Category Archives: Canada

Getting Sick in Vancouver

Whistler hikes, Canada. Gemma taking photo of mountain sitting on tree. Lake water._

During our epic sabbatical to travel the Americas and Europe it was inevitable one of us was going to sick. After eight months of travel, it was me, Gemma, who needed to make an appointment at the doctors.

Blogging is Making Me Ill Travel

Blogging in Peru – grabbing Wi-Fi when I can!

Symptoms

Pretty soon after I started feeling dizzy I developed a cold, so I put the light-headiness down to the sniffles. A week, and lots of tangerines later, the flu had flitted but I was left feeling off-balance whenever I looked up or lay down.

Jokes about pregnancy then followed as the dizziness began soon after our engagement. Thankfully there will be no tag along on this trip. Two Scots Abroad and a Bairn doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Another fortnight passed and my medic friends suggested/instructed that I got checked out. Naturally, I assumed the worst.

Going to the Doctors Abroad

In Canada, visiting patients can expect to pay $100 CAD when attending a ‘walk-in’ clinic. I had to take my passport along for identification. As I sat nervously in the waiting room, freeloading the wifi, my friend, Karen, advised me that London Drugs (similar to Boots or Superdrug) offered free blood pressure checks.

This was one of the possible causes of dizziness. Not wanting to waste £50, I asked the receptionist for a refund and headed into town.

Alas, the blood pressure machine returned a healthy result so it was back to the doctors to sheepishly hand back the $100! The receptionist was very understanding of my cheapness which was reassuring.

The Appointment

After twenty minutes of waiting (walk-ins work on a first-come, first-served basis but if the queue is long they’ll give you a time slot), I was asked to sit in another room. In this room, I was faced with an advertisement that told me at the age of 30 my skin is sagging and I should consider surgery. You don’t get that on the NHS!

I’m glad I attended the appointment. Dr Ho was very thorough in her checks. She took my blood pressure and heart rate lying down and then again while sitting up.

She tested my eyes, grip, response time, ears, and felt my head and neck. The diagnosis wasn’t an inner ear infection like my mum had predicted. Dr Ho advised me that it wasn’t brain-related which is what I wanted to hear. Relieved, but I wasn’t expecting the diagnosis to be…

Vertigo

My diagnosis was vertigo from cervical spine strain caused by poor posture which is making me dizzy.

The way I’ve been sitting over the laptop for eight hours every day has finally made me ill.

I’ve cycled the Death Road in Bolivia, dived in the waters of Cuba, hiked to 4650 feet above sea level in Peru yet who would have thought that it is BLOGGING that would finally make me ill?!

Dr Ho prescribed yoga and a referral for physiotherapy.

Blogging is Making Me Ill Posture

Dr Google

Naturally, I got home and did my own research online.

Turns out ‘bloggers position’ is a thing, as is ‘texter’s position’ so even though you are not a blogger, you still need to consider that you are straining your neck every time you stare down at your smartphone!

Blogging is Making Me Ill Poor Posture Travel Blogging

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Stretch It Out

The lovely couple that we are subletting from have a couple of yoga mats so

I am now starting the day with some yoga stretches (I go to the gym most days, Dr Ho was actually surprised that I had little pain in my neck and that I managed the gym with no struggle).

I found Chopra’s advice helpful and have been doing the following:

  • Cat Pose
  • Seated Twist Pose
  • Ear to Shoulder
  • Child’s Pose

Physiotherapy & The Ear Crystal Mystery

Less than a week later (no waiting lines when you pay directly for health care!) I visited Treloar Physiotherapy (8th Avenue) where, after a couple of forms and physical tests, Penny came to a surprising conclusion.

I had ear crystals.

Ear crystals are not caused by blogging! Slightly confused by my initial examination with Dr Ho, Penny explained that ear crystals or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BBPV) sometimes has no cause.

However, the stiff neck and shoulders are likely to be linked to poor posture caused by being a slave to the keys.

We did some freaky body movements officially called the Epley Manoeuvre which uses gravity to get the ear crystals moving again.

In simple terms, the ear crystals (or rocks) were supposed to be moving and disintegrating but they were stuck.

