CanadaPosted by Malin Tue, August 17, 2010 07:53:07

Victoria is a really nice city, and compared to most North American cities, it has a city center like European cities - not a six lane highway, but streets you can walk in... Our first day there we drove through down town and followed the road along the beach front to Cordova Bay. After that drive we had the impression that Victoria must have a big wealthy population based on the houses and the properties along the coast. Not having the money to spend to stay at any of the nice hotels in this area, we ended up at Ocean View RV camping just south of Sidney, which has the cleanest bathrooms we have seen after three months on the road. After driving more than 3000 km in about two weeks, we needed a little rest and ended up staying at Ocean View for seven days.

Walking around in Victoria is a perfect way to spend a day, because the city has a great atmosphere, is full of flowers, nice shops and restaurants. Laura and Andrew had given us a few tips about places to eat and our afternoon was spent sipping cold white vine in the sun at Canoe Restaurant while looking over the harbor.

After some more strolling around in the city center, a tasty dinner at the Tapa Bar was followed by listening to The Casual Sax Quartet on the street corner.

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Vancouver Island

CanadaPosted by Malin Mon, August 16, 2010 21:46:42

We did not have the best start for our travels on Vancouver Island as it was a long weekend holiday and Canadians love to go camping - which is a good thing, of course, but made it hard to find any available campsites at all. Finally we found a place at an overflow camping at Sproat Lake Provincial Park. It is also in this area that you can find the biggest trees on the island, at Cathedral Grove.

Walking in between them is amazing! The tallest is more than 75 meters tall, and the trunk is almost three meters in diameter. Quite different from the arctic spruce… (and any Norwegian trees…).

Next day was spent in Tofino, which was packed with people. Long weekend strikes again… From Tofino we decided to try a gravel road going to Bamfield a little bit further south, also on the coast. Here we found a road that took us to Pachena Bay. Here we could camp on the beach, and the best of all was that they had a camp site available for us. After travelling inland and in the Arctic for a loooong time it was great to spend a day at the beach. The weather was not the best as there was some strange local fog, but when laying low on the beach the temperature was perfect to read a book.

From Pachena Bay we tried out some logging roads to find our way to Cowichan Lake. Our map was not the best and we would recommend the back country map book if you want to try out more logging roads on Vancouver Island. We had to turn around once (that cost us an hour) because we were stopped by some active logging and the road was closed.

Luckily we only meet one logging truck and that was on a wide part of the road. We managed to find our way to Cowichan Lake, but we wanted to continue and that night we ended up at Jordan River at Juan De Fuca Strait.

Steve, who is a pilot I worked with in Patriot Hills, Antarctica, was going camping with some friends on Salt Spring Island for two days and we were invited to join them. Salt Spring Island is a beautiful place with many artists and local producers of vine, vegetables, cheese and bread. On Saturday we went to the farmers marked in Ganges which had a great selection of it all.

One day we bought fresh crab from a local fisher and we cooked it at our camp at the ocean side, drinking white wine and eating a great crab dinner.

Luxury camping. Thanks to Steve, Kristy, Laura and Andrew for a great camping trip in Ruckle Provincial Park.

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Backroads in BC

CanadaPosted by Espen Fri, August 13, 2010 08:38:54

Backroads in BC

A big challenge for people travelling by car is that most maps, and all info in the Visitor Centers, are made with the average RV tourist in mind. In the long run, this gets really boring if you are driving a big Patrol with All- or Mud tires. Not that this would be an absolute requirement for most logging roads, but at least the view feels a little better. So, how to solve this little “problem”? By getting the old Forestry Maps! Not very accurate as the ones we got were discontinued in 1997, but that is part of the fun… Found the first maps in Burns Lake, and turned off the main road and headed for Francois Lake. Felt a little bad about going into active logging areas without a VHF, but had no problems. Another nice little detail about the Forestry Maps is that they show all the Forestry Camp sites, which are free!

We spent the night at Ootsi Lake and studied maps and a thunderstorm passing the area. The rain just missed us, and the view was fantastic! The next day we saw several places where black smoke came up from the forest where the lightning had hit and started fires. Still, it seemed that the local fire departments wasn’t too stressed out about it, and we heard that now the fires are not fought unless there is a risk for loosing people or infrastructure.

One of the things we wanted to see in the area was a man made water fall that runs out of the Francois Lake. After the Kenny Dam came up, a new “outlet” was made to be able to control the levels. Now the gates were wide open to provide cold water for the salmon moving up in the rivers downstream, and the amounts of water going through were massive! A retired fire fighter we met at the camp site told us that one inch drop in the water level, equaled about 2 billion liters of water (if I remember right…), and the level was down at least a couple of inches in the last 24 hours.

Well! After poking around on logging roads between Burns Lake and Vanderhoof for a while, we got back onto the paved road and continued on to Lillooet, and there we took a detour going north up to Seton Lake and Anderson Lake. A fascinating scenery, and some incredibly steep switchbacks along the lakes in the area. I think the steepest was graded 18%. It was already dark when we came to Shalalth where we had planned to camp, and we could just not find the site. Drove on along Anderson Lake to D’Arcy and found a camp ground there. Glad I had the Cibies… The next morning we discussed going back up to have a look at the road and the area in daylight, but decided to push on towards Vancouver Island.

