On Saturday, our hiking group met at Chadburn Lake to hike the Yukon River Trail East, a loop running from Chadburn Lake to Canyon City and back.
By about 11:20, eight people and six dogs were on the trail. The loop actually starts on the Log Trail, which was apparently a woodcutter’s road – wood for the sternwheelers, I expect.
The Log Trail wanders around through the forest but soon opens up to some wonderful views as it loops around on what appears to be a very old river channel bench.
One of Yukoners’ favourite flowers is the first one to appear in the Spring, the Prairie crocus (Pulsatilla patens). It was actually adopted as the Yukon’s official flower in 1954. Unfortunately, Manitoba had also claimed it, so 3 years later, fireweed became our official flower. Anyway, there were lots of crocuses on the dry, south-facing slopes.
In about 40 minutes, we reached the spectacular views over the Yukon River. It was great to see a voyageur canoe crew out practising for the Yukon River Quest race to Dawson coming up on June 26th.
That wonderful spot on the trail was cause for a snack break. Kevin immediately became all the dogs’ best friend when his dog-cookies appeared 🙂
The actual Yukon River Trail East follows the ridge high above the river all the way to the site of Canyon City. It is absolutely superb.
It was a difficult day to dress for. Although the sun was very warm, the actual temperature was only 6°C (43°F) and the wind had a real bite to it.
Looking down at “the American laundry”, a facility built by the US Army during the Alaska Highway construction. The huge construction base at McRae was right above this location.
Many of the slopes down to the river are quite steep. We met a few cyclists along the trail.
Dropping down to Canyon City. During the Klondike Gold Rush, the North West Mounted established a post above the treacherous waters of Miles Canyon, and all boats were stopped there, at what became known as Canyon City, for inspection. Only boats and people who the police felt could get through the canyon safely were allowed to continue – others had to put their gear on one of two wooden tramways that were built around the canyon.
Bella was the first one into the river, as usual. Caribou soon joined her, but Tucker got his drink with his feet still on the beach – he’s not a big fan of water.
All the dogs got their turn to get wet 🙂
There are several trails converging at Canyon City, and this sign helps get hikers and cyclists on the right one. From here, we climbed back up to the Chadburn Lake Road. There, most of the group went left to vehicles that had been parked nearby and shuttled to Chadburn Lake to get the rest of the vehicles. Kevin and I had chosen to walk the extra distance, but probably wouldn’t do it again – walking along the road just isn’t much fun, and Bella’s feet don’t like gravel.
Kevin and I were back at our vehicles by about 2:00 – it had been an excellent hike.
With my visit to Haines cut a bit short by the combination of a call about a friend in hospital and an approaching storm, I headed towards home at 6:30 Wednesday evening.
With the workers having gone home for the day, there were no delays through the 8 miles of construction on the Haines Highway.
Crossing back into Canada was also quick and simple, and an hour and 10 minutes after leaving Haines I was nearing the summit, with the spectacular peaks mostly hidden in clouds that were starting to drop snow.
The snow got heavier, and at the summit, strong winds were drifting it across the highway, with very little traffic to break it up.
At 8:30 (9:30 Yukon time) I decided to park for the night, feeling that 30 kilometers past the summit would keep me out of the worst of the snow.
When I woke up at 06:30 Yukon time, it was snowing fairly heavy and strong south winds were rocking the rig. The border would be closed for another hour and a half so there was no traffic.
“No Camping or Overnight Parking”. These signs are so ridiculous. It’s the middle of nowhere and even in the summer there are no campgrounds.
At 07:20, an early-bird fuel tanker was the first vehicle to go by.
After the semi went by I took Bella and Tucker out for another play. Bella in particular loves fresh snow!
At 08:15 I decided to not wait any longer for a snow plow (one had gone by southbound a while after the semi), and asked the kids if they wanted to go home. Tucker’s response was clearly “why would we go home??”
I carry tire chains for emergencies, but it wasn’t that bad – at least not for someone with as many miles on as I have. Slow and easy is the key…
Within about 50 km, the snow on the Haines Highway was gone, and things looked good as we approached Dezadeash Lake. It started sleeting at Haines Junction, though, confirming the decision to call it quits and go home.
My friend is out of danger, and now I’m just waiting for the sun to return to head out again – probably in 3 days, on Wednesday.
Although I had planned for a bit more time, I ended up having 50 hours in Haines this time. I know Haines fairly well and didn’t have any real plans other than visiting with my friend Greg. It would just be a couple of days of wandering/exploring wherever the mood took me.
I arrived just after 6:00 pm on Monday, and parked the motorhome behind my friend’s Hidden Cove Farm Vacation Rental – it’s currently empty while Greg is repainting it. Town is close, and we went to The Lighthouse for dinner that night.
The beach right below Greg’s offers great walking, on a path or the beach itself at low tide, so that’s where we started Tuesday out. This is right where the vast braided Chilkat River empties into the sea – the river bed is about 3 kilometers wide at this point. Here is an interactive map if you’d like to follow along on our Haines exploring.