Doctor Ho wasn’t to know, the crystals live in the vestibular system which is even further embedded into your skull than your inner ear.

Penny suggested a follow-up appointment to check on the dizziness (which should lessen this week) and work on my neck and shoulders.

Blogging is Making Me Physiotherapy

Travel Insurance

I shopped around for travel insurance before we left.

I am not the type of person who would risk winging it, in fact, I’m the polar opposite of that person.

We finally decided on True Traveller because it recommended from a friend who had claimed for money back whilst in Australia.

The customer service team answered all of my many questions, and True Traveller could provide coverage for high altitudes which was required for our trek to Machu Picchu.

Unfortunately, claims have a minimum requirement of £75 but the walk-in cost was only £50.

The company put me in contact with CSAL who process claims and they have reassured me that they will consider combining the walk-in fee with the referred physiotherapy ($100 too).

Naturally, I’ve kept the receipts and the referral as evidence. Check out their rates here to see if they are the travel insurer for you too.

The End of my Short-Lived Blogging Career?

I’m not going to stop blogging, I need the focus and I enjoy the daily challenge that it brings.

Plus, I don’t want you guys to miss out on our 2016 itinerary – Portland, Seattle, Orlando, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Austin, NYC, then whatever Europe brings in April!

The blog is now 14 months old, eventually all of those hours cooped up over the MacBook was going to take its toll and the price I’ve paid is a pain in the neck!

Heads up (literally!) Smartphone and computer users are aware of your posture.

Minimise your time typing/texting from the sofa or in bed (as comfy as it is, a nice perk of blogging!) Opt for an office style set up. Use a desk/table and have a well-positioned seat where your body can relax.

Take breaks, before you break something! If you do find yourself ill on the road, do get it checked out (Dr Google is not prescribed) and most importantly – get travel insurance!

If you do find yourself physically or mentally down on the road, check out these motivational quotes to perk you back up again – it’s a lovely world out there!

Have you been sick on the road?

A Vancouver Engagement

A Vancouver Engagement

A month ago I had a dream that Craig proposed to me in space. For those that have been following our travels, you’ll know by Craig’s bright tattoo sleeve that he is eh, a little bit more than obsessed with space! So much so that he has four planets, stars, nebulas and a quasar, inked on his body (that tattoo was a great hit with the men in Hanoi, Vietnam!) It was our three year anniversary on September 8th so proposals must have been subliminally at the back of my mind, creeping into my dreams.

You’ll also know that I love Hallowe’en. We are both big fans of fancy dress and to many (most) of our friends’ annoyance, if we throw a party, dress up is mandatory! In the past three years we’ve transformed into a unicorn, a pop art cartoon character, The Joker, Mia Wallace and Vince Vega (Pulp Fiction), Rosie The Riveter, Tate Langdon (American Horror Story), The Relektor Man (Arcade Fire), Frida Kahlo and my personal favourite, Macho Man Randy Savage, and the First Lady of Wrestling, Miss Elizabeth (for Craig’s 30th).

A Vancouver Engagement - Halloween Costumes

The Proposal

On Saturday 31st of October 2015, seven months into our 17 month long – term travel trip, Craig had organised for us to see a show at the H.R MacMillan Space Centre. We laid back and listened to Jonathan explain about the solar system, it really was a cool show. Once the auditorium emptied, Craig got down on one knee and said,

you know how you had that dream – 

will you marry me?’

I remember covering my face and asking if this was real, then laughing nervously (this lasted for about an hour!) I said yes, and he tried to put the ring on the wrong hand but got there. The ring fitted! That’s actually no surprise because it had been attached to my backpack for months.

HR MacMillan Space Centre A Vancouver Engagement

Photo credit – H.R MacMillan Space Centre

The Ring

Months back in Cuba, Craig fashioned a ring out of a paper straw cover and advised me, jokingly, that if I managed not to lose the ring, I might get an upgrade. I was true to my word and looked after the slowly disintegrating paper ring. Craig had obviously decided I had passed the test, and upgraded me to… a straw cover of the plastic variety! Now I don’t know if you know much about Vancouver but it rains a lot, so this ring is not only cheap but also very practical. The funny (for us) part of the story is, Craig couldn’t actually find the ring that morning. He eventually tracked it down, attached to my backpack. Nothing like Craig to leave things to the last minute and come out smelling like roses! That boy has the midas touch!

