Written on: 21/10/2005 by lofty1 (4 reviews written)
All aspects of the holiday were great.
First time experience of Canada or Alaska.
Not too keen on Vancouver after dark, otherwise great!
Was it a mistake? Certainly not. Late in 2004 I gave my wife the nod to go ahead and arrange our main holiday for 2005. I normally do it, so it was a welcome break. I took little or no interest in what she was doing until she mentioned a week's timeshare at Kelona, a cruise to Alaska, a train ride through the Canadian Rockies, and the suggestion that we then hire a recreational vehicle for a further two weeks. Surprised at not only the time period of 5 weeks, but also its apparent extravagance, I confirmed my approval.
Without any help from me she went ahead and arranged every aspect of the holiday... Flight for Gatwick, fight from Vancouver to Kelona, a weeks relaxation, flight from Kelona back to Vancouver, Cruise on the 'Norwegian Sun' to Alaska calling at five ports, return to Vancouver, then on to the 'Rocky Mountaineer', and then two weeks in the RV.
We set off in the middle of May. The seven day cruise took us to America. Somewhere I'd said when she started planning I wouldn't go, but then if you don't know that Alaska is in America you don't put up any objection, and quite frankly apart from the performance of getting through the American customs at Vancouver Port, you wouldn't know you were in America anyway.
The journey from start to finish was a pleasure. A very nice inside cabin, very calm seas, fantastic food, and truly spectacular views. What more could we want? We saw glaciers and mountains, whales and eagles, otters and seal's, all living in the wonderful almost untouched area called Alaska. Did we find Gold? Yes but only the crumb's that had been left behind. It wasn't the quantity, it was the experience of visiting an area which in earlier days had been the home of thousands who chased the gold, now recorded in history as the gold rush. It wasn't a fortune but it was an experience.
Sadly the cruise had to come to an end. Back to Vancouver and on the a two day train ride from Vancouver to Calgary, with of course an arranged over night stay on a ranch, and then two weeks in a motor caravan or recreational vehicle as the North Americans call them.
I was not still not disappointed, everything went like clockwork, the train ran on time, and the service on the 'Rocky Mountaineer' Gold leaf, was absolutely fantastic, and we really didn't want for a thing, well, better weather at the start of the journey perhaps.
We saw osprey's nesting along side the line, passed goods trains that seemed to go on for miles - well over a hundred trucks long, we saw deer and a family of black bears, as well as snow capped mountains and water falls. An all new experience, not to be missed.
Having disembarked from the train, we spent one night in a hotel outside Calgary, and two further weeks in our six-berth motor home or recreational vehicle. Why did the wife book such a large vehicle? Well actually she didn't, the one booked was a reasonable size and she did consult on this because she wasn't prepared to drive! Just right for two people without being difficult to drive. However, only a few weeks before we left, the company concerned phoned to say the smaller one wasn't available, and so they had allocated us a six-berth unit at no extra cost. We managed, and the extra room was very welcome. Pleasingly, the traffic was light, and wide roads along with the automatic gearbox and cruise control made driving a pleasure. Not even a lorry, they are banned from some roads within the National Parks .
The two weeks was an ideal time period, allowing us to venture through the Rockies from Calgary, to lake Louise, and on to Jasper, staying mainly in the national park campsites, which provided all the services we needed at a very reasonable cost. Finally on to Mount Robson, who after a short wait obliged and exposed its peak from behind the cloud, where apparently it hides for most of the year.
Animals initially were in short supply, although warning signs were everywhere. However, with the help of a park warden who was most helpful, we encountered black bears, deer, elk, a female mouse, and a Cougar, which we later found out it was unusual to see. Then there were the little fellows chipmunks and ground squirrels.
Even with five weeks away it had to come to an end, and so we drove back to Vancouver, still enjoying the views which were so different to anywhere else we have been, where we dropped off the RV, and having covered over 2500 kilometers, were pleased to be able to confirm to the company that it had been without incident.
The safe flight home to Gatwick was welcome; the fact that our luggage went on to Manchester seemed to be a minor problem after such a wonderful holiday. I'm pleased to say it did find it's way home by courier. We were just pleased it wasn't lost on the way out.
For a photographic experience of this Holiday go to :- http://homepage.ntlworld.com/albert.rowe/c.1.htm
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