An island intrigued me – it looked like you might be able to walk out to it at low tide depending on which of its many channels the river was using that day.
I decided to drive out to the Chilkoot River, which is world famous for its bears. There were no fish running that might bring the bears down, but maybe…
On the way, I stopped at the main Haines viewpoint for people arriving by ferry.
Continuing on, looking back to the viewpoint.
I was very surprised to see the ferry MV Columbia sailing in. Normally the small MV LeConte is on this run – at 418 feet, the MV Columbia is the largest vessel of the Alaska ferry fleet, and until 2004 was also the fastest. She was designed to carry 499 passengers and has a vehicle capacity of about 133 average vehicles.
The Chilkoot River was bear-free, but Bella and Tucker and I went for a good walk through the campground at Chilkoot Lake. I noted that except for a couple of sites it’s not really suitable for larger RVs but is very inexpensive at $15 per night.
The scenery makes a drive out to the Chilkoot River worthwhile even when there are no bears. Many comments I’ve see in the past couple of years makes me think that the crowds who arrive when the bears are there might make it a less than positive experience. When I was there in early May 2012 it was a very positive experience – one of the many bear photos I shot that day is still the header for this blog.
I stopped for a while hoping to get some photos of the ferry sailing down Lutak Inlet, but eventually gave up and continued on.
This spot heading back to town on Lutak Road often stops me. The next photo was shot with my 100-400 mm lens at 188 mm.
Next, we passed through Haines and drove down the Chilkat Peninsula. The cannery in Letnikof Cove always stops me for a few photos. It’s now the home of Haines Packing, a very successful operation that even has a store in Whitehorse.
I wasn’t surprised to find the gate closed at Chilkat State Park. It’s a long walk down grades of up to 14% to get the the water, but it was worth it. On the walk down, though, two bald eagles were checking Tucker out for several minutes. He’s about at the limit of what an eagle could carry away, but I kept him close. Once at the water, the Davidson Glacier could be seen across Chilkat Inlet.
The boat launch. The wind was nasty – strong and very cold – so we didn’t stay long.
Despite the very steep grades to reach it, the campground at Chilkat State Park is much nicer than the one at Chilkoot Lake and is much more suitable for larger rigs. It also costs only $15 per night.
We went back to the RV for an afternoon nap, then after feeding the kids dinner, I went back into town to meet Greg.
The Haines Brewery was our meeting place. It’s a cozy place with some excellent beers. The Eldred Rock Red ale was my favourite.
The prompt to meeting at the brewery was that they’re having a show of Greg’s cartoons. Some of them about tourists I found particularly funny – the one below showing people getting off a Holland America ship dressed in parkas while locals are swimming in the bay is a scene that actually happens 🙂
A few days ago, I got a note from Gabe Emerson letting me know about his excellent website “Lesser Known and Obscure Railroads of Alaska“. What did I see in the brewery but a pair of rails from the Eldred Rock Lighthouse, used as the base of a table. Gabe has now added the lighthouse to his list 🙂
After our second dinner at The Lighthouse, we got home to this sunset. Greg said “it never gets old” – I guess not!!
Things went sour Wednesday morning. I got a call that a close friend had been taken to the hospital in Whitehorse, with the problem yet unknown. The weather also changed and it looked like snow in the pass would be likely that night. I decided to leave that evening after dinner at a restaurant Greg wanted me to see, just opening for the season that night.
I wanted to have a good look at all 3 cemeteries in Haines, and that became my project for the day. I began at a small cemetery overlooking the water downtown. It appears to have been used between 1898 and 1909, and 14 graves are visible.
Next, I went over to the cemetery that is currently in use, the Jones Point Cemetery. Findagrave has it well recorded, listing 478 burials, almost all with photos. The earliest I could find listed was from 1918.
Some parts of the Jones Point Cemetery are in very poor condition while other parts are very well maintained.
Finally I went to the Yendistucky Indian Cemetery across the Haines Highway from the airport. There was only a name and location map at Findagrave so when I got back to the motorhome I added 5 memorials to get things started there. The next day, someone added 19 more memorials, to which I added several more photos. Teamwork 🙂
The earliest burial we have dates to 1888, but my feeling is that this cemetery is both much larger and much older than what is easily seen. I’ve been coming here for many years, and as far back into the bush as I’ve gone, there are vague signs of possible burial sites.
Driving back in to town, I went to Fort William H. Seward, first to see the Fireweed Restaurant where Greg and I would meet later…
…and then for a look at the Haines Distillery which was also closed, and a couple of the barracks buildings, one intact and one burned.
From there I went back to the motorhome, took a few final photos of the view and the vacation rental, then hooked the Tracker up to the RV and prepared to leave.
I drove back into Haines and parked in the huge lot at the marina, an easy walk to the restaurant. Taking Bella and Tucker for a walk, I came across this lovely memorial, I assume for people whose ashes have been spread here or who have been lost.
