18TH ISSUE - FROM VANCOUVER TO BANFF AND BACK

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From Vancouver to Banff and Back

Having a wedding to shoot in Banff late October, I found myself with multiple choices: flying to Calgary in and out for the wedding or; leaving earlier and driving up there from Vancouver.

I left Thursday morning from the rainy Vancouver and started my journey driving east towards the Canadian Rockies.

Quite the extensive drive but I stopped a few times before reaching Banff. I chose the northern road, staying overnight in the little town of Clearwater south of the beautiful Provincial Park of Wells Gray. That evening, I was welcomed by the most apocalyptic light. Rain was still pouring from the sky but eventually, the sky cleared out. Black and orange clouds formed, and a rainbow appeared on the other side of the field. What a perfect way to start this trip. After rainy autumn on the Pacific Northwest Coast, the time had come to travel east in search of the first snow of the season…


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FROM VANCOUVER TO BANFF AND BACK

Places visited:

 

17TH ISSUE - THE SUNSHINE COAST

Spending the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend on the Sunshine Coast.

    I organized myself a bit late for that trip. The consequences; we couldn’t book a morning passage on the ferry and had to wait for one later in the day. Most hotels and Airbnb booked, we decided to camp in the last opened campgrounds of the season. Without a tent, we slept in the back of the car. Arrived at Horseshoe Bay, the ferry I was hoping to get got canceled. Once on the water, we arrived late afternoon at Gibsons. Enough time to grab supplies and firewood. We then headed to Porpoises Bay Campgroundin Sechelt.

    The next morning we woke up in the rain (as well for the next days). Not so much of Sunshine! From Sechelt, we drove to Smuggler’s Cove Provincial Park. A great park to visit by land or by sea. With two kinds of campgrounds, you can either camp on the shores or on your boat my mooring between the islets and islands.  The park got his name from a smuggler that use the area as a hideout in late 1800. He’s known for passing Chinese workers across the border to the Washington States. Later in the 1920s, smugglers also used those islands as a hideout, moving alcohol during the Prohibition.

We kept driving along the coast and eventually reached Welbourn Cove to eat a late lunch while the sun was quickly setting behind a large number of clouds. Next stop to Earls Cove, catching a late ferry to Saltery Bay. There we stopped at the first campground right outside the bay; Mermaids Cove campground. All of that under pouring rain, we canceled our plan of campfire and went hiding into the car trunk for our second night.

    Another morning making breakfast under the rain. From there, I wanted to explore the northern parts of the coast, up to Sarah’s Point. That’s the final destination of the well-known Sunshine Coast Trail that starts in Gibsons. My lack of planning and web scouting made us go to Sarah’s Point with the car… From Lund, we took the dirt road that quickly became hardcore. This road should be used with a large 4X4 truck (aka pickup or large SUV) Instead, we did it with an Audi Q5… There were many spots we could have turned back but I kept thinking; we made it this far, so let’s keep going! Finally reaching the last part, the road was turning into the woods. We stopped the car there and kept going on foot. Down there, one pick-up truck parked on the side of “road” (at this point more of a river bed than anything else). We saw one guy coming back from the beach. I asked him how far the beach was. - "5 more minutes. Did you park beside me?” I told him no, we played it safely parked a bit further up.

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Once reached the beach, we did not stay long as we were supposed to drive all the way back to Gibsons for the rest of the afternoon. This is pretty backcountry and I’d suggest bringing bear spray and bell... On the way back, we found a beautiful gift on the car’s roof; a nice rock! Hopefully, it was placed on the roof bag. Placed there by our friend earlier. Why? No idea! The way back from Sarah’s Point was as “fun” as the way in. We used a technique we often did back in Northern Ontario, Ellanna left the car to remove big rocks on the road so I wouldn’t accidentally wreck the oil tank under the car… We did succeed to get out. I’m very thankful for Audi’s Quattro technology! Even though I would certainly not recommend trying that road with that type of SUV…

  It's only on our drive back that the rain finally stopped and the sun came back. After 3 days in the rain! From Earls Cove to Gibsons. Passing by Powell River, the road provides a viewpoint on the shipwreck bay of the Powell Historic District that creates a mill breakwater. This is pretty impressive to see. All the ships are dated from WW2. From the viewpoint, we could hear the Californian sea Lion resting in the bay.

