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Friday, September 5, 2008

British Columbia

British Columbia

The west coast is a great place to visit. We flew into Vancouver, rented a car, drove up Vancouver Island, spent most of our time with friends at Powell River, and drove back down the main-land coast. I really enjoyed Vancouver, Victoria, and Powell River, and I hope to go back soon.

Flights where expensive (two people, round-trip, $1552.60), but direct. I'm told that if you book well in advance and your schedule is flexible, then you can get a much better price.

AC189 Ottawa (YOW) Friday September 5th 5:00pm
to Vancouver (YVR) arrive at 7:15pm - Terminal M
Duration: 5hr15

AC138 Vancouver (YVR) Saturday September 13th 4:35pm - Terminal M
to Ottawa (YOW) arrive at midnight
Duration: 4hr32

Resources

Local Flights
Vancouver (YVR) to Powell River, $240, two adults, one-way.

They're not cheap, but they are frequent, and you get a discount if you book in advance. If you drive, then you have to take two ferries to get to Powell River, so you're sort of a slave to their schedule. Choose flights if time is your scarce resource. Choose a rental car if you want to see more of the region.

Shuttle Bus
Vancouver (YVR) to Victoria downtown.
$91, two adults, one-way (this includes the ferry).

Local Bus
- Route # 620 connects to the BC Ferries in Tsawwassen for $5, two adults, one-way
- Get on at # 58058 AIRPORT STN BAY 2 -- 8:03pm
- Get off at # 56669 TSAWWASSEN FERRY TERMINAL -- 8:40pm

Ferries
I found the ferries to be very timely and efficient. They sell food on-board, but it's at a considerable mark-up. And they seem to be universally in out-of-the-way locations. So if you think you're going to stop to pickup some food before-hand, do it well before-hand. Once you get to the ferry terminal, there'll be nothing else around.

Comox to Powel River Ferry
- Monday Sept. 8th, 7:15pm-8:35pm, $64.10, two adults+car, one-way
- (also 10:10am-12:00pm and 3:15pm-5:15pm)
- Comox Parking: Robbins Parking Lot #398: $4/24hours
- Could leave the car here, and go back the way we came
Else Drive: Landing to Bruce & Tracy's - 9 minutes - Google Map

Car Rental
There is a Budget car rental at the airport. They call the location VANCOUVER, BC-APO (YVR). The actual location is 3880 Grant McConachie Way, Vancouver, phone: 604-668-7000. You can get an intermediate car for $330, all week, unlimited km. I've found that car rental agencies universally try to sell you extra insurance. I'm convinced this is a waste of money. I phoned my insurance company before-hand and they confirmed that I'm covered on a rental car just the same as I'm covered on my normal car. And don't accept the "they fuel it up" feature. Unlike YYZ, this location has an obvious, reasonably priced gas station on your way to the rental drop-off. It's easy to re-fuel it yourself. Further note that when I picked up the car, I told the guy that my Visa is supposed to give me some kind of bonus when renting from Budget. I thought this would be a discount, but it's actually an upgrade, so I ended up renting a Luxury vehicle. It sounded fishy to me so I made him tell me "the total", which was just a bit higher than the $330 I'd expected. But he was giving me the total before taxes (which are considerable), so I ended up paying $534.70. Hereafter, I'll be clear that when I say "total" I mean "all the money I'm going to be expected to pay". It's a scam if you ask me.

Our Trip

Friday Sept. 5th
2:30pm - Leave Kanata
5pm - AC189 departs for Vancouver (round-trip $1552.60, pre-paid)
7:15pm - Arrive in Vancouver - Terminal M
8pm - Pickup car at airport (not paid, ~$325)
Airport To Lucille - 21 minutes - Google Map
8:30pm - Arrive at Lucille's place. ($35 cash, not paid)
At this point we were pretty tired, but walked down Fraser St. a few blocks to grab some Thai food before bed.

Saturday Sept. 6th
Explore Vancouver, Map of Downtown
Lucille's to Downtown - 15 minutes - Google Map
We had breakfast at a great place called Steamrollers.
Downtown to the Aquarium at Stanley Park (we didn't actually go here) - 7 minutes - Google Map
Stanley Park to Capilano Suspension Bridge (neat place, but kind of like disney land, and not cheap) - 32 minutes - Google Map
We had extra time, so we went for a hike up the mountains at Lynn Headwaters, which was fantastic.
Downtown to Ferry - 42 minutes - Google Map
5:30pm - Reservation Expires (confirmation number 54243713-2)
6:00pm - Ferry departs ($93.15, partly pre-paid)
7:35pm - Arrive at Swartz Bay
Swartz Bay To Victoria - 33 minutes - Google Map
8:30pm - Arrive at Evelyn & Nansen's.

Sunday Sept. 7th
To Galloping Goose Trail - 8 minutes - Google Map
To Inner Harbour - 21 minutes - Google Map
Visit Sandy/Climbing beaches, a 10 minute walk from their house.
Craigdarroch Castle, $12/adult daily (we didn't actually go here) Google Map
The Fairmont Empress (we didn't actually go here) Google Map

Monday Sept. 8th
Victoria to Englishman Falls - 2 hours 35 minutes - Google Map
Englishman Falls to Coombs - 12 minutes - Google Map
Coombs to Qualicum Falls (we didn't actually go here) - 9 minutes - Google Map
Qualicum Falls to Cathedral Grove - 8 minutes - Google Map
Cathedral Grove to Comox - 1 hour 12 minutes - Google Map
6:15pm - Arrive at Ferry.
7:15pm - Ferry leaves for Powell River
8:35pm - Arrive in Powell River
Powell River to Bruce's House - 9 minutes - Google Map

Tuesday Sept. 9th
Went in Bruce's big boat up Powell lake from Cranberry to the far end.
Did some fishing and explored a sand cave.

Wednesday Sept. 10th
Rented Kayaks at Alpha Dive and Kayak.
Paddled around Inland lake, had lunch on an island.
Picked tonnes of black berries.

Thursday Sept. 11th
Went out on the ocean in Bruce's big boat.
Dropped some Crab Traps and did some trolling and jigging.
Went up the coast to The Historic Lund Hotel and had lunch.
Went to Harwood Island, saw sea lions and some caves.

Friday Sept. 12th
Went cliff jumping off a waterfall in a little river.
Saw a salmon spawning ground.
Ate some raw oysters from the ocean shore.
Had a dinner party.

Saturday Sept. 13th
Powell River to Saltery Bay - 54 minutes - Google Map
Saltery Bay to Earl's Cove
5:35am to 6:25am
7:25am to 8:15am
9:25am to 10:15am -- preferred
Earl's Cove to Langdale - 1 hour, 13 minutes - Google Map
Langdale to Horseshoe Bay

10:20am to 11:00am
12:20pm to 1:00pm -- preferred
2:30pm to 3:10pm
Before heading back to the airport, we walked a bit around Vancouver downtown, and I had the best California roll of my life (with black rice).
Horseshoe Bay to Airport - 42 minutes - Google Map
3:00pm - Return rental car
4:35pm - AC138 (Terminal M) departs for Ottawa
Midnight - Arrive in Ottawa

Cost

Park-and-Fly, Flights, Rental Car, Fuel, Parking, Ferries  ~$2,365
Food                                                         ~$410
Lodging (stayed almost entirely at friends)                   ~$50
Capilano, Kayaks, (no cost for Bruce adventures)             ~$145
Gifts:                                                       ~$310
Total: ~$3,280 = ~$470/day