had finished with the Aquarium, Mark headed back to the CBD and i decided to explore the park itself, kinda felt well, im here, might as well. was really fantastic to explore and walk through the nature trails, often without anyone else around for 100's of meters. squirrels and birds were everywhere, along with the alpine trees and forest. i ended up rounding the whole park via the seawall as you can see, getting closer to Lions Gate bridge and then under it, out to the ocean front cliffs, then round the beaches, and cutting through the center hiking paths. before and after heading through the small boat mariner they have in the cover between the CBD and the park. (this by no means is the only or biggest mariner in the region). really, much more time can be spent here in its own, picnics, walking trails, etc etc, simply a 10min walk from the city. and to think, 20mins over the harbour via ferry you can be skiing in an afternoon. great place.