A Vancouver Engagement

After the Vancouver engagement, we left the space centre to cheers from the staff (thank you!) and wandered up to 4th Street. Craig says I kept making strange noises, I blame the nervous laughter! We grabbed a celebratory drink (Jerkface for Craig, Sangria for me) and lunch (couldn’t eat it, I felt sick with excitement / nerves) and called my best friend, Helen, to update her on the news. She said she was ‘over the moon’ and didn’t even mean the pun. We had a quick squint on 4th for jewellery shops to check out some rings but nothing was pulling us in so we swung by the off license to get stocked up for the Hallowe’en celebrations, then called the family.

Calling Home

We spoke to my parents and Craig’s Mum. I then managed to get my brother, Scott, on the line and his initial response ‘oh, can I hug Craig, put him on!’ This was pretty much the response from all of the men in my family; they adore Craig, and seem pretty happy to pass me off on to him! Craig struggled to get through to his brother, Kyle (coming over in two weeks, woo!), he woke up to fifteen missed calls and texts so naturally thought something was wrong. I didn’t manage to get my grandparents until the Sunday, and my aunty Tricia was impossible to reach but we got there in the end and then we could make it official – posted a status update on Facebook!

Hallowe’en Celebrations

Plans had been set to party with our Scottish friends, Karen and Craig. We decided not to tell them until they arrived. I had this grand plan of playing it cool but then blurted it out as soon as they were in the door. Lee and Francesca (from West Trek) swung by with wine and impressive homemade cards. We drank and listened to music then headed to Commercial Drive for a very strange night in the Legion.


Exciting Questions

Will you get a ring?
I actually have a beautiful engagement ring at home, which was left to me by my lovely Great Aunt Edith in her will. We are not going to get Kyle to bring it out to us, it holds too much sentimental value and we’d be distraught if we lost it or it was stolen over the last nine months of our travels. The plan is to get a temporary keepsake ring; I like the idea of getting one from a local designer. Then it’ll be a cute reminder of our Vancouver engagement.

Have you set a date?
No plans yet. <—- update: we eloped in Austin on month 12th after the music festival South By Southwest

Big or Small Wedding?
Small, far too cheap to spend £25K on a day, that’s more than we saved for this career break!

Will you get married in a church?
Never

Beach Wedding?
We despise sand and mosquitos!

Will you take Craig’s surname?
Yes, I’ll be Gemma Armit (which will be weird for the students back at school!) I do love my name, Orrock, but Scott can carry that on *laughing tears emoticon* So, I too, can endure years of being referred to as Armpit or Gemmarmit, which my friend Ruairidh has emailed to ask if that’s acceptable!

Could you tell?
Craig was acting pretty strange all morning – hyper and a bit jittery. He blamed the very large coffee and then the very large coffee crash

What next?
We’re in Vancouver until January. We move to another apartment in Mount Pleasant at the end of this month, it’ll be cool to see another neighbourhood over the Christmas and New Year period. We cross the border over to Seattle and Portland in January and then fly to Orlando to meet Mickey, and our friend Pete in Miami. We’ll spend February in Nicaragua, then back up to Austin for our second visit to the music festival SXSW! After a quick stopover in New York (looking forward to seeing my friend, Lee, who I did the West Highland Way trek with), we fly to Oslo but not to stop, just to get closer to Germany where we’ll meet my folks! Our European plan is to make our way down to Croatia and Slovenia before meeting Craig’s family in Spain for a week long triple celebration – his aunty Ange’s 50th, his brother, Kyle’s 30th and now the Two Scots engagement!

Two Scots Abroad Collage 2015

Thank you for following our travels –
Gemma & Craig,
Two Scots, engaged!

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Oh, PS – we got hitched in Austin!

Sunshine Coast, BC: Things to Do and See

Smugglers Cove | Sunshine Coast BC

Lakes, skiing, hikes, and bike rides! It really is a wonder how the Sunshine Coast, BC is unknown to many Canadians! We (Gemma and Craig) had the privilege of living here – exploring the waters, watching the sunsets, eating the local food and mingling with the friendly locals. Here’s our guide on things to do, see and eat on Canada’s Sunshine Coast,  not to be confused with Australia. 


