Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just the Facts



This ad has been getting a lot of air time here lately....Here are some facts.
  • According to-oh-John McCain- "Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long term about the future of the country. By 2030, America's demand for energy will rise by nearly 20 percent. Our jobs, our way of life, and our security depend on the next president beginning to solve this challenge." (Source: John McCain campaign Web site.) No. Obama didn't create high gas prices.
  • We are already drilling for oil in Alaska-1 million barrels a day. Just not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In fact, 95% of Alaska's North Slope is open for drilling (Source: San Francisco Chronicle).
  • The ANWR was set aside in 1960 by the Eisenhower administration and was described as "one of the world's great wildlife areas. The great diversity of vegetation and topography in this compact area, together with its relatively undisturbed condition, led to its selection as ... one of our remaining wildlife and wilderness frontiers" (Source: ANWR website).
  • Drilling in the refuge would have a minimal impact on gas prices. According to Energy Information Association, "if Congress gave the go-ahead to pump oil from Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the crude could begin flowing by 2013 and reach a peak of 876,000 barrels a day by 2025...James Kendell, one of the authors of the study, said the refuge would add to domestic production, but “when you’re talking of a world oil market of over 75 million barrels a day, adding 900,000 barrels by 2025 is a drop in the bucket.”
  • 2013? 2025? For these savings: "But the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an independent statistical agency within the Department of Energy, concluded that new oil from ANWR would lower the world price of oil by no more than $1.44 per barrel—and possibly have as little effect as 41 cents per barrel—and would have its largest impact nearly 20 years from now if Congress voted to open the refuge today...EIA said its projection is that ANWR oil production would amount to 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent of total world oil consumption in 2030." (Source)
Other resources:
~James's website, a good source for starting research.
~Ways to increase fuel efficiency
~Obama's energy plan

Victoria, BC, to home






The original plan was this: get up early and take an early ferry over to Vancouver Island, drive around, see the sights, and possibly take a late ferry back to the Seattle area.

Ahh, the best laid plans. After first leaving my cell phone in the Vancouver hostel, necessitating a 15 mile trip back to get it, and then discovering a flat tire, which turned into buying 4 new tires (I really needed them anyway)...I was considerably delayed! So, while waiting for the ferry, I called a hostel in Victoria. They had beds available, so the plan was made to stay there.

When my ferry arrived, I detoured to see a small winery, where I ended up buying a bottle of rhubarb wine-because where else will I find that?! Then I checked into my hostel and walked around Victoria, stopping in Chinatown for a tasty meal. But, after my "Tired" post, I napped from about 7 to 10 before getting up to read, check email, and go back to sleep.

The next morning was another one of plans not working out! I woke up early (5 or 6), packed up again, which was pretty easy because I never really unpacked, and set aside some time to drive around outside Victoria and see the coast. The 9:30 ferry left for Port Angeles, west of Seattle and right near Olympic National Park-perfect! The guy at the hostel advised getting there at 8:30. After a scenic drive and walk, and breakfast, I was at the ferry terminal by 8:15.

By 10:00 the ferry still hadn't arrived.

At 10:30 I got the okay from the U.S. customs lady, and the ferry finally arrived.

At about 10:50 I found out that it was full, and another one wasn't scheduled to come until 3:30. Now what? I got my refund and drove to the terminal that goes to Vancouver, which leaves every hour. After waiting in line a bit longer, boarded that. I talked to a really nice woman from Nova Scotia, she was all about talking U.S. politics-all the Canadians love Obama! They're also very politically aware, since our elections impact them so much.

After that, it was all driving. The flaw in this plan was that I hit Seattle (after a long line at customs) right at rush hour!

At this point, I considered my options. I originally wanted to visit the coast and take my time getting back home. However, at this point, I was tired, my bank account was hurting (4 new tires and $6.80 a gallon gas will do that-yes, that's how much $1.50 a liter adds up to), and I didn't want to sleep in a bunk bed or tent! I was also feeling a little overloaded, and like going somewhere new was starting to be a chore-and that's no way to travel! Long story short, I decided it was time to go home. Thus started the marathon drive!

That night I drove through all of Washington and most of Oregon, stopping for a snooze at an Oregon rest area. The next morning, I drove through the rest of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and finally home! It was a loooong day of driving! Now, I am home, sweet, home, enjoying the luxuries of my own bed and bathroom, washing machine, coffee pot....ahhhhh!

Despite being tired toward the end, it was a wonderful trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed all that Canada has to offer-what a beautiful country, what kind citizens!

