Travel: Canada – October 2003

Vancouver to Toronto

WHAT A TRIP. Saw two grizzly bears fighting, saw whales up close from a six-man skif, smelled whale breath as a cloud of vapour drifting across ocean, seen salmon leaping from calm waters in a cove, nearly walked into a moose, watched deer leaping along side of a road, and seen male Elk swing round to challenge a stupid human getting too close. So many other things, sights, moments, memories, all bundled up in the fleshy tissue of my brain. A 3000 mile train journey, several nights of intense and disturbing dreams, waking up for no reason to find the Northern lights unfolding across the solid black sky above Saskatchewan, waking up again to see the train racing through fog toward the burning eye of the rising sun.

Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Liz

Liz

12 hour flight from London to San Francisco and then popped up to Vancouver.  Liz is the other half of Jake & Liz, the two characters who crashed at my place for a few weeks back in Bristol, England 1998 – following chance encounter with Jess clubbing at Lakota in 1997. Here I am now crashing at their place in Vancouver.  Love how life carves these stories through random intersections.

Utterly lovely couple, with the marvelous capacity to make you feel totally relaxed in sharing their living space.

Or should I rename it ‘Ralph’s Place’.

Ralph? Ralph lives there and savagely hissed and clawed anybody who came near him, but, I have to say he’s also a cool dude, psychotic, but a dude. I showed him who’s boss though, counter attacking in a frenzy of tummy tickles and head rubs.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Granville Island Market

Vancouver: Granville Island Market

I was with them for six nights in all, with a short trip to Tofino in between. Those days are smeared into my memory as a deliciously relaxed series of days, all starting with me getting up and doing the 20 minute walk to the local Public Market (Granville Island) – heaven – and coming back with coffee and freshly made croissants and Pain au Chocolat. Evenings revolved around large amounts of wine and DVD’s ripped off the internet: the film Session 9 has now become one of my all time creepy favourites, as is Identity with John Cusack, something I have already seen in the cinema twice, and watched twice again this trip. Just easy to watch.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - two grizzly bears play fighting

Grouse Mountain – Vancouver

Jo and I are wandering through these deserted forest trails, way up in the mountains, and then, through the rain mist I see this bloody bear charging out from the tree line. Really fast. My guts froze and my jaw dropped. Then I saw the thin wire mesh fence. Two Grizzly’s here, play fighting but really giving each other a whack around.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Nanaimo - Ferry to Dinghy Dock Pub

Nanaimo – Ferry to Dinghy Dock Pub

Canada is nothing like New Zealand in the sense that with NZ we would cram a whole load of sites/places into a short period of time; with NZ we did both North and South Island in a month. With Canada… well, it takes 3 days just to get between two places sometimes!

Vancouver Island is about the size of England, and not far from the size of New Zealand, and this thing is just a tiny blob of land off the West coast of the Canadian mainland. Jesus.

Everyone we spoke to got this dreamy look in their eyes when we said we were going to Tofino. The place has kudos, even with people who have never been there.

Sadly, by time Jo and I got to Nanaimo, the port on the East coast of Vancouver Island, we had missed single bus a day that crosses the island to the West coast Tofino. So, we were stranded in Nanaimo, bit of a rough and tumble town, lots of guys wearing thick chequered shirts and steel toe capped boots, with scruffy beards and oil smeared caps.

Saw lots of people commuting back to the mainland in these chartered planes.

Ferry to Dinghy Dock Pub:

Saw this tiny hand-made sign in the marina for the ferry to Protection Island and the floating “Dinghy Dock pub”. Seemed better than where we were so we jumped aboard this tiny boat that came round once an hour to pick people up. The place turned out to be a gem. Great people and great food.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Vancouver Island on the route to Tofino

Vancouver Island, on the route to Tofino

This has to be one of my favourite parts of the trip to Canada. Woke up mega early, checked out of our hotel, behind which was the greyhound bus terminal; quick trip to a cafe to pick up coffee’s and croissants, munching them in the early morning rain. Then onto the coach and the start of a 5 hour East to West trip through ancient woodland. UNKLE in my headphones, a song with lyrics that touched my soul, “Rain Rain Rain, I am the drop that hits the sea that creates the ripple that makes the waves crash upon the shore”. Just as everyone we had talked to had said, Tofino has an energy about it unlike anywhere else. Truly magical.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Vancouver Island Tofino Duffin Bay Resort room 103

Tofino, Duffin Bay Resort room 103

Checked into Duffin Bay Resort room 103.

