150609 Zip Lining

Zip lining sounds like something to do with a fly in a pair of trousers. But it isn’t. We had been recommended to do this venture by some folk around our age – retired. So we weren’t going to be outdone.

It was an early start for us, as our plan was to do the zip lining and then proceed on to Vancouver to clean the camper van ready for the following day’s return. The bus left at 9:00am for the venue up in the hills a bit.

After the initial ‘get-to-know-you’ chat, we were given the rules of this fun adventure. It was good that we had so many young people in the group as our grey hair (covered inside a blue hard hat – not to mention the bruises from the camper van) stood out for them to lend assistance if necessary. With all the equipment on our shoulders, we headed to the line up of ATV (4WD) vehicles for the ‘race’ to the top of the valley to start from the first of four zip lines.

I never knew what zip lining was. Lyn had done it in Singapore on a very short line and I hadn’t taken in what she was really talking about on her return. But the sky was brilliant again and the trees were green with new growth.  Twelve of us were ready to try out this new ‘thing’.

When you look down from the first tower to the end of the first run, you say, “What, me, sliding down that piece of wire for a kilometre and a half? You got to be joking!” The money was paid and we were told there was “no refunds”, so we just had to make good use of the expense.

We would be going on the parallel lines in two’s. After the first couple left the departure point, our stomachs seemed to settle a little. And as each couple left, the stomach settled even more. Then it was our turn. After double-checking that we were secure, the lever was released and we were off on our first exhilarating trip. With wind blowing in our hair, legs up in the air, screams of delight from Lyn, and me trying to photograph the event, we made it to the receiving platform. The brakes came on and up our legs swung in the air – “Wow! Fabulous! Where’s the next one?”

The next line was even longer and faster, and went between the trees although, from a distance, it looked as though one tree was going to go through me. By the time we reached the third, we were ready for anything – game as you can get. This one was the shortest but had a steep start and so we got up to full speed within 10 metres of the departure platform. Wind in the hair stuff – yes please!

I had thought that my Meniere’s problem might rear its ugly head but no – fabulous!

On the final line, they asked us in big letters along the way to ‘smile’ for the cameras. How could you not? Where did they hide these things when I was a kid?

What a great experience to finish off our fabulous camper van trip around British Columbia and Alberta, provinces of Canada. Being in a camper van saves the limits of travelling in a coach. No time deadlines and freedom to go where you wish on the day.

We made it back to Vancouver to clean the van and hand it over the next morning. One of the worst things to end a vacation was about to happen. Our flight left nearly 12 hours after our transfer to Vancouver Airport and then the flight to Sydney was a further 15 hours.

And so endeth a great 4 weeks in Alaska and Canada. Next trip! South America departing September 1. It’s not too late to contact Lyn and join the group of 21 happy clients.

150609 Whistler

We have been so blessed on this 4-week adventure. The day of arrival into Vancouver was overcast and for two and half days after leaving Banff, we had rain. The rest of our holiday has been full-on blue-sky days, just magical in many ways. It was a pity that between Banff and Jasper and around to Maligne Lake, there was ‘inclement weather’ but, as one of the many Australian youth working in the tourist spots said, “This place has interesting views no matter what the weather.”

Whistler is no exception. Looking out the window from bed, the sky is ready for making our day perfect. The receptionist at the RV Camp had said that we had about a kilometre walk into Whistler, but it was a 30-minute brisk walk along the bike track and through the woods. The village is brand new from when the Winter Olympics were on in 2010. There are no cars and no smoking (That has to be the first town I have heard of that has a ban on smoking throughout – no exceptions). The walkways wind through landscaped gardens with lots of well kept brand name shops. As this is a snow village, there are lots of outdoor activity shops that get our attention. Jewellery shops are a plenty and Lyn’s Pandora collection has been extended.  This is a ‘bad’ town to bring your shopaholic wife.

Just yesterday was the last skiing day at Whistler and apparently, all the young people celebrated by dressing up in suits and fancy clothes going to the top of the mountain and snowboard and ski in their non-skiing attire; just one big end of season party.

Our trip up the mountain in the gondola brought us into the snowline. Work was going on to clear snow and enable the mountain tracks to be used for those who do wilderness trekking. We then travelled across to Blackcomb Mountain in the Peak-to-Peak gondola lift, a distance of 3.03 kilometres with the highest point above ground being 436 metres. The weather was calm and so very little movement in the gondola as we travelled across. As the ‘summer’ season is a good time to renovate and expand facilities, we could only do the crossing, look around and return to Mount Whistler. There were some marmots there entertaining the tourists.

While buying lunch, the Canadian guy serving me had been to Geelong a couple of years ago and been to a Cats vs. Carlton game. (He’s still trying to work out the rules.) But he did enjoy the spectacle of it all. He loves the Geelong area now and says he will return.

On our return down the mountain, we decided to go zip lining for tomorrow morning before heading back to Vancouver.

150608 Clearwater to Whistler

I was going to do just one more post for this trip but thought that you may like to see the locations split up a bit more than just a big bundle. It seems that the scenery is to blame for this but I’m sure you will agree Canada’s ‘back-country’ has lots to show off.

We left Dutch Lake at Clearwater quite early for us, 9:00am, headed for Whistler around 400km away. Taking back roads gives you scenes that the tourist doesn’t really get to see in a coach. In the camper, you get to stay or move on whenever you like, without any deadlines made by others. We climbed for 16kms up into the plateau region of Northern British Columbia and passed many beautiful lakes for many miles. We hardly noticed any rivers and absolutely no waterfalls like the day before north of Clearwater. A sign said, “cappuccino and coffee” so we took the directions and found a lovely little café on the edge of a lake with such a peaceful view. The payment made for the hot chocolates and cakes was excessive but then the location and view offered was superb. The drinks and cakes weren’t too bad, either.

We found a little town called “100 mile house”; yes, that’s the name of the town, named because it was 100 miles from the commencement of the Cariboo gold rush in the area at Lillooet. Driving around the town area, we noticed hanging baskets of petunias at each lamppost. At the visitors’ centre, we made the comment and the assistant there said that at the end of the season, the petunias reach down to the ground forming beautiful pillars of flowers around the town.

Whistler is still a long way from 100 Mile House, and we did want to find a spot in the busy campground for the night, so we ‘kept up with the speeding traffic’ as much as we could. The traffic never seems to keep to the said speed limit; it is always 10-20 kph over the limit. Fortunately, the Mercedes Sprinter can sit on 110-115 with out a problem.

The landscape changes constantly and by the time we reach Lillooet, it is a lot like Queenstown, Tasmania; very little vegetation left barren from the Gold Rush Days. But then back to the majestic snow capped mountains and deep gorges with busy rivers feeding the snow melt towards the ocean. We notice a major problem that even though the roads are mainly well constructed. There is not a lot of vista viewing points along the way. There is so much beautiful landscape to photograph that Lyn has to poke the camera across me to shoot through my window as we are driving, at times.

We arrived at the Whistler RV Park around 7:00pm in time for an evening meal and a walk before bed.

Tomorrow, we are going up Mount Whistler in a gondola and then do the Peak to Peak experience.

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