© 2011 jemma

Our weekend with the Prince

They say it rains 300 days a year in Prince Rupert. Luckily we were there on one of the 65 other days, because our two days in PR (Prince Rupert) were FAN..TAS..TIC!!

We had two splendid days of sunshine and warmth – 21deg! So warm were wore shorts and summer tops and sat outside and got tans. I thought it would never end.

Day one in PR was spent checking out the place. We found a walk through the forest between the RV Park and the town which passed a river and a pond. It was a really beautiful walk and there were amazing reflections of the pond from the trees and the sky. We saw eagles here – there are hundreds of them in PR with their sweet calls to each other and their amazing size – and lots of little fish.

Past the pond and over the railway we got our first view of PR and all its glory. It is a port which sees lots of cruise boats and ferries from Alaska and the top of Vancouver Island. It is tucked in amongst lots of little islands and is on an island itself – very confusing. Even the airport is on a separate island which is the only piece of flat land.

We walked along the main street keeping an eye on all the flying eagles. We headed towards Cow Bay which is the touristy part of PR, with artisan stores, cafes and little shops full of stuff I can’t buy. We did however buy Jess a new top made out of 100% recycled materials. I tried on dresses, and didn’t buy anything, ANYTHING!!

We looked around the bay and ate lunch out for once in a cafe called Cowpaccino. There were lots of pictures of cows inside – obviously – and the food was really good. Loved my raspberry smoothie and samosas, and Jess loved his salmon bagels.

We then walked up to the sunken gardens, which are tiered rocks that have been made into a garden behind the town hall. It was really pretty with lots of flowers and trees, and it felt very relaxing. It was good to rest there in the semi-shade on a hot day.

After the gardens we went to the Museum of Northern British Columbia and learnt about the early history in the area. Basically the Hudson Bay Company took over and undercut most of the First Nations people and their trading – in my opinion of course. It has pretty outstanding artefacts from first nations to early settlers’ history and it was great to go and find out about the area.

From there we went back to the campsite, sat out in the sun, drank raspberry lemonade, did the washing and made friends with the other campers. Good times 🙂

The next day we had to be up very early for a Sunday – well any day for us now – at 6am to get ready to go for our grizzly tour. We had to be at Cow bay at 7:30 for an 8am start and we had to walk. Very rushed morning, especially in a camper where everything takes so much longer to do.

On our walk back into the bay, we saw an eagle at the pond that was huge! A great start to our wildlife viewing day.

The boat wasn’t packed as I had feared. This is the best time to see the coastal grizzlies as they are feeding on the shore grasses before the salon run in late summer, so I presumed it would be busy.

Our guides name was Normand and he was lovely and funny. He explained all the things we were seeing as we made our way out of the harbour and past some of the old forts and missions. One of those was Metlakatla, which was an extremely successful mission and is still there today. He also pointed out a lot of the old villages along the way that could be distinguished by the man made beaches and grassy banks.

Along the way we saw a fishing boat that was being followed and swooped, not by seagulls but by Bald eagles. It was incredible. Apparently they’re after the halibut. At one stage there was a little rocky island with what looked like 100 eagles on it. Amazing.

We were making our way on the boat to the Khutzeymateen grizzly bear sanctuary. Well not exactly in the sanctuary but close to the entrance along the Khutzeymateen river because as Normand said, “the bears don’t read signs”. It was incredible to enter the fiord where the walls are close on either side. We were all warned to be very quiet and not to speak on the deck, as this can, and has, scared the bears away.

As we slowed down, we were all invited to go out and help look for the bears. It was tiring work. Everything along the river looked like a bear; the rocks, the tree trunks and the bushes. I don’t think any of us tourists found the bears at all. That job was down to Normand and the Captain, with the first bear being found after going up and down the river 2 times!

The first bear was a female and she was eating in her favourite spot. Apparently she likes to hang out there with her boyfriend’s – she gets around apparently – but none of them showed up today. She ran around a bit and ate grass and then left. It was amazing to see, and she was so big!

The next bears we saw were the mum and the cub. The Capitan could get the boat pretty close to the bears because the beach was so deep. You could even hear them moving about and eating. At one stage, the mum swam to the next beach with her little brown cub following, so cute. The best part was that they stayed for half an hour, just eating and hanging. The cub did a head stand and play fought with his mum. At the end he even explored a log. I was in awe; it was just so calm, peaceful and surreal. Like watching a real life BBC documentary.

We thought that was it for the bears so Jess and I settled down for a late lunch, when suddenly the call came out that they had found ‘white ass’ the bear. He was a big grizzly and he indeed had a white arse that looked like giant bear nappy. He didn’t really do anything, just slept and at one stage turned himself around to keep an eye on the boat. I believe it was because he was so embarrassed of his white butt, but I’m not so sure. He was awesome anyway.

On our way back we traveled through a place called Paradise on our way to drop someone off at Port Simpson (an old fort). Along the way we saw a little fishing village and some amazing views of seals on the rocks – there were so many harbour seals around! Then the Captain suddenly turned the boat around and throttled the thing out into the ocean. He had had a call from a tanker that there were killer whales around. We looked and looked but didn’t see any. All I got was sea sickness.

We pretty much chugged our way back home from there. Jess slept and I looked out the window. The tour had gone for 2 hours longer than normal and we were all tired. Looking for bears is stressful! The best part about this tour I think was they didn’t care that we went overtime; they will look for bears till they find them. As we found out, the beach where we saw the first female was empty the first three times, so it pays to keep looking.

Once we docked, Jess and walked home along the water pretty damn happy with what we had seen that day. Back at the camp site we again sat in the sun and chatted to our neighbours –who gave us beer – the perfect end to any day.

I’m glad we had a great weekend because the next day we woke up to rain.
Bye rainy Prince Rupert! On with the next chapter of the great RV Trip.