And so we came to Vancouver, a city proudly sitting on an attractive waterfront (like a few other cities we have seen recently!). Actually we had some fun in getting here at all, as it turned out our GPS didn’t actually like to do Canadian roads, hurling us back to a pre-digital age of paper maps, road-signs, and instinctive guesswork.
When we finally worked our way, we found a Vancouver with a definite charm. The area we stayed in had street after tree-lined street of picture-perfect, cutely quaint weatherboard homes, while the CBD had the feel of a modern, hustling, bustling metropolis. We enjoyed the Old Town, particularly the steam driven clock that played a tune on the hour, and the Chinese gardens that offer a peaceful respite within a stone’s throw of the city skyscrapers.
Perhaps the highlight of the city is Stanley Park, a huge area of green space that the foresighted custodians of early Vancouver precipitously saved from development. It is very natural (as opposed to a man-made park), and juts out into Vancouver Harbour from the city centre. The park is large enough to need bicycle or bus transport to explore completely, and sits surrounded by water, with views of the city skyline on one side, and a far view of Vancouver Island the other.
After leaving Vancouver we decided to stay inside Canada for a while and head east. We plotted our way through some majestic mountain scenery, endless forests and small logging towns. We hit the lakeside town of Osoyoos on the way – a spectacular watery playground and favourite recreation spot for many British Columbians.
We dropped back down into the States and passed, very briefly, through Idaho. A storm was just coming over the mountains that form the border, and swept across the stunning orange sky making for the most beautiful sunset. That night we camped next to a small lake, and next day headed on towards probably our favourite scenery so far – Glacier National Park.
Glacier NP is home to epic, jaw-dropping mountain scenery. There were around 150 individual glaciers in the park when it was established as a NP in the early 20th century. Now only around 25 remain (and it is probable that all will be gone within the next 50 years due to climate change).
Millions of years of scraping and sculpting by the ice have created a breathtaking landscape of snow-capped peaks, epic valleys and glistening glacial lakes. There were many highlights, including a hike up to a lake fed by seven waterfalls cascading down the rock that enclosed it; and a drive over the spine of the park and up into the snowfield.
We have been fortunate enough to see lots of wonderful things on our trip so far, but Glacier is an absolute highlight. It will be tough to beat, but we still have the mighty Yellowstone to come….