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Day 7 : Friday 1st October 2004

Sea to Sky...

Today was going to be a fairly packed day, so we started off early from the motel and grabbed breakfast at a local Tim Horton's on the way out of Port Alberni.

Our only stop-off on the way back to Nanaimo was at Cathedral Grove, where there is a section of forest containing many giant trees, some of which are over 800 years old. There were some walks through the forest, but it was simply the amazement of seeing these enormous, ancient living trees that was awe-inspiring.

We carried on our journey and arrived in Nanaimo about an hour later, at mid-morning. After a series of spectacular wrong turns and some classic navigational faux-pas, we eventually managed to find our way to the ferry terminal. We got in completely the wrong queue and got stuck behind a minibus full of people all paying separately . While cars flowed past on either side, I started to get very concerned that we wouldn't make the ferry. The next sailing was not for another four hours and missing the ferry would have jeopardised our plans to take the Sea to Sky Highway and visit Whistler.

As it turned out, we just squeezed on the ferry and made the serene journey back to mainland Canada. Whereas the Tsawwassen ferry terminal is south of Vancouver, the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal is situated on the North Shore. This made it a perfect destination for a day trip up to Whistler, which is situated a couple of hours drive north of Vancouver city.

Once we disembarked the ferry, we found the highway runs right past the ferry terminal. However it immediately became obvious, that, being a Friday, many people were leaving Vancouver for a weekend up in the mountains and the road was very busy. Therefore the journey up to Whistler was frustratingly slow. We stopped off on the way at Shannon Falls, a 335m high waterfall and stunningly spectacular.

Whistler itself was quiet and, to be honest, pretty much what I expected for a ski resort out of season. There was no snow on the mountains (slightly strange for this time of year) and the town had that Alpine, chilled out appearance.

Due to the slowness of the journey up, it wasn't long before darkness set in and we had to make our way back to Vancouver to stay with our friends for another night. Despite some initial fuel worries and inept night navigation nearer to Vancouver, we made our way back safely to Yaletown.