Dinner at the Fireweed was excellent. It had been an excellent trip but at 6:30 I headed north, with no firm idea of where I’d spend the night – just somewhere beyond at least the worst of the snow I expected.
My season opener trip for the RV was intended to be 4 days in Haines, Alaska, and then 4 days at Kluane Lake, Yukon. It didn’t work out that way, but more about that later. At 11:00 on Monday, we headed west – “we” being Bella, Tucker, Molly (the dogs and cat), and me. Cathy would join us at Kluane Lake – or so the plan went.
The intersection of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way, the first access to downtown Whitehorse. For us, the next turn would be in Haines, 5 hours away.
Looking west on the Alaska Highway to the pullout at Km 1454, which used to be called Takhini Crossing. That was where the old Whitehorse to Dawson Overland Trail crossed the Takhini River.
Our first stop was at the Kathleen Lake viewpoint at Km 226.5 of the Haines Highway, 19.5 km south of Haines Junction. Kathleen Lake is the location of a large Parks Canada campground.
Bella and Tucker were ready for a bit of a romp at the large viewpoint. We hadn’t seen a single vehicle on the Haines Highway yet.
What a start to this trip – that got a 10!
One of my projects was to record each of the pullouts and rest areas along the highway to improve my Campgrounds & Rest Areas pages. The next photo shows the pullout at Dezadeash Lake, Km 194.
The largest rest area on the Haines Highway is the one at Km 162, which has a viewing deck and a monument honouring the designation of the Tatshenshini River as a Canadian Heritage River. I love seeing storms like that one in the distance.
One of the views from that rest area – nice work, Mother Nature 🙂
I stopped to take quite a few photos – the scenery is just stunning. Because of the contrast, several of them have been processed as HDR images to post here.
At Km 144.8 the highway crosses the Blanchard River, see at the far end of the curve before the highway starts climbing the hill. This is a put-in point for rafters on the Blanchard, and sometimes the Tatshenshini River.
Getting closer to the summit, I was amazed by how little snow there was. In a “normal” year, whatever that means now, that valley would be all white.
Looking north from a huge pullout at Km 134. We spent a long time at that spectacular spot, with a play, a nap, and another play before continuing south.
The next photo is a panorama shot at the north of the two pullouts at the Haines summit.
Normally there would be hundreds of people, and snowmobile tracks going in every direction at the summit, but there were only 2 vehicles with snowmobile trailers and I could see that they were dodging rocks and brush a lot. Compare this with snowmobiling in mid-April in a good year.
The peak known as The Three Guardsmen is the most dramatic one in the summit area. I’ve hiked to a cirque about 2/3 of the way up it so far – maybe I’ll reach the summit this year 🙂
Heading down the hill with a virtual wall of glaciers ahead.
The Pleasant Camp Canada Customs post.
The weather forecast had called for increasing clouds and even possible showers in the Chilkat Valley but the sunshine stayed with me.
There were a few miles of construction going on, but delays were minimal. I was at my friend Greg’s home just after 6:00 pm, ready to get into some exploring for a couple of days.
As I start writing this at 04:30, I’m up on the Haines Highway just north of the summit. I stopped here on my way north after 2 days and nights in Haines. As expected, it snowed overnight – there’s 2-3 inches, so it should be beautiful when dawn arrives in an hour or so.
Before I tell you about Haines, I want to tell you about an aurora hunt a week ago – on Friday, April 12. It didn’t produce any aurora photos, but I shot a few photos of the amazing sky full of stars above some notable sites along the South Klondike Highway. Because stars don’t show up well in the fairly small photos in the blog, each of the 7 photos that follow can be greatly enlarged in a new window by clicking on them.
I was hoping, judging from the aurora forecasts, for the last good aurora show of the season. I decided to start at the historic Robinson Roadhouse, where I arrived a few minutes before 11:30 pm. The main roadhouse building has a fence around it during some renovation work so isn’t any good for photos, but some of the outbuildings looked great in the light of a half moon.
The old and the new – the 11:30 Air North flight descends into Whitehorse. Historic sites have a very different feel to them at night – perhaps the spirits of some of the people who lived at these places still visit.
Very pleased with the photos I got at the roadhouse, I continued on to the Carcross Desert. The snow-capped peaks sure stood out in the moonlight. There was a chilly breeze, but the temperature was very nice – about -7°C.
I probably have hundreds of photos shot at the Bove Island viewpoint in all seasons, including many aurora photos.
The historic Venus silver mine mill was as far as I went to the south. It was now 01:00 and my hopes for an aurora show were fading.
On the way home, I stopped at Carcross, mostly to kill time in case the aurora showed. I thought about walking down the beach away from the community’s street lights (what waste of resources those are), but the breeze made me decide not to.
By 03:00 I was home in bed, dreaming about the next adventure starting on Monday – 8 days at Haines and Kluane Lake. 🙂
The timing for this short visit to Vancouver worked out very well. After 2 gorgeous days, the weather was forecast to turn sour as I left. I had no plans for Day 3, and I didn’t really feel driven to see or accomplish anything. Wandering around looking at flowers, architecture, and art – in the sunshine as long as possible.
