Racoons, Deer and Otters but NO Bear

Vancouver Island is a two hour ferry ride away and on another rainy day the views were very limited . With a smaller population the pace is a lot slower here. Victoria our home for the next 4 nights is built around a lovely harbour with the most huge impressive hotel called The Empress, the museum and government buildings all surrounding the inner harbour, full of boats for whale watching and fishing boats, plus float planes for sightseeing tours or commuting to Vancouver.
The Butchart gardens are very famous here and Sunday morning was reasonably quiet, although by the size of the car park it must be manic in the summer season.
 It was nice to see the garden in Autumn, I am not really into rows of annuals and was very happy to see the structure and form of the garden as it was settling into winter. It is very large with a clever garden built in an old quarry and a lovely mature Japanese garden.
Canada is literally covered in trees, and every rock formation is carpeted with the thickest green mosses I have ever seen. We were delighted to have to stop on the road for deer which seemed to roam every where and one night at dinner there was even a Racoon in the rafters looking down on everyone.
Victoria has a fabulous Museum and after a very long walk through a large park, which had masses of squirrels running everywhere,  I spent a couple of hours (and it could have easily been more) firstly at the Mammoth exhibition and then to the First Nations and Vancouver Island section which were  both outstanding.
Before departing Canada we had two days free and decided to go to Whistler. It was  another ferry ride from a town called Nanaimo, about a quarter of the way up Vancouver Island  (this time in the fog and we saw nothing) then an hour and half drive up the most beautiful road along the coast of the Straight of Georgia.The scenery and views of the coast are  spectacular with trees  growing down to the water line and the water full of floating logs.
Whistler is the town and the name of the biggest ski field in Canada. It hosted the winter Olympic games in 2010 and now is just as busy in the summer with biking trails everywhere, shooting competitions and many other activities. Another sunny day !!! So we hired bikes and once again loved the tracks. This time through forested areas and around little lakes  and beside two golf courses all lined with fabulous houses. We had been told here were lots of bears in the area, especillay on the  golf courses and we were hoping to see one trundling down the 18th !! But NO
Our hotel was a good hours walk from Whistler which we did once ! It was sitting on the edge of little lake Nita.  The walk was lined with beautiful huge houses and apartments, past little lakes which are obviously used for swimming in the summer by the number of diving platforms and kayak hires.
I suppose it was fitting that our last full day in Canada was pouring with rain again. Our bear hunt wasn’t over and we drove south to see the Olympic Ski jump area in the Callaghan Valley. We were told bears are frequently on this road… ha ha,  plus the ski park wasn’t open for the season. We did see a beautiful waterfall! and the countryside was certainly spectacular.
Oddly the whole time we were in Canada there wasn’t a breath of wind and the harbour in Victoria and lakes around Whistler had stunning reflections . Temperatures were warmer than I expected, although the forecast is for the snow to arrive next week I believe. It is hard to imagine Whistler opening in a week .
Three months traveling is almost over. Our niece’s wedding in Rarotonga has given us the perfect wind down before heading back to New Zealand and the launch of Michelle Chalklin- Sinclair and my lovely Dunedin Fonebook – Photos and Food / Small and classy