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    911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    It’s been a while since RT has had a road trip post, and also a while since we did a serious road trip in the 911.  So, with a window of positive weather forecast, I decided we were going to go whale-watching, and booked 3 nights at a hotel in the small city of Prince Rupert, north-central coast of British Columbia.  Of course we happen to live 1600 km east as the crow flies, 2000km away by road using the most direct highway route, so this guaranteed a decent few days drive to and from our whales.  My other more selfish motive, besides a cool place to go, is that absent this type of trip, I get very little time driving our 911 as it is usually my wife’s daily driver.  

    Although much of this route is fairly remote, it is in fact a straightforward drive, as the second major E-W highway in western Canada, the Yellowhead Highway (named after a Métis fur trader with the nickname Tête Jaune due to his blonde hair), forms much of this route, and it ends in Prince Rupert.  Compared to the more southern TransCanada route most residents and visitors are familiar with, it receives far less traffic, but is still a well maintained and important regional road. Beyond a half-day “positioning cruise” across the flat prairies we live in, all of the trip will be in the mountains or interior of British Columbia and Alberta.  Averaging 600-700 km per day left little time for perfect photography, but I did capture a few images that show some of the highlights.   So – with apologies to our super-admin EasyRider who set the standard for these trip posts – off we go! 

     


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Yes, the prairies are flat, but summer still presents intense colours, in particular on a sunny day.

    Canola fields in bloom, NW of Calgary

    RT_whales-1.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    We took a slightly different route to the BC portion of the Yellowhead, electing to hit the Rocky Mountain range farther south, to intersect the Icefields Highway in Banff National Park – providing a bit more mountain terrain in our drive.

    Foothills of the Rockies – approaching the front of the range.

    RT_whales-2.jpg

    Entry to the Icefields Highway route – glaciers ahead….

    RT_whales-3.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Banff and Jasper National Parks are the most visited parks in the west; we have been many times to Banff, but not as often to Jasper, the northern of the two parks.  A highway (unfortunately right now not so well maintained as most) runs along the range from Banff north to Jasper – many thousands do this every year by car, bike, or RV.  For the most part they have avoided over-touristing this area, and it does have some spectacular views of the ranges and many icefields. 

    View from Sunwapta pass, Icefields Highway (geologists can find the gentle fold)

    1470424458353RT_whales-4.jpg

    Columbia Glacier, Icefields Highway.  A classic Rockies postcard view; this one is famous as the retreat of this glacier is well documented from records taken a more than a century ago by the early explorers.

    RT_whales-5.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Night two in Jasper – less famous than Banff, but also less busy as fewer visitors get to this north section of the parks. 

    Visiting Swedes in Jasper can be recognized by their sophisticated choice of vehicles.  

    RT_whales-6.jpg

     


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Heading west from Jasper, now on the Yellowhead route, you pass a BC park containing the highest peak in the Rockies; Mount Robson (3954m).  Always lovely views.  The Fraser River starts around here; about 1300 winding km later it ends up in Vancouver. 

    Jagged Mount Robson peak vs 911 curves

    RT_whales-7.jpg

    Ready for river rafting at Mount Robson

    RT_whales-8.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Once through the Rockies, there is a full day’s drive across the interior of British Columbia before you get to the second major range - the Coast Mountains. The interior is rolling forests with occasional farmed hayfields and small agriculture, and now very few tourists (they all stayed at Jasper….). 

    BC provides many roadside stops, usually a pleasant place near a creek or with a view, toilets and picnic tables.

    RT_whales-10.jpg

    Once past the dry Rockies, cedar is more and more dominant – you smell this aromatic tree as you step out of the car.

    RT_whales-9.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    The town of Smithers marks the end of the interior plateau, and here you first see the western edge of the Coast Mountains.  The last 350km of the route will transect the Coast Mountains, much of it following a major river, the Skeena River, to the sea.  The Coast Mountains run along the entire 1500km coastal edge of BC, and along this length these icy and difficult mountains are only crossed three times by a major highway – the TransCanada at the far south near the US border, the Whistler-Kamloops route, and this one.  

    Hudson Bay Mountain near Smithers

    RT_whales-11.jpg

    Joining the Skeena River – 260 km to go. The higher and snowbound peaks in the Coast Mountains are sometimes visible up tributary valleys.

    RT_whales-12.jpg

    Skeena River around 60 km from the sea – already almost at sea level.  As a EU comparison, the discharge here is about equal to that of the average flow from the Rhine River. 

    RT_whales-13.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Finally – the sea!  The narrow tidal passage between mainland and the island that Prince Rupert is on. 

    RT_whales-14.jpg


    --

    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Prince Rupert is a small (12,000 people) city with a reasonably thriving economy as a fishing and shipping centre.  It has a very deep water port, and nearby is also a major container and bulk material port facility – typical for North America and especially Canada, bulk materials are shipped to Asia while we receive Asian goods by container.  

    Prince Rupert harbour area

    RT_whales-15.jpg

    Totem Pole at City Hall – BC coastal aboriginal peoples are famous for their complex carved art, the totem pole is the largest form of this and is important in their spiritual history.

