nostromos bLog






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07(03), 06(03), 05(02), 04(02), 03(02)
12(02), 11(01), 10(08), 09(03), 07(17), 06(01), 05(04), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(06)
12(05), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(02), 07(04), 06(01), 05(02), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(02), 09(09), 08(16), 07(02), 06(03), 05(04), 04(03), 02(03), 01(02)
12(03), 11(01), 10(02), 09(01), 08(23), 07(03), 06(02), 05(01), 04(02), 03(02)
12(03), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(23), 05(02)
09(04), 08(01), 06(01), 05(02), 04(02), 03(01), 02(01)
11(01), 10(02), 09(15), 08(01), 07(02), 06(04), 04(12), 01(06)
12(05), 11(01), 10(06), 09(12), 08(02), 07(02), 06(01), 05(01), 04(10), 02(01), 01(05)
12(02), 08(01), 07(15), 06(02), 05(03), 02(02), 01(03)
12(05), 11(01), 07(24), 06(06), 05(03), 04(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(01), 10(07), 09(01), 08(04), 07(05), 06(04), 05(06), 04(01), 03(04), 02(06), 01(04)
12(04), 11(02), 10(03), 09(04), 08(03), 07(04), 04(01)
07(01), 05(01)
08(01)
10(01)

Sun, 31 Aug 2014
day 15 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
today in the morning we started with a breakfast in a cafe in jasper, and by this and a little window shopping our suspicion that this little town really is expensive was more than confirmed. but then again, this is not really surprising for a tourist town. the breakfast though was awesome, delicious, and worth every pence - i had pancakes with fruit, maple syrup and whipped cream. i would call that a good start to the day. and it was also necessary for we started with a several kilometre long hike, the maligne canyon[001-080] hike, that runs alongside of the maligne river.
several bridges cross the canyon, and each provides a good look down into the canyons that have been carved into the rock by the water over thousands of years. sometimes the glacier fed water, has also eroded pools[016-018,026,028,035,] into the rock.
venturing of the trail, one can even get right down to the river bed, which we did several times (though it actually is not advised to so) and enjoyed the crystal clear turquoise water from close up. little waterfalls can also be found along the trail, and underground springs[048,059], feeding the river with more water. the way back we choose a different path, leading more up the mountain[070-075], and soon one could not hear the river anymore.
our next stop was for medicine lake[085-136], which actually is not a lake in the usual sense. it is actually all sinkholes and caves in the ground, overflowing with melt waters. so during late summer there is a lake, while in winter, there is only a river. it also is considered the biggest underground (and inaccessible) cave system in the world.
besides that interesting fact, we also found interesting little creatures running around between the rocks. they look like hamsters, but actually are rabbits, although they don't look like that. they are called pika[090,094-099,104-108], and they are super cute, and make cute warning sounds, and run around with tufts of grass in their mouth, and they are extremely fast. we also believe, they might somehow be related with pikachu, the electro pokemon.
then it was time for the next lake, called maligne lake[137-185], which is more than 20 kilometres long, so a trip around the lake was beyond question. instead we did the 3.2km long mary schaeffer loop trail, which covers only a small part of the lake in the north west. here we noticed for the first time that autumn seems to be draining the green colours from the deciduous trees and paints them in brownish, reddish, and yellowish colours. we also thought how beautiful it must be here in late autumn, with all the different colours of the trees. hmmmm.... it definitely might be worth coming back here again to see that.
after this little hike we had a short coffee break with the very friendly mounty bear[164], and continued our journey through the jasper national park to a lake where there were less tourists as there were at lake maligne, the tourist magnet. and so we landed at lake annette[193-217]. here, there were no people, no wind, the wonderful light from sun set. perfect conditions for nice photos. and so we did some with the beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountains. that was really awesome, and we enjoyed that very much.
then suddenly there's smoke[203-204] around everywhere, and at first we were afraid it might be a wildfire, but then it turned out people were using the public huts nearby, which also have a built-in stove to keep them warm and cooking.
soon we came to an open rest area where a couple was feeding a fluffy tiny squirrel[218-232]. this guy was stuffing tons of food into his stash in the trees. we also added some grams to that. aaaaaaaw, so cute.
next... tadaaaa, surprise, another lake, namely lake edith[233-249]. but to be fair, those two lakes are right next to each other, with a pathway, only a few metres wide dividing them. and then there is also the ochre lake[233-234], which is actually a huge quicksand area, surrounded by a fence. but since there was a little puddle we guess it's called a lake.
right next to the public fireplace hut mentioned earlier, there's also a small playground for children, and there i spotted the biggest raven i have ever seen. the bird was also pretty shy, so he flew away when i wanted to get closer to take a picture. but that one was really really big. actually all the ravens here are bigger than the crows and ravens at home - such lovely creatures.
then we called it a day, our lake quota for today definitely fulfilled. also it got late, so we wanted to get home and rest. just before returning to jasper town we spotted a group of caribous[250-255] grazing along the road. yay, wildlife. track for day 15.