Where is the Sunshine Coast, BC?

The Sunshine Coast, BC (British Columbia) is situated on the West Coast of Canada.

It is a mere forty-minute ferry ride from the city of Vancouver, the ferry ride alone is worth the trip.

All of the Sunshine Coast’s natural wonders are found off the Sunshine Coast Highway 101.


How to get to the Sunshine Coast

Take a bus from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. For times see the TransLink planner.

The ferry journey is beautiful, be sure to sit on the top deck if you get the weather.

The ride takes forty minutes and accepts foot passengers and cars. See BC Ferries schedule for times.

Now that you are on the Sunshine Coast you will want to explore what it has to offer. Foot passengers can take a bus to many of the small towns on the coast for $2.25 per person although a road trip would be ideal.


Gibsons

Gibsons BC is a big town in comparison to others.

It has a gorgeous waterfront and many dining and drinking opportunities.

The town is famous for hosting the set of the ’70s TV programme, Beachcombers.

There is also a nice hike up Soames Hill which offers beautiful views. Next to Soames is a brewery called Persephone so you congratulate yourself on tackling those stairs!

This Sunshine Coast BC town is home to many music and art events throughout the year.

Gibsons | Sunshine Coast BC

Roberts Creek

Home for the summer for us Two Scots. Roberts Creek, like many towns on the coast, has an accessible stony beach.

The town also has an impressive mandala art piece which is painted by the community every July.

Cliff Gilker Park in the Creek has four different treks catering for every ability.

Roberts Creek has one large restaurant (Gumboot), one cafe (Gumboot), a fish and chip shop (Sharkey’s), a Soul Kitchen in Creek (Korean food) and a general store.

It takes 30 minutes to cycle to Gibsons or fifteen minutes to drive by bus and car.

Roberts Creek | Sunshine Coast BC

Davis Bay

Blink and you’ll miss Davis Bay BC. This small town has a vast sea to get lost in.

The pier is well used by fishermen and local kids. If the sea air is making you hungry be sure to grab some food from the waterfront shops. Watch out for whales making a splash.

Davis Bay | Sunshine Coast BC

Sechelt

The big town of the Sunshine Coast!

Sechelt BC has a variety of bars, cafes, restaurants and spas.

It even has a cinema called the Raven’s Cry Theatre, The Golden Arches and other well-known haunts but don’t waste your money on the American Embassies, go local!

There are lots of lovely houses on the beachfront and a pier. 

Watersports such as kayaking and paddleboarding are accessible at Sechelt Inlet.

Don’t miss Porpoise Bay to see the seaplanes take off.

Sechelt Inlet | Sunshine Coast BC

Halfmoon Bay

Another stony beach, with a tree swing, just north of Sechelt.

The area offers lots of hiking opportunities and there is a local shop to purchase picnic essentials. Close by Sargeant Bay which has a sandy beach.

Halfmoon Bay | Sunshine Coast BC

Garden Bay

This is where you will find my favourite lake, the sandy Katherine Lake.

Family-friendly with some rocks to jump off! Plenty of food opportunity around Garden Bay.

Katherine Lake | Sunshine Coast BC

Secret Cove and Smugglers Cove

Secret Cove is home to Buccaneer Marina for those with boats and Smugglers Cove is a delight for those with feet! This spot always comes highly recommended by locals for the easy hike with stunning views.

Smugglers Cove | Sunshine Coast BC

Madeira Park/Pender Harbour

Pender Harbour has lots of little islands, bays and nature. Best discovered by boat.

Slocat Harbour Tours Pender Harbour

Ruby Lake

The name, Ruby Lake, comes from the lake’s ability to turn pink with the reflection of the sunset. Beautiful!

Smaller than Katherine Lake and also family-friendly.

Ruby Lake | Sunshine Coast BC

Skookumchuck Narrows

Excuse me? I know, a hard word to get your mouth around, the area is also known as Sechelt Rapids.

