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Haze over Vancouver

Port Alberni, Canada

Mountain B & B on East Balmoral Road was a good find. Our hosts provided us with a mammoth breakfast – fresh fruit salad, home baked Blueberry Pie, Ham and Eggs and tasty black bread. Ivan explained that what appeared to be mist was in fact the smoke from the forest fires and as it was hot and there were no winds it was lying like a blanket overhead. From their lounge you could just about see Canada Place and make out Burrard Sound. We knew it wasn't an ideal day to go up Grouse Mountain for the views but it would be our only opportunity so we went for it. We parked up just before 9 am and were one of the first up on the Cable Car. Apparently each one can take up to 100 people - ours carried 6! The ride was smooth and although there wasn't the amazing view of the city below us, due to the smoke, it was a thrilling ride to the 1128 m summit. I'd read the previous evening that if you walk the Grouse Grind be sure to use plenty of insect repellent. As I've a history of being a very tasty bite to flying insects, I liberally applied Jungle Strength lotion and was I glad that I did. No sooner had we emerged from the lift terminal building than they descended on us – well it was 9 am and we were the first potential meals of the day. They were annoying but didn't actually bite.

The top of the mountain has been set out with various trails bordered by lovely wood carvings. There is a short lake walk which we did once we had spent some time watching the two resident juvenile bears, Grinder and Coola in their enclosure. They were found as tiny cubs on the mountain (they think the mother was probably shot) and instead of being placed in zoos the park commission decided to keep them (they wouldn't have been able to survive in the wild). One of the guides gave a very interesting commentary about them and Grizzlies in general. Apparently the whole mountain is home to Black and Grizzly bears and there have been recent sightings on the adjacent trails. We took the chair lift to the mountain summit (1250 m) and walked up to the wind turbine. We didn't think it was worth paying another 28 dollars to the viewing pod because of the smoke haze. On our way back to the lift terminal we stopped to watch a Lumberjack show – great fun!

Off to Horseshoe Bay to catch the ferry to Nanaimo. Only a short drive and we managed to catch an earlier one to our original booking. Shame about the smoke, which didn't allow us to see as much of the scenery as we would have liked , but we realised that was rather selfish to put it mildly as news reports showed people loosing their homes and firefighters risking their lives to bring the fires under control. Arrived at Port Alberni around 6.30 pm. Brief glimpses of Cathedral Grove as we neared our hotel and we plan to go there first thing tomorrow to view the giant cedars.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 5, 2010 from Port Alberni, Canada
from the travel blog: Go west, then go west some more.
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