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Sat, 30 Aug 2014
day 14 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
we decided to sleep a little longer, to get a good rest after all the driving from yesterday, and the driving that will follow today. we planned to get to jasper national park today, which means another 375km (or four hours) ride today. which also means sitting in the car most of the time again. but before we hit the road, we needed to book an accommodation for tonight in jasper. in our tradition to the last few holidays, when we always ignored unfavourable circumstances like the day of the booking falling on a weekend, or our target being a tourist magnet, we once more had a really hard time to get a room. jasper seemed to be fully booked, no site we visited on the internet showed any vacancies. then we found one last room, and tried to call, but on the telephone we got an automated message that this number belongs to some fraudulent blah blah, or something like that. hm? the only room available and we cannot book it, because the telephone provider says no? luckily we were at a cafe (because they have internet) and asked one of the girls working there where the next public phone is, and we explained our situation to her. thankfully she allowed us to use the cafe's telephone for this long-distance call, and this time the phone was answered - yippieh, we could book. funny fact: gloria, the owner of the place where we will sleep tonight said she just updated the information for the free room on the internet, as a couple has just cancelled five minutes earlier. woah, super lucky us. i wonder if we ever will learn our lesson when it comes to booking on weekends or holidays. now we were way more relaxed, and finally started our long journey through the wonderful landscapes and breathtaking sceneries that canada has to offer. on this trip there was also a tremendous change in the terrain as we slowly, but steadily entered the canadian rocky mountains. notice the pictures taken during the ride[001-011,077-084,089-094,099,124-135,152-158], as more and more mountain peaks appear. it was really amazing to watch the change in the environment. also the temperature dropped for at least 10 degrees celsius. but lets start with our first break we had, which was at the ancient tree trail[011-076] (which was a small stage of the driscoll ridge trail, which we did not take, as it would have been too time consuming).
although it was raining, and it looked like it would get worse soon, we decided to walk the trail, and it was good we had done so. because once more we were in an awesome wood with so many shadings of green, and such an intense colour saturation. stunning, as usual.
besides a couple, that we met at the end of the trail, we were all alone in this wood (alone as in no people, no bears, no cougars, no lynx, no moose, etc). we were pretty glad that parts of the trail provided wood-planked bridges and paths, so we would not slip on the muddy ground. also nina's ankle wouldn't have been fit for that yet.
some of the trees are over several thousand years old, and get pretty big[022-023,044,060], in height and diameter. it's really an amazing wood and sight if you stand in front of such a giant. the rain didn't get as much worse as expected, yet it was still raining a lot, so we got in the car again, dried our cameras and lenses, and drove on. and then we spotted three deer in the wood through which the yellowhead highway passes. wohooo, wildlife encounter. then we had a coffee break at mcbride[085-088], a small cafe that also seems like a little museum, with all the different oddities standing, lying and hanging around. also they had excellent home-made pumpkin pie. nomnomnom, so delicious. behind the house was the rail track that had a train parked there. the number of wagons in each direction was uncountable. and each wagon had two containers stacked. so the total amount of goods being trans- ported by that single one train must be enormous. we already saw some of these endlessly seeming trains. quite impressive what a railway engine can pull (or push). then comes driving, driving, driving, and a short break at the tete jaune rest area[095-098]. why the naming suddenly switches to french (it's "yellowhead" in french), i have no idea, but it seems the closer we get to alberta and jasper, the more french people are starting to gather around us. next stop were the rearguard falls[100-123]. all the noise, the spray, the power to grind stone, falls never cease to amaze me, no matter how many of them i visit. the rearguard falls are one of two falls on fraser river, and it is said, that one can see salmon here. only the strongest of the pacific salmon species is able to make the 1200km migration from the ocean to this place. we weren't really sure if what we saw was really salmon or just reflections in or on the water. hard to tell, but simply just assume we have seen salmon (we think in slide [116], the silvery line on the left over the stones is a fish), so we can add one more animal to our feeble wildlife spotting list.
further up the yellowhead highway we came by the pretty long moose lake[136-151], but of course - as always so far - nomen non est omen. so no moose, just lake. but actually a pretty fine lake, to be honest. the sky has cleared a bit, there was hardly any wind, so ideal circumstances for nice pics with reflections on the water. unfortunately it was already a bit too dark, so the light meter of our cameras had a hard time.
and so it was time to leave the wonderful, very british, and lovely british columbia. the last stop there was at little portal lake[159-163], which is only a few metres from the border to alberta away on the yellowhead pass. here it was definitely too dark by now to take good pictures, but we decided to take some anyway, as in real it just looked wonderful. back on the road we left british columbia, and entered alberta and finally the jasper national park. we knew that it requires a parking ticket to be allowed to stay in the park area, but so far we didn't know where to get it and if a pass for multiple days would be better, and so on. at the toll gate, all these questions were cleared and answered within one question by a really super friendly guy. after an initial "bon jour, hello" (which was absolutely not what i had expected and left me confused for a few seconds - that was too much french for me), he asked us how long we plan to stay in national parks. fortunately we already had planned that in advance, so we gave him the number of days, and instantly he recommended to by a weekly pass, which we did. we really liked this friendly, charming guy.
jasper was ... a bit of a surprise to us. or... not. well, it was both actually. it very much reminded us of kitzbuehel, or st. moritz. a little touristy town, full of touristy shops, and more touristy tourists, with one main street, and one bar and restaurant next to the other. and jasper is supposedly the more quiet, smaller, and less touristy park compared to banff. we expected something like this from our guide books, but seeing it in reality was another thing. after shopping some groceries, which are much more expensive here then back in british columbia (which actually has higher taxes than alberta, which has none at all), we finally made it to the "mountain memories" accommodation, where the last available room from this morning in jasper awaited us. track for day 14.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014
day 13 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
today was a day full of driving. approximately 750km from prince rupert to prince george, or "about nine hours" as the canadians would measure it. we only had a few stops, the weather was rather changeable and capricious. so, good weather for driving. and good for you, as there's not much text to be read, but also not many pictures, with most of them being drive-by photo shots. one longer stop was at sealy lake[02-07] to have a break and some fresh air.
next stop was at the irrigation (or dunalter) lake[17-29] (yes, that is really the official name). a really nice place with tables and benches there and a changing cubicle, so we assumed people really go there for swimming. but definitely not today. at first only a small bulldozer was there doing some repair work on the gravel road that led there. but his work was done about ten minutes after we have arrived, so in the end we were all alone there, having our lunch break. really a tranquil, beautiful spot we picked.
a warning sign for moose[35] crossing was also there, but as we by now believe, bears and moose are a lie here in west canada. the signs are just to make tourists believe those extinct animals are still there. almost at the end of our trip we were rewarded with a wonderful double rainbow[49]. ah, and my gps tracker works again - yippieh. thus, here it is, the... track for day 13.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014
day 12 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
uaaah, getting up at 04:30 today was horrible. but our host at the back packers was so nice and really got up with us to wake us in case we would ignore our alarm clock. he said so the day before, but i wasn't sure if he really meant it. so, four zombies were walking the halls of the hostel, the host, a girl (who has already booked a shuttle to the ferry, as she's traveling on foot), and us - all of them tired and not in the mood for much talking. a cyclist has already left 30 minutes earlier to get to the terminal in time. all of them made it. as written on our confirmation we were at the terminal two hours before departure, but then had to wait, and wait, and wait. all those lost precious minutes we could have slept longer - what a pity, what a waste. but finally we were boarded, and on schedule the ferry left port hardy to take us to prince rupert. soon we saw two humpback whales[16-17] in the distance, and some dolphins[18] too, also far off in the distance. pretty cool.
it is said that the "inside passage", the route our ferry goes, is a beautiful trip, or, as some even put it, an experience of a lifetime, full of magnificent fjords, islands, inlets, breathtaking landscapes, and blah blah blah ... admittedly, the trip definitely is beautiful, stunning, and all, but... only in the beginning. soon you discover, that it is always the same sight, more or less. considering the trip takes about 16 hours, this is hardly surprising. also in summer time, the ferry trip goes during the day and has stops at some terminals. which one, depends on the day of the trip. ours was the lovely little bay of bella bella[30-39], where we had a one hour stop. so we were watching the fishermen (and fisherwomen), loads of salmon jumping out of the water[31] (in slide [31] all the white spots on the surface are fish), and some more eagles[33-39]. in winter time the trip is during the night hours. also, the ferry just goes every second day.
we also booked a little outside two berth cabin and had some sleep during the hours where no sight was announced. there was a map in the hallways with the distance in hours from port hardy when to see the next sight, so we could time that quite good. except of course for wildlife sightings, which was announced by the crew, like "our captain would like to inform you, that we have spotted some on the side of the ship a few hundred metres ahead". so the rest of the passengers hunting wildlife with their camera gears were watching the back of the ship. that's also were we spotted the whales and dolphins. once every two hours passengers were also allowed to return to their cars for 15 minutes to get stuff from or to the car. since it was colder and more windy on deck than i had expected, i once used that time frame to get my thicker jacket from the car. that is when i spotted an old man with his little cat sitting in the animal's cargo hold. the cat in his arm, he was talking to the tiny kitten, and petting it, so it wont get too nervous. aaaaaw, so cute. to keep the cat from more stress i did not enter the hold, but watched, unnoticed by the man, through the porthole. so cute, so tiny, ooooh, i so wanted to touch it. unfortunately i did not bring my camera with me to the parking level, so there is no picture of the two of them.
as i erroneously wrote in yesterday's bLog entry, it was not yesterday our last day at the coast, but of course today. you cannot get much closer to the sea than on a ferry. still, this does not change the fact that we will miss all the sea stuff.
also there still hasn't been a bear sighting so far, which also makes us rather sad. furthermore no cougars, no beavers, no moose, no mountain goats (ok, we have not been in the mountains yet, so that's actually okay), no lynx, no bobcats, no sea otters. when we got to our bed & breakfast, the "java lodge bed & breakfast" in prince rupert the owner was already waiting for us. she brought us upstairs to our room, where we heard a cat crying. turns out there's a cat right next door to where we are sleeping - yippieh. as every evening, i did all the follow up tasks of the day in the hostel. this includes stuff like transferring the pictures and notes from during the day to the computer, making backups of the pictures to an external usb hard disk, and copying the GPS track to my computer and feed it to my photo rendering software. that is when i found out that today's track was totally broken and useless - i have no idea why. the signal was excellent while being on board, a little weak while being in the cabin, but that should not have been a problem. so i did a dump of all the data that was on the tracker so far, which goes back to our taiwan holidays back in 2012. although the space was still about 59 per cent free, i deleted all the data. hopefully tomorrow it will work fine again. the track used for the pictures is a reconstructed one, so it probably is pretty inaccurate, but should do as to get a hint where the pictures where taken. track for day 12 (reconstructed).

