Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quick Update: Alive and Well on Vancouver Island!

Sorry for the long silence, we've been mostly camping without power and wifi so it's been difficult to do any blog entries.  We're still in Canada and having a great time.  Things are a bit pricey but there's so much to see we're reluctant to head back to the US yet.  Once we do we'll get caught up on everything that's been happening.  We've got stories!
Here's a few teaser shots.

First of all...
Sorry, you'll have to settle for this, postage, etc is expensive in the Great White North.
Hope you had a great birthday!

We've been to Hell's Gate, and survived!

LeTigre had a bad day...

Been on a few ferries...

Made some great new friends of the human and dog variety...

Felt right at home in a little town...

Been to the beach...

And enjoyed many a sunset...
Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Days 54-59 Jasper National Park has the Coolest Glaciers!

We just spent several days in Jasper National Park, Alberta.
We thought Banff was beautiful but Jasper might have surpassed even that (just barely!).
We had perfect weather the week we spent in Banff.  The weather in Jasper wasn't perfect, we did experience some showers and it got pretty cold a few nights, but hey, we're not complaining.  From what we've heard it's a good summer to not be in Texas!

This was one of our first stops, called Mistaya Canyon.  There are several of these small canyons throughout Jasper where water has been carving away at the stone for thousands of years, making beautiful formations in the rocks.

Angie admiring Mistaya Canyon.

Next stop: a glacier!
This is Athabasca Glacier.  The marker shows where it was in 2000.  It's receding rapidly.

It's a short walk to get near the edge of it but you're not allowed on it without a guide because it's very dangerous. There are crevices, thin ice, and hidden streams underneath it. People have fallen thru, become trapped, and died of hypothermia before rescuers could reach them.  This was close enough for us.  The breeze blowing off the ice was frigid.  As you can probably tell we were totally unprepared for this.  We're wearing about 5 layers.

We camped for the night and the following day visited Athabasca Falls.  There was a series of about a dozen  dramatic signs describing how the "falls battle the rock".  My guess is they were written in French by a poet and then translated into English because they were very passionate.

And for good reason, look at that water pummel those rocks!

It was an "assault on our senses"

In a good way!

Angie admires an abandoned channel that the water diverted away from over time.

These are "Inuksuit" and they are EVERYWHERE.  It's an Inuit (native Canadian) word that means "likeness of a person" and the Inuit make them to show directions to travelers, warn of danger, etc.  I doubt the Inuit made all of the Inuksuit that we see, but it's a nice gesture.

Guess what?  Yep, another glacier.  This was by far our favorite, called Angel Glacier on Mt Edith Cavell.  Edith Cavell was a heroine in WW1.  She was a  British nurse that treated wounded soldiers (on both sides of the conflict) and helped 200 Allied soldiers escape.  She was executed by firing squad and became known as the "martyr nurse".  As a tribute to her courage Canada named this mountain for her.

Good information, don't go near the glacier!

This mass of ice is at the base of the glacier and breaking into little icebergs.

Angie loves glaciers!

Had some really great neighbors at our camp spot that night, Tom and Catherine.  He's British and she's Irish but they live on Vancouver Island!  Which just happens to be our next destination.  They gave us all kinds of great advice on places to go.  Here we're next to their van "Ace Vandura".  They decided to do a cross Canada (and US) roadtrip a month ago!  Took us a year to get our act together...

Party at our place!  LeTigre loves a party.  We talked so late that we had to retreat inside so we didn't disturb the mosquitos.  Tom and Catherine were nice enough to provide the vodka (that bottle didn't stand a chance) and we provided the snacks.  Next day we had breakfast together and we sold them (for a big discount) our Canadian parks pass since we no longer needed it after Jasper.  Funny how things work out.

We camped one more night in Jasper and drove west the following day into the adjacent Mt Robson Provencial Park.  Mt Robson is the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies.  It actually attracts clouds!

That's a big mountain!

Took a nearby hike up to glacier fed Kinney Lake.

Then rode back to the campsite.

This was a great campsite by the Robson River.

Can't see it in the photo but there's a river past those trees.  You'll just have to trust us.
Next up: bye bye mountains, hello ocean!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Days 47 - 53: Beautiful Banff!!

Everywhere we go just seems to be more spectacular than the place we just left.  First we get to climb up to a glacier in Glacier Nat'l Park, then we go to Banff to spend a week with Greg's mom, Barbara.  What a wonderfully gorgeous and relaxing week!!

 On the way to Banff, we saw these bridges.  Since the highway goes through a national park, there's lots of wildlife.  They built these wildlife bridges so the animals can cross the highway without going on the street.  Brilliant.  They say that the animals actually use it. 

 This is down the main street through the town of Banff.  It's really small, nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains.  All the buildings are built to look like Swiss chalets and there are people from all over the world.  Lots of different languages.  We felt like we were in Europe.  Nice.

 Our home for the next 6 days. Cutest little cabins so close to downtown.  And they're dog much so that the owner, Chrissy, built little doggie peep holes in her deck so her pups could greet the newcomers!

 Hillside Bungalows: our home away from home

 It's got everything we need...

 ...including a real bed!!!!!

Actually, it's got TWO beds!  This is the view from the front room. 

 Kipper's all, "Okaaaaaay, so this is our home now?"

 Chrissy, our fantastic host, insisted that we try this Canadian maple whiskey, before we left.
No problem!  It was delicious!

One of the first places we went was Lake Louise, a small glacier fed lake with an old hotel on its banks, Chateau Lake Louis.

Chateau Lake Louis.  Never saw the occupants of this vintage-looking kayak so I began to wonder if it was placed there for photos?

 We walked a trail around the lake and passed several rock climbers.

 Banff Avenue at dusk.  This little town has a pretty active nightlife.

 We checked out a band and couldn't resist getting a photo of this guy's shirt.
Despite what his shirt says, he was very friendly.  The whole town is pretty friendly!

 The following day we rode up to the top of Sulphur Mountain via gondola.
The views were incredible!  Banff National Park is behind us.

 The view towards town.

 Angie and I have seen a lot of mountains on this trip and also arrived in Banff a day earlier so we were prepared (not that we're becoming jaded to all this beauty).  My Mom, however, arrived from Texas, where it's 100+ and hasn't ever rained, right into this environment.
Here she is....soaking it all in.

Next day over to Kootenay National Park, neighbor to Banff NP, to see Marble Canyon.  It's a cool place to see how nature comes back after a wildfire.  Plus, there's a super awesome waterfall.

 This glacier/snow melt creek has been carving a thin but very deep canyon for thousands of years.  The power of this water was incredible!

 Back in the town of Banff is this beautiful waterfall in the Bow River, adjacent to the
Banff Springs Hotel.

 The Banff Springs Hotel was opened by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the late 1800's., just like Lake Louise and the Glacier House in Glacier Nat'l Park.
The Banff Springs Hotel is beautiful (we actually liked it better than Lake Louise) and there's rumors it's haunted by a bellman and a bride!  Spooky

 Banff Springs Hotel from across the Bow River.

 And now onto Calgary!  Mom is flying home from here.  We lucked out and were here for local food and drink at a downtown festival.  Everyone was there, Calgarians know how to appreciate good weather and food!

 These geese are enjoying the local food too.

And, of course, we exercise Kipper wherever we are.