After an easy fifty minute walk through a shaded forest, you reach the rapids. Check out the tide times here before you set off to see the rapids at their best (two/three times per day.)

Skookumchuck Narrows | Sunshine Coast BC


Enjoy our terribly amateur video 


Fancy a trip to the Sunshine Coast B.C?
Why not hover over image and pin to your Canada board?

Sunshine Coast B.C, Canada

Where would you like to visit on the Sunshine Coast?


» Read next: the Sunshine Coast, BC’s bucket list


 

West Trek & The Rockies Tour

Peyto Rockies Lakes Canada

I’m broken! My throat is hoarse and my stomach muscles ache from laughing so much because we’ve just had

one of the best extended weekends of our lives.

Ooft! A bold statement, Gemma! True but I say with confidence that if you sign up for a tour with West Trek Tours in Vancouver you’ll be saying the same thing. Craig and I have trekked, ceilidh danced, sang, eaten and partied with 52 other travellers from approximately twelve different countries through West Trek’s Summer Explorer Rockies Tour.

The next four articles are going to make you green with envy as we tell you about our time with the West Trek Wolf Pack in Valemount, Jasper, Banff, and of course, The Rockies’ famous lakes.

Bus Bonding

It quickly became apparent that this tour was more than just a bus full of international tourists hoping to spot a bear and take some snaps of Lake Louise. Within the first couple of hours our guide, Lee aka Papa Wolf, had us singing along to Bon Jovi, playing bus Olympics and Pass the Hug!


As we made our way through British Columbia, in the safe hands of our driver, Sexy Vincent, Papa Wolf shared funny stories and facts about the towns we were passing. Did you know that Abbotsford is the world’s highest producer of raspberries, is the town with the most churches (four) in Canada, has the greatest rates of teenage pregnancy and, wait for it, is the drive-by shooting capital of Canadaland (although it has now shed its title of murder capital of Canada)?! Lee’s eleven years of tour guiding has allowed him to build up an outstanding bank of anecdotes and stories. All of which are delivered with accents, energy and leave you sitting on the edge of your seat wanting to know how the story ends. There is also a word you are forbidden from saying and if you do, you have to commit to ten-star jumps…

Wolfing Around

Lee wasn’t alone. We had the privilege of meeting the new kid on the West Trek block, Francesca aka Mamacita Wolf! Ok, enough of the wolf chat, what’s that about? On a West Trek tour, there is no chance of being a passive group member, you are part of a wolf pack that howls together, get fat together and swims in lakes five degrees together.

Day one, Vancouver to Valemont, had two main focal points – to get to know each other and to get closer to Alberta. We made a couple of stops, one for coffee in Hope (see feature photo, this is where the first Rambo was filmed!) one for lunch and another to buy booze for the campfire that evening if you were that way inclined. No pressure if you don’t partake in the consumption of alcohol, there were plenty of baby wolves who had the same amount of fun as we did, without a hangover the following morning. Watch out for the Japanese Justin Bieber on day three.

The tour is set up to be extremely inclusive. As well as the wolf pack philosophy, Papa Wolf creates celebratory responses, the noises you make when you see something cool but with 53 of us doing it in unison! Most notably the ‘Japanese Girl’ -ahAHHHahhh (raising your voice in the middle then returning to normal pitch at the end,) ‘Korean Girl’ – ohhhhHHHohhh, and for us Two Scots ‘OH YA BEASTIE!’ This breaks the ice to help travellers move out of their comfort zone.


» Don’t miss our guide | Banff versus Jasper!


Fall-ing for the Rockies

We made one scenic (and sill photo) stop at Spahats Creek Falls where we started filming for our West Trek movie, which we watched together at the post-trip party.

Take heed (make a note) – book your onward travel a couple of days later so you don’t miss out. You will have Wolf Withdrawals and will need to fill the void by attending the party!
Althabasca Falls Jasper Alberta Rockies Photo of the Fortnight 13

Our final destination for day one, Valemont, is where we checked into our hotels, dined on a pasta buffet and had a few drinks around the campfire. We chatted with a group of Mexicans (seriously beautiful people) and felt smug that we could understand some of the Spanish! Obviously, on the whole, they spoke English and we were the inept ones. We also tracked down the only Colombian on the trip, Sebastian, and told him repeatedly how much we adored his country. And in true Colombian character, he shared that admiration for his country too!

