Canada had never had the same attraction for me as the USA but I had always had the desire to visit British Columbia. Flights to Vancouver are normally very expensive during the summer months but I saw an offer in the Daily Mail. The offer involved and obscure airline with a dubious name:

Ah well! The airfare was cheap - let's give it a try.

I obtained relevant brochures from Travel Agents to identify the tourist attractions and with an input from Jacqueline we planned a tour that would last two weeks with the bonus of visiting another nearby American State that we had never been to.

We arrived at Manchester for our noon flight and found there was to be no on-time ZOOM flight to Vancouver. The flight was delayed by ten and a half hours. We were taken to a hotel and given two free meals.

We finally got airborne using a different airline with a refuelling stop and crew change at an airport near Toronto.

We arrived in Vancouver 14 and a half hours late. Luckily I had thought to ring the hire car company over there to tell then we would be late picking up our car.

At 6.30am next day we were first in line to pick up our car and we were asked if we would like to take out optional increased insurance. We declined and then changed our minds when she told us we had a $500 excess and if we brought the car back with just a slight chip on it we would have to pay the excess.

She then asked us if we would like to upgrade to a larger car. We declined again saying that a Compact would be adequate and I jokingly added you must be on commission. She then proved me wrong saying that she was going to upgrade us for free. We thanked her and were astonished when we saw the car waiting for us:

A brand new, straight from the showroom, BUICK ALLURE. It was enormous, absolute luxury and our four suitcases fitted easily into the boot.

Although we were almost a day behind schedule we stuck to our original plan and headed for the USA border to visit the State of WASHINGTON. We almost got held up at immigration/passport control due to increased security after 9/11. A very officious guard wanted to know why we wanted to enter America. When we told him we were English his attitude changed and we were fast-tracked through with him shouting after us "And thanks for supporting us in Iraq!"

We set off driving again with breakfast in mind. Right on cue this place appeared:

DENNY'S the home of the Grand Slam. 2 eggs bacon, sausage and 2 pancakes smothered in syrup. The price had risen from $2.99 to $3.99 but was still good value.

Time to find somewhere to stay the night and a quick visit to a Visitor's Centre suggested this place:

The Cocusa. £37.50 including continental breakfast.

We booked in and I told Jacqueline that if we drove straight down to Seattle, had a quick look round the place and drove back to our Motel we would be back on schedule.  She usually fits in with anything I suggest regarding our tour route and timing but this time she said I had made a bad decision. It was 75 miles to Seattle and 75 back. We would not have enough time to look round the place, particularly as our motel owner had told us we would hit the rush hour coming back. Also, we hadn't had a proper sleep since we left home. She said it would be better to have stayed the night in Seattle and caught up the lost time later in the tour.

She was dead right, so I went to the motel manager and asked if we could transfer our booking to tomorrow night. He agreed and gave us an address where we could stay in Seattle that was near Downtown.

We covered the 75 mile drive in a little over an hour and entered :

Armed with a discount voucher we headed straight for the recommended motel. No joy! The motel was fully booked with plenty of people ready to pay the charge of $81 per night plus $8 parking. The motel receptionist was very helpful and telephoned  another motel for us and asked for a room to be reserved. The place was a little run down but clean so we accepted it.

One of the disadvantages of touring and living out of suitcases is that you never get the chance to unpack and use the wardrobes. The next photo should explain what I mean:

" Now where did I put that blouse?"

The main attraction in Seattle is the Tower and to go up it is No. 37  on our list of "100 Things to see and do before you die"

Another attraction in Seattle is:

The market covers 9 acres and has around 40,000 visitors each day. We arrived early and accepted many of the free samples being offered. Our main reason for visiting the market was to investigate what we had been told at breakfast that morning - FISH THROWING.


If you take note of the arrows in the photos above you can see two large fish flying through the air. Tradition dictates that when a purchase of a large fish has been agreed (often the purchasers are buying in bulk for, say, an hotel) the market stall assistants throw the fish to one another.

We returned to our motel without hitting the rush hour and told the motel manager we had not been able to use the hotel he gave us, He laughed when we told him where we had stayed. It was a Red Light and drugs area.

Later in the day we visited a charity shop. We were in a line of stationary traffic. I got out of the car quickly to ask for directions and didn't realise I had not put the car in PARK. The car started to move forward threatening to hit the car in front. Jacqueline's reaction was to pull back on the gear lever. This slipped it into Reverse and the car moved backwards and was going  to hit the car behind. In desperation I put my weight against our car but it had no effect. I had visions of damage to our new car and the one behind. I wasn't going to let this happen so I did a stupid thing. I placed my legs between both bumpers to cushion the impact. I worked but I had an extremely painful leg for much of the holiday. 

Our evening meal was fantastic. There was a casino nearby and we knew from experience that casinos provided excellent value food in an effort to get people in to gamble. There were three separate menus. We chose the Prime Beef Buffet at £9.30 each. We began with Clam Chowder soup, then barbeque ribs ( so succulent I had three helpings). Then there were prime beef dishes, prawns, chicken and numerous other choices. For desert we ate tiramisu, baked banana cobbler and ice cream.

