With the red VW golf collected on Tuesday morning we hit the highway heading north (William on the Avis desk was absolutely gobsmacked that Craig had never had Salisbury steak) towards Tofino. Our only stop (apart from the road works) was at the Coombs Old Country Market for lunch where we had hoped to see the fabled goats on the roof! Sadly the goats were elsewhere today but we picked up some beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables to take to our Airbnb in Tofino along with some lunch.
Leaving Whistler behind we set off on our expedition (yes, really!) to Victoria. Being on a budget, the one way fee to drop off our rental car on Vancouver Island was way too expensive to justify so instead, we chose the economy route. We began by driving our car to Vancouver airport to drop it off. We then sat around for an hour and a half at Vancouver Airport Arrivals (because Katy insists on being early whenever there is public transport involved!), before picking up the BC Ferries Connector bus from the airport to the ferry terminal. We then had to change buses at the terminal, get on the ferry then, get back on the bus before docking to take us to downtown Victoria. The whole process took us nearly 8 hours so by the time we arrived in Victoria, we were absolutely shattered! We arrived at Victoria bus terminal at 17:30 and, after a walk, checked into HI: Victoria Hostel, with lovely staff and a modern kitchen & living room we thought our luck was in. However we reached our very cramped, dingy room and Craig went off to use the male bathroom only to discover it was contained within a 40 bed dorm. We were beginning to discover this definitely wasn't a typical youth & backpackers hostel!
As we entered our last morning in Jasper we decided to leave the Bear Paw alone for today and instead went for a diner breakfast at Smitty's as we had no plans to stop on the drive south. After a quick lap around the town to stretch our legs, we headed off. As Jasper and Alberta shrunk in the rear-view mirror we crossed the border into British Colombia (where the signs have no French at all!) and followed the twisting mountain trails down to Kamloops. A 5 hour journey was forecast by the Sat-Nav although, slow moving vehicles, a toilet stop and road works pushed the timer closer to 6 by the time we parked up at the Alpine Motel. If we are being honest, having visited on our honeymoon, neither of us thought we would ever be back in Kamloops however, it served a purpose as a half way stop and our dinner and drinks at On the Rocks absolutely hit the spot!
After a quick breakfast at the Whitebark Cafe (note to self Katy - you intend to recreate their breakfast cups when you are home, this will jog your memory when you are rereading this post) we landed in the supermarket in Banff to stock up on the essentials for our night ahead. Tonights accommodation had no running water, electricity, plumbing and was miles away from anything so preplanning was very important. We quickly grabbed some pasta & sauce, some muffins for breakfast the next day and of course, the very essential, marshmallows for the inevitable campfire.
Next stop was Emerald Lake, somewhere high on Craig's list of places he wanted to see, and despite the dull and rainy weather it was still as beautiful. It is a stunning emerald green colour and truly lives up to it's name. We hiked round the lake on sadly what was a truly appalling path however the views more than made up for it (rain spots in lake).
A 3:15am alarm and after only 3 hours sleep we crawled into a taxi to Halifax airport for our flight to Calgary. Despite the super early start we were both extremely excited to return to, truly, one of our favourite cities. We both managed to grab a little shut eye on the plane although, unfortunately not seated together, Katy managed to fall asleep on the shoulder of the poor gentleman next to her - who thankfully took it very well (or was kind enough not to mention it)! We landed at 09:00, hopped on the express bus to downtown and, laden with our luggage, we headed off to a Starbucks to grab a coffee and try to keep us awake for the few hours until our Airbnb was ready. We followed our coffee with a Mexican salad lunch at Original Joe's (it tasted like a healthy taco), and took advantage of their Wine Wednesday discount (Katy) to while away the time until check-in. Once 3 o'clock FINALLY rolled round we headed to our Airbnb and it was definitely worth the wait as it was possibly the nicest of our accommodations so far!
We packed up the car one last time and set off on our last road trip in eastern Canada on Monday with an earlier start than anticipated (on account of the lack of alcohol in Baddeck) and we arrived in downtown Halifax for early afternoon (fondly bidding our Nissan goodbye). We checked into Dalhousie University and faced one of the first real hard moments of the adventure so far, we were in separate beds!
Following a long lie and a quick breakfast at our hotel we hopped back in the car, topped the tank up with more fuel and set off on our next leg of our journey. We didn't see much of Moncton but that had always been the plan as it used as somewhere to stop off between our tour of the Gaspé Peninsula and our tour of the Ceilidh & Cabot Trails.
This next part of our trip took us out of New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia and we could most definitely see the similarities between it and home, and not just because of some of the place names (and the reduction in French signs)!
It took us just over 4 hours to drive to Mabou with a quick stop off in New Glasgow at the lovely BaKED for some lunch. They used milk bottles as water jugs and jam jars as glasses so it was a very eco-friendly little spot, and the broccoli and potato soup was delicious! Although Craig did wonder that given the recent change of cannabis laws in Canada that potentially "BaKED" may have been a whole different type of cafe!