  We experienced a little race with all the cars going back to the mainland. We all kept passing each other to finally meet at the rendezvous point; Langdale. We arrived at 6pm, hoping to catch the 7pm ferry but we saw it filling up before our eyes and had to wait for the last ferry of the day at 10pm.

10TH ISSUE - MONTREAL

That trip to Montreal started quite rushed as I got confused about my flight departure hours. What I thought was 12pm on Tuesday turned out to be 12am between Monday and Tuesday. I was never fond of the am/pm.. Good thing, I always have a fully ready packed bag which helped quite a bit that night. 

Early morning arrived in Montreal, I directly traveled to Saint-Eustache for the very reason of my trip: buying a car. Sounds pretty strange to cross the country for a car but that was the best deal I found and at the bottom line, it was worth it.

Once that out of the way, I got two days to explore the city. 

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MONTREAL

Places visited:

  • Downtown

  • Old City

  • Old Port

  • McGill University

  • Park Mount Royal

 
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9TH ISSUE - VANCOUVER ISLAND

Thursday night, when I was just about to leave the studio in Steveston, I received a notification on Twitter from BCFerries with some current offers. I usually don’t really pay attention to them but this time, I thought it would be fun to book a trip on Vancouver Island. Having no shoot the next days, I just went straight to the booking page and took a round-trip ticket for the ferry between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo.  

Once at home, I quickly went through the list of available Airbnb on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. We pack few things in our bags, and few hours later, we were waiting in line for the 6:30AM ferry at Horseshoe Bay. 

Day 1

I always enjoyed travelling by sea. As soon as the announcement was made, we jumped on the deck, even though the weather wasn’t very inviting. 

While I was drinking my second coffee of the day and slowly waking up, I was looking where to go next. The trip was so unexpected that I didn’t get much time to look for places to explore. I pulled up Google maps satellite view and looked for beaches, parks somewhere with a view on the Salish Sea. I was intrigued by those large banks of sand north of Nanaimo, I picked Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.  

As we were driving onto the scenic road from Nanaimo to Campbell River, we took left and followed a forest road to Horne Lake known for its caves on the campground around the lake. From then, we reached Miracle Beach. The tide was low this afternoon so we were able to walk on the bottom of the Salish Sea.  I was planning to reach Telegraph Cove for the evening but after driving all day and without much sleep the previous night, we decided to stop by Campbell River where our Airbnb was. For some reason, I did not bring the Canon with me while walking in the streets of Campbell River. The last shots of the day were captured with my iPhone X. 

Day 2

As we did not manage to reach Telegraph Cove the previous day, we left Campbell River on the morning and drove North. The further you go inland, the less you feel you are on an island. The drive is quite scenic, passing nearby lakes and rivers, the road is also going through mountains. 

We eventually reached the road that leads to Telegraph Cove where we stopped for a little while to see the train tracks. On the other side, a large hill is a nesting site for eagles, we stayed out of the way to give them some space but you can see them pretty well from the tracks. 

5 minutes later, we finally arrived to Telegraph Cove. I’ve read a lot about that place and always wanted to come visit. Early May is still off season and the little village was slowly waking up from the cold months. Most of the places were still close, the General Store was stocking goods for the summer, the Killer Whale cafe was open and the Museum was going through some renovations as they were expecting a new whale skeleton. First thing was, going onto the small beach to access the water. I had high hopes to maybe spot killer whales from the coast so we stayed for quite a bit of time onto the shoreline. 

Telegraph Cove is known for the two campsites and the wonderful whale watching tours with both boats and kayaks. There is a historic walk in the village that goes through the first houses built there. I just learned recently that those houses are up for rent. The maritime museum of Telegraph Cove is highly recognizable by his red walls. It is quite small but has some many different skeletons of orcas, dolphins and whales (full sizes) I’ve seen wedding venues organized in that space which looked wonderful! I really fell in love with that little port on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. It’s a great place to stay at and bring your boat so you can explore the coasts nearby. 