Not sure if sharing a bus is for you? Check out this guide to small group travel.

 

We are refreshed and ready to take on ‘one of the most scenic roads to drive’ according to the National Geographic, the wolfpack is bus bound and on the move by 8am.

Sleepy Mount Robson

Our first stop of day two of West Trek’s Summer Explorer Rockies Tour is Mount Robson. My first reaction is to ohhhOHHohhh (Korean Girl) at the burnt orange and red colours mixed in with purple from blueberries.

The 3000 metres Mount Robson is being shy, hiding behind the clouds. We are used to the Dita Von Teases of the earth (like our summer expedition with the Sunshine Coast whale.) The tallest mountain in the Rockies was just not up for showing off that tip. The wolfpack unites as a team again and starts the day with a group hug before moving on to our next stop – Jasper.

Mount Robson West Trek Tours Rockies Lakes

Rockies’ Lakes, Just Jasper, Gorgeous Guests

Jasper is smaller than I expected. There are a handful of restaurants and cafes but because West Trek knows its client base doesn’t have the pockets of the mature holidaymakers in the area, we are advised to buy lunch at the supermarket, which suits us. We grab a coffee at a very busy and touristy cafe too, Jasper has a population of 3 thousand and a tourist footfall of 3 million! The small town didn’t blow me away; it’s like a poor man’s Pitlochry in Scotland (jokes, it’s expensive to stay anywhere in the Rockies) but Jasper is obviously the gateway to some of nature’s greatest offerings such as…

Athabasca Falls

Peyto Rockies Lakes Canada

Day two really was the day to be in awe of that typical turquoise water we all came to Canada to see. This beauty is just jaw dropping. So what makes the Rockies’ lakes so blue? In layman’s terms, rock flour runs down the glacier after ice has thawed on the mountains. The silt particles that lie underneath the water give off that stunning turquoise colour but they need reflection from light to do so. The lakes don’t look like this all year round, the best months to see the turquoise colours are in summer but don’t rule out other seasons in the Rockies!

Polar Bear Swim – Bow Lake

It wouldn’t be a trip to the lakes without a swim. Our past experiences of lake life in B.C have been pleasant; this experience was a thrill but let’s just say, not toasty! The daredevils of the pack, stripped down to their swim stuff, held hands, ran and took a dive. Cue scrambling to get out of the five degrees glacier water! Refreshing.

Thanks to our companions who had our towels ready for us – team!

Bow Rockies Lake Polar Bear Swim West Trek Tours

Columbia Icefields

Deemed the ‘pyramids of Canada’ by Brewster Attractions, the Columbia Icefields weren’t even on my radar but Craig ticked off a bucket list item today. This additional activity ($58 / £29) allowed us to board an Ice Explorer and there are only 23 in the world!

Ice Explorer Columbia Glacier Rockies Lakes

This monster truck took us on to the Athabasca Glacier and dropped us off on the ice.

Columbia Icefields Athabasca Falls Rockies Lakes

Although this glacier is as thick as the Eiffel Tower is tall, it may not exist in the next hundred years! Athabasca loses ten metres of ice every year so get there quick to taste nature’s skin age defying ice-cold glacier water. And it was our biggest hit on Instagram! We even saw a group (and a dog) hiking on it and our Colombian friend, Sebastian, saw snow for the first time!

Columbia Icefields Rockies Lakes

Banging Banff

Now that we were looking ten years younger, it was time to party in the Rockies most happening party town, Banff! We checked into our plush hotel, put on our party gear and had a pre-party meal to line the stomach. I brought along fluorescent face paints so we donned a few tribal stripes and hit the dance floor of Club Hoodoo.

We were the envy of the club with those bright stripes – sorry, for wolves only! Then it was a slice of pizza and drunken stumble back to the hotel, not before a game of Pass the Hug (from day one) on the street!

Hoodoo Lounge Banff Rockies Lakes West Trek Tours

Day three of West Trek Tours, The Rockies Summer Explorer could be my favourite of the four, although it’s hard to choose, all of them were fun!