I started the day off by walking 5 blocks up to Davie Street for a good breakfast. Joe’s Grill gets good reviews, and it was perfect. The loaded House Special omelette for $15.50 fueled me up for a good morning, and the classic rock music being played was appropriate for my thoughts about the early 1970s when I lived 4 blocks away.
This part of Davie Street has always been particularly colourful. In the 1960s it was one of the main areas where hippies gathered, and some of the city’s legendary music venues like the short-lived Retinal Circus date to that era. Then in the early ’70s the gay community became much more visible, and that remains the case today.
#WeAmaze is a multi-year promotion of The West End, particularly Davie, Denman, And Robson Streets.
The Davie Village Community Garden was developed in about 2008 on the former site of a Shell gas station and small mall. The property owners allowed the garden to be developed in exchange for a large reduction in their property taxes while they came up with a suitable development plan.
The West End is rapidly losing its historic buildings, but the Holly Lodge on Davie Street remains. Built in 1910-11, it’s the only Vancouver residential apartment building designed by San Francisco architects Wright, Rushforth & Cahill.
Not being photographically inspired by the buildings I was seeing, I was soon back on the waterfront. Flowers, the sea, a sandy beach – ahhhhh…. 🙂
The sculpture by Bernar Venet from France is titled “217.5 arc x 13”. The title reflects its precise mathematical composition – 13 corten steel arcs curved at a 217.5-degree angle.
Although I saw a few people playing with their dogs on the beach over the 3 days I was there, there are many signs saying it’s not allowed. A $2,000 fine – wow!
Sunset Beach Park, created in 1959, completed the dream of a continuous strip of public waterfront along English Bay. The last building on that waterfront, the 1928 Crystal Pool, was demolished in 1974.
The next photo shows the first water taxi dock at the foot of False Creek, with the Coast Guard station on the opposite side.
From there I went back to my hotel, checked out and asked them to hold my daypack for a few hours while I continued exploring. I shot the next photo of the Vancouver House project from under the Granville Street Bridge, then made my way back to the waterfront path.
It was quite jarring to see this vandalism along the path…
A glimpse at what looks like it might be a pretty cool life 🙂
The amount of park space in one of Canada’s most densely-populated areas continued to amaze me.
Khenko, the fisher, is the Coast Salish mythical name for the great blue heron. This large sculpture was created by Douglas R. Taylor to celebrate the return of the birds to False Creek, which used to be a very busy industrial area full of sawmills and boat builders in particular.
This sculpture made me think of a whaling harpoon but I couldn’t find a descriptive panel.
There was a lovely variety of colours in this park.
If I was going to pick a single image to describe this Vancouver getaway, this would be the one. There were some multi-million-dollar yachts in the marina to the right.
I wondered in my last blog post about how many people are injured by getting hit by bicycles. It seems that actually is a concern – “You’re not expecting to be hit by a cyclist today”.
I approached the next very large sculpture from the wrong angle, and it took me a while to figure it out. Some of the panels seemed to be describing photos.
From the other side, from the right angle, some photos could be discerned high on the sculpture.
The next photo shows the entire sculpture. There’s a lot of interesting historical information on the panels.
One more sculpture – this is The Time Top, by J. Pethick.
I was very surprised and very pleased to find a leash-free dog park along the path, and spent a while watching dogs and their owners playing.
It was now after noon, so I started walking back towards the hotel. I once again passed The Two Parrots bar and restaurant, then did a U-turn and went in for lunch. Fish and chips with a couple of good local beers and a chat with the server was a fine way to end the main part of my exploring. The next photo was shot from the sidewalk in front of the table I’d been sitting at.
A nice splash of colour along Davie Street.
Beside my hotel, a very deep excavation is starting to fill with the concrete base of a new building.
At 2:20 I started walking back to the Yaletown/Roundhouse station of the Canada Line, and by 3:00 I was up on the observation deck at YVR. I had 5 hours to kill but that was okay.
7:55 pm – on board and ready to head home. I was asleep before the wheels let the ground, and woke up as we descended into Whitehorse. I don’t think I had ever slept like that on a flight before.
The final pedometer summary of the trip – I walked 43.4 kilometers in the 3 days. It was an excellent trip in every way.
My first day of this short trip to Vancouver had been wonderful. Even though I didn’t land at YVR until 11:00, I saw and photographed a lot, and confirmed that this getaway was a very good idea. What might I get into on a full day? 🙂
After walking 14 km on Sunday, I slept quite well that night. At 06:30 Monday, the sky was getting light but the Granville Street Bridge was still very quiet.
I decided to try the “full Canadian breakfast buffet” in a small restaurant on the second floor of the Executive Hotel Vintage Park. While it’s a lovely space, the $13.99 buffet was very unimaginative. That’s the only comment I have about the hotel that is even mediocre – it’s an excellent property and I won’t hesitate to stay there again.