Here are some totals:
Miles driven: 3,960
States visited, US: 7
New states for me:1
Provinces visited, Canada: 2
National Parks: 1 in U.S., 2 in Canada

Off on the Ferry!




After Vancouver, my car and I got on a ferry and headed toward Vancouver Island, and the city of Victoria.

More Canadian Rockies Pictures





Remember that quirky problem I was having with the vertical pictures? Well, it's been resolved, so here are some more pictures from the Canadian Rockies!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camping, wet camping







In Jasper Park, Alberta (which borders on Banff NP), I may have mentioned some certain rain. Here are a few pics from that evening and morning.

Camping in the rain necessities: wine and fire starter....in that order. ;)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tired.

Okay, I still want to see Seattle and Crater Lake...but I think it's about time to go home! I'm tired! Driving, a flat tire today, living out of a suitcase or tent, more driving, getting lost, feeling guilty if I am "not seeing/doing enough"....can you tell I'm exhausted?!

Despite my flat tire and leaving my cell phone at the hostel in Vancouver (which I remembered 15 miles out), I did eventually make it to Victoria, Vancouver Island. Took a giant ferry over here with my car. It's beautiful and all...but is 6:30 p.m. too early to go to bed? =)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Nicest People

Vancouver has the nicest people I have ever met.

That's a pretty strong statement, and I've been known to do a little traveling! Here's my evidence:
1. They do not try to run you down when you cross the street. You could jump in front of a moving car here and they'd apologize for not stopping soon enough (not that I've tried). Honestly, though, you can stand on the side alk and look at the street, as though you're thinking you might like to cross it sometime, and people will stop.
2. Monica and I were taking photos of each other at Stanley Park and a woman said, "let me take one of you together. I bet you've got loads of pictures of each other, but not many of you both!
3. We were consulting our map, making sure we were walking the right direction to return the bike and roller blades, and a man stopped and asked us if he could help offer directions.

Usually you have to flag people down to get them to take a picture or directions, and here they are just dying to help! Wow!

Vancouver's Stanley Park




This morning, much to my delight, my "dorm mate" Monica, who's from Columbia, asked if I'd like to go to Stanley Park with her! Since that was on my "to do" list, I immediately agreed, glad to have someone to hang out with. We took a bus down and then she had the brilliant idea of renting bikes (a bike for me, rollerblades for her) to explore the park, so we did that.

Vancouver is very proud of it's park-boasting that it's the size of Central Park, but with more attractions and the ocean. We agreed that it is a pretty nice place. And I'm really glad we rented wheels, because it was an 11km loop! Around the edge, there are ponds, boatyards, totem poles, an aquariam, a kids water park, and a big swimming pool-it is quite the place! On top of that it was a beautiful day and perfect weather, and it was so nice to get some exercise after so much time spent sitting in a car.

Unfortunately, Monica had to leave for a job she's starting with YMCA, but we had a great morning exploring Vancouver!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lakes, Lakes, and More Lakes




(Catch-up post)

On Sunday (oh, that's why it was so crowded) I took the scenic Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper--known as one of the most scenic drives in the world, according to my travel book.

I took a side trip to Moraine Lake, which was stunning. More of that wild emerald green water, with the stunning Rockies as a backdrop.

Goofy side note: still using the hostel's computers, and for some reason after I save my pictures onto my USB drive, I can't rotate them. So about 2/3 of my pictures would be sideways, and I've only used the "right side up" ones....maybe when I get home I can get some of these suckers rotated and uploaded, because there are some good ones! :)

Top two: Moraine Lake. Bottom: Lake Louise

Just a quickie update

This is gonna be a short(ish) post, I'll definitely add more info and pics later!

The bad news: My computer crashed. So, without unlimited free wireless, I don't have as much time to upload pictures and do lots of blog entries. Here is the overview:

2 days ago: drove through Banff and Jasper NPs on the Icefields Parkway. Long drive but beautiful. Camped in Pocohontas campsite, near hot springs. Visited Lake Louise and some really beautiful other lake on the way. Hung out in hot springs. camped.

Yesterday: Woke up to pouring rain. Inside of tent stayed dry but everything else was wet, and stayed wet. It was a big pain trying to dry everything off enough to pack (can't dry it on the picnic table or car when both are wet!) Also it was chilly and damp and the tall trees block the sun. So anyway, I finally decided things were good enough and started driving. Ended up near Kamloops in a tiny town called Barriere and camped there. Guess what? It rained AGAIN!