Never Too Lake

Regardless of the rain we stopped of at Moraine Lake, Papa Wolf aka Lee the tour guide, orchestrated an umbrella dance. To be honest, we didn’t notice the rain; it wasn’t until we looked back at photos we realised that we had been in a downpour.

West Trek Tours Moraine Lake, Alberta Canada

Lake Louise didn’t get the “aaaAHHHahh” I thought it would. I did enjoy the hot chocolate at The Fairmont Chateaux though. Will go back there as a guest when I win the lottery.

Two Jack Lake has the colours just right. That yellow pops out against the blue of the lake and the grey / white mountain.Like it?

It was Emerald Lake that won my affection. Unfortunately, the canoe shop had a ‘back in ten minutes’ sign on the door but we found a stationary yellow (my favourite colour) number to take the mandatory Instagram photos on.

As Craig and I were playing about with the camera and canoe we heard an echo batter around the lake… “OH YA BEASTIE!

We were being watched by the rest of the wolfpack, from across the water.

Banff National Park
Banff National Park West Trek Tours

Pay the additional charge of $42 / £22 for the Banff Gondolas ($96 for both the Gondolas and Columbia Icefield Ice Explorer). It’s worth is for the views and the opportunities to simulate a scene from The Matrix.

Heading to the Rockies independently? Check out this article on hostels and hotels in Canada which includes Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise.

Bieber Fever with West Trek Tours

Back to on the party bus, Lee belted out some party tunes and to the annoyance of everyone on the bus, Canada’s finest, Justin Bieber! Boo, hiss, off, off, off! But then something magical happened. The Japanese Justin, (who had otherwise been silent) arose from his seat and gave us a hip-thrusting rendition – Baby, Baby, Oh!

Rustic Raving

Our last night was spent at a fortress in the forest! We managed to get some shuteye in the rustic cabins and man those beds were comfy, too comfy! The manager had to knock to get us moving on the Monday morning. Obviously the party the night before is partly to blame.

West Trek Accommodation

After some local wine tasting, we retired to the campfire to roast marshmallows and listen to Papa Wolf’s tales of bear wrestling in the wild. What do you do when you meet a black bear? Serenade him.

Full of sugar and on our second wind, it was time for the international dance party. We can-canned, did some kind of sexy Latino couple dance (not with Craig, he was too busy dancing with the Japanese Justin Bieber) and of course, I used my bossy disposition to get the group ceilidh dancing from atop the kitchen island! I was proud of their attempt, they even managed to switch partners. A better performance than many Scottish weddings we’ve been too! The international dance party led on to a disco where we all fought over music, pleasing twelve nationalities is a hard feat. If you’d like to find out more about camping at Canada’s national parks, check out this guide.

You may also like: hostels in Banff

Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre

The last day was the toughest, purely because we are 30+ and can’t handle a three-night party. Our emotions were tender; this was not helped by a visit to the Rockies answer to Bear Grills – Leo Downey and his buffalos as well as an educational stop at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre.

There was not a dry eye in the house after Sheila passionately advised us about the wrongdoings of the Canadian government and how they are mistreating the country’s wolves. You may have heard about this already, as Miley Cyrus has recently been vocal about the killing of wolves in Canada. We broke down when Sheila’s wolves howled, a perfect end for us – the tight-knit Wolfpack now listening to the real deal, closing the perfect circle to one of the best weekends of our lives.

Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, Moab, West Trek Tours

Top – Moab, bottom left -Scrappy Dave, bottom right – Maya (photo credit: Jenny Brnt)

The bus ride home was broken up with a stop at the supermarket, another for a dip in Lake Okanagan situated in the wine region, Kelowna and a final photo of the September 18th West Trek Wolfpack – wolves for the weekend, friends for life.

 

Canadian Rockies West Trek Tours Canada


 

 

West Trek Tours

 

Thanks to West Trek Tours for making this trip possible. Our honest views as always. We LOVED it!

Website: West Trek Tours
Tour: The Rocky Mountains (Summer Explorer)
Contact: (604) 408-WEST (9378)
Cost: $448 / £226 (adult) / $399 / £171 (student) + room upgrade options and additional activities