.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

A visit to the Burgess Shale. Stanley Glacier, Kootenay National Park

04. Stanley Glacier valley. Looking for fossils (54) Trilobite

One of the world’s most famous fossil sites is Canada’s Burgess Shale, which contains a large assortment of ancient and amazingly well-preserved (often soft-bodied) marine fossils.  Originally discovered at high altitude in the mountains of British Columbia’s Yoho National Park in 1909, the Burgess Shale was one of the important reasons for the designation of the region as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  There are two Burgess Shale sites in Yoho National Park you can visit, both long hikes with significant altitude gain.  One is to Mount Stephen and the other to Walcott Quarry.

Recently a sister site has been discovered further south in Kootenay National Park, about 25 miles (40 km) south of the original site.  That …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 5, 2016 : Exploring Vancouver’s Waterfront

10 Vancouver Conv Center

One of my favorite cities in which to go for a long walk is Vancouver, BC.  It lends itself to walking because its setting is incredibly beautiful, its architecture interesting, and there’s a lot of fascinating street art you can enjoy.  I especially like exploring the harbor area around the new Convention Center and Canada Place.

Pixel Orca, near the Vancouver Convention Center

Pixel Orca, near the Vancouver Convention Center

Situated just outside the Convention Center are several interesting works of art, including Pixel Orca, a massive outdoor piece that definitely catches your eye, partially because it’s framed by beautiful North Vancouver.  It’s a reminder that many Orca pods live off the coast of the city (which you might see if you take a guided boat tour).

The Drop, outside the Vancouver Convention Center

The Drop, outside the Vancouver Convention Center

The Drop, outside the Vancouver Convention Center

The Drop, outside the Vancouver Convention Center

The Drop  resembles a raindrop, but is made of …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Food / North America / Western Canada

Calgary Farmer’s Market

30 Calgary Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets in regions that have four seasons are, as you’d expect, different in character than those you find in tropical climates.  Harvest is seasonal, so the best times to visit them is during the summer and early fall.  Many Farmers’ markets in North America are only open during the summer months, shuttering for the winter.  But not so for the larger markets in big cities.

Those markets that are open all year round need to adapt to the changes in the season.  Most will be in an enclosed building which can be heated when needed (and which keeps you dry and cool in the summer, too).  The local produce in the winter season is much more limited and includes produce …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 8, 2016: A-Maze-ing Laughter

20 Vancouver laughing

When I last visited Vancouver my friend, Harry, took me for a walk around the city to include some of his favorite spots.  One of these was this fun statue called A-Maze-ing Laughter.  This is a fun bronze created by Yue Minjun in 2009; the piece was loaned to the city for its 2010 Winter Olympic celebrations. The sculpture quickly became very popular with Vancouverites and was purchased and donated to the City of Vancouver by Chip and Shannon Wilson in 2012.

The artwork is located in Morton Park along English Bay and consists of 14 separate figures, each 3 meters tall, each created in the artist’s own image while laughing.  There’s a separate concrete bench inscribed,  “May this sculpture inspire …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 18, 2015: Desert Bighorn Sheep

Valley of The Fire StateP Park  (139)

There are few climates harsher to survive in than the desert of the Southwestern USA.  Extreme heat in the summer, freezing winters, little rainfall, few watering holes, and limited grazing prove very challenging.  Few animals can make a go of it here and those that do have a low population density and are hard to find.

It’s a treat when you see some of  these animals, and we were lucky on our last visit to Las Vegas.  During a day trip to Valley of Fire State Park (about an hour northeast of Las Vegas) we spent our time hiking and sightseeing, enjoying the unusual, colorful eroded rocks.  As the sun was starting to set, we drove around a tight corner and …

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.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

A visit to Skedans, Haidi Gwaii

QCI Skeedans 2003 044  Skeedans Island Totems and Guardians

One of the most memorable day-trips I’ve ever been on was to the remnants of the Haida village of Skedans.  It’s a remote and rarely visited place.  Sadly, not much remains of the village, captured near its prime in the image below this paragraph (from 1878), rich with great totem art and beautiful longhouses.

1878 photo of Skedans village. Courtesy the Library and Archives of Canada

1878 photo of Skedans village. Courtesy the Library and Archives of Canada

Skedans is located on the northeastern shore of Louise Island, at the head of Cumshewa Inlet in Haida Gwaii (formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands), off the coast of North Central British Columbia just south of the Alaska panhandle.  That sounds really confusing, so to help you better orient yourself to this remote place, here are a few maps I think will help:

Overview of Haida Gwai's location

Overview of Haida Gwai’s location

 

Location of totems and old Haida villages, Haida Gwaii

Location of totems and old Haida villages, Haida Gwaii

Skedans is also known variously …

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.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver, B.C.

084 Granville Island Market, 10-2014

One of my favorite markets anywhere is the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.  Situated on a piece of reclaimed land, it’s become a peninsula and is an island in name only.  It adjoins False Creek and Burrard Inlet south of downtown Vancouver and is one of those places everyone visiting Vancouver for a few days should see.  It’s not the prettiest setting, not the fanciest facility, but is a colorful venue with a wonderful assortment of food and eateries, and personable vendors (you’d expect no less from Canadians, eh?)

In the early 1900s, Granville Island was an industrial setting and not at all gentrified.  The island was home to factories, plants and sawmills.  After the second World …

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.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

Magnificent Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

010a Takkakaw Falls 07-2014

There are hundreds of amazing places in the Canadian Rockies.  Beautiful lakes and rivers, wonderful mountain peaks and breath-taking vistas from high alpine meadows.  Yoho National Park, in eastern British Columbia, straddles the continental divide on Alberta’s border and not only is a place of great beauty but geologic significance as it is home to the legendary Burgess Shale Formation.  Yoho derives its name (not from a Johnny Depp pirate song but) from the Cree language, meaning “Awe and Wonder”.

The crown gem of this beautiful area, in my humble opinion, is Takakkaw Falls which thunders as it pours into the Yoho Valley not unlike the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley.  Takakkaw Falls has a total drop of 384m (1260 …

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