Day 34 & 35, Banff to Kelowna to Vancouver
Today was a strange day as emotions were running high on the bus as we slowly headed back to Vancouver. Brit David jumped off the bus in Banff to go to Calgary but he got up to wave us off and it felt strange leaving him behind. It may a few of us realise that the Moose tour was drawing to an end and that most of us would go back to travelling on our lonesome, something that did not appeal to all.
We came across a bear whilst driving. I for got to mention on the blog (Jasper to Banff) that we have already seen two bear cubs. The first was a Grizzly cub which was running through the trees alongside the road. Only Zoe and I spotted it and took ten seconds to agree that it was indeed a bear and not a figment of both of our imaginations. By the time we shouted at John and he slowed down we were a good half a mile from where we spotted it so we weren't able to see it more closely. The second was sat in a bush on the embankment next to the road eating the leaves. Quite a gathering had formed underneath it with people trying to get a good snapshot, not the most sensible idea with a Mummy Bear likely to be close by. So today we saw an adult Grizzly bear on one of the bridges crossing the highway. These overpasses were purposefully built to help the wildlife safely cross the busy roads and after some resistance they are used by elk, bears, moose etc. This Grizzly didn't seem to notice the huge crowds underneath and carried on walking along off the bridge and into the wilderness.
Our first stop was at Takakkaw Falls, which flowed into a beautiful river below. John had to perform some pretty tight manouvers, and at one point reverse uphill because the hairpin bends were too tight for the bus. The waterfall was very pretty and Dan and I walked a little way down the river just us two whilst paddling.
Next stop was somewhere with lots of trees (sorry, no name!) A boarded walkway took us through a woodland of cedars, which were huge and needed at least three people to hug one. We ate lunch here before moving on to the Last Spike, a museum dedicated to the Canadian Pacific Railway. We had some fun playing on a pretend railway and sunning ourselves before getting back on the bus to do some serious driving.
After a while we stopped at what I would describe as a flea market to have a look around. The items available for sale ranged from old children's videos to cowboy boots to tea towels to romance novels. It was an entertaining 20 minutes and John treated us to a video to watch on the bus, Rocky and Bull Winkle (Dan loved it, brought back good memories!).
Our final stop was at a winery, where we took a quick tour and learnt vaguely how wine is made. We got to do some wine tasting too, much to Dan's delight! I tried two whites which were quite nice but I couldn't swallow the red, it was like drinking vinegar. The winery overlooked Okanagan Lake, which is said to be the home of Nessie's cousin! Apparently it houses a monster, but we didn't see any today. The views were spectacular and we were very pleased to learn our hostel was a five minute walk from the said lake. After a further half an hour on the bus we arrived in Kelowna and a large majority of us threw our belongings into the dorm and set off for a dip. The water was lovely and was the perfect way to wash away eight hours on the bus.
After dinner a few of us hit the town on the last night of the tour for a few drinks. We had formed a close bond and Izzy, Simon, Zoe, Chris and Dan and I vowed to meet up in Vancouver over the next couple of days and party hard knowing we didn't have to get back on the bus in the morning.
We were given an hour's lie in on our last morning to recover from the previous evening's antics. Simon decided to jump off the bus here as he met a girl in the bar (awww!) so he waved us off from the car park. Izzy and I missed him alot as we had no one else's food to eat, no one to tease or no one to take silly photos of whilst they slept but he promised to be back in Vancouver the next day so we would meet up then.
We drove hard to Vancouver and didn't stop anywhere scenic on the way but the drive was lovely, taking in some beautiful mountains and rivers.
We got back to Vancouver mid afternoon and said goodbye to Phillip and the kids and John. It felt strange splitting up and heading off to different lodgings. We were in the HI with Zoe and Jo and Sarah but we were all in different parts of the building. Chris, Zoe and Izzy joined us almost immediately for "end of tour" drinks (we didn't really need an excuse!) and we walked the streets of Van until we found a yummy Indian. After a delicious meal we headed back to the hostel to the cheap bar and had a nightcap whilst adding each other on skype and then sending silly messages. Zoe was fascinated by my usage of the words "muppet"and "numpty" so these were her names for the next couple of nights! We headed to bed reasonably early to catch up on some much needed sleep, planning to meet for breakfast in the morning after a lie in.