Postscript:You know you’re home when….

Having experienced politeness of motorists in north America, who without fail, gracefully gave way to pedestrians, whether on crossings or not ……and we usually acknowledged the  patience of drivers….

……. D stopped to give way to a well- dressed woman in Canberra city this morning ( less than 24 hrs after arriving home)… be abused verbally, facially and with gestures to get ‘the f@$* out of her way and move on’, which he promptly and sadly did.

Ethical dilemma: if D sees her on a bus, does he offer her his seat?

PS. D thinks that ‘f@$*’ was what she was saying.


The Last Post (this trip)

Day 49. Thursday 6 October.

A very special day for our family.

7 weeks ago today we left home and we’re on the flight home at midnight tomorrow. It is time to be back home with those we’ve missed (we’ll need to do some much shorter travel to catch up with some of them as soon as we can manage it).

Horseshoe Bay is a very small jumping off point for ferry services to Vancouver and Bowen Island – and not much else. A few shops, including a couple of very promising fish and chip outlets. The bus ride was much longer than we’d anticipated, and even though the driver thought he was Daniel Ricciardo, we just missed the 12.10 ferry (admittedly, we could have arisen earlier). Next ferry not until 14.35, so plenty of time to tour the town….and again…..and again.

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Bowen Island is advertised as a place for arts and crafts. Very low key and it was quiet today, no doubt due to the drizzle and the close of the season as winter threatens. Again, the trees, the hills, little pockets of bays….beautiful.

Back on West Van in the early evening. Tried for a fish and chips meal that we’d been hanging out for at a fancy restaurant called Troll’s – great name. But a 30 minute wait put us off so headed for the ‘Best Fish and Chips in Town’ café across the road – the cod and chips was indeed great and came in record time.

The return bus ride was on the Express. The friendly driver said that the rain would set in for a week. This is really the first inconvenient rain we’ve had on the whole trip – not that it really inconvenienced us today. First stop was ours, so home to begin packing. We’ve organised for our bags to b picked up at 10 AM and delivered to the airport at 7.30 PM – hope we see them again!

A Grouse Day

Day 48. Wednesday 5 October.

Rain forecast today and tomorrow, so today opted for Grouse Mountain (must have been named by an Aussie) as the outlook was marginally better. A good decision.


Caught up with a couple of friends on the way to the bus – a squirrel, a Steller’s Jay and a couple of American Robins. Although threatening darkly occasionally, the day ended in brilliant sunshine. And the Vancouver bus service has continued to impress, with a couple of legs connecting seamlessly. Every journey has had a friendly driver giving greetings & farewells & traveller info.


By the time we arrived at Grouse, options for extended (extending?) activities were limited. T was keen to try ziplining, but the only single vacancy (D wasn’t having a bar of it!) wasn’t until 2.30, and we thought, wrongly as it turned out, that our last bus was at 3.10. So we were left with the ride to the top (almost) of the mountain and some free extras.



The view from the top (4000 feet) was as spectacular as you’d expect, but pretty much just back over Vancouver and its waterways.




img_5119From there, a visit to visit two orphan grizzly bears, saved from being put to death over a decade ago under the policy existing at the time. They have prospered in their new home, and have in fact learned instinctively things their mum would have taught them: hibernation, diet and coming out of hibernation for example. Although these two will never be released into the wild because they have become too familiar with humans, the results of the experience and the opportunity to study them has changed the policy about killing orphans and they are now carefully reared before being released into the wild. Great story. And that was a close as we got to a Grizzly – and that was quite close enough!






The Cuddly Bear is probably a lot safer.







Caught some films, and the one on BASE jumping with wingsuits caught T’s attention – she now fantasises that ziplining is a bit too tame for her. D hasn’t changed his view in the slightest.


Then to the last attraction – the lumberjacks. This was classic vaudeville, with double entendres and dad jokes galore. Notwithstanding, the lumberjack skills of the two players were pretty impressive. The only downside was that both T & D sat on a bench with long cracks, holding water, which meant both came away looking like their nappies had leaked.

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Stayed on the return bus to get to Lonsdale Quay, with a nice, short walk along the waterfront before getting some absolutely divine duck and quanciale salami, with hints of cinnamon (and some brie to accompany the leftover pecorino). Pre-dinner drinks reached new heights. Tonight’s dinner is a humbler fare: pork loin (not $40 per kilo).


Day 47. Tuesday 4 October.

Rain overnight, although not heavy, but enough to defer a trip on one of the gondolas to see the sights from on high: much to D’s relief. Gastown, the original hub of Vancouver, beckoned. After its golden years it had deteriorated into a ‘skid row’ but shop owners, residents, the authorities and other concerned citizens worked to resurrect its past glory. That has certainly worked, and it is now a very stylish/hip part of town, although there were plenty of beggars and homeless on the streets further along to the east.