Anyway, now I'm in Vancouver and checked into a hostel! I am giving camping a rest. :) It is as expensive as a hostel anyway. I'm going to check out Vancouver and then go to Victoria, and back to the US. Not sure of a timeline yet, just like the rest of the trip! Somehow I've managed not having reservations everywhere you're supposed to and it's all worked out.

For the time being, I'm paying for internet, so might wait until I'm back home to do any big updates and pictures, unless I get this laptop back working!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

End of the hike





I was trying to build up the suspense in my post below, but the pictures kept on posting on top of each other. Anyway, here are some views from the top. I might have stayed up all day if I hadn't been so hungry! Pretty stunning!

Hike: Johnston Canyon, Banff NP






I have to say, my hike today was probably one of the prettiest I've ever been on! And doesn't it sound impressive when I tell you it was 12 km? (Way more than 6 or so miles!) I took almost 70 pictures so you might have to visit my facebook page for the whole album....but here are some highlights.

First, there are the waterfalls...







Then, there are the "Ink Pots"-colorful pools of mineral water!


































































Finally, there is the view of the mountains.








Friday, July 11, 2008

Greetings from Canada, eh?




Okay, no one has said "eh" yet...but the national parks lady said "bonjour" to me so that was pretty special.

Got through border crossing just fine...they didn't even ASK me about carrots or firewood, though I'd gotten rid of both. Phew!

Today was another driving day but I can't complain. I've been following these Rocky Mountains through 3 states and 2 provinces and maybe 1400 miles? It was a beautiful drive and a beautiful day! Admittedly, several of my pictures were taken while driving....but I kept my eyes on the road and deleted the ones that were totally off! :) I am at the cutest hostel here in Banff, too, I'll probably stay a few days. It also is only 4 beds (2 bunk beds) in my room instead of the 5 bunk beds + mattresses on the floor that I encountered in Nicaragua, so maybe that will facilitate better sleep!

First pic: Kootenay National Park which I drove through to get to Banff-I guess a big fire burned there a few years back, it was pretty impressive and strange to drive through. A totally devastated forest, with lush green ground and waterfalls going through, with these huge mountains towering all around. Beautiful and stark all at once.

Speaking of mountains, these Canadian Rockies are really something! Much more jagged and pointy and cliffy than in Colorado. I will probably relax around the hostel tonight and go exploring tomorrow. Where, or where, to start??

Thursday, July 10, 2008

St. Mary Waterfall




I can't do the driving through the whole dang park, pulling off to take pictures thing! This morning, went on a short hike to a waterfall on the way through! Lovely...AND my ankle is holding up well! Yay!

Yes, I just took a picture of the water...but would you check out that shade of green??

Glacier National Park






Beautiful!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More Driving.

Although I have set up my tent twice and taken it down once, eaten, slept, and bought many gallons of gas, it feels like all I've done for the last two days is DRIVE! Over 1000 miles already.

I am now right outside Glacier National Park, in very northern Montana (go too far north and you have to show your passport!)

Observations about Montana:
1. It is light all the time here. I can not stay awake as long as the sun is up....it was bright enough to wake me up at 5:40 this morning, and up until 10pm last night! Today at 4pm the sun was directly overhead.

2. I can't upload pictures in Montana, even though I can download them onto my computer, and get online.

3. There are not stop signs at all intersections-especially in neighborhoods. So, in these cases, you hope no one else driving around is as much of an idiot as you are.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

And I'm Off Again....


Greetings from Montana!

Yes, I'm off on another adventure...I was home for a few days and started getting bored. :)

The plan as of now? Tomorrow, drive up to Glacier National Park and camp somewhere in the vicinity, then I'll head up to Banff and the Canadian Rockies! From there I plan on driving to Vancouver/Victoria, then back down the coast until I run out of time (or gas money) and have to get home for some end of July classes. Until then, stay posted, hopefully I'll have lots of great pics! And, I'll be honest...I'm at a campground with WIRELESS INTERNET so I'm not exactly roughing it!! Yep, typing from in my tent....so Mom, I'm alive, now back outside to enjoy the evening!

Pics: camping on the Yellowstone river; my trusty car and tent.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Colorful Summer Treat



One of my favorite things about summer is grilling! Especially when tasty veggies are in season. These are some kabobs I made for friends Chris and Rene (although the originals had mushrooms too...that is the only thing I ran out of when making the leftovers!). They were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself...and even pretty to look at!