Pacific Northwest 2012 – Day 4

Today we headed up north to Whistler along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. We left Vancouver around 11am and despite leaving the maps at home we managed to navigate the streets of downtown and head across the Lions Gate Bridge and onto the Sea to Sky Highway without much difficulty. The drive was nice although it was gray out and there was a threat of rain. We passed some neat little communities and some spectacular scenery before making an unplanned stop at the Britannia Mine – home of the British Columbia Museum of Mining.

We walked around and took a look at the gift shop and since it was only about $20 each and it was something interested, we decided to go on the tour. We had a few minutes to walk around before heading up the hill to the underground mine train tour. Granted, I was expecting something along the lines of the Calico Mine Train at Knott’s, but after donning a hard hat we were in for a treat as the authentic mine train took us a short distance in the mine where we were treated to some demonstrations of mining equipment as well as some history around the mine site. From there, it was a short walk to the exit of the tunnel and then down into the catalog building and the mill. I was most impressed by the inside of the mill building and if I had the opportunity, I would love to do a paranormal investigation of the place – it was super spooky!

We grabbed some small souvenirs and then headed up the road towards Squamish where we stopped at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park to see some classic Canadian trains. We rode on the Mini Rail around the park which was a neat little scenic railway around the park. Nothing spectacular, but it was a lot of fun. We then toured through the various train cars and locomotives that were on display in the park. The big draw is the British Columbia Steam Engine #2860 in their new roundhouse. This engine is massive and really impressive to see in person. I only wish I would have been able to see this train running down the tracks in person.

After touring a period-decorated settler’s house on the property, it was time to hit the road and head towards Whistler. We decided to stop at the WalMart since we did not know what was up ahead on the road so we could get some water and snacks for the road and for the next two days. We hit the road and it was starting to get dark as we arrived in Whistler. We arrived around 5pm to Whistler village and it was certainly cool out! We decided to look at some of the shops and see if we could find a place to eat dinner. Along the way, we discovered the Olympic rings sculpture in the Olympic Plaza and we took some photos. As we were looking for dinner we decided we wanted something affordable with a lot of food, and after much deliberation we ended up at the Old Spaghetti Factory. I know, I know, not exactly fine dining, but since we were before the dinner rush there was no crowd and the prices were right. Daniel and I actually had a great meal! We took our time and relaxed and as we were eating it decided to start raining. I was not looking forward to driving back to Vancouver in the driving rain, but we decided to stop in few shops to get some Whistler souvenirs before heading back to the car for the drive home.

On the way home, I stopped at the Whistler Olympic Park off of Callaghan Valley Road. At first I thought it would be something spectacular, but we ended up driving 20 minutes off the beaten path to get a photo of the park sign since it was already closed. It was beautiful country out there, but also not someplace I wanted to be stranded if the weather got worse. So we headed back to the main Sea to Sky Highway and headed back to Vancouver. True to form, as we got closer to Vancouver the weather worsened and it made for a fun drive home. Thankfully, I was on high alert so I didn’t have to worry about getting tired or anything like that. We managed to find our apartment in the city with ease and then quickly headed to bed. It was a long day but filled with great scenery!