We had a whirlwind but great trip to Canada in March, there are more pictures untaken than taken. We explored new cities, used AirB&B for the first time (huge success) met with old friends, the kid got to take contortion classes with a pro. She trained twice in 5 days and loved every single second.
We drove miles and miles, walked the streets to take in the sights, enjoyed the aquarium when the outside was just to cold. Ice skated in the sunshine and loved every second of Niagara Falls.
The pics above are an embarrassing hodge podge of hubby’s edited images and my iphone snaps. But they offer a flavour. It was great. It was cold. It was fun.
There isn’t much snow in the Isle of Man. And by that I mean it very very rarely snows. And when it does its fleeting and up high. So last week we felt especially lucky to head out walking early in the morning to see Snaefell under a cloud with a white dusting. All plans for a glen walk went out the window and off we headed up the mountain road (past the ice warnings, lamenting the fact we are driving a mini not a 4×4)
We got to the top of the road and parked up on an icy carpark which was melting fast. The sun was coming out fleetingly through thick clouds and the temperate while still biting with the wind, was warming up. Which honestly was good as I hadn’t packed for snow. And certainly not snow on the top of a mountain.
Snaefell is a mountain. But not by a lot; 37 feet to be exact. But its still a mountain and the kid was absolutely determined this was going to be her first snow capped mountain climb. Gumboots, wooly hat, a solo glove and her lighter Therm jacket (we wished we had their new season ski jacket with us as it is super padded) kept her warm enough with the exertion of climbing. The kid powered up, even the steep slippery section right below the summit didn’t phase her. At the top the clouds parted momentarily and the views were amazing.
After climbing up the east side we decided to walk back around the west facing back of the slope; along the rail-line that runs in the summer months. The sun hadn’t reached the back so it was lovely and not melting yet. By the time we got back round to the car the snow and ice in the car park was gone. The sunny eastern side of the hill was running with water and nothing more than slush.
The kid has ticked off ‘climbed her first snow capped mountain’ off her to do list and we got to see some of the most amazing views. A great day and one that made dragging ourselves up and out fairly early and in the cold totally and definitely worth it.
There isn’t a lot I can say about Milford Sound and the trip to get there that cannot be conveyed through the pictures. We were incredibly lucky with the weather and only had a half day of rain in the whole trip. We drove down slowly, taking time to stop at a variety of picture points, small walks and hikes off the road.
It is hard to explain quite how remote Fiordland really is. Its a comfy 6h from Queenstown and for 2/3rds of that drive you need to expect no cell phone coverage. Once you are past Te Anau there is none. at. all. Milford is off the grid so runs off generators and hydroelectric. If you do want to use internet its via satellite (and surprisingly usable!)
We stayed ay Milford Sound Lodge and were really super impressed with the accommodation, people and the food. And the kea who came to our door every time he saw us.
We did a lovely boat tour with a stop in at the Discovery Centre. I wasn’t really sure what we would see ‘under water’ in a fiord – for the record – plenty! A huge variety of fish, corals, sea cucumbers, star fish and anemones. On the boat tour we saw seals and little crested penguins.
After two amazing days down there, we headed back to Queenstown for a couple of nights before coming home. Great food, fun on the Luge and gondola. More great food. Then lots of driving with big vistas. Long hours. But worth it.
Alaska part two. These are some of the views and places that we will always remember and want to see and visit again.
The Marjorie Glacier. Sorry for the picture overload. It was amazing. Huge. It was almost impossible to photograph it with a sense of scale. There were sea lions lounging on icebergs at the base and they looked like little dots. Actually the entirety of Glacier Bay Nation Park was wonderful.
The train ride in Skagway was so interesting. It follows the old gold trial route and rises up above the snow line. Twisting and winding along the narrow track, clinging to the mountainside. Through unlit tunnels and beside old rickety bridges.
Flying out above the archipelago at Ketchikan and landing in the fjords. Flying beside the soaring cliffs and hill top lakes. Finding timber wolf tracks on the beach and marvelling at the tidal range.
Canopy walks in BC and hiking through the forest. Water park play and the city at sunset, eating sushi watching the cruise ships get ready to depart. There were many things we didn’t photograph, particularly towards the end of the trip. Much of Vancouver which we loved, but just wanted to savour ourselves not through a lens. Gelato, sparkly shoes. Green parks and the train rides.
That view – on top of the ship, found by going through the door to nowhere.
So … this is very late. But at least its here haha. These are the wildlife highlights from the trip. Taken on different days in different locations.
Sitka Deer seen with the Black Bear on a coastal expedition from Ketchikan. We had a 3h trip around the inlets and small islands. The bear is a youngster and was photographed on a small island that is apparently used a lot by the younger bears to keep out of the way of the bigger, older more aggressive males. The black and white Bald Eagle was taken on the same trip and we had a great encounter with harbour porpoises while motoring back to the dock (video on my instagram)
The Orca and Humpback Whale pics were all taken on a trip out of Auke Bay outside Juneau. We were incredibly fortunate to see the transient pod of Orca as they are not sighted that often in that area. We saw about four humpbacks and while motoring homeward spotted the sea lions hanging out on the marker. The bald eagle coming to land on top was a bonus. While photographing the eagle we spotted the breeching humpback. It was a 2016 baby playing with his mum. Best. Mothers. Day. Ever.
With the exception of the grizzly bear (who lives in a forested bear habitat – with a friend, both were rescued as abandoned cubs – outside Vancouver) all these are wild animals photographed in their natural habitats. The grizzly bears are within an area but are left to forage naturally for about 70% of their diet etc. It is only at certain times they provide additional meat/fish.
Things we didn’t get pics of included harbour porpoises, harbour seals, and mountain goats. Also many types of birds we didn’t have a clue about.
Please excuse the variety in editing on these. They are all hubby’s images and he has play around with them as he enjoys. All credit for capturing these amazing creatures goes to him.
Christmas has been great this year. Family. Amazing weather. Gifts galore. A broken arm to add a little extra excitement. The kid has been a bit of a star really. Coping so well and only really upset that it has meant riding her skateboard from santa has needed to be postponed for a bit. We have all be spoilt rotten and its been wonderful.
The new year is looking really very fun. 2016 has a few adventures planned already. A three week adventure in the autumn which will see us Stateside and back in the northern hemisphere for a bit. Works looking good. We have a homeschool plan. Ive started running and am committing that this year, I will be more mindful and aware.
But for now, still enjoying family, sunshine and delicious food from the BBQ!
A trip up the coast to see the adolescent seal pups at one of their more unique haunts last weekend. An inland, fresh water waterfall pool. They make their way up there by themselves, exploring from the rocky beaches. It is a magical place and to be just a foot or two away as they splash and dive and play its very special.
Supper at a little roadside pub on the long drive home 🙂
Amadee Island is a 45 min fast ferry ride form Noumea. A simply must to day trip. I’m not usually one for ‘day trips’ as such – well, not really one for anything formally organised. But this was awesome! From the ferry ride out there, the beach, wildlife (read sea snakes, extremely venomous but also extremely docile) turtles, reef sharks, multitudes of fishes seen from the glass bottomed boat. The staff on the trips were knowledgable and friendly, happy to natter away to madam and answer her endless questions. We walked and swam and lay in the shade. Had a wonderful lunch with music and rum punch. It was a perfect last day.
The first snow of 2015 fell last night. Proper big fat awesome snowflakes. Ok, by morning it was more of a icy crust on the ground. But it was pretty and sparkly and white.
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