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Month Eighty-Five was a pretty great one because I got to spend most of it in one of my favorite countries: Canada!
I started the month in the Kootenay Rockies, a part of the country I hadn’t been to before, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring.
From there, I headed up to Banff and Yoho National Parks where I did some new to me hikes, visited two of my favorite lakes in the world, explored Banff town, celebrated Canada Day in Field, and stayed in one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in.
After quick stops in lovely Revelstoke and to hike in Glacier National Park, I spent a night at the hostel I volunteered at in Shuswap Lake in 2013 then headed to the Pemberton/Whistler area for a few days of hiking and exploring.
My last week in Canada was spent in Vancouver, my favorite city in the world and a place I try to return to as often as I can.
The last week of the month I spent back in the U.S., working a couple of events at the Gorge and spending a beautiful sunny couple of days in Seattle.
Countries Visited: USA, Canada
- Washington: George, Quincy, North Bend, Seattle
- Canada: British Columbia – Rossland, Trail, Nelson, Ainsworth, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Field, Revelstoke, Sicamous, Squilax, Lillooet, Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish, Vancouver Alberta – Banff
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, Glacier National Park of Canada.
Islands Visited: Granville Island in Vancouver
Best Meals: Sweet soy and lime crispy chicken wings from Yum Son in Nelson; Pear and almond tart from Nelson Farmers Market; Fried chicken sandwich with parmesan truffle fries from Firehall Kitchen in Cranbrook; Prawn bao buns and roasted cauliflower from Three Bears Brewery and Restaurant in Banff; Veggie burger from Alpine Cafe in Whistler; Maple glazed salmon from Granville Island Market; Blueberry and white chocolate sourdough from Terra Breads in Vancouver; Halibut fish and chips from The Fish Counter in Vancouver; Rhubard and custard danish from Kits Farmers Market in Vancouver; Maple donut from Honey Doughnuts in Deep Cove.
Worst Meals: Nothing comes to mind.
Best Craft Beer: The Rhubarbarian fruit beer at Torchlight Brewing in Nelson; Hot Pink Lemonade Sour at Spectrum Beer Company in Vancouver; Albertosaurus Tart Fruit Ale by Campio Brewing Co.
- Pulpit Rock and Flag Pole Hike in Nelson, British Columbia 3.9 miles
- Sulphur Mountain Summit Hike in Banff, Alberta 7.3 miles
- Lake Louise Lakeside Trail in Banff National Park, Alberta 3 miles
- Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots Trail in Banff National Park, Alberta 7.1 miles
- Marion Lake Hike in Glacier National Park, British Columbia 5.4 miles
- Joffre Lakes Trail in Pemberton, British Columbia 5.6 miles
- Train Wreck Trail in Whistler, British Columbia 1.6 miles
- Burnaby Lake loop in Burnaby, British Columbia 6.75 miles
- Cleveland Dam and Capilano River Provincial Park Trails, North Vancouver, BC 2.3 miles
- Saint Marks Summit in Cypress Provincial Park, North Vancouver, BC 6.7 miles
- Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, North Bend, Washington 4.6 miles
- Cedar Butte Trail in North Bend, Washington 4 miles
Watching: Candy, Sweet Tooth, Stranger Things, Glitch
Reading: Euphoria by Lily King – My second book by Lily King and another great one although I wish it had been longer.
I wrote two new posts this month – a guide to things to do on lovely Washington Island in Door County, Wisconsin, and things to do near the Gorge Amphitheatre – my current home for summer.
Falling in Love With Nelson
I always knew I would love Nelson in the Kootenay Rockies because I had heard such great things about this beautiful small town with a hippie vibe. Well, I was right – Nelson is fabulous!
During my three days there I walked along the lake, did a day trip to Ainsworth Hot Springs to swim through a hot springs cave, hiked the short but steep trail to Pulpit Rock and the Flag Pole, sampled beers at a couple of local breweries, checked out the farmers market and Cottonwood Falls, and browsed the excellent independent stores and boutiques around town.
If you want to do a Canadian Rockies road trip, I highly recommend visiting the Kootenay Rockies, especially Nelson.
Lots of Canadian Rocky Mountain Hikes
The Canadian Rockies are my favorite mountains in the world and from what I have seen so far around the world, the most beautiful, so I am always so happy to revisit, especially to hike.
