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Stefan’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 03 Nov 2007

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

MapKia ora everyone!!

Well as most of you know I am back home (have been for about 3 weeks now - arrrghhhhhhh!!!!!!). So thought I should update/finish off my diary before forgetting too much from my last awsome month in Canada (:

Well I survived the long bus trip from Calgary to Whithorse in the Yukon, only just, lol. I was pretty dam tired after that one!! The scenery on the bus ride was amazing and on the last leg of the trip the bus driver made quite a few stops for photos which was great as this normally doesn't happen on the "Greyhound". I'm sure he was stopping to have a chuff on his pipe or something, anyway it was nice to streeetch those legs, take in the scenery and talk to randoms on the bus! The bus was not very full compared to my other bus journeys (I should write a book eh), and we were lucky to see quite a few black bears on the side of the highway (Alaska highway).
One sighting in particular which sticks in my head, where there were 3 cubs and the mother all just chilling and playing on the grass on the side of the highway, very cool!! And there was one particular area where there were lots of buffalo. The bus stopped and I snapped up a few pics only metres away from these huge animals which didn't seemed too fussed about all the attention...

So after 1 and a half days on the bus, lots of breaks, amazing scenery (+ wildlife), long distances between services and a rather sore bum and legs I arrived in Whitehorse at 4:30 AM! I briefly e-mailed Teagan (who I met in Fernie) before getting on the bus in Calgary but didn't know if she knew I was coming as I hadn't planned on coming up to the Yukon so early, my bad. But what a great surprise to see her at the bus station in Whitehorse!!! Yeya for T-star. I hadn't seen her since leaving Fernie at the end of April. So we had a lot of catching up to do....
I'd turned up at a busy time for Teagan as she was working a lot and going to the college. I remember sleeping for most of the next day and then Jess, Teagan's sister came round and that night took me to probably every bar in Whitehorse! (: So a rather drunken introduction to the Yukon for me, but it was sweet. And the next day Jess had forgotten where she left her truck, I found that rather amusing (:
I chilled out at Teagan's place over the weekend and on the Monday I hired a car and drove up to Dawson City on the Klondike highway. The 500km or so drive up to Dawson was really beautiful with all the fall (autumn) colours across the mountainous landscape. There were large areas of land that had been burnt by forest fires and it was quite a site to see acres and acres of "tree skeletons" in contrast with all the fall colours! Pretty cool.
Dawson city is only 240km South of the Artic circle, in the late 1890's it became the heart of the Klondike goldrush. Some of the original buildings are still standing (which are all built on perma-frost) and the streets in Dawson are unpaved and it has board sidewalks. So as you can imagine the town has a prety unique vibe about it. I surprised Rob (an English friend from Fernie) who was working in one of the "many" bars in Dawson. He knew I was coming up at some stage but he wasn't expecting me so soon, so he was surprised to see me and we had several good nights out with a good crew of people who had been working in Dawson for the summer. I went up the "Dome" a few times which is where on summer solstice, there is a big party where everyone watches the midnight sun dip below the mountains and then rise again - crazy eh!! I have to come back to experience that!!
I drove briefly on the "Top of the world highway" (gravel) which heads from Dawson city to Alaska. I saw more amazing fall colours and scenery - I hardly saw another sole, it was soo beautiful and peaceful! So Dawson was lots of fun (+ lots of drinking).

I chilled out for a couple of days back in Whitehorse before Teagan and I went on a roadie to Tagish (where Teagan grew up) and Skagway in Alaska. We stayed a night in Teagan's sweet pad in Tagish and then made our way to Skagway, making some sweet stops on the way, including this random abandoned "leaning" house (: and an old mine which was awsome. We crossed the boarder and arrived into Skagway kinda late and ended up staying in a hostel with a snoring Aussie!! I didn't sleep much that night, thanks bro!!
Skagway mainstreet was sooo busy the next day as there were 4 massive cruise ships in dock and the passengers (mainly older Americans) were all over the streets and checking out the shops, such as fur and diamond shops with price tags of CAN$15,000 - 50,000. Yeah how about a nice fur jacket for around CAN$12,000 - oh it's pretty sweet deal on sale - reduced from 20,000!!!! I decided to buy an icecream instead. So skagway is a real touristy town as it's a main stop for the Alaska cruises - But what a beautiful setting amongst towering mountains on all sides.

So it was a few more chilling days in Whithorse before our next road trip to Haines in Alaska. What a STUNNING days drive it was getting there, especially through Kluane national park with amazing mountain and lake scenery and driving into Haines in the evening we saw an amazing sunset! We had a sweet cabin in Haines and spent a couple of days checking out the area. Much smaller and far less touristy than Skagway, a nice relaxing vibe about the place. The tourist info was closed which was a bit annoying as we wanted to get some trail maps. So instead we found the "Haines brewing company" (in an old movie set) and tested out the beers on offer. Spruce tip ale was my favourite for sure, very unique! We went for a hike in the arvo to walk off the beer up Mt Riley. The walk up through old growth forest was really beautiful and the view of the Lynn canal from the top was very amazing. We even saw a glacier across the canal on the other mountain range. That evening we enjoyed a yummy meal at an organic pizza & pasta restaurant and some more spruce tip ale beer. We went on another short walk the next day (got soaked!!)and then drove back to Whitehorse in the rain! So after an amazing 3 weeks in the Yukon Territory is was time to head South again as I still had a bit to see before flying home...

After a 2 day (spotted a moose - YES) bus trip from Whitehorse, I arrived in Prince Rupert on the West coast. I hung out here for a couple of days, met some more sweet travellers, had a massive fire one night got hammered at the local and then was on the boat headed for Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.
The 15 hour boat trip through the "inside passage" was lovely but COLD! WE passed island's, inlets, waterfalls, indian villages, old cannerys and even a few humpback whales. The weather was a bit rainy/misty but still provided great vistas.
Stayed a brief night in Port Hardy and then headed to Ucluelet/Tofino on the West coast of the island. I spent a few nights around here hiking and surfing which was cold. I was soo suited up for the surf, full wetsuit, booties, gloves and a hood. The surf was average but the experience was tops!! After Tofino I headed for Victoria, the capital of B.C. I stayed here for a night and went for a long walk around the town with this English guy (Tim) who I had been travelling with for a few days. Victoria was a nice town but really geared for tourists, lots of shops, bars and restaurants, but nice for sure with it's harbour and lots of sea planes taking off all the time.
From Vancouver Island I straight-lined it back to Fernie as time was running out. I spent thanksgiving in Fernie and stayed with Kathleen - the lady who I rented off through the winter. I hooked up with a few people while there, picked up all my snowboard/winter gear and was back on the bus with Rob - dude I met in Fernie in the winter who was flying out the same day from Vancouver! What a final bus trip on the greyhound, the bus was packed and for most of the trip Rob and I got to sit either side of this drunken, drug hammered, toothless redneck guy who was actually quite funny - Rob wasn't so sure though! The main problem was that he smelt a bit funky!! So just imagine 18 hours of this, yeah fun times on the greyhound. I could write about the characters I've met on the greyhound in Canada.
So Rob and I hung out in Vancouver for a few days doing this and that, mainly walking around town and eating lots of pizza, as Vancouver has lots of pizza places where you buy by the slice - NIce!! Final night in Canada involved catching up with some people I met in the Yukon, going to a sweet bar (The Cambie) watching the Canucks play (Vancouver Ice hockey team) and drinking jugs of beer and eating a burger (Canadians favourite food I reckon)!! A sweet way to end a truly awsome and enjoyable year!!!!

I'll be back Canada............................................