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014
day 11 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
today we were woken up at around 01:00 o'clock, as at that time the power went back on again, and the lights in our room were switched on. yay, electricity was back again. that means a hot shower in the morning, a breakfast at the near-by bakery, and working washing and drying machines at the local laundry, which was really really necessary as we both ran out of fresh clothes. once this necessity was done, we were heading to port hardy, where our ferry back to the main land will leave tomorrow, earliest in the morning. on our way to port hardy we hardly made any stops, if we did, i was ordered to park the car in a way that nina does not have to get out of the car for taking pictures[02]. while this was usually the way most tourists (read: american tourists) did take their pictures, i granted her wish, as a special exception, as she was still handicapped with her ankle. hehe, naaah, just kidding, nina was simply just lazy, and i shouldn't support that. so, i took a picture to let everyone know how lazy she was that day. we arrived near port hardy in the afternoon, and went to see the quatse loop trail[03-47], before checking in at our hostel for the night. the loop trail led us through another wonderful wood. oh man, i love those trees and woods.
then we spotted another eagle[13-15,17] from a bridge. we actually surprised the bird when walking over the bridge, as he was sitting right under it. so he flew a few metres to safety and landed on the nearby tree next to the pretty dried out river. remember the picture with the droppings from day_08? i caught another one doing it, see slide [41]. eagles are really graceful, and awe-inspiring animals (besides the droppings stuff). we really like to watch them.
then we drove to the stories beach road[48-78] in port hardy, because we read about it in our guide books and it was nearby and easy to access. oh, and we saw a rainbow[51-54] there - aaaaaaaaw, how beautiful.
then we found a restaurant right at the beach in the centre of port hardy, where we had sushi[79-81], as this would be our last chance for fresh caught fish directly from the coast, and our last day so close to the sea. ownoez, we will miss the salty breeze, the seagulls, the driftwood, the sound of the waves, the corpses of various sea creatures, algae, bull kelp... and all the rest. ah, and then it started to rain[82-85] - according to the locals this was the first time since july. glad we brought rain with us as there are fire hazard signs everywhere, with a five level dial ranging from green (no hazard) to red (no open fires allowed), and whenever we spotted one, it was set to red, so no BBQ or any open campfires allowed. also all the meadows, the woods, moss, and lichen, though lush, were extremely dried out - so rain, even if it's just a little, will be good. also it is our last day in the area with the highest bear population in canada, and we haven't even seen one so far. we were also told there's a mother bear with two cubs running around. latest sighting of them was yesterday. why haven't we seen them? poor, unfortunate us. we soon went to bed at the "C&N back packers hostel", as our ferry will be - as already mentioned - leaving early in the morning. early, as in really early. we have to get up at 04:30. brrrr.... track for day 11.