A few minor, personal successes. T found some fabric she’d been chasing across North America and D had a haircut. Looks good, doesn’t he? The barber took liberties: persuading D that he’d look younger if his locks moved in the opposite direction (after 60+years, really?) When he emerged, T couldn’t work out what made him look different, (sophisticated, she said), so D revealed and the barber wanted feedback. Let’s see how old habits go….





These establishments were everywhere. were warned at one stage not to go further east than Carrell Street – that was the dividing line to the dangerous part of town. Needless to say, we inadvertently did, but were not threatened in any way, nor felt any danger. But we did see encampments literally – in several places, where tents and makeshift accommodations had been set up.









And, in the distance, a hotel sign caught the sophisticated D’s eye.











And we did see Gastown’s famous Steam Clock – and waited for the quarter hour chime, that sounded just like the trains that had seemed to follow us around our motorhome tour!

Tree Hugging

Day 46. Monday 3 October.

The obvious question: why put yourself through this? Over the next four days we have three trips planned that involve heights – suspension bridges, cliff walkways, tree top walks gondolas, skyways – and that doesn’t include the flight home! The first of these was completed today – the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park that incorporates three of these tortures: suspension bridge, tree boardwalk and cliff walk. T ventured into many viewing positions that D refused to: one couple offered to take a photo of the two of us on an overhang, but D politely refused. They were amused.


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But, putting aside the hordes of other selfie -snapping tourists, it was a lovely experience. Again, the public transport system made it easy to get to and from – we even adjusted our plans while there, courtesy of the free wifi.




We now have 3 major firs sorted: the Western Red Cedar, the hemlock and the daddy of them all, the Douglas fir, which goes hundreds of feet skyward, without a branch, then has a topknot canopy. Lots of water needed.







Fish for tea – fresh Icelandic Cod at $25 per pound. Our maths was woefully inadequate – we assumed that this equated to $ 11.34 per kilo (that is, 1 pound = 2.2 kg), but in fact it was $ 55 per kilo (that is, in fact, that 1 pound = 0.45 kg). Ouch! And it was the cheapest fish in the Ambleside Fish Market!!!!!!!!! We bypassed the wild salmon and the yellowfin from Hawaii. We must enjoy this.





And remember:

A Slow Day

Day 45. Sunday 2 October.

The past 6 weeks have caught up with us – a 1030 AM rise. Today was going to be a rest day, and what better way to rest than to visit Walmart? We’ve pretty much sorted out Vancouver’s public transport system, so were able to do transfers etc. easily to get there. The system, by the way, is terrific, and has regular services even on weekends.

Coffee at Starbucks in the absence of anything else on offer – and it was (surprisingly) very good. Will have to reassess our prejudices! On the return trip T walked ahead as D ducked into the local centre looking for a barber. As she toiled up the hill, pulling a wheeled bag, a car with two women in it stopped to ask if she was alright and whether she needed help. This is amazing!

By the time we got back to our temporary home, it was time to walk to the beach in the late afternoon cool air, although the sun was still shining. Passed the sporting fields and a women’s soccer game: these fields have had almost constant occupation since we arrived.

Fishermen in waders were casting nets into the sea from the beach. A bit further on, the pier has been renovated since its original construction in 1912 as a ferry terminal and now is just used for recreation and fishing.

img_5831  There were quite a few fishermen (and women) trying their hand: and all appeared ethnically Chinese. Crab was the preferred catch. Signage described the regulations re size and hours for catching; no nighttime crabbing! And again cooperative: one fishermen went out of his way to provide advice to a fisherwoman on baiting her hook, and the right hook to use.


He later introduced himself to her, so could well have been fishing for a different sort of catch. Not much caught that could be kept legally – one chap was cleaning some fish as we departed and D looked, looked again at what appeared to be trout, and asked what kind of fish they were. Trout. The fisherman had been to a local lake, caught the (undersize) trout and then come to the pier to fish some more. He was sensibly cleaning the fish there rather than doing it at home.

A walk home via esplanade shopping (restaurants mostly) and real estate windows revealed the $ necessary for West Van….1 bedroom/bathroom apartment….$500k! 4 bedrooms/3 bathrooms…..2.5 million+. This confirms some overheard conversations about real estate while travelling the buses. We won’t be buying and staying on, much as we have come to like this city and its people.

To Market, to Market..

Day 44. Saturday 1 October.

unknownThe day started with the finish of the 2016 AFL Grand Final. D bought a pass on the internet, checked with the hosts on the use of their plan (all go) and was set to settle in – but ERROR messages kept appearing! Changes to settings and move to Chrome solved the problem and he was able to watch one of the best games of finals footy he’s ever seen. D would have been happy for either very good side to win, but was barracking for the sentimental favourite, who got up.