It was time now to head back into Canada and begin our vacation touring British Columbia. During the holiday preparations back home I had found a different route back to Canada via Highway 20 that looked very scenic.

We shunned our motel's free breakfast and stopped here for a cooked meal:

MOM's cafe. Had the usual eggs, bacon pancakes and syrup.

We had no firm plans for today. A long way to travel back into Canada on roads that meandered through the hills. We would be driving most of the day, just taking our time and stopping if we saw anything of interest. I can enjoy a week sat beside a swimming pool in Spain but I much prefer an adventurous holiday like the one we had begun because there is a little excitement of the unknown and unexpected. The first stop was when we saw a sign advertising a "Swop Meeting" :


Cheer up, Jacqueline I've not found anything worth swopping you for. Being Saturday this small community was having a sort of Market Day. We had a look round the craft stalls and chatted to some of the locals.

Eventually we left the small villages behind and started to climb into more mountainous terrain. We had been told that the route we had chosen would take us through the most scenic area of North America.

We were not disappointed. Nestled between the high hills were many mountain lakes.


The road continued to rise to over 6,000 feet and you could feel your ears popping in the snow-topped peaks.


The scenery was so spectacular we had to stop and take it in. Although it was June there were many large drifts of snow at the side of the road. No wonder our map said this route is closed in the winter.

After descending the mountains we entered the town of WINTHROP and watched school children playing baseball. Whilst planning the holiday I had read that it was a quaint town and it was:

It had been built and preserved in the mid 1800 style. Without the cars you wouldn't be surprised if you met Wyatt Earp or Billy-the-Kid. We were told that it was a tourist town and hotels would be very expensive, if not full. After filling up from pumps that looked like something from the 1930's we decided to push on to the next town called TWISP.

This town was not very attractive and there were only two more towns left before the Canadian border so we had to find accommodation soon.

The next town, OKANOGAN had some sort of celebration going on and the hotels were all full. The final town, OMAK better have something for us because then it another 50 miles to the border and I'd had enough of driving for the day.

The town had only two motels the first of which was a little run down so on to the last one:

£28.10 with a good continental breakfast. That will do.

Next morning we had a disappointment. All the good weather had gone and we set off back into Canada in the rain.

The sign says Welcome to a sunny British Columbia. We drove past it, through another town called OLIVER,  in very wet weather and finally to our day's destination:

KELOWNA- where we needed accommodation. At a visit to a Tourist Information we were given a computer. We searched for a bed & breakfast and chose one because we liked the sound of its name- "An English Rose Garden"


We chose well. The house was very large and furnished to a high standard. It was owned by Mina Muench, a widow.

Next morning she provided an excellent breakfast and helped us find accommodation at our next town.

Our plan was to drive the long distance and get as near as possible to our next town stop.

It was fine when we left but as soon as we hit the mountains heavy clouds shed more rain on us:

After driving 210 miles we reached the town of GOLDEN:


With no other major town before BANFF we found accommodation here.

The next morning after eating breakfast at Denny's we drove the short distance of 75miles to Banff. We had taken the advice of Mina in Kelowna and pre booked a two-night stay at Banff.

Leaving the Province of British Columbia we crossed over into Alberta. It had rained for most of the way but it was fine when we reached what is one of the most beautiful places you could wish to see:

LAKE LOUISE. Named after Queen Victoria's 4th daughter- Princess Louise Caroline Alberta.

The first priority was to find our accommodation:


The house was semi-detached or Duplex as the Canadians call it, and owned 84 year old, Florence:


She related a event that had occurred two days earlier in a nearby town. Three ladies were out jogging when they encountered a grizzly bear. Two followed the correct procedure but the third ran and climbed a tree. The bear climbed up after her and killed her.

Banff  is not short of Lakes and we visited this one:



Whilst driving back from seeing two other lakes we noticed several cars had stopped and I suspected why. WILDLIFE!

When we were on holiday visiting Yellowstone Park a few years earlier we had spotted an elk which had immediately bolted.

This time the animal was not as timid and provided a high point for our present holiday for me:


The animal allowed me to get quite close to it and I kept a close eye on those antlers because elk are liable to charge if they have young nearby.

In Banff there are three natural hot springs and we visited one of them:

On approaching the place we were stopped by a couple who gave us free tickets to go in because they considered the water too hot. Inside we were surprised to see the two people with their legs in the water. We had sat next to them on the plane from Manchester.

Adjacent to the Hot Springs is another Banff attraction:

The Gondola Ride. An 8 minute ascent the the top of Sulphur Mountain 7,486 feet high. The view from the top rivalled any view we had previously seen anywhere - even the Grand Canyon.

We didn't intend purchasing we photo that was taken of us but it was quite good so we did:

After two sunny days in Banff we were on the road again.  Today's route was vey spectacular and we just had to stop when we saw views like this:

The lake at the bottom of the photo was so still and its surface acted like a mirror.