And that turned out to be a good decision. What we didn’t know was that it was a long weekend, and we showed up at Horseshoe bay for a ferry to Vancouver Island on an early Friday afternoon. The place was pretty much packed, but fortunately we didn’t have to wait too long. After about an hour we drove onboard the ferry. The problems started when we went looking for a camp site on the east coast of the island. Full, full, and full! Ended up close to Port Alberni where there was a Provincial Park with overflow camping in their parking lot. Finally on Vancouver Island!

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Driving south!

CanadaPosted by Espen Thu, August 05, 2010 09:44:41


It has been a while since the last posting. We went back home to Norway for two weeks for visiting family and friends, but are now back on the road. The 22nd of July we were back in Whitehorse, and kind of felt that the time home had been too short, but at the same time it was good to be back travelling again. We had scheduled some maintenance for our car at a local Nissan garage, mainly because I wanted to see if they could read the log of the engine’s ECU…which they couldn’t… They had the Consult3 reader, but the ZD30 engine was not in the database. S…! Really wanted to check the log after some sensor issues. The oil pressure switch is changed and dash warning light is gone, but I still haven’t figured out the loss in effect from a little altitude. Will definitely try the volt meter on the MAF one of the first few days.

Well! From Whitehorse we drove pretty much as straight south as we could. Back east to Watson Lake, camped on the way, and drove south along the Highway 37. Saw 10 black bears along the way that day, even two cubs!

For the night we aimed for Stewart and Hyder on the coast, and got there quite late. We had read about Salmon Glacier and an excellent bear watching area, and the next day we went sightseeing. The glacier is fantastic, and there are a lot of possibilities for camping up past the glacier view point. We drove almost all the way down a dirt road to the glacier itself, but turned around where there was a piece missing from the road. Normally not a problem, but this missing piece was over a 30 meter cliff and the edge looked soft…

Back down in Hyder we parked at the bear watching area, and as we parked a guy came over to us and said hi. It turned out that he was from Israel, and was on a holiday in US and Canada with his wife. The interesting part was that he told us that his friend from back home had asked him to keep an eye out for a black, Norwegian, Nissan Patrol, and where he had laughed it away with “US and Canada is big, I won’t see them”. And there we met. His friend is also a Nissan Patrol owner, and a well-known Patrol-enthusiast in Israel, and also on the Australian forum (patrol4x4.com) where I immediately recognized his name. Small world…

Back in Canada (we actually crossed the border to Alaska to get into Hyder, before driving back into BC for a view of the Salmon Glacier) we kept going south, and we were quite fascinated of seeing the forest change from small “arctic-style” trees to the huge BC trees. We joined the highway coming from Prince Rupert, and suddenly we were back in the civilization. Cars and houses everywere. I think we felt a little claustrophobic… But we did manage to get away as we came across some old forestry maps! More about that in the next post!


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A holiday from the holiday

CanadaPosted by Malin Thu, July 29, 2010 23:21:40

People thought we sounded crazy when we said we went home for a holiday from the holiday, and I guess it is kind of crazy, but at home it was a 60th birthday to celebrate and friends and family to visit.

First stop in Norway was Ålesund were we flew into the Vigra Airport. A friend picked us up at the airport early in the morning and while we waited for a café to open up we had a sightseeing trip in the area. On this short trip we spent almost half the time on the road in tunnels going through mountains or under the sea. I realized then that on our drive for two months from Calgary to Prudhoe Bay, all the way north in Alaska, and back south again to Whitehorse, we had not driven through a single tunnel. That is amazing coming from Norway were we have tunnels all over, and especially on the west coast, where Norway is almost like a Swiss cheese.

In Ålesund the 60th birthday celebrations started with a good lunch and a local football match between Ålesund and Molde. From Ålesund we drove through a couple of tunnels, took a ferry across a fjord and drove a bit more before we got to Volda, where Espen is born and raised.

The west coast of Norway has an amazing landscape with fjords and mountains – it is just too bad that the weather rarely cooperates. But on a sunny day I do not think you can find a more beautiful place. So we enjoyed some sun and rain while visiting friends and family and celebrating birthdays.

From Ålesund we had one night stop-over in Oslo staying with friends and eating good food. The next day we filled up a friend’s car with all our bags (two big carry on, three big backpacks and a ski bag), stuff we did not need on the road trip, and drove to Siljan were I am from.

More friends and family to visit and it was good to see them all again. While in Siljan we went for a swim in a lake and it was certainly colder than the last few places we have been swimming, as that has been hot springs with a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius.

One day we visited friends on a small Island, Sandøya, were they stayed in a cabin for their summer holiday. There we did not even dear putting our toes in the sea, as this was about 18 degrees. The summer was late in Norway this year.

It was nice to be able to go home for a short time

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