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Tue, 26 Aug 2014
day 10 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
this day, day ten, started with a breakfast in the bed & breakfast. we talked with rocco, an italian guy running it. he told us, that years ago in this area there were purple starfish all over the beach - that's why he has chosen the name for the b&b. but nowadays the starfish have almost disappeared or you can only find parts of the starfish, as if they are dissolved or fallen apart. too bad, as we wanted to see some. yet, despite the bad news, we tried our luck at the miracle beach[01-27] provincial park, that is near campbell river. and besides tiny crabs, mussels, shells of dead crabs, a heron, loads of seagulls, large bull kelps, and much more, we really did not find a single purple starfish. too sad.
after a little bit of driving we decided to take a break at the hoomak lake[27-38] rest area, where we spotted a cute steller's jay[34-38].
then a little more driving, until we finally arrived at port mc-neill, where we checked in at the dalewood inn. the homepage of the hotel promised a nice sushi restaurant right next to it, and that is what we were longing for the whole drive long - fresh fish. but port mcneill seemed like a ghost town - reason was, that there was no electricity in town. actually, there was no electricity in the whole northern part of vancouver islands. wow, now that was surprising. no electricity meant no restaurant, no shops, no credit card machine to pay the hotel, no hot water, no coffee, no tv, no internet. one of those moments that remind you how much you depend on electricity. but the guy at the reception said it was a transformer change, scheduled until 20:00 o'clock. so we took a long stroll to the nearby harbour park[39-94] and watched the sun set, while loads of seagulls and ravens[50-73] were loudly fighting over gutted fish that the local fishers dumped there. since there was not much to see besides the birds, we returned to the hotel.
by 20:30 o'clock there was still no electricity, and it started to get dark. and darker. and even darker. and finally it was totally dark. at around 22:00 o'clock we decided to call it a day, get some sleep, and hoped that it might be fixed until tomorrow morning, since there was not much we could do about it anyway. track for day 10.