Walked into the room and laughed with glee. One wall was entirely glass, with a sliding door leading onto a balcony, the ocean right below us, sound of pounding surf, smell of ozone and brine, a view of coastal wilderness…. just so beautiful. I sat for ages gazing and soaking it all in.

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Photo of British Science Fiction author David J Rodger Vancouver Island Tofino Duffin Bay Resort room 103

Djr sitting on hotel room balcony, Tofino, Duffin Bay Resort room 103

I’m sitting on the edge of the balcony of my room. This was the view. To the left of the picture is another island and then the open Pacific Ocean.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Tofino Vancouver Island funny no parking sign - Beware of Flat tires when blocking driveway

Tofino humour

An amusing “no parking” sign – Beware of Flat tires when blocking driveway

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Whale Watching Tofino Vancouver Island

Whale Watching, Tofino, Vancouver Island

Whale Watching time. Six of us loaded onto this rigid inflatable raft with some super-nitrous-boosted-batman-jet-engine on the back. This thing was insanely fast. We flew out of the harbour and right into the open ocean.

I was surprised and delighted how close we got to the whales. They come up for a few breaths then dive down again for 7-10 minutes. Whilst they’re breathing we got to see them sliding past us, sometimes higher because they we up above us in the swell of the ocean. It’s when they dive that you get to see their tale. Beautiful sight.

A huge cloud of this stuff drifted across the ocean towards us; I sat there eagerly sniffing…. pheeewwww, what a smell!

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David J Rodger - Tofino - Vancouver Island

David J Rodger – Tofino – Vancouver Island

Got to give a big shout to the company that took us; Ocean Outfitters. Not only was Ike the best captain in Tofino, we got a hell of a lot more for our money. After watching the whales Ike took us for a high-speed cruise through some of the bays, coves and inlets that pepper the coast around Tofino. We saw eagles, giant salmon leaping from calm waters, blue heron gliding over mercurial surface, and just the thrill of blasting through this amazing scenery.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Tofino Vancouver Island Duffin Bay Resort room 103 -early morning coffee

View from Room 103

My memory: making a coffee every morning and sitting outside to watch the sun rise. Very Whakkapapa Village, Very Skotel. Ahhhhh, Skotel. Only 6 months ago. Miss you. x

This particular morning sitting out on balcony wrapped up in coat and hooded top, hugging hot cup with Vangelis Mithodea in my ears, the crashing pounding rumble of waves on the rocks audible and felt above and through the music. Feel the whole wooden structure shuddering at regular intervals. Rain comes in out of nowhere from a blue sky, dropping a grey veil between me and the green trees of the next island, and Mithodea plays with such aquatic and angelic grace, fusing perfectly with the moment. And the smell of the ocean, like salt on your lips, pungent, cleansing, vigorous, divine.

Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Tofino Vancouver Island Duffin Bay Resort room 103 - rain and balcony

Room 103 – rain and balcony

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Vancouver City

Vancouver City

Rain. That’s my main recollection of the atmosphere of the place. Either overcast, or rain. But the city has this architectural integrity going on, a theme of green glass, a city of glass, and it’s really effective on these moody days. Very cyber, I thought.  Vancouver was a huge influence on my writing and features heavily in the campaign book I wrote for Yellow Dawn, called “Shadows of the Quantinex“.

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David J Rodger and friend - Vancouver

David J Rodger and friend – Vancouver

David J Rodger and friend - Vancouver, Canada 2003

David J Rodger and friend – Vancouver

Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Lizz

Lizz, Vancouver

Being back in Vancouver we had a few more evenings drinking wine, chatting, eating lots of sushi and  more mornings buying in coffee and croissants. Bliss. This was the night we all went out clubbing, and later found Jake crashed out on a stool with his head arched back, resting against the pillar of the club.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - shark at Stanley Park Aquarium Vancouver

Stanley Park, Vancouver

I was downtown, in the rain. Found a bus that took me to Stanley Park.