Looking down on the lobby as I headed out at 07:35. It looked and felt like a great day coming.
I decided to start the day’s wanders off on Granville Street, a place I spent a lot of time 45-50 years ago (would you like an interactive map?).
Back in the 1960s and ’70s, Granville Street was developed as one of Vancouver’s main destinations, with tens of milions of dollars pumped into various ideas. For a while it was even a pedestrian mall. Now, its good days are long gone, and the part that used to be the highlight is pretty seedy.
At the south end of Granville, the classic Yale Hotel remains a Vancouver favourite, though it seems that its fame as a blues bar is history. Another famous hotel, the Cecil, used to be where that tower now lives.
There are a lot of homeless people in Vancouver, at least partly because of the mild climate. As highly visible as many are, they aren’t a nuisance. I saw some truly sad scenes, though – a young woman taking up half the sidewalk, raving and using a can of large felt markers to create signs about her life; an old man who had made a fort in the setback doorway of an abandoned store, huddled under his sleeping bag with a kitten on his chest…
The wonderful sign on the Two Parrots bar/restaurant at Granville and Davie Street stopped me every one of the several times I walked by it over the 3 days.
The “For Lease” sign in the window of the historic Bank of Nova Scotia building is one of many on the street. The Changing Vancouver blog says: “On the corner of Davie was a classic-with-a-touch-of-art-deco Bank of Nova Scotia, designed by Sharp & Thompson in 1930. It was finally considered an unwanted branch 70 years later, and in 2001 Architectura’s design for The Dance Centre (with input from Arthur Erickson) saw the Granville façade retained on the contemporary concrete and glass box on Davie.”
Although the Hotel Regal looks fine from the outside, recent stories indicate that inside, it’s in terrible condition and may soon be ordered by the City to close.
The Star Walk of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame is on Granville Street, with 224 notables in the industry honoured.
The Commodore Ballroom, built in the Art Deco style by George Conrad Reifel and designed by architect H.H. Gillingham, is probably Vancouver’s best-known historic enterainment venue. I certainly heard about it as a child.
A brilliant splash of colours!
I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. That was part of the reason for this trip – it’s good to see how the world outside Whitehorse functions. Having seen what happened to Vancouver’s once dream-street, it was time to move on – back to the waterfront, but this time the Vancouver Harbour side.
The blue thing to the left in the next photo is the bottom of “The Drop”, the work of Inges Idee, a group of four artists from Germany and Sweden: Hans Hemmert, Thomas A. Schmidt, Georg Zey, and Axel Lieber. The $800,000 sculpture was purchased to satisfy one of the requirements for construction of the $900 million Convention Centre.
A reflection of the Marine Building, one of my perennial favourites in Vancouver.
Down at Coal Harbour, a Coast Guard crew was just heading out for some practise with their Search and Rescue (SAR) lifeboat CG 158.
I probably never visit Vancouver without stopping at the Coal Harbour floatplane base for at least a few minutes 🙂
I’ve visited the Komagata Maru memorial a few times since it was unveiled on July 23, 2012. The interpretive panel explains: On May 23, 1914, the steamship Komagata Maru arrived in Coal Harbour after a seven week crossing from Hong Kong via Japan. The ship was carrying 376 Indians from India and the Far East who claimed right of entry as citizens of the British Empire. Most of the passengers were not permitted to land based on the “Continuous Passage Order” and other prejudicial regulations that prevented Indian immigration. While supporters campaigned for the passengers’ right to disembark, the ship remained anchored approximately one kilometre offshore from where you are now standing. During this time, the Khalsa Diwan Society helped supply the passengers with food and water. On July 23rd, the Komagata Maru and its passengers were escorted out of the harbour by a Canadian navy vessel and sent back to India. The Komagata Maru incident was a catalyst for change to Canadian citizenship and immigration laws. This monument reflects Canada’s commitment to a nation where differences are respected and traditions are honoured.
By 11:00 I had walked up Howe Street and was back on the False Creek waterfront, looking for some areas I wasn’t familiar with. This complex water feature stopped me for a few minutes.
I decided to walk along the waterfront to David Lam Park and then take a water taxi across False Creek. Along the way, there were plenty of architecture and cherry blossom photo opportunities.
As was the case the previous day, there was plenty of action on False Creek, including this racing boat whose crew seemed to be in training for something.
I got off the water taxi at Stamp’s Landing. The pub on the right in the next photo looked like a good option for the next time I needed a meal.
I climbed the hill and eventually ended up in the Vancouver General Hospital area, where clinics of all sorts are now located. The building to the left is the beautiful Blusson Spinal Cord Centre.
I soon took another water taxi back to the downtown side of False Creek, and walked back to English Bay, which seemed like the perfect place to enjoy the warm sun. There were plenty of flowers and other colours along the way…
There was just enough wind to blow up a bit of surf, and I spent quite a while just sitting on a log listening to the waves.