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Mon, 25 Aug 2014
day 09 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
this day we had breakfast with the other guests again, then checked out of the hotel, bought a bandage for nina's ankle, and finished our "wild pacific trail" hike on the other end of the trail, the lighthouse[001-008]. it's easily accessible by car, and the lighthouse is not far from the parking lot, as nina's foot didn't get significantly better over night, and still hurt. but at least with the help of the bandage she was able to walk short distances without too much suffering. then we drove to the ucluelet aquarium[009-069], as we thought it's more like a big attraction in ucluelet. but the place itself is very small[009], but, it has some very cool features. first of all, you can touch most of the animals, so for the first time we touched all kind of star fish[010,013], sea anemone[023-026], sea cucumbers[027], and sea urchins[028]. really fascinating and surprising, how some of those fellas feel like.
and then there's this community thing going on with the pupils of ucluelet and the aquarium. each year, around october, every kid gets one animal, and will release it back into the sea. so the guys there expect a big fight over who will be allowed to release the kraken.
i think that's a really wonderful thing, as children get to know what is going on in the sea, and get to touch the animals. also every display tank was donated and sponsored by a local company (like the fish&chips guy had one too). another thing we really liked about the little ucluelet aquarium. then we started heading north, and soon drove on the pacific rim highway[070-114], where we took a short break to explore a place that people used for cooling down and swim in a cold river. so we also stopped and saw some nice rocks shaped by the river in thousands of years, and crystal clear water. absolutely beautiful.
a little later we stopped at the little qualicum falls[115-188], that were surrounded by woods full of lichen, moss, and again so many shades of green - i totally like the woods here, especially in the warm afternoon and evening sun, then all the colours get even more intense. very carefully and even slower than usual we walked along the trail, trying not to put too great a strain on nina's ankle.
a few hours later we finally arrived at campbell river[189-204], just as the sun began to set. again tremendously beautiful.
then it was time to drive the last few hundred metres to the bed & breakfast, where we had booked our stay for the night at the "purple starfish b&b", like the one we had touched in the morning at the aquarium. track for day 09.

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Sun, 24 Aug 2014
day 08 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
today we got up very early (for our standards, which is around 07:30 o'clock) to have a wonderful breakfast prepared by sue, our nice host. her husband stew, and malcolm their dog, also showed up from time to time, though malcolm actually wasn't allowed in the guest area of the house, but... well, he's so damn cute, who could have been mad at him. most of the other guests were here for playing golf it turned out, as in canada a lot of people seem to love it. we, on the other hand, were more into hiking for today, so we did the "wild pacific trail"[001-140] hike that goes along the western shoreline of the ucluelet peninsula.
aside from driftwood, dead and living sea creatures, awesome trees, and cute colourful flowers, we also spotted all kinds of animals.
and among those were two eagles. we were very very lucky as once they landed at a tree that could be observed from a viewing point that even had a bench, so we both could sit down, relax, and wait for the eagles to do... well, what eagles usually do. it turns out they sit around a lot. and do nothing. and sit. and watch. and sit. and ... do nothing. oh, and from time to time they drop stuff. see slide [089] where the thing flies between the first and the third branch from bottom on the right side. yes, that's what they do.
soon both eagles were gone, and we continued our hike, when nina suddenly twisted her ankle badly, when she slipped on driftwood. at first she still could walk, but soon the pain got worse, and so we went to the next parking lot, where she sat down to rest, and i went home to get the car to fetch her the last few kilometres back to our inn.
we are really worried now with nina's ankle sprain as we had planned some more hiking on our canada trip. sue gave us some ice packs, and she seemed to be an expert in ankle sprains, as she told me that she hurts herself all the time, and cooling and putting up the foot will help. i hope she's right about that... to get something to eat i hoped in the car, drove to the town centre of ucluelet and got us some delicious burgers with fries from a restaurant.
after dinner i was nursing nina a little, positioned her chair towards the tv set, and then explored the beach right in the back of the inn on my own a little as it is such a wonderful place. when i went down i heard the lonesome fog horn blow (remember the first sentence spoken in "twin peaks"?), and within a few minutes the little islands close to the bay was covered in fog[141-148] - pretty impressive, and i liked the atmosphere. the fog horn continued to blow every 20 seconds the whole night long, accompanied by the sound of a buoy every few seconds (by changing it's pitch to determine the height of the waves). i felt like in the movie "the fog" (not the remake, no, the original one from 1980 by john carpenter). i really hope nina's foot gets better until tomorrow - poor her. track for day 08.

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Sat, 23 Aug 2014
day 07 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
this day started with an awesome breakfast from our host darleen containing coffee, a platter of various fruits, and delicious self-made scones, toast, butter, and jam. after checking out we drove to a small electronic shop named "the source" to get an cable to connect the headphone jacks of our mobile phones with the car's auxiliary in, so we don't rely on radio signal anymore to have a little entertainment while driving the long distances. our first stop should have been the old country market in coombs, famous for its goats on roofs, but we ended up at the wrong market in errington at first. but soon we found the actual market in coombs. after spotting the goats on the roof[002,012], we walked around the market, found loads of pottery[004-010], and shops with souvenir stuff. we also found a shop with good looking fruits and vegetables, where we bought some stuff.
after a touristy overload at coombs we were heading on to the cathedral grove[027-085], a forest that seemed like an enchanted place. all the moss, the lichen, the trees with strangely formed branches and twigs, and the huge amount of shades of green was overwhelming.
some trees were older than 800 years[029]. the largest tree is a douglas fir, 76 metres in height. this place was really impressive, awe-inspiring, and had a special atmosphere and mood.
on our drive to ucluelet[086-099] we had several stops at places that looked interesting or worth stopping, like that place where they did zip-lining[086-093] (but unfortunately we just missed the last group zip-lining through the canyons). actually there would have been so many more, and we really did a good job at reducing the stops to an acceptable amount and still get some mileage. finally we arrived at our place to sleep for this night, a snug harbour inn[100-156] that has a cute dog named malcolm, and an exceptional view over the inn's very own beach. there we spotted a deer[142] that suddenly emerged out of nowhere, and reminded us that we are actually surrounded by wildlife - wildlife such as bears too. a little more cautious we proceeded to explore the beach and spotted eagles[124-125,128-131] - how awesome is that? i have never seen one of the big ones outside of a zoo so far.
then it slowly got darker and we were hungry, so we asked sue, our very nice and lovely host, what the good spots in ucluelet are to grab a bite. among all kinds of restaurants she also recommended jigger's fish & chips. after a short drive to the town centre and a short stroll[156-163] we found the truck, that only stops at this specific place in the evening to sell the food, then disappear again, just to come back the next day again. the fish & chips were really delicious. wohooo, we have seen eagles - awesome. track for day 07.