We had to spend quite a bit of time in the car on the way back as we needed to reach Nanaimo for the last ferry of the day. We still stopped by Neck Point Park for a while before heading back to the BC Ferry even though we did not really want to come bak to Vancouver. On the Ferry, we were looking at estate ads in Nanaimo… Maybe in a close-far future…

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Vancouver Island | NORTHEAST COAST

Place visited:

  • Nanaimo

  • Rathtrevor Provincial Park

  • Qualicum Bay

  • Horne Lake

  • Courtenay

  • Miracle Beach

  • Campbell River

  • Telegraph Cove

It is safer to book in advance the ferry roundtrip as well as the night accommodations. We did basically all the northeast coast in two days but it was pretty rushed. I would advise three or four days.

 

3TH ISSUE - SKIING IN WHISTLER | SNOWFALL ON THE SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY

My brother and father joined me to Vancouver for the week, we went skiing to Whistler for few days. After more than 4 years without skiing, the first slope was a bit chaotic. But I managed. It is said that skiing is like biking; you cannot forget!

The second day, we got welcome by a strong snowfall which was pretty fun to ski with. I only brought my iPhone and the wide Moment lens in case I wanted few souvenirs shots. It turned out, I shot quite a lot with it! We went back and forth between Whistler and BlackComb and spent most of the time skiing into the woods! I also had quite a bit of fun with the Portrait Mode. Now it can get a bit fussy on the edges sometimes but the overall result is quite impressive.  

We were still under heavy snow but left Whistler anyway, to go back to Vancouver. Great Drive under the snow, very scenic! Until we arrived to a huge line of stopped cars… Then I found out; they closed the highway due to accidents between Whistler and Squamish. We waited for an hour, engine shut down. The road was supposed to be closed until 10pm. So like many others, we turned back to Whistler.  After a walk in the village, we ended up at the Irish pub for the night. Better to wait there with food and drinks than being stuck in the car. Good thinking as they didn’t open the road until midnight!

We left Whistler for the second time that night, still had to wait a bit before Squamish and made it home around 1am. Fun times!

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SKIING IN WHISTLER | SNOWFALL ON THE SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY

Places visited:

  • Whistler

  • BlackComb

  • Sea to Sky Highway

If possible, I would recommend to stay into a hotel located in Blackcomb. 10min after the village of Whistler, it is right on the slopes!

 
 

1ST ISSUE - BC HIGHWAY 99 NORTH | FEBRUARY 2018

Could not do much exploration in January so I decided to book a night in Lillooet Town, and hike in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Situated 2 hours northeast of Whistler, it is one of the most famous parks out there and I was a bit anxious while reading Joffre is always full with very limited parking… We left early morning on Friday from Vancouver and drove straight to Joffre. By the past, we went few times to Whistler but never really explored further. If I find the Sea to Sky Highway beautiful, the drive from Pemberton to Joffre is even better, it is just gorgeous! The BC 99 North follows one of the Fraser River arms which feeds Duffey Lake and Lillooet Lake. We arrived around 11am to Joffre Park. Only three cars were there. From what I heard, it is pretty uncommon to find that parking empty! 

When I booked the room in Lillooet, I got the surprise of; room with a view. We could not see much of it as we arrived at night but the next morning, we discovered the mountains all around us. Difficult to provide a room without a view! There was this lovely place for breakfast but it was closed and as we didn’t feel like having A&W breakfast we thought we would catch a brunch once we reach Pemberton. We left Lillooet in the morning and drove back to Whistler, taking our time to stop along the highway.

This road can be tricky to drive depending of the weather conditions but it is beautiful and reminded me of the legendary Icefields Parkway in Alberta.

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BC HIGHWAY 99 NORTH | FEBRUARY 2018

PLACES VISITED:

  • Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

  • Lillooet Town

  • Duffey Lake Provincial Park

  • Pemberton

  • Nairn Falls

  • Whistler

 
 
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