Later in the day we reached our next stop. The Columbia Icefield and the ATHABASCA GLACIER:

Once the glacier covered the entire area but now the summer melt exceeds the winter's accumulation.

We paid the fee of £14 each and set off on the very unusual method of transport.


The monster snowbus with special tyres costing £3000 each. It was very spectacular even though we could see only about 2% of the glacier.

Continuing north we stopped again at ATHABASCA FALLS;

Then on to our destination for the next two days - The town of JASPER:

And on to our accommodation that we had pre booked whilst in Banff. 


Our hosts for the bed and breakfasts place had a dog called Magoo that was a cross between an Alsatian and a Husky.

Although we were miles from the coast we were told Jasper had a beach so we went to see it:. 


We walked alone in the forest area keeping a sharp lookout for bears.


Across the road from where we were staying were two unusual dogs. I was wary of stroking them until the owner, who was a childminder, told me they were friendly. The breed is called MALAMUTE and such dogs are used for pulling sledges.

30 miles from Jasper is another tourist attraction and that's where we headed next:


This is Maligne Lake where there is a fairly expensive cruise, £17 each, but the cost is well worth the trip.

We were taken to what is reputably the most photographed little piece of land in the whole of Canada:


In 1959 a Canadian photographer took pictures of the island and the pictures remained in his attic for years. Later his wife spotted a photographic competition and persuaded her husband to enter and use the photos of the island.

He won easily and was allowed to chose a name for the island. He chose SPIRIT because he said it represented how he saw the whole Canadian Rockies.


Leaving the lake we set off for Maligne Canyon but got delayed because of a hold up in the traffic: 

These two bighorn sheep had got the scent of something and wouldn't move. Animals take precedence over cars. 

The visit to Maligne Canyon was not disappointing: 


After our evening meal back in Jasper we walked round the shops. In one shop there was a TV showing quarry mining in Canada. The rock being dug out contained Ammolite (multi-coloured fossils of 150 million year old sea creatures.

I chatted to the shop owner who told me that the mine in Alberta was the only one of its kind and in about seven years the ammolite would be exhausted. It was already a precious stone and looked set to increase in value so we had a look at the jewellery on sale there:  


After admiring one of the pendants and haggling we got the price down to £114. I asked Jacqueline if she would like the pendant as a souvenir of our holiday but she seemed only mildly interested so we left the shop. Outside she told me she would have liked it but we had recently spent a good deal of money on jewellery from Ebay.  I went straight back in and bought it.

After note: Some years after the holiday we had the pendant valued and it had doubled its price).  

The next morning we left Jasper to drive the 240 miles to our next destination. Our hosts told us it was a 5 hour drive. That became a challenge for me.

After 2/3 of the journey completed we stopped at a place called Clearwater for refreshments and then 4 and a quarter hours after leaving Jasper we arrived here:

Kamloops. We had forward booked our accommodation from Jasper and drove straight there.

The house was called "Top of the World" which seemed very appropriate when we saw the view from the rear of their house: 


Our stay there was sheer luxury, for the ridiculous price of £29.50, including an extravagant breakfast menu:


Our stay in the town was very enjoyable. Sunny weather, fine food and good entertainment in a local park where a fete was taking place.

On day 12 of our holiday we left Kamloops on another long leg of our tour to a place which is in most of the skiing holiday brochures:

The town of WHISTLER where accommodation rates are comparatively higher.

We had again forward booked this place:

GOURMET LODGE. Bed & breakfast was the highest of the holiday. £45 a night.


A beautiful place and sunny too. But most visitors would prefer this setting:

The 2010 winter Olympic games were held here.

The gourmet breakfast lived up to its name:

We were each given an enormous bowl of fruit followed by a cooked breakfast which was accompanied by ( on the same plate) waffles smothered in fresh strawberries and cream.

We were now on the final leg of our tour to:

When we entered the city we spotted a familiar sign pointing to:


Stanley Park. So we paid it a visit.

We knew very little of the accommodation we had chosen for our final night and we were very surprised when we arrived there:

It was a garden Centre and Jacqueline thought she was in heaven.

We were given a free run of the house. Two lounges and a private bathroom. In the evening we went downtown to search for our evening meal. We appeared to be the only two people there who were not Chinese so no prizes for guessing what we ate:

The menu said Rice & Noodles plus the choice of three other dishes. Our plates were piled so high we had to turn down one course. And all this for just £2.15 each including China tea.

The next day we caught a bus to downtown Vancouver and explored the place.

It was beautiful with lots of interesting things to see and do.

And so we came to the end of a very memorable holiday and we returned our hire car at the airport.

When I handed our car back in, the lady receptionist checked our mileage and said "Wow!" 1893 miles in two weeks.

 Later I checked the petrol consumption, our 3.6 litre car had achieved 25mpg.

Our Zoom flight home was operational this time so no reserve aircraft was necessary and we landed safely after an uneventful flight.

AFTER NOTE; Owing to the recession in Europe and North America and due to the rise in the price of oil, ZOOM Airline was declared bankrupt on 27th Aug 2008.