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Fri, 22 Aug 2014
day 06 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
dear reader, i really really hope you like ... no, you _love_ butterflies and flowers (maybe even as much as nina does?), because if not, you better skip this day's entry right after the next paragraph - because butterflies and flowers is what it's all about today. usually "nomen est omen" we assumed, when stopping at the "beaver lake" with the adjoining "elk lake", because i would have been fine with either one of them. but no, neither elk nor beaver was there - so disappointing, so sad. and so we drove on to the butterfly gardens. well butterfly gardens[006-102] is - of course - all about butterflies. and there are lots of them. approximately 4000 butterflies are living in this ca. 1000 square km big glass house. so there's movement everywhere, and you have to tread carefully, as the butterflies are even on the ground.
while some of them sit and rest so one can easily take pictures, others never seem to rest. and of course those ones are the most beautiful ones. but there's also more than 200 plants for the butterflies to land on, eat from, and lay their eggs on. they even had carnivorous plants.
once you get used to the humidity and temperature inside, it is really a nice place full of lovely colourful butterflies, bizarre looking caterpillars, loud parrots, cute tortoises and geckos, and even more cute, colourful and poisonous frogs and toads.
next stop, after having a burger in a family restaurant right opposite of the butterfly gardens, was the national historic site of the butchart gardens[103-222], a huge garden built in 1920, after the site was used as a limestone quarry by the butchart family. then, step by step more and more themed garden segments, like a rose garden, a japanese, garden, an italian garden, etc., were added. then, every few decades new stuff was added, like lights for night illumination, or a huge fountain, or totem poles, and more...
the sun already started to set, when we came to an open area where a concert (by ruth moody and band) was about to take place soon. so we sat down, rested a bit, and listened to the music.
we did not notice it got already pretty late, and this night we had booked a bed & breakfast, which usually means the people hosting, have to stay up until the guest arrives. so we gave a call, and headed to nanaimo, which is a two hours drive (125km) to the "island view b&b". that is where we spotted some deer running around in the gardens, and a dead racoon. poor little procyon. track for day 06.

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Thu, 21 Aug 2014
day 05 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
first thing today in the morning was taking the bus to victoria china town[001-035], where even the lamp posts[001] have a chinese design. victoria's chinatown is the oldest in canada, and second oldest in the world. it is also the home of the narrowest street in canada, namely "fan tan alley"[008-020], which has actually a lot of shop entrances, that lead to pretty big stores[010-012] with all kind of exotic stuff (notice the awesome feng shui compass[012]). we also spotted an alley cat[014-015], and two more cats[017-020] in a furniture shop, sleeping on rugs. so cute.
next we walked through dragon alley[023-033], and came out on fisgard street[034-036]. a few more minutes of walking and we got to the victoria public market[039-053] at the hudson, where we saw all kinds of delicious food. we ordered a lunch box[048] containing beef, rice and salad, and later fish and chips[053].
after our lunch we walked through the streets towards the harbour area[054-064] where we booked a whale watching tour. the loyal reader of my bLog might remember that we had no luck so far with our whale watching tours. we tried it in iceland, and new zealand and never saw a whale. so we were hoping that this time we might spot some of the big fellows. the "B.C. Whale Tour Ltd." promised a 100% whale sighting guarantee. and this time we were really lucky - we spotted some dolphins (but we were too slow with our cameras, so no pictures of them), and a group of orcas[089-090,093-094,097,099-101,103-112,114,116-122,124-129] swimming along the shore line out to the open sea. wohooo, finally we did it - so cool. whales are really cute creatures.
nina also got to america for the first time, and - clever her - without the procedure of taking finger prints, filling out millions of forms, getting the ESTA and APIS stuff done, etc... all it took her was booking a whale watching tour in canada. back on land we headed for some more victoria sights, such as "the empress" hotel[139-140,142], the oldest (and most likely also the most expensive) one in victoria. on belleville street we saw the BC parliament building[144,148-149,151,153-163], with the statue of queen victoria[148-149,151] in the foreground.
the royal BC museum[165-169] was already closed by now, and so was the victoria bug zoo[172-173] on douglas street - too bad, i really would have liked to see that (although nina did not - i have no idea why). we were tired, exhausted, and hungry, and finding a restaurant that was not too pricey and had something for the both of us, became a challenge. so we soon gave up, and went to the next bigger mall, the bay centre[176-179], and had some taco. not very fancy, but quite okay. after a 30 minute ride on the bus back to our hotel we fell asleep instantly. what a great day. track for day 05.