Vancouver – at least the downtown part of the city – is extremely bicycle focussed, and it takes some thought to stay out of their way. I wonder how many people walking are injured by being hit by cyclists.
“A-maze-ing Laughter”, by Yue Minjun – “May this sculpture inspire laughter playfulness and joy in all who experience it.” The artist uses humour, cynicism, repetition, and an emphasis on the individual to engage viewers and create dialogue. The sculpture was originally conceived as a linear installation and exhibited at the Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art. The Vancouver Biennale provided the artist the opportunity to reinterpret the work for its new site in English Bay. In his reimagining, Yue Minjun reordered the figures to create a maze, and titled the work: A-maze-ing Laughter. The bronze characters depict the artist’s own face, grin gaping and eves closed in hysterical laughter, and can be interpreted in many ways. Is Yue welcoming or mock us with his smile?
By 5:00 when I shot the next photo, I was getting hungry, so started to make my way back to Stamp’s Landing to the pub I had seen, on foot and by water taxi.
Mahoney & Sons turned out to be an excellent choice – great vibe and view, and food and service to match. However, I hadn’t taken a jacket, and when the sun went down it got very cold very quickly. I caught a rather severe chill, and as I write this 9 days later, I’m still not over the cold that developed. DOH! 🙁
Despite the chill, it had been an awesome day, and I walked another 18.8 km – still being able to that at 68 feels very good 🙂
One final photo, of the view from my room (#705 at the Executive Hotel Vintage Park) right at 8:00 pm…
My plans for this short visit to Vancouver were very basic – well, I had no specific plans actually. I was just going to wander around the downtown area with my camera and see what happened.
The wheels of my plane touched the runway at 11:05, and 14 minutes later, I shot the next photo as I walked toward the Canada Line train that would take me downtown.
I found the train ticket machines to be very confusing, and I ended up paying far too much. Seniors’ rates don’t seem to be available from the machines, and my “DayPass with YVR” was $15.25. Oh well…
I got the best seat on the train for photography, so the cost of the ticket was immediately immaterial. This rapid transit system is so amazing – taking a taxi from the airport to downtown used to be such an expensive pain. I’ve spent a lot of time going to and from the airport as a driver of both taxis and buses over the years.
This is the most scenic spot on the YVR-downtown line, as it crosses the North Arm of the Fraser River.
Land near Canada Line stations seems to have gotten very valuable. Having a high suite in the buildings in the next photo would give people who like cities quite a life – easy access to everything and great views of both the mountains and the sea.
Ten minutes from the airport, the train goes underground and stays there all the way to the waterfront.
It took exactly 20 minutes to reach the station closest to the hotel I had reserved.
The stations are bright and spacious. I’m curious about how far underground the line is – it’s a long walk to the surface.
It’s an easy 6-block walk from the Yaletown-Roundhouse station to the Executive Hotel Vintage Park, which I chose because of its combination of location (the primary consideration) and price. They promote themselves as an “executive hotel for the urban adventurer” – perfect 🙂
At 12:10, I reached room 705. I was very pleased with it. Minor complaint – the electrical plug is way under the desk, rather than at a convenient location.
My view was to the east, looking down on the Granville Street bridge approach, and the Black Top Cab base.
As soon as I got settled, I went looking for lunch. TripAdvisor pointed me to a waterfront cafe on False Creek under the Burrard Street Bridge, about 4 blocks away.
My destination was the TAPshack. It was a great choice. The Google review I just posted says: “This was the perfect spot to start my 2-night Vancouver Spring getaway from Whitehorse. The location, the general vibe, and the selection of craft beers all get 10/10, the food (I had the TAP Burger) and service were both very good, though if the rating had 10 stars instead of 5 I’d probably give 9 overall.”
The next photo looks back at the TAPshack as I headed up to the Burrad Street Bridge.
A rather abstract look at the stairs up the bridge deck. While there were lots of flowers, leaves on the trees were just starting.
The Burrard Street Bridge, which opened in 1932, is one of my favourite bridges anywhere. Mostly that’s because of the pair of Art Deco galleries in the middle, but it’s also particularly people-friendly and has wonderful views of False Creek and English Bay.
Although this was a very gentle winter in Whitehorse, we don’t have cherry blossoms, and that alone could get me to Vancouver this time of year.
Some of the views down offer good photography potential, too. Vancouver seems to be an extremely physically-active city. One of the first things I noticed as I sat having lunch was the fact that there are a whole lot of very fit people in their 70s and 80s.
At each end of the main span of the Burrard Street Bridge are crisis-line phones. The bridge link above includes the comment: “The first suicide off the bridge was Oct. 21, 1933. There were many to follow.” I find it significant that these tragedies are acknowledged, and very visible efforts made to prevent any more.
The view across English Bay. The weather was superb (the temperature was about 16°C / 61°F), and I spent a long time on the bridge.
