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Prince Rupert, Port Hardy, Johnstone Straits,Victoria

Sept. 9, 2009   Heading toward, Prince Rupert, our next ferry destination, we were treated to a cornucopia of wildlife.  We spotted Stone Sheep, deer, moose and a small herd of wild horses.  As we journeyed south, we discovered a detour that would lead us back briefly into Alaska and a bear fishing site.  In Hyder, AK., on Fish Creek, the US Park Service has built extensive boardwalks over the water to provide safe viewing of bears fishing for salmon.  We were treated to both black bears and grizzlies at that destination.  Observed an unusual, I thought, interaction between two grizzlies. (We were told they were brothers.)  One was a talented and swift hunter, the other seemed rather lazy and inept.  The successful hunter would snag a fish and eat about half and then allow his brother to finish it, as the hunter would return to the river for his next catch.  They put on quite a show for us.

Prince Rupert is a salmon and halibut fishing and canning town.  For us,  it was the site of the ferry departure to Port Hardy, Vancouver Island.  Departing at 7:30 AM, this was a 15 hour trip, with upgraded ticket we were in the ferry version of first class.  For an additional $30.00, we had a 180 degree viewing area, snacks and comfy recliner chairs with foot rest.  This long but pleasant trip was enhanced by numerous humpback whale sightings and the lovely mountain lined channels.  In Port Hardy, we did some hiking along the Quatse River trail.  The towering western hemlocks with their low sweeping branches and the plentiful ferns created  a magical walk.  Our enjoyment was interrupted by our sighting of a black bear ahead of us on the trail, we retreated quietly.  Later in the evening, we drove further up the river to a wooden bridge overlooking some black bears feeding.  One bear appeared to be somewhat annoyed by the camera clicks,  as I failed to get him in focus due to his fast movement, I realized he had disappeared in the area of a trail which led to where I was standing.  At this point, he was about 20 feet below me.  Processing this information, I hollered to Alan and ran back to our vehicle, 100 feet away in about 10 seconds.  The RV was locked but fortunately the bear had not come up from the riverbed.  The following morning, we had a much less dramatic nature experience as we walked along the low tidal flats at the Bay and spotted 20-30 male and female bald eagles and hundreds of gulls.

Continuing our journey south, at Port McNeil we boarded a highly recommended whale watching tour that traveled into the Johnstone Straits.  We spotted dozens of sea lions, hundreds of pacific white sided dolphins, numerous humpback and killer whales.  It was a thrill to see the Orcas and a joy to watch the hundreds of dolphins jumping alongside our boat, another highlight for us.  The original four hour tour was expanded to six hours as the captain sought to deliver sightings of everything promised.  Felt like we were part of a National Geographic film.

Upon our arrival in Victoria, we found a Blues Bash and festival in full swing along the harbor.  Known as "the garden city", this capital of British Columbia is true to its name.  Manicured gardens and potted flowers, along with Victorian lighting, on the main streets and at the Parliament building (with Canadian geese in the lawn) overlook the waterfront.  After wandering along the waterfront for the afternoon, we moved on to Saanichton, BC,  destination of our final ferry of this trip.  A nearby estuary provided a refuge for migrating Canadian geese, and we had a show that went on through the night.
Following morning took off for Vancouver, we are now at 10,000 miles and counting.

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