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Wed, 20 Aug 2014
day 04 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
the day started with checking out of the hotel, having a nice breakfast, and finding a parking lot for our car. then we went to granville street[001-029]. along the street are beautiful old houses[001-013] with nice facades. we went there to get to the "future shop" to get myself a new compact flash usb card reader, since mine does not work properly anymore. seems like there are no usb-3 card readers, and also they all have the old mini usb connectors - not what i had expected, but better than nothing, as my card usually gets full within two days of shooting, so i urgently needed the reader to erase old pictures from the card. next shop was a clothes shop for nina called "millenium", with a nice mixture of gothic and steam punk stuff. at the "rock shop" i found a cute grumpy cat t-shirt that i bought.
to get to the granville public market we had to cross a long bridge[016-030]. but getting of the bridge was not that easy, as there was no exit, so we had to follow it way past our goal, and we had to take a detour. thus we decided to take a little break, have a coffee and then get on to the market we found a little cafe with a friendly owner. we got to talk and he told us about the real estate business and all real assets being bought by asian people. also we learned that a few years ago the government of british columbia closed all mental asylums because of funding problems, and they released all the patients. many of them seem to have stopped taking their medicines and are now on the streets of vancouver. in fact, we were already wondering since our first day why there were so many... hm... "different" people. soon we got to the public market[039-094] and enjoyed all the vegetables, fish, spices, sweets, fruits, etc. we bought small bites of fish and seafood, each of them super delicious and fresh.
to get back we took a boat taxi[024,042,094] to "hornby" station, which is just on the other side of the "false creek" inlet, and a walk back to our car to get to the ferry from tsawassen terminal to swartz bay on vancouver islands. this meant a 34km drive and then a 1.5 hours ride on the ferry[102-134]. check-in time for the ferry would be half an hour before leaving the harbour, and we actually got there too late, so our reservation was cancelled, but fortunately it was not a very busy day, so we still got on the ferry with the non-reserved vehicles. on our trip we didn't see any whales - too sad. in victoria we checked in to the "robin hood" motel, and spent our first night on vancouver island, where we will stay for the next few days. track for day 04.

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Tue, 19 Aug 2014
day 03 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
we started our third day with booking a hotel in victoria, where we will be going tomorrow, followed by a decent breakfast at a cafe right across the street of our hotel, named "fillobar". i was surprised of the amount of fruits included in my muesli. full of energy we decided to rent a bike and ride through stanley park[003-072], a huge park that starts at the beach right in front of our hotel. the biking trail - one way only - is about ten kilometres long and goes right along the shore.
on our round trip we came by some totem poles[005-008], the skyline[003-004,009-010], a chinese musician[011], and a girl in a wet suite[013-014] sitting on a stone. we also found a path that lead us right to "beaver lake"[019-028], although we didn't spot a single beaver. too sad.
lionsgate bridge[029-033] was next, then beaches[034-050], and siwash rock[039-044], third beach[045-050] (yop, that is its name), and a coffee break with hungry ravens[051-052,054-056] that were eager for a few bites from our muffins. on our last section of our ride we rode down the lovers walk and down the bridle path[057-072], both with big old trees[057-068].
then we spotted a little mouse[069-070] running along our path. we got off our bikes, unpacked our cameras, and it was still there, not running away. so cute, so tiny.
before returning our bike we drove by the lost lagoon[071-072]. as there was still time to be killed, we took another stroll along the beach[073-081]. at 18:30 it was finally time to board the aircraft for our "vancouver panorama classic" flight[082-172]. the flight lasted about 30 minutes (though it was announced as a 20 minutes trip), with a breathtaking view over vancouver. that flight will really leave a memorable impression.
back at our hotel we had a nice view on a shop on the opposite site of the street called "kimprints". since it looks like there's loads of nice stuff in there, we went there and found really awesome stuff. besides several horseman-items[183-187], like masks and figurines, i also found a little cat keyring that perfectly fits the bicycle light that is of the same producer and also has the shape of a cat head. awesome, and so cute.
another thing we spotted from our hotel room was "vera's burger shack"[193] - a burger restaurant that looks rather shabby from the outside, but we decided to give it a chance. and we were right to do so - the burgers[188-189] were totally awesome. never judge a book by its cover they say, right? what a wonderful day - we really love canada. track for day 03.