The numbers of boats out was testament to the glorious conditions – the sheltered waters of False Creek were busy with smaller craft as well, including kayaks, inflatables, and even a racing canoe sort of vessel.
The combination of an old building and a “bicycle ambulance” caught my attention. Break your bike chain ot get a flat tire? Call the bike ambulance to get the first aid your ride needs 🙂
Public art is everywhere in Vancouver – look down while you’re walking on the north approach of the Burrard Street Bridge to see this small mosaic (about 2 feet square).
Next, I headed towards the next bridge to the east, the Granville Street Bridge. That took me by the historic Black Top & Checker Cabs building. I actually worked out of the building for a short time in the mid-1970s. I left after a few weeks because I couldn’t make any money.
Just a block from my hotel, the Vancouver House retail/residential complex is the star of Vancouver architecture at the moment. I haven’t seen a completion date but I expect it’s a year or so away yet. The photo of the 59-story structure is a panorama created by shooting 2 vertical images.
The Vancouver House complex is using some land that’s typically nearly impossible to make use of. The Executive Hotel Vintage Park is at the left in the next photo.
Once on the Graville Street Bridge, there were some excellent photo ops looking down on people and and bikes and cherry trees.
At the south end of the bridge I hear a pan flute over the traffic noise. Below in the Granville Island Market, a performer had attracted a pretty good crowd.
The Granville Island Market is a very popular spot for both locals and visitors, but I didn’t go there this time.
Just before 4:00, I went back to my hotel room to have an hour-long nap and then get a jacket so I could keep wandering once it cooled off. The next photo shows the view from my room of the Granville Street Bridge approach, and part of the Vancouver House complex.
The hotel’s fitness room and hot tub room are both small spaces but very nice.
I walked back to the Yaletown/Roundhouse station of the Canada Line and rode the train to the waterfront.
The SeaBus is a wonderful way to travel across Vancouver Harbour – it’s included in the day pass I had bought. The docking stations are very photo-unfriendly, but there’s a photo of the SeaBus from a block away after I got off in North Vancouver.
There’s a walking/biking path along the waterfront in North Vancouver, too. I walked quite a while but wasn’t feeling very inspired photographically. At 7:30 I shot this photo of the Happy Buccaneer, a heavy-lift cargo ship from Amsterdam, then started walking back to the SeaBus terminal.
I took a photo of my pedometer app when I got back to the hotel just after 9:00 pm. Not bad – 14 km. I actually walked past the hotel, met a skunk coming out of the hotel garden (!), then returned to get the extra 0.2 km needed to reach that 14 km 🙂
The forecast for the next day (Monday) was for more sunshine, then rain was to start Tuesday night as I left.
I’ve been itching to go somewhere for a while. Something easy and short – just a head-clearing sort of trip. Last week, with a good weather forecast in both places, I booked an Air North flight from Whitehorse to Vancouver Sunday morning, and 2 nights at the Executive Hotel Vintage Park.
Two sunny days in Vancouver would be all I needed. I didn’t tell anyone except Cathy I was going. I didn’t want any commitments – this was to be “me” time.
I had checked in online for the flight and was only taking a small daypack, so didn’t leave home until an hour before the 09:00 flight.
At 08:59 our Boeing 737 was ready to launch into the cloudless sky at YXY. Ah, I love flying! When I first started thinking about how to blog this trip, I thought I might just do one post for the entire trip, but the flight on a good day is so amazing, that’s this entire post.
By far the most visible reminder of the copper mining history of Whitehorse is the former Whitehorse Copper property, with several pits and the large tailings pond. The mine closed for the final time in 1982.
One of my favourite views in the world is this one looking south across Carcross and Lake Bennett. I’ve spent hundreds of days wandering on those mountains and lakes, on foot, with 4x4s and canoes, and by car, bus, train, floatplane and helicopter.
Over Atlin Lake 15 minutes after takeoff, the Llewelyn Glacier and Juneau Icefield are seen to the west.
High over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway at 09:48, Bowser Lake was the landmark. Although it looks like it has awesome recreation possibilities, there’s no road access to Bowser Lake.The village of Stewart is at the near end of the dark fiord to the upper left of centre.
Three minutes later, I shot this photo of Meziadin Lake. Highway 37A to Stewart runs along the near side of the lake, and then through the glacier-lined valley marked by the red arrow.
Looking down on the Skeena River and the village of Gitwangak (formerly Kitwanga), at the southern end of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.
At 10:10, Morice Lake was to the west. The lake is protected by Morice Lake Provincial Park, remote enough that I may never see it (it’s 84 km from the town of Houston).
It was the evidence of a large forest fire that prompted this photo of Oppy Lake at 10:20. It seems to be known to anglers, but access must be quite difficult.
Starting at about 10:30 we were over the most spectacular part of the Coastal Range. The village of Bella Coola is just to the west of these peaks that I shot at 10:33.
Just a minute later I shot another photo of my favourite glacier on this route. The Scimitar Glacier starts just north of Mount Waddington, and is one of the largest among the maze of glaciers in that area.