I didn’t do any massive full-day hikes because there was still a lot of snow at higher elevations and I was traveling with my Dad, but I did do some great hikes including to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Johnston Canyon in Banff, and to Marion Lake in Glacier National Park. It felt so good to be back in these mountains!
Visiting my Favorite Lakes
Ever since I first visited in 2010, Moraine Lake has been my favorite lake in the world. It may be a lot more crowded there these days but it is just as beautiful so I really enjoyed taking my Dad there – he was just as blown away by its beauty as I was that first time, and still am.
We also visited beautiful Lake Louise and walked the lakeshore trail, another gorgeous Canadian Rockies lake, and Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park where it was unfortunately raining.
Some Great Animal Sightings
I had a few great animal sightings when I was in the Canadian mountains including big horn sheep and mountain goats in Banff and Yoho National Parks, a porcupine climbing a tree in Glacier National Park, lots of chipmunks and ground squirrels, a cheeky fox outside the wilderness hostel in Banff, and a bear on Mount Cypress in Vancouver. No pikas though, unfortunately.
A Return to Field and Canada Day Celebrations
It was so nice to spend an evening at Truffles Pigs restaurant with my friend Paulina who I met in Field back when I was volunteering at a hostel there in 2015.
Dad and I went back the next day for the Canada Day celebrations. Every year the town has a massive water fight – the fire service versus the town – then a town BBQ. It was the most fun I have had in ages and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Canada’s birthday! I would love to do it again next year.
Staying in a Wilderness Hostel in Banff National Park
The best place I stayed on my Canada trip was also the cheapest and I wish I had stayed longer, it was just so nice. We stayed at the Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel just off the main highway that cuts through Banff National Park.
The hostel was cozy and everyone was so friendly. There is no WiFi so everyone sits in the lounge around the wood-burning fire and shares stories. It was so wonderful and I will 100% be back.
Hanging Out at Granville Island in the Sun
Granville Island Market is one of my favorite places in Vancouver and I ended up going there twice during my week in Vancouver on this visit. There is so much delicious food here as well as buskers, gorgeous views, and some great stores to check out. It is one of my happy places.
Beach Time in Vancouver
Although the HI hostel in Jericho Beach I stayed at was way too busy for my liking, the location was fabulous, right by Jericho Beach. I spent a few afternoons swimming and reading on the beach which was the relaxation I needed after a couple of busy weeks of travel. I saw a seal, a bald eagle and lots of bunnies there too.
Hiking Cypress Mountain
I knew I wanted to do one of the mountain hikes around Vancouver during my time there and I settled on the Saint Marks Summit trail up Cypress Mountain and I loved it!
It was challenging without being exhausting, the views were stellar, and I saw a bear and some very friendly chipmunks, one of which jumped in my hand and climbed my leg trying to steal my food.
It was a beauty of a hike and reaffirmed why I love Vancouver so much despite it being a ridiculously expensive city to live in these days.
Feeling Fit on the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
After all my high-altitude hiking in the Canadian Rockies, by the time I did the Rattlesnake Ledge trail in Washington on the way back to the Gorge, I was in great hiking shape and basically ran it.
It felt really great to feel fit again and I definitely feel like I am on the right track to hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal this November.
Seattle Fun in the Sun
I love Seattle and I was bummed that on my last visit for Toby’s birthday that the weather wasn’t great. This time around me and my friend Rachel spent two wonderful, sunny days exploring Seattle and it was perfect.
We walked around the Arboretum, explored Ballard’s breweries, shops and the Ballard Locks, ate at Pike Place Market, watched the sunset at Golden Gardens Park, strolled along the waterfront by the Olympic Sculpture Park, explored West Seattle’s downtown, walked the entirety of Alki Beach and watched the sunset there.
Because you are allowed to sleep in your car in the streets of Seattle, we stayed in Casper on quiet streets in Ballard and Alki Beach and it was so nice knowing we wouldn’t be moved on.
Smashed My Face Serum
I was so annoyed with myself when I dropped my new and expensive face serum on the bathroom floor at the hostel I was staying at in Nelson and it smashed, scattering glass everywhere.
Not Sleeping Well in Hostel Dorms
Because prices for the cheapest hotel in some places I visited on my Canada trip were over $300 per night, I decided to stay in a few hostel dorms to keep costs down.
I enjoy still staying in hostels occasionally, and I met some great people staying in hostels on this trip, but I also had the regular hostel problems – people coming in late and turning on the light, making noise, and rustling paper bags, as well as farters, snorers and early risers.
