I drove to Calgary in the morning to pick up Erin, her flight landed at 11 am. It was the first time I had seen my wife in just over six months, at that point, since our wedding we had spent more time apart than together. From the airport we went to Canmore and checked into our Air BnB. We didn’t do a whole lot the next few days, just a short hike down Grotto Canyon. It was a nice hike and it was neat to see that towards the end people had built hundreds of little inukshuks. From Canmore we headed to Banff and camped for two nights, we were informed that we were catching the tail end of the camping season since it was starting to get so cold out. We wandered around town a bit and cooked over and open fire. I also took this time to help Erin learn to drive a car with a manual transmission. She did much better than I did when I first tried to learn. While in Banff we also got a chance to see the northern lights during some sort of magnetic storm making them extra bright. From Banff we headed to Waterton for no particular reason other than a change of scenery. It began to rain quite heavily as we packed up camp in Banff, we hurriedly filled the car and sought refuge in a parkade to have breakfast and let our gear dry a bit. After two nights of camping in Waterton I decided I was far too cold to continue tenting, Erin on the other hand, wanted to do some back country camping. During the day the weather was nice and we came across a lot of mule deer that had no real fear of people. While hiking the Bears Hump hike we actually, accidentally, got between a doe and her two fawns, neither parties seemed concerned but didn’t want to run passed us on the trail. After a few tense minutes of having three wild animals withing a few meters the mother finally trotted into the trees above the trail and we were able to sneak passed.
After freezing in Waterton we got another Air Bnb, this time in radium. This was also our one year anniversary so we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner. From there we hit the hot springs and then went on to Revelstoke for two nights. The weather in Revelstoke was foggy and snowy but we still drove to the top of Mt Revelstoke and had a look around. Next we went to Kelowna, we stayed at a very nice hostel but we got dorms instead of a private room. The first night that didn’t matter much since we were the only ones in the room. Unfortunately on the second night 5 more guests had shown up, four of them were very friendly exchange students from India going to university in Vancouver. Erin and I went to bed and they went out partying, then several times through the night one would come in and pass out, his friends would try and wake him, then leave… then come back… then leave.. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, they all came in and went to bed, and one of them started snacking on some chips. Then they said something in their native tongue and all got up and got dressed again and left for a while. Only to make a whole bunch of noise coming back in. It was quite funny to me because they were genuinely trying to be quiet but were simply too inebriated to accomplish it, and they were very polite. While in Kelowna we met up with my aunt, uncle and cousin, we went to dinner at their house two nights in row. A home cooked meal was just what Erin wanted after a year of travelling. They also told us about a farmers market, so Erin and I went, she got peach salsa which was amazing and I got some candied salmon which is high on my list of favorite foods. The weather in Kelowna was pretty rainy so we didn’t get up to too much adventuring. Mostly we just spent time with family and walked around town a bit.
From Kelowna we headed to my cousin’s house in Surrey, he and his wife had a spare room he was kind enough to offer me. This was the first time I had been to their house and I was immediately amazed at all the trophies. My cousin does car audio competitions and is apparently quite good at it, as indicated by the many many trophy crammed into every corner of his home. As luck would have it his mother, my aunt, had come to visit him too so I got to catch up with even more family. Erin and I were given a key to come and go as we pleased while they were at work so we spent most of our time in Vancouver just exploring Stanley park. On one day though, we went to Grouse Mountain, we started by doing the Grouse Grind trail which is about an hour of walking straight up. From there Erin suggested we do Crown Mountain which we didn’t realize was up one mountain and down another then up to the top of Crown Mountain. It didn’t seem too bad until we reached the bottom of Crown Mountain, then it became clear that I was going to have to put my limited bouldering skills to use. At first it was just steep bits with lots of roots to grab onto, then it became a scramble on an exposed rock face with a lot of room below you… enough that if I fell I could contemplate how much the landing would hurt before I hit. I made it almost to the top, sadly the last 30 meters or so were just too hairy for my already shaky legs. Of course Erin, whom I’m convinced is part Ibex, made it to the top and got some pictures.
On the day we left his house we picked up our German friend whom we had met in Ecuador while working at the Donkey Den. She had just completed the Pacific Crest Trail which is a hike that runs from the Mexico border to the Canadian border. If memory serves, it took her about five months. She packed into our already crowded car and we headed for the ferry to the island. On the island we were able to stay with another relative of mine. My dad’s cousin and his wife live on the island and even though he was away for work his wife was kind enough to give us, and our companion, a great place to stay, she also gave us a tour of the island and their beautiful antique country home. Her cooking was also excellent, her moose stew was positively divine. Unfortunately for us, the weather was rather insistent on being rainy. So on one of the days we just sat and read books while looking out the window at the rain. The next day we took a road trip, in the rain, to Victoria to see the sights. The weather was so poor all we ended up doing was going to the Bug Zoo, it was pretty neat, we all got to hold a scorpion and a tarantula. I also learned that the most poisonous scorpions are small ones, with dull colors and small pincers…. Like the one I found in our room in Ecuador… which is kinda scary because at the time I was tempted to pick it up under the assumption that its too little to hurt anyone, glad I didn’t do that.
From the island we headed back to Surrey and spent another night at my cousins house, the next morning we dropped our German friend off at a hostel and we headed for home. We made it to Edmonton at 4 am, and thus ended our road trip.
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