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Mon, 18 Aug 2014
day 02 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
second day in canada, vancouver. the weather is almost hot, sunny, a blue sky, and friendly people all over. on all occasions like breakfast, riding a bus and being unsure when to get off, or queuing in line, people start to chat with you. canadians really tend to be very friendly - we were really surprised and a little impressed. we even had fun on our first bus-trip[002,004] as people discussed where we should best get off to get to our first destination, china town[005-036]. there we headed to the "dr. sun yatsen gardens"[006-034] and came just in time for a guided tour which provided loads of information on the chinese garden, the background of the china town, chi and yin and yang. the tour was really nice.
walking through china town we came by the "millenium gate"[036], and ended in gas town[037-058], an area with loads of wonderful, old houses, the statue of "gassy jack"[045] (a celebrity founding the first bar in the 18th century). right next to it is the famous steam clock[050-056]. we arrived there right at noon, and heard the whistled tunes from it's steam driven pipes. the rest of the clock is actually plain mechanical, as our guidebook revealed, but the steam looks really lovely. time for a coffee break, so we rested in the "trees organic" cafe, where i had an americano coffee with a fantastic cheese-cake[058] ("voted the best cheesecake in vancouver" it said, though it did not state who voted, and how many participants there were). after a while we came to the harbour area[050-156], where we found a japadog[062,067] stand - a mixture of japanese cuisine with the good old hot-dogs. strange but really delicious. yet it is not enough for two people, so we had some dim sum[075] to get us stuffed. a landmark in the harbour area is the"canada place"[050-111], and right next to it, "the drop"[110-111], a piece of artwork to remind us of the importance of water, thus the shape of a water drop.
announced as a new attraction was the 4D "fly over canada". we thought it sounds promising and bought two tickets for the show. the first part was a big screen presentation of canada and its people, combined with stunning wildlife and nature impressions. the second part was the flight over canada, where you are positioned right in the centre of a half-sphere. sitting in seats that can slightly be rotated you "fly" over various regions of canada, starting from vancouver over to - what we thought - the northern regions, ranging from spring to winter. a really amazing ride, highly recommendable. unfortunately it only lasts about ten minutes, but it were breathtaking ten minutes. this made us hungry for more, and for the real thing. so we booked a "classic panorama tour" flight over vancouver for the following day. woah, we're so looking forward to that.
after this day full of wonderful impressions we began our stroll home, encountering seals[137-141], seagulls[142,144-145], loads of plants[148-149] and other animals[150-156].
when it got dark we even spotted two cats and in a garden even a skunk - unfortunately it was way too dark to take a picture of it. vancouver is a green city - there's trees and parks all over the town, and loads of flowers. every lamp post is decorated with hanging flower pots, and most balconies have plants too. really beautiful and colourful. track for day 02.

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Sun, 17 Aug 2014
day 01 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
so we wanted to go to canada this year, and i wanted to have a little bit of alaska included in that trip too, but as it turned out, this is a mission impossible with the requirements we had. renting the car in vancouver, returning the car in anchorage? no way - there's no way you can rent the car in canada and return it in america. renting the car in seattle, crossing the border to canada, crossing the border again and returning the car in anchorage? no way, no car rental allows that. going by car to the canadian border, cross over to america, rent a car there, return it in anchorage? no way - too expensive, too complicated. so i was quite disappointed and agreed to omitting the alaska part. but that still didn't solve all problems. all the fares for renting the car in the south, and returning it in the north meant spending vast sums of money. but finally we found a trip that allowed us to return the car at a different spot than where we rented it and pay no fare at all: a trip from vancouver to calgary - wohooo. after booking two ferries, one from vancouver main land to vancouver islands, and one from vancouver islands back to the mainland, we also booked hotels for our first days in vancouver city and hotels at the both ferry terminals for our second ferry ride, since the trip will take us about 15 hours, starts at 07:30 and ends at 22:30 o'clock. and after all these preparations we finally landed in vancouver after a twelve hour flight (02:25 to london heathrow, 09:25 to the final destination), picked up our car, got some cash from an ATM, and drove to our first hotel, the "english bay hotel" in vancouver downtown, on day 01.
as we were pretty tired, and it was already late, we took a short stroll[1-6] around in the area, got some food from the 7-eleven store nearby, and ate it across the street from a jazz-concert[3]. so far vancouver looks nice, let's see what it looks like in daylight tomorrow. track for day 01.

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Sun, 03 Aug 2014
again... another visit to the zoo at schoenbrunn (0 comments)
as already indicated in a previous bLog-post, there will be another post about a visit to schoenbrunn - this time with nina and my dead, who came to visit us for a few days. so we thought it's a nice idea to take him to the zoo, since he had not been to the zoo at schoenbrunn for over 30 years. so, here's roughly our tour: panda bears[001-006], fluffy cheetah cubs[007-058] (of course - you wouldn't have expected it any other way, right?)...
...sleepy, lazy tigers[059], a quite active nina and dad[060,063], seals[061-062], penguins[064-065], "franz josef's land" (aka the new polar bear enclosure[066-082])...
...the fast growing wolf cubs[083-106] were also pretty active today. it seems bringing my father along made all the animals very active and in the mood to pose for the camera. never before have we seen that many animals being active at once.
since i told nina about my double lynx encounter at my last visit, she was quite eager to see some lynx[107-117] too. so we went there, and spotted one - yippieh. it even got very close to the fence to get some good pictures of him. such an adorable animal.
next were some birds of prey[118-129], a really super cute porcupine[130-137], which we should have paid way more attention in the past - we will change that from now on, promised. and the wonderful and big pelicans[138-143].
last animals for us to visit were the small-clawed otter[144-155] and the coatis[156-159]. then we called it a day, since we were pretty tired, as it was pretty hot, thus even more strenuous. what a wonderful family excursion to the zoo. we really enjoyed that.

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