2013, Trip Six, The Northwest, August 3

Whistler, BC, Saturday August 3

The Mill at Britannia Mine, this concentrated the ore into  marketable product for smelters

The Mill at Britannia Mine, this concentrated the ore into marketable product for smelters

We checked out of Vancouver and met our airbnb host in a church parking lot in West Vancouver. We will be staying in a townhouse which is the family’s second home in the Whistler area.

Part of Sea to Sky road, Howe Sound as seen from  Britannia mine

Part of Sea to Sky road, Howe Sound as seen from Britannia mine

Our drive to Whistler is short, less than 100 miles. Once again the road is portrayed as “one of the most scenic drives in the world” and is called the Sea to Sky Road. This time the approbation is appropriate.

View from Sea to Sky road

View from Sea to Sky road


View from sea to Sky

View from sea to Sky

The road varies from two to three to four lanes so you are not stuck behind a slow moving vehicle for long. The asphalt is smooth, the hills and curves pleasant and not overly steep or sharp. Importantly, there is almost always a wide shoulder able to accommodate the numerous bicyclists.

The view starts with the Howe Sound on our left and mountains on both sides. Even though the marine layer of clouds is low, the combination of water, mountains, forests and clouds are very scenic. The water view continues as the sound drops away and the Squamish River takes its place. As we go further inland, the clouds lift and the skies clear. The road does not have many viewpoints and stopping on a shoulder for pictures is forbidden.

Inside Britannia mine

Inside Britannia mine

Britannia Beach is our first stop, at the Britannia Mine Museum. This mine, closed in 1974, was once the largest producer of copper in the British Empire. It also produced gold, silver and zinc. The only way to reach it until the 1950s was by sea.

The "honey pot"

The “honey pot”

Britannia was a true company town. You did not get off the dock if you did not belong. You bought from the company store and if you were fired, you were kicked out of the community. No union existed until World War II. The people were close knit except for the discrimination dished out to the Japanese not may Chinese were in the area.

Inside the mill, not all of it is visible.

Inside the mill, not all of it is visible.

We toured part of the underground tunnels using a mine car and walking. We heard the sound of the drills that had been used and found it hard to believe men worked without hearing aids for many years. The silicosis in their lungs from the dust killed many of them. We got to see the ‘honey pot’, the rolling toilet on wheels that would be brought to them twice a shift. All in all, a worthwhile experience.

Shannon Falls was to be our second stop, but with the time we spent at Britannia, the parking lot was full and there were cars waiting for an opening to occur. We turned around and headed for our next stop, the upper viewpoint at . This was just a brief picture-taking opportunity and then we pulled in to Brandywine Falls which were a pleasant hike through the woods. Brandywine is only a 100 feet or so,Shannon Falls was 1,000 feet. Oh well, we will see higher falls later going to Jasper.

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls

We arrived in Whistler with enough time to make it to the visitor center and walk around one of the town centers. Lo and behold, (actually we knew about it a few days before) the “Wanderlust” festival was occurring in downtown Whistler. This is a 3 day yoga, music, and meditation festival.

We watched a group yoga session of several hundred people and a couples yoga session. Some men and lots of women were participating so Bernie and Tony could come some time. Or, Bernie could do yoga and Tony could watch.

Couples yoga and impromptu yoga practice

Couples yoga and impromptu yoga practice

Whistler town center was busy, women in bright pink or lime green tops were everywhere. It must be the standard color for yoga. People were carrying their yoga mats attached somewhere to their body as they walked or biked around town.

Dinner was at Earl’s, a regional Canadian chain. We had seen them before in several towns but this was our first time dining at one. Pleasant, but nothing to make a special trip for.

Ed and Chris Monday Aug. 5 4:30 pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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