So T had a disturbed night because of a hyped up (non) sleeping partner, and he had a disturbed night because he was late to bed and was then high on adrenalin, having virtually kicked quite a few goals, and missed some, during the game.

Notwithstanding, T had a plan for the day – off to the Granville Island Markets. Another easy bus trip into town, a change of buses and to the island. A couple noticed us consulting our map and asked for advice on how to get to the markets – the blind leading the blind. A local lady sitting with us said she was going there, so she had an instant pack to follow her – the pied piper of Vancouver. She got us to a coffee shop, with guidance on the way, and left us to our own devices.

img_5038   img_5083T & D split for an hour to do their own thing, after a coffee of course, wandering separately around a market which was a cross between Paddy’s (but smaller) and an artisan/craft market. Some lovely craft and some fresh produce (veges, cheeses, meats, fish, oils etc) and an exhibition at Emily Carr of alumni folk. Footsore, we headed back on the buses mid afternoon. Rain held off, with just the occasional sprinkle to push up brollies and freshen the air. Note the dull photos!

We have commented on the politeness and what seems to be the innate good manners of the locals, here and elsewhere in our north American travels. Alas, this does not always apply to some of the (obvious) tourists, who display a lack of personal space and are quite often simply ill mannered in their need to occupy the prime spot for longer than is reasonable to do so – usually to take endless selfies. In a few instances while we were touring we noticed that some ignored signs to stay on pathways protecting fragile areas, or climbed onto walls or rocks to put themselves in situations that were quite simply stupidly dangerous.



Finished the afternoon with Facetime chats back home and an uplifting movie on Netflix. Settled in for an early evening in our very comfortable and well appointed apartment (that’s us in the ground level part, with the hosts above us in the two upper levels). It is avery steep climb up a hill from the bus stop!

Vancouver Redux Day One

Day 43. Friday 30 September.

What a difference a good night’s sleep in a proper bed makes. Two totally pooped people awoke ready to discover Vancouver. We had been a little disappointed with our one day/two night introduction 6 weeks ago so were determined to discover if there was a nicer side to the city.

The day looked fantastic, ahead of forecast rain over the weekend. T suggested hiring bikes to pedal around Stanley Park, which we knew to be lovely from earlier. Travelling into town was another good bus experience: a young lady stood to offer her seat to D; another young lady did the same for an older woman; and not so young man stood for another older woman. Haven’t seen such a thing in Australia for at least 30 years!

Into the city for a coffee at Beenz, where we had enjoyed good coffee last time. It was just as good.

Two bikes hired, we were off – after walking to the park rather than chancing the traffic. T hasn’t been on a bike for a good 20 years, but as they say, once you’ve got it licked…. And with her gammy feet???? ….no real problems. 3 hours on and T suggests that since any time over 3 becomes free, and the day is so perfect, why not have some lunch and then do some more? Good plan at the time.



At the end of 5+ hours, will the bums & legs ever recover? What a pair of geese! What a marvelous day. What a beautiful city. And the set-up for cyclists and walkers is wonderful.




One of our many stops in the first three hours was at this collection of totems. They are a powerful message: not icons, or worshipped, but a record of family and myths. The images all have meanings (for example, and simplistically, the eagle represents the sky, the fish (whale, salmon) represents the sea r water and the animal (bear, wolf, beaver) represents the land, while the frog represents the connection between land and water. The colours are also representative: the aquamarine of the clear water and the red/umber of the earth or the cedar (from which they are carved).




The harbor has apparently been cleaned up, and it looks it. But we were not tempted to join this lass, as attractive as it appeared from the shore.





The inscription for this sculpture is “May this sculpture inspire laughter, playfulness and joy in all who experience it.” It did just that for us.







Someone had bothered to give this old lady some flowers. That gesture sums up our impression of the city.





D will top it off with the AFL grand final tonight, streamed on his laptop. T will probably be sleeping.

Two Days

Day 41. Wednesday 28 September.

The bus to the light rail station at SeaTac Airport was right conveniently opposite KOA. An American couple from Florida, also staying at the park, joined us and gave advice on what to do. They were also the first Americans – he in particular – who were vehemently opposed to Trump, although not altogether sold on Hilary either. We got the full story: Trump’s critical financial situation, his $300-600 million debt to the Russians, his crazy pronounciations on using nuclear weapons, the parlous state of the Republican party now it is run by the tea party lunatics, the VP candidate’s Christian fanaticism…..

The light rail ride, punctuated by more asides as well as good advice, provided an elevated glimpse of Seattle suburbs as we travelled the 30 odd miles into town. Next was the monorail to the needle and Chihuly exhibition. We parted ways with our new friends – like pretty much all Americans we’ve encountered, they were happy to talk openly and help out.

