Canada – Campbell River to Calgary in Four Days

During our first petsit in Sooke we managed to confirmed our third sitting assignment. This one was to start a few days after our Campbell River sit was complete. So we had four days to travel from Campbell River on Vancouver Island to Calgary in Alberta, a province and time zone change.

We left Campbell River around 1.00pm for the one and a half hour drive south to Nanaimo and the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. We were hoping to catch the 3.30pm sailing but this Monday also happened to be Canada’s Thanksgiving, so there were lots of people heading to the mainland after a long weekend. When we first arrived we couldn’t even get into the ferry terminal the queues were so long and the staff were managing snaking lines out on the roads. Our first query about which ferry we might be able to catch was answered with “the 3.30pm isn’t very likely, probably looking like the following sailing at 5.45pm.” Once we finally entered into the terminal and purchased some tickets we asked again and were met with “maybe the 5.45pm if some reservations don’t turn up but most likely the following sailing at 8.00pm”…. The ferry trip over to Horseshoe Bay, just north of Vancouver was to take around one hour and 40 minutes and then we still had a 100km drive to get to Whistler where we had booked an Airbnb for two nights.

We drove into our lane with the hundreds of other cars waiting and crossed our fingers for the 5.45pm sailing. We saw the boat come in that would then become this sailing, we watched it unload, re-load and then departure without us. We moved forward in the lines and hoped we would get on the 8.00pm ferry, however if not, we would certainly be on the following one which thankfully was only half an hour later. As soon as we realised we weren’t on the 5.45pm boat we headed into the terminal to get some dinner. This is quite a big terminal and we were pleased there were a few different food options to choose from.departure-bay-ferry-terminal_vancouver-island_bc_canada.jpgYou can make reservations on some of the B.C Ferries routes but each sailing doesn’t tend to have that many reservation spaces and you have to get in early to book, which we obviously didn’t on this occasion. Anyway, we did get onto the 8.00pm sailing and once we arrived back on mainland Canada and headed off the ferry it wasn’t long before the boys were asleep as we made our way to Whistler.

We had one full day in Whistler and as we walked across the road from our Airbnb apartment (read our review here) to the Olympic Village Plaza, we were immediately reminded of New Zealand’s own resort town, Queenstown. Beautiful stone buildings, walkways and landscaping, high-end stores, cafés and eateries and the stunning mountain backdrop with it’s first dusting of snow against the autumn leaves.olympic village plaza_whistler_bc_canadaAfter lunch we stopped by the museum, learnt about the 2010 Winter Olympics and Whistler’s history. There was also a very cool playground at the Olympic Plaza that the boys played at for a few hours with some new friends. Whistler was a stunning spot but definitely up there on price point, just like many other locations like it around the world.olympic village plaza_whistler_bc_canada_1The next day of our journey we climbed and winded our way through the mountains out of Whistler and then onto some of the straighter highways the 400 kms to Salmon Arm. The drive during the daylight hours was beautiful and we could have stopped numerous times to take photos, the scenery was so stunning, but we restrained ourselves so the trip didn’t take us twice as long.

duffey lake_bc_canada
Duffey Lake is always “blocked”

There wasn’t anything in particular to see at Salmon Arm but it was a reasonable drive for the day and also had a Wyndham property. In between house sits in Canada and America these accommodation properties were to become our new best friend (right after Walmart). The Wyndham Group has quite a few different types of accommodation options but generally we stay in their cheaper options, like Super 8’s and Days Inn’s. Logan found that they had a rewards program, Wyndham Rewards, and signing up gave us discounts off our stays and each qualifying stay went towards increasing our member level and higher levels are entitled to more “perks”. Our first experience was at Super 8 by Wyndham Salmon Arm (see our Wyndham Properties review here) and we have found that generally the rooms are all pretty much the same with the odd variation on layout. They are generally clean and comfortable enough for a one or two night stay in between our main destinations.

For day three of our journey we only had 250 kms to drive so we used some of the morning to visit the Salmon Arm wharf, the longest curved inland wharf in North America and the longest wooden wharf in North America. Unfortunately the tide was out but it was still a nice spot for a stroll and to see what bird life we could see. Next up we headed to a winery to sample some local wines and some interesting new varietals we’d never tried (or heard of). salmon arm_bc_canadaAfter the winery visit we were only 80 kms back into our trip when we came to a stand still and found out that some power lines were down about 3 kms ahead of us. There weren’t any quicker alternative routes available to us so after numerous updates we were finally moving again after nearly four hours…. thankfully the car was stocked with enough food for lunch and some snacks. We continued on and as we drove through Glacier National Park we began to see snow down at ground level, the boys were excited so we found a rest stop to pull into so they could have a quick little play.

We continued on and crossed a time zone, loosing an hour, so it was 7.00pm when we finally pulled into our accommodation, Super 8 by Wyndham Golden (see our Wyndham Properties review here).

Day four and again we only had around 260 kms to drive to reach Calgary and our petsit location. Just an hour from Golden we crossed from British Columbia into Alberta and then made a scheduled stop at Lake Louise. This is a location we have seen numerous times on social media and it looks incredible at all times of the year. As we drove into the village it started snowing and there was LOTS more snow on the ground, something we weren’t expecting at all. The boys were so excited so we changed into snow pants and boots and had some fun in the snow. It was a great (re)introduction to snow as the last time we were in snow Lincoln was three and Braxton was only four weeks old.lake louise_alberta_canadaAfter a late lunch we continued on another two hours to Calgary and our third pet sit. It was late Friday afternoon when we arrived and after a quick introduction to the two dogs we were to care for, the home owner was off and we had another lovely home and pets to enjoy for the next nine days.campbell river, bc to calgary, ab_canada

Average Daily Spend for 4 nights – $245.10 NZD ($42.40 under budget per day)

– Paula

 

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