Saturday, August 30, 2014

Exploring Beautiful British Columbia

We are just back from an amazing trip through British Columbia. Although we covered more than 4200 km in two weeks, I still think we only scratched the surface. So much to see, so much to discover!
Our first stop was Vancouver and here we did what every serious tourist does...;-)

We roamed the downtown streets,

visited Canada Place,

watched "Fly over Canada"....if you have a chance to see the show DO IT, it is absolutely worth it!!

And of course we visited Gastowns' famous steam clock and had a delicious lunch on Granville Island.

After our big city hunger was stilled, we took the ferry to Vancouver Island.
The fog wafted in and out of this dream-like landscape. What a wonderful attunement to Vancouver Island.

Portlock Point, Prevost Island

From the Ferry we went directly to Victoria, BC's capital and a really charming city.

First, of course,  the obligatory tour of the Parliament Buildings. We were quite blown away by the fact that the architect who designed the buildings was just 25 years old as he submitted his plan. A truly amazing building, we even got a chance to peak into the assembly room...I rather expected them to agonize over the teacher strike....;-)

A stroll through the beautiful alleys of Victoria followed and

after a glorious sunset over the harbour we enjoyed

the view of the Parliament building at night!

The next day led us to more explorations around the south and west part of Vancouver Island.

Fisgard Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse of BC

Lighthouses have always fascinated me and there will be a separate blog on all the BC lighthouses that we saw on the trip coming soon!

We ended our loop in Crofton to catch the ferry to Salt Spring Island.
The BC mecca of organic food and cheese has one of the best farmers markets I have ever been to.

Fresh, colorful, yummy and friendly. Following the advice of our host the night before we were at the market right when it opened. This way we got the chance to chat with the vendors and I could take a few photos. Half an hour later it was elbow to elbow and as we were leaving the island more and more people poured towards the market.

Beautiful flowers, pity I couldn't take a bouquet

I'm sipping my afternoon coffee out of one of these great white  cups as I type...

For a cheese connoisseur like me, a visit to Moonstruck, my very favorite cheese maker here in Canada, was a must. And I was not disappointed. Cows can be cows here...and chickens chickens

A lovely place where you can see that their cheese is made with love!

After this organic, culinary highlight, it was back to the "mainland" of Vancouver Island again. All the way up to Telegraph Cove where a new adventure was waiting for us the next day.

Although we had to be at the pier at a rather early hour for a Sunday, it was well worth it.
After a two hour boat ride along amazing islands and inlets, we arrived at Knights Inlet and had a few very exciting hours!

More about the bear tour with Tide Rip Bear Tours on a "bears only" blog soon, promise!

The following day we spent on the Northern Expedition, a quite luxurious BC ferry, that took us from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert.

Half of the day was in fog and drizzle, but the other half was just fantastic.

What a landscape...truly mind blowing, and you guessed right, there will be a special blog about it coming soon...;-)

Exhausted from that visual marathon, we had a good night sleep in the Black Rooster in Prince Rupert, followed by a hearty breakfast and a cowpuccino at the Cowpuccino. Life can't possible get much better.

And with town quarter called cow bay, a window shopping tour was in order.

But not only the cows rule here, stunning murals are to be seen a plenty.

A visit to the Museum of Northern BC with it's unique First Nation artifacts, concluded our visit in Prince Rupert. It was time to head in the general direction of home.

On our way home we had two more stops planned.
The first of the two was Fort St. James, a national historic site, situated on the scenic shore of Stuart Lake.

Very well preserved buildings manned by welcoming staff who shared their wealth of knowledge about the respective buildings in a really interesting way.

We learned more than I would have liked, like how one skins a moose, or how many beaver furs you would have had to pay for a winter wolf fur, but I guess it really represents the days of Fort St. James.

The last stop is not yet a historical site, but a place you have to see should you be in the area.
The Ancient Forest
For more information, please scroll down to my August Conservation Tips.

Conclusion after two weeks of exploring super, natural BC? When can we go again?!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August Conservation Tip

Save the Ancient Forest

On our recent trip through BC I expected to see rainforest...the coastal rainforest. But the most amazing rainforest we saw was actually about 800 km inland!

The Ancient Forest, about 116 km east of Prince George, is one of the last remaining temperate inland rainforests.

Not only is it an inland temperate rainforest and an ancient forest ( a forest that is older than 200 years) it also is an antique forest. An antique forest is a forest that is older than the oldest tree in it. Considering that the oldest tree in this forest is over a thousand years this forest is really old, well....antique!

How can such a forest grow here? The Columbia Mountain Range to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east create a so called Interior Wetbelt that makes the growth of this amazing forest possible.

Dave Radies found this hidden gem 2005 while he was studying old groth forest, he noticed the logging markings on the old Western Red Cedars and went into action.
2006 the trail that now leads through the forest was established and by 2008 all logging in that particular area was cancelled. A nearby old growth forest was not so lucky, it got logged just a couple of years ago.

Doesn't this tree look like it has been sprinkled with gold dust? Actually it has...with Gold Dust Lichen that is. This Lichen in only found in this abundance on trees over 250 years old. And by measuring how high it grows on a tree, scientists can determine the age of the tree.

Volunteers of a local hiking group made a huge effort to preserve this ancient forest and are now in the process to get it accepted as a national park and maybe later on as a national historic site.
Not only did they fight for the forests survival, they also put in thousands of hours, to be precise 8000! so far, to build and maintain a trail through the forest. This 2.3 km long trail is not only educational, great effort has been put in to protect the forest from unintentional destruction trough visitors.

If you want to support their efforts please spread the word about this really amazing hidden gem. Share this blog, try to visit the Ancient Forest and encourage your friends to do so, too. Currently volunteers are on site to count and interview visitors in the effort to achieve national park this case the more the merrier!

To help all old growth cedar trees try not to buy product made out of them, cedar mulch for example is often made out of old cedar trees because ironically their are otherwise not very valuable to the logging companies.

For more information and tips how to help please visit these websites:

 Ancient Cedar

Northern Wetbelt Forests of British Columbia, the Ancient Forest Trail