Coffee called. The young lady at the restaurant that is part of the Chihuly Gardens informed us, as soon as we said we just wanted coffee, that they didn’t do espresso. How did she know? She directed us to a café in a mall nearby where we got very acceptable coffees and a bagel at another shop.


D ate most, but not all of it with his eyes closed: the image was too powerful ( grotesque, said T) – as indeed was the taste of the peppers and walnut paste.



image-28-09-2016-at-18-52First tourist stop was up the Seattle Needle. Fantastic feat of engineering, built on time and with no fatalities or serious injuries despite the clear lack of current day WHS practices (such as, initially, no safety harness , vests etc for workmen at high levels!) This was1961/62 and the first men were being put into space, so risk was probably a relative thing. Mandatory photo taken – but free!

Then to Chihuly. Words can’t capture the beauty of the exuberant/ostentatious glass he has made and supervised over the decades. He’s a Seattle legend who seems to have a lot of fun with his whimsical creations. The colour, the shapes, the SCALE! T felt that a garden renovation is definitely long overdue at home.

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And a trip to Seattle would not be complete without a visit to the famous Pike Street Markets – and the fish markets in particular. So monorail back to the Westlake Centre and a stroll down the hill. We did indeed witness the fish throwing with singing/hamming it up fishmongers.


On the bus and light rail back to KOA in time for some spring cleaning ahead of the hand back tomorrow, and then some shared drinks and food with our travelling companions. Pizza ordered in – not without considerable difficulty and much telephoning by our own problem solver Michael (including a significant tip-incentive)

Alarm set for an early start to get the motorhome back and then to airport for an 1140 AM flight to Vancouver.

Day 42. Thursday 29 September.

The day started badly at some time dark o’clock. D awoke with some reflux so took one Zantac pill, an over the counter antacid and it went downhill from there as there was some sort of bizarre reaction. The pill helped the reflux but about half an hour after falling back asleep a grinding pain developed just under the ribs along with a dripping cold sweat. D thought of a heart attack ( although was pretty sure it wasn’t). T thought so too and considered alternatives for getting help. Then came the itchy scalp, followed by itching hands, then feet. More was to follow. Itchy hives broke out on the trunk. The only reassuring thing was that the pain, although still intense, had localized in the higher abdomen, so 911 call not necessary. Phew!

A final wipe over, disconnect power and water, empty sullage and we were away under the guidance of our GPS. First problem was a detour due to road works, which took us out of the way and seemed to offend the GPS. Next problem was an unclear instruction that had us taking the wrong option and heading down a freeway for 5 km in the wrong direction. This really did upset the GPS that now just wanted us to keep doing U turns. Reset the GPS but no change. Back to basics – look up the address (we had being relying on blind faith in technology) and enter that. No change. Enough to bring on a panic sweat, as the trip should have taken 11 minutes and we were now up to an hour in rush-hour traffic, with an international flight to get. Decided to return to KOA and start from there again, but en route D noticed 24th Street on the right and as we were heading for 30th Street it was a fair bet we might be close. Needless to say, the next street was 22nd, so a U turn was required. Back we went, to find after crossing a major intersection that 28th Street had been the last one on the right and we were now heading down a dead end. Another U turn in a truck parking lot, with a bit of excitement as a 18 wheeler loomed into view as we were completing the turn on the wrong side of the road. But there, on the new right, was 30th Street, with Anne the owner waving frantically to attract our attention. She had been expecting us earlier, and was going to drive us to the airport after the handover, so she was getting anxious. Not to mention the anxiety levels of D&T!!!!!!

The handover was brief and we were driven to the airport. There, the self check-in counter was malfunctioning and the book -in computer was apparently working very slowly. All in all, not much fun for anyone, but the Air Canada staff stayed cool and kept the line moving, albeit slowly. A bit of luck: the Vancouver -bound folk were separated from the queue and processed quickly.

A very short flight got us back in Canada around 1 PM, so we decided to take the public transport option (had been Googled earlier in the day). The light rail was efficient: a lady noticed us checking out the route map and offered advice. Emerged from the train station in the middle of town, short walk to the bus stop, and onto the bus to take us to our next abode. The bus driver was terrific: helpful, polite, caring – and to other passengers as well as us. Once again on the bus a lady opened a conversation, keen to know of our experience with the airport rail because she was planning to use it shortly. We have been so impressed with the unrushed politeness/assistance from total strangers throughout this trip. Nothing is too much trouble.

A walk up a very steep hill dragging our luggage got us into the lovely apartment in West Vancouver, where we can now revel in the pleasures of space, a proper bed, and, if we are brave enough, take a look at what’s happening in the world according to TV.