Then it was time to leave the West Coast and head inland on the 1st leg of a 3,000 mile train journey. I was really impressed by the train. Downstairs was a cafe, and upstairs was an observation area.  I woke up during the night, climbed up into the observation pod and played Marilyn Manson and some of the Resident Evil soundtrack, there was a full moon shining down outside and was a truly atmospheric experience sat up there in the dark, the only light was the soft glow coming from the cafe part downstairs. Memory: Red glow of stop lights outside on the track, we’re in the middle of nowhere with vast forest all around the train.  Stepping out of the train in Jasper the cold air sucked all the heat from your flesh. Delish. Hired a car and drove out to the Sky Tram at the base of Mount Whistlers. A 2km ascent.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger  Jasper - Sky Tram

Jasper – Sky Tram

You can see our cables descending back down through the cloud level.  Like Vancouver, Jasper had a profound affect on my imagination. The Alice in Wonderland Cafe, and the lifestyle within this small township.  I also used Jasper in “Shadows of the Quantinex“.

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British Science Fiction Dark Fantasy author David J Rodger on Whistlers Mountain - Jasper - location of fictional Rapid Labs used in Shadows of the Quantinex campaign book

Djr on Whistlers Mountain – Jasper – location of fictional Rapid Labs

The guide-book said there was a good 1 hour walk from the top of the sky tram to the top of the mountain; the snowstorm was a bit of a surprise. The wind came and went, but when it was there it was howling.  It was so cold the batteries on my camera died even though fully charged.

Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - on top Whistlers Mountain Jasper

Edge of the world – Whistlers Mountain, Jasper

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake, Canada

Breathtaking; I must have taken a thousand photos standing there. Hard to believe I was actually seeing this with my own eyes.

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British Cyberpunk Cthulhu Mythos Horror Author David J Rodger - Maligne Lake Canada

Djr, Maligne Lake, Canada

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Travel Photo - A moose - Canada 2003 by David J Rodger  Maligne Lake

Moose at Maligne Lake, Canada

Maligne Lake isn’t close to anywhere by UK standards. Quite a drive and there is an incredible sense of remoteness and isolation. Pulling up in the deserted car park you can’t ignore all the warning signs about bears.  Later, walking along the edge of the shore and hearing a noise from nearby my heart froze for a moment thinking: bear! Uh-uh. No bear. Just this massive ugly clunky but rather wonderful looking creature.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Rowing boat Maligne Lake

Rowing boat , Maligne Lake, Canada

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Inukshuk at Athabasca Falls

Inukshuk at Athabasca Falls, Canada

Athabasca Falls.  A great surprise is when you walk away from the falls and follow some of the routes; one route led down to a hidden cove with a rocky beach. Stepping down to the beach you discover it littered with these odd figures. Very Blair Witch. They are called Inukshuk.

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger - Two Tribes

Two Tribes

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Sunrise over Manitoba

Sunrise Over Manitoba, Canada (Click Full Size)

Sunrise over Manitoba.  Back on the train. It was about to be my home for 3 days. I had a solid non-stop journey to Toronto ahead of me. The scenery changed really fast after leaving Jasper. The Rockies fell behind and the landscape flattened. Some people might wince at the idea of spending so long on a train but it was an amazing experience. The service was great – just don’t eat the sandwiches from the cafe car- and the food on the dinning car was fab. You enter this timeless state where you don’t know where or when you are, you’re travelling across three time-zones and the scenery is forever changing. The only things that are constant are the chairs you’re sleeping on or the comfort of the bubble car observation deck. My favourite moments were a) waking up 2am for no reason whilst crossing Saskatchewan to see the Northern Lights peeling across the sky: I went up into the observation bubble where there were no lights to intrude on the view. Magical. Also, waking up one morning to find the train racing through dense fog. Climbing up to the observation bubble I saw the fog slowly peeling away whilst we headed into the rising furnace of the sun.

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Viewing compartment on train crossing Saskatchewan Canada

Sunrise over Saskatchewan (click full size)

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Travel Photo Canada 2003 by David J Rodger Autumn Colours

Riding the train into Toronto with autumn colours

Heading into Ontario.  I was about to arrive in Toronto. I wasn’t happy. I was missing Tofino. I knew that the big city was no longer an attraction to my soul. I missed the vast open spaces, the mountain peaks, the rugged coast and crashing waves.

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