My first "conference trip" to North America and also the first major trip I did on my own. I was going to the SIGGRAPH conference in Las Vegas add bracketed that with vacation weeks, so I was in San Francisco for a week, went to Las Vegas for the conference, continued to Alaska for an extended weekend and drove for two weeks through British Columbia.
While I was in San Francisco I went to a balloon flight over Nappa Valley.
After that balloon flight a spent another couple of days in San Francisco.
After that I went on to the official part of the trip to Las Vegas. The vacation continued with an extended weekend in Alaska, covering Anchorage and a visit to the Denali National Park. From there I flew to Vancouver.
Then I rented a car (which was another first for me) and drove along the highway that runs (roughly) parallel to the Fraser river to Prince George and continued to Prince Rupert. Among the highlights of this part of the tour were a visit to the historic gold mining town of Barkerville, seeing large groups of salmons make their way upriver, and seeing a bear near the outskirts of Smithers. (Too bad that the picture isn't very good. I was more interested in keeping a lot of distance between me and the bear, especially since there was also a cub running around, than getting a better picture.)
From Prince Rupert I took the ferry along the 'Inside Passage' to Port Hardy at the northern
end of Vancouver Island and drove down to Victoria. The highlights on that part were a
killer-whale watching tour from Telegraph Cove and watching bungee jumpers (no, I didn't
jump). A bit of a lowlight was watching the whale show in Victoria, with three orca in
a small swimming pool.
Technical remark: During that trip I had only a camera with a fixed 35mm lens, which isn't very useful for wildlife photography, which is the reason why the whales out in the Strait of Georgia (and earlier on the bear) are little more than blurry black dots. The actual experience of being there was a lot more impressive.
After that I went back to Vancouver, where I had two more days for sightseeing, during which I managed to have my first sightseeing flight in a helicopter from Grouse Mountain. (I originally wanted to have a helicopter flight over Denali National Park in Alaska, but that didn't work out.) I also tried to have a sightseeing flight with a seaplane (since I had never seen one offered anywhere else), but that didn't work out due to bad weather. (The weather was sufficiently good for flying, but not good for sightseeing, so they didn't get a minimum group together.) The very good weather that you can see on the final picture from Vancouver (see below) only happened on the very last day, but then I had to drive to the airport and fly home. It took eleven years until I finally got to fly in a seaplane and it was much closer to home than I ever expected.
On the flight home I had a very nice view of the coast of Greenland, little suspecting that I would be in Greenland five years later.
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