Whistler, BC

John A. Travels to California

Day 8, September 15 – Banff & Lake Louise

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Day 01- Leave Ontario
Day 02 - Chicago
Day 03 - Mt. Rushmore
Day 04 - Yellowstone
Day 05 - Yellowstone
Day 06 - Up to Alberta
Day 07 - Banff & Lake Louise
Day 08 - Whistler, BC
Day 09 - Vancouver & Seattle
Day 10 - Mt. St. Helens
Day 11 - Coastal Hwy 1
Day 12 - San Fransico
Day 13 - Yosemite Park
Day 14 - Giant Redwoods
Day 15 - Hearst Castle
Day 16 - Los Angelos & COD
Day 17 - Hollywood
Day 18 - Thru the Bible & Vegas
Day 19 - Death Valley
Day 20 - Hoover Dam & Skywalk
Day 21 - Caverns & Grand Canyon
Day 22 - Grand Canyon - Hike
Day 23 - Grand C. - Hermit's Rest
Day 24 - Petrified Forest
Day 25 - Meteor Crater
Day 26 - Carlsbad Caverns
Day 27 - Dallas, Texas
Day 28 - Mississippi River
Day 29 - St. Loius
Day 30 - Detroit
Day 31 - Home to Woodstock

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John's 45th birthday
John's 45th birthday

Day 8, September 15 – Banff & Lake Louise
We awoke in our motel in Golden, BC, after good night’s sleep.  I didn’t feel any different, but apparently I’m a year older today: 45 years old. 
As usual, Ronald called his parents, and his lady friend Ym on the V-phone, while I took a shower.  After we get organized, I called my parents on the V-phone.  I retrieved the gift wrapped package that had the instructions on it not to open until September 15.
I decided to do a virtual birthday party and so I dug out the web cam and set up at video call with mom and dad.  This was the first video call for both of us, and it took a bit of set up to get started, but then worked beautifully.  I ripped open the package as mom and dad watched from 3000 km away.  They gave me a very lovely card, and a musical candle holder.  They also had taped some coins on the package.  When you twisted the

Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains

base of the candle, it would play happy birthday for you.  They were able to listen to it, and got a kick out of the whole thing.
After we’d finished the birthday celebrations, I rotated the web cam out the window towards two large bighorn sheep that were roaming the parking lot.  Ronald saw one them bunt an apple tree and knock some apples out of it, which he promptly ate.  Mom and dad were just able to make out the bighorn sheep with the web cam.  Overall, the video call was a huge success, and mom was tickled pink.
We got on the road about 8:30 and drove through some spectacular mountain scenery until we reached Revelstoke around 10:00.  We pulled into a quaint western style looking restaurant, waited for 10 minutes without getting served.  We decided we had better things to do than stand around, so left and found the Denny’s nearby.  The only problem was their service was even worse.  We

Anti landslide tunnel in BC
Anti landslide tunnel in BC

stood in line for about 20 minutes.  Things were so slow that I mentioned to the couple standing behind us that they’d be welcome to share our table in order to get served a wee bit quicker.  They readily agreed, and we struck up a lovely conversation.
It took us another 20 minutes to give the waitress our order. during which time we discovered the fellow was a pilot for WestJet in Calgary.  Apparently he had served as a commercial pilot for about four different major airlines, the last of which was Air Canada.  Apparently Air Canada forces them to take early retirement, to which he did not agree.  WestJet will let them fly until they are 65 years old.  He was on his way to Calgary to begin a six week training course with them.  He seemed very enthused about his new position.
His wife was a schoolteacher, and they had grown children.  They were one of the most delightful couples we’ve

Log jam in river in rocky Mountians
Log jam in river in rocky Mountains

met during our trip.  We will have to try to remember to invite more people to sit with us in the future.  We didn’t get out of there until almost 11:30.  This was the point where we crossed into a new time zone, and so we set our watches back another hour, for total of a 3 hour time difference with Ontario.
We’d made the decision to go through Whistler via the scenic route, highway 99.  This meant it took about an hour and ½ longer than if we hadn’t stayed on the TransCanada.  In fact this was our toughest day of driving, with going up steep inclines and declines.  At one point We had an 18% downgrade.  Ronald’s a Mercedes-Benz is able to downshift with a touch of the gearshift, which we used to avoid overheating the brakes.  Then we came to a hairpin turn followed was a roadway that was partly collapsed. There was about a 3 inch drop in the pavement in several places, with cautionary signs all over. 

Scenic drive through Rocky Mountains
Scenic drive through Rocky Mountains

Apparently they knew that the road was giving way, but hadn’t gotten around to replacing it.  A few minutes after that I pulled over to take a photo, and just after we headed out again a black bear crossed the road 100 feet in front of us.  Before I could get the camera out the window, he was over the retaining wall beside the road and had disappeared into the bushes.  I would say was about a five year old black bear.
We drove until about 4:30 when we reached Pemberton.  We gassed up and asked around for a good restaurant.  They recommended the place right next door, and it did turn out to be a lovely restaurant.  We had salmon linguini, and although was a bit overpriced, the service was excellent.  We actually moved our table to the patio outside, when we noticed the beautiful scenery in the background.  We were still in the Rockies, and the mountains were just as breathtaking as ever.

Enjoying scenic terrace in Pemberton, BC
Enjoying scenic terrace in Pemberton, BC

We hit the road again around 5:30, and made Whistler by 6:30.  When we parked our car we noticed a whole troupe of very well dressed people, heading up to the lifts.  We asked a gentleman who was directing traffic what was going on.  Apparently a huge pest control company had bought out the lift for the remainder of the evening, and we were not able to go up the mountain to take in the scenery.  There must have been about 1000 people waiting in line for the lift.
We also noticed a whole pile of people with expensive mountain bikes, which were the type with a low seats and the huge springs on the back, dressed in body armour.  We spoke to one young fellow and he described Whistler as the best mountain biking location in the world.  Apparently they take their bicycles with them on the lift about 3000 feet higher up the mountain.  Then they get out and actually ride the bike down the face of the mountain going over jumps doing all kinds of stunts along the way.  They have full shin guards, elbow guards and chest guards, and each bike costs between $2000 and $4000.  Apparently it keeps the facility running in the summer months.  I can’t imagine riding a nearly out of control bike down the side of a mountain.
We walked around the village at the base of the mountain for a few minutes.  It is a much larger version of what they have at Blue Mountain in Ontario.  This is all very high class hotels and boutiques.  Way out of my class.  Again, just for lark, we walked up to the front desk of the hotel right at the base,

Ski lift board at Whistler
Ski lift board at Whistler

and asked what a room cost.  They started $210 apparently.  Actually not as much as we had thought.
We had not stayed long, but decided there wasn’t much for more for us to see with lifts being closed, so we got back the car and carried on down the road.  Since Vancouver was still too far away, we stopped in Squamish, BC.  The first motel we checked was a bit overpriced, and they were not sure if their internet would worker or not.  We left and returned 2 minutes back up the road where we had seen some other hotels.  However they’re all full, and so it was back to the hotel we had just come from.  We ended up checking in for $120 for one night, for rather mediocre room.  I guess you can’t always get lucky.






Crowds waiting for lift to restaurant at top of Whistler
Crowds waiting for lift to restaurant at top of Whistler

Again Ronald and I edited or photos from the day, and Ronald seems to be becoming a very good photographer.  I did some more work on my web page, and went to bed around 10:00.  We had traveled 546 km this day, some of the toughest drive we’ve done on this trip.

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