I am a lighter sleeper these days and I definitely felt at times like I was lacking sleep. I actually ended up sleeping in my van on the street in Vancouver for a few nights because I slept much better there than in the dorm I was in.
Crazy Crowds in the Canadian National Parks
Canada is having the same issue as the U.S. during pandemic times – overcrowded National Parks. Visiting at the end of June I thought it wouldn’t be too bad but boy, was I wrong.
It was so crowded in Banff town and National Park that it did take some of the enjoyment out of being there. Yoho was really crowded too – I guess it isn’t a hidden gem anymore. Luckily it was much quieter in Glacier National Park and I thoroughly enjoyed my chilled hike there.
Losing My Glasses
I lost my glasses when I met a friend at the beach for dinner in Vancouver. This wasn’t the end of the world because they were cheap and I could order more, but it was annoying because although I had my prescription sunglasses for the daytime, I had to go without my glasses at night and just put up with everything being a bit blurry.
My eyesight isn’t super bad so I could get by but I don’t feel confident when I can’t see properly and I don’t like it. In the end, my friend found them in her car and I got them back a couple of days later.
Casper’s Battery Going Dead
I stupidly left the lights on in Casper and he died overnight. Luckily one of the hostel receptionists had jumper cables and was able to help me out. We both didn’t know what the hell we were doing but with Toby guiding me through it on the phone we were able to figure it out and I was only delayed by about 30 minutes in the end.
Drama at the Gorge
I won’t go too into it but there was a pretty serious fight that resulted in a whole lot of drama and the physically worse-off participant not being able to drive because she was too beat up.
I ended up driving her BMW to Seattle to help out which was nice because the car drove really well, but also scary because it is worth a lot of money and I was nervous I might get into an accident. In the end it all worked OK, on my end at least.
A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.
Actually, this isn’t too bad considering I was traveling in Canada for a lot of the month, which isn’t cheap. My Dad did pay for more of the accommodation and food for our two-week road trip than I did so this could have definitely been higher, although if I had been by myself I would have stayed in cheaper accommodations and probably wouldn’t have eaten out as much.
My 11 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of two nights in a wilderness hotel dorm in Banff National Park (for me and Dad), one night in a train caboose room at the Squilax Hostel at Shuswap Lake (for me and Dad), two nights in an apartment in Whistler (for me and Dad), and six nights in a hostel dorm in Vancouver.
My 19 nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of three nights in a hostel dorm in Nelson (Dad paid), a night at a hotel in Kimberley (Dad paid), two nights at a hostel dorm in Banff (Dad paid), one night in a cabin near Golden (Dad paid), two nights at a hotel in Pemberton (Dad paid), one night in my van at Tulalip Casino, seven nights in our trailer on-site at the Gorge, and two nights in my van in Seattle.
Food and Drink $696
Not a cheap month for food and drink costs but I was traveling for a lot of the month and I ate so much good food and drank some great craft beer in Seattle and Canada so it’s not really surprising.
- Vancouver T-Shirt $33
- Long summer dress $35
- Singlet top $10
- Shorts x 3 $38
- Gas $269
- Vancouver buses $5
- Parking $12
- Entry for two to Ainsworth Hot Springs $47
- Shuttle for two to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise $12
- Hulu $7.50
- Phone plan $35
- Toiletries $57.50
- Camping mattress and pump $26
- Laundry $8
- Locks for hostel lockers $10.50
- Earrings $19.50
- Books $12
- Alltrails Premium Membership One Year $30
- HI Hostels Yearly Membership $18
- Charity $23.50
- Courier to ship Green Card to Canada $65
- Handbag $35
- Souvenirs $8
- Three pairs of prescription glasses $87.50
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van/RV Costs $37
- Van Insurance $37
What’s in Store for Next Month
The first ten days of month 86 will be spent working two back-to-back festivals – including the biggest and craziest festival on the Gorge calendar: Watershed. Temperatures are meant to top 110 degrees for multiple days in a row during the show so I’m sure that will be a lowlight next month!
After the craziness is over, Toby and I are hoping to spend three days camping and hiking in Mount Rainier National Park to escape the desert heat, then I will be picking one of my best friends up in Seattle and heading to the San Juan Islands for six days – I can’t wait!
Then it is back to work at the Gorge for another couple of events to round out the month, with a quick two day trip to Seattle in between.
To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here