    1470424921649RT_whales-16.jpg

    Inland view over Prince Rupert homes

    RT_whales-17.jpg

    Our whale day!  the catamaran tour boat at harbour – about to board for a 4 hour tour; forecast is for a fine day with highs of 18C and some sun.  Expect to see humpback whales at this time of the year. 

    RT_whales-18.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Thar she blows!  Two whales spouting at the same time…. from a distance away….

    RT_whales-19.jpg

    … and up close and personal.  I had not realized how much noise the whales’ blow creates – if less than 100m away it is like a gunshot and everybody jumps! 

    RT_whales-20.jpg

    After a few breaths and some feeding at surface, down she goes….

    RT_whales-21.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Closer to land, we had the opportunity to see some bald eagles feeding – amazing birds.

    RT_whales-23.jpg

    Passing a fish scrap from talons to beak in mid-air… I would not want to tangle with those talons.   

    RT_whales-22.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Time to go – the Porsche needs its fluids before we go (my travel kit – each 400ml Nalgene bottle is equal to one bar of oil level on the 911 oil sensor). 

    RT_whales-24.jpg


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    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Home route is re-tracing steps, back to Jasper for the last night before the 9 hour drive home. 

    Morning light near Jasper, Rocky Mountains

    RT_whales-25.jpg

    And finally – in Jasper just before heading home – we finally see a bear!  

    RT_whales-26.jpg

     


    --

    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    That’s it – hope all enjoyed this as much as we enjoyed this little road trip. While there is not much “technical” driving on this route as it does not have high alpine passes, most of the roads have 100 kph limits, and little policing outside small towns with 50 kph limits (police are often there), so realistically much can be cruised at 115-125 kph speeds.   The almost constant high speed sweeper turns  and elevation changes for the Alberta – BC portions make the driving interesting, and of course the 911 just eats this up.  With only 55,000 km on our 911, we are still a long ways from the high mileage kings like Carlos and Leawood.... but this reminds us why we love these cars.  

    Cheers!  (and, this was a good way to reach my 1000 post milestone!)


    --

     

    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S

     


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    4trac:

    That’s it – hope all enjoyed this as much as we enjoyed this little road trip. While there is not much “technical” driving on this route as it does not have high alpine passes, most of the roads have 100 kph limits, and little policing outside small towns with 50 kph limits (police are often there), so realistically much can be cruised at 115-125 kph speeds.   The almost constant high speed sweeper turns  and elevation changes for the Alberta – BC portions make the driving interesting, and of course the 911 just eats this up.  With only 55,000 km on our 911, we are still a long ways from the high mileage kings like Carlos and Leawood.... but this reminds us why we love these cars.  

    Cheers!  (and, this was a good way to reach my 1000 post milestone!)


    --

     

    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S

     

    It certainly was!   Smiley  Great photos, and obviously a great trip. 


    --

    fritz


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Yes, great road trip posts/pics. kiss

    (I didn't want to interrupt you in the midst of it to say so.) 


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Fantastic 4trac, have to do that some day!!


    --

    1992 Mercedes-Benz W124 500E / 2003 BMW M3 CSL (sold) / 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RS / 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP / 2014 BMW Alpina D3 biturbo Touring


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    nice pics!


    --

    Tim

    2010 997.2 GT3RS;  2008 Cayenne Turbo;  2006 911 Club Coupe;  2016 911 GTS Club Coupe;  2015 Macan S
     


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing. Curious as to why you didn't take your RR on the trip?


    --

    To learn how to live is to learn how to hang on. To learn how to die is to learn how to let go.


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    nberry:

    Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing. Curious as to why you didn't take your RR on the trip?

    Thanks Nick.... no RR because then I would have been tempted to explore all the unpaved roads heading off into those mountains... we'd still be there!   Seriously, the RR gets used when we have a hiking / cycling etc purpose for the trip - holds all the gear needed and I can get to any off-highway trail head I need to; the 911 gets the call when we just want to have fun driving, and we travel light with just a duffel each.    Smiley


    --

     

    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S

     


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Staggeringly good photography, kiss Nice trip, beautiful country.wink


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Wow...spectacular. It has been 5 years sine I last saw Columbus glacier. It is staggering how much it has retreated. Thanks for sharing. 


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Thank you. Very nice report. 


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Amazing shots!! Thank's for sharing, must be unforgettable trip
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    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Thank you was a pleasure to read the report and look at those amazing pictures!


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    AMAZING photos 4trac! Smiley  thanks so much for sharing!! SmileySmiley SmileySmiley

    I love these threads, and done with the 911 no less, fantastic! what a trip rock.gif


    --

     

    ⇒ Carlos - Porsche 991 Carrera GTS

     


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Thanks for posting - very nice read.wink

    Blueflame


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Fantastic report of a fantastic trip! Thanks for taking the time to share! kiss


    Re: 911 Meets the Whales Road Trip: 9 days, 4300 km, prairie to ocean

    Awesome pics and scenery, thanks for sharing!


    --

    2016 Cayman GT4 - 1992 964 Carrera 2 - 2014 Mercedes A45 AMG - 2013 Mini Cooper S


     
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