Bute Inlet is a fine spot to first meet salt water on this route. The Homathko River flows into the inlet at the lower right of the next photo, which was shot at 10:39. From the Homathko estuary, it’s 80 km to the mouth of the inlet.
At 10:54 we reached Civilization – that’s Gibsons below, with the BC Ferries terminal at the bottom of the photo. Looking at the details of the last few photos made me realize that I want to spend a lot more time in that area – the week I spent there in 2017 was just a teaser.
We usually land at YVR on runway 8L or 8R with approaches over the Salish Sea, but I’m always happy to take the scenic route to runway 26L or 26R.
Turning onto the base leg of the approach over Burnaby. In 1974-75 I lived on the 27th floor of one of those towers at left centre. A different life…
What a busy place! Over the Fraser River right at 11:00, with everything from light industrial to residential and agricultural areas below.
This railway bridge on an industrial spur line only closes when a train needs it – there’s much more boat traffic on the Fraser.
The red cranberry fields have always intrigued me, and I’m really glad that they’re still there.
Getting down for a close look at Richmond. I was surprised by the amount of construction going on.
What perfect weather for an outing like this! No stress, just wandering around with my camera for 3 days…
On the ground and taxing to our gate at 11:06.
With no luggage to pick up, I was soon on my way to the Canada Line train into Vancouver. YVR has been getting top marks among airline passengers for many years. It’s certainly one of my favourites. It’s easy to navigate, and there are some great places to spend time.
In a few minutes, the main part of the adventure would begin.
I hadn’t planned to go out aurora hunting on March 16th, but it turned out to be one of the best aurora displays I’ve seen in a long time.
My usual aurora-forecast starting point, the UAF Geophysical Institute, gave it a Level 0 – meaning there’d be no chance of an aurora. I’d never seen a Level 0 before. But a friend called and said that her app had a good forecast so she and a couple of overseas friends who had recently moved to Canada were going out. I decided to join them.
We decided to go out to Lake Laberge again, for the broad views. The aurora began on our way out there, when the sky was still bright, but we were also heading towards clouds.
By 10:15, we were set up at the Lake Laberge Campground. The next photo was shot at 10:26 – the nearly-full moon was washing the aurora out, and the strongest aurora appeared to be hidden by clouds.
10:42 – a few minutes later, we decided to head back towards Whitehorse to see if we could find clearer skies. It would also be nice to get out of the wind – even though the temperature was an amazing +4°C (39°F), the wind had a bite.
Driving back on the North Klondike Highway, a glance in the rear-view mirror prompted a stop at a pullout. When a vehicle went by, Karla was ready and got a good photo. It could have been a long wait for another vehicle to come along, so she drove her own car by so the rest of us could get a shot 🙂
One of the members of my Aurora Alert Yukon group had posted that there were some clear skies at the Fish Lake Road viewpoint, so that was our Whitehorse-area destination. The next photo was shot right at midnight. Interesting cloud, but no more aurora.
Five minutes later, the moon went behind that large cloud. If we got very lucky and the aurora returned, that would be a big help.
Just a minute later, the aurora returned in a very cool way, looking like an aurora tornado dropping down out of the cloud!
At 00:10 the real show began over the city – the next photo was shot a minute later.
Now we didn’t now which way to look, with strong aurora in opposite directions.
Within 5 minuttes, the aurora arc had filled in overhead, and then spread to fill much of the sky.
The Rokinon 10mm lens I use to shoot the aurora can be a bit frustrating when the aurora display is small, but it’s a star when the sky fills with colour!
Wanting some new angles, we drove a few miles to the Jackson Lake Road. It was a good place to do some aurora-backed portraits.
By 00:39 when the next photo was shot, the aurora display was so strong that even having the moon come out from behind the cloud didn’t matter.
The cloud was hiding some aurora – maybe a lot of aurora – but there was still plenty to shoot 🙂
I asked Karla to “paint” me with light from her headlamp to get a portrait.
We decided to go up to Fish Lake, which is always the busiest aurora-viewing location in the Whitehorse area. On the way, the sky lit up in a major way again. Just to the lower right of the high tree in the next photo, a bit of red can be seen in the aurora. We hoped it would expand, but that didn’t happen.
At 01:02, even my 10mm lens couldn’t get it all in.
The aurora got dramatically smaller as we continued towards Fish Lake, but we made a stop at the entrance to Sky High Wilderness Ranch for a few photos. We didn’t think those cabins were lived in, but someone pulled a curtain back to see what we were doing. Whoops – sorry!
We reached Fish Lake just after 01:15, but the aurora was gone and the wind was screaming. There were only 3 other vehicles there. We sat in the car for a while and waited for the aurora to return, then walked down to an igloo for a few photos of an igloo that someone had built. I lit it up by putting my headlamp inside.
At 01:30, we called it quits and headed home. The aurora forecasts are calling for a long calm period now, with a good aurora storm to hit on the 27th. That will probably be our next outing.