A Travellerspoint blog

Banff

and the last of Lois's ashes

all seasons in one day 5 °C

Today there was a strange atmosphere and everyone woke up feeling a bit down. Des and Laurie had decided that we would go up Sulphur mountain, which overlooks Banff and we would scatter the last remains of Lois's ashes.

Mum and Dad were going to go up in the gondola, and Des, Laurie and I would walk. The sign at the start of the path indicated the walk would take between 2 and 5 hours. We set off at 13:15 and reached the summit at 14:45, 1 and half hours later. The walk was very cathartic and was a continuos climb up through pine trees until we broke out into the sunshine at the top.
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The views from the top were spectacular, and the weather put on a real show for us. One minute it was clear blue skies, the next a raging blizzard.
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Des chose the spot to scatter Lois's ashes, mid way between the peaks of Sulphur mountain and Sansom mountain, with a view over looking Banff and the mountains beyond. As he scattered her ashes, there was sudden gust of wind and they were carried away through the pine trees and snow. An eagle appeared and soared high above us. Almost immediately, a small chipmunk joined us, and then proceeded to follow us up to the peak of Sansom mountain. She was very tame and friendly at one point hopping onto my hand.
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A fitting place indeed, and an opportunity for Des and Laurie to try and get some closure after the loss of Lois.
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When we returned to Banff, we all hopped into the Banff Hot springs for a well earned soak to relax our tired muscles.

Posted by ackers888 09:19 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Wow !

Jasper to Banff

all seasons in one day 1 °C

Well, what can I say, despite Laurie and Des's concerns over the weather (it was snowing when we awoke in Jasper) the drive from Jasper to Banff was stunning. Yes it would have been great to see all of the mountains with a backdrop of blue sky, but actually, it was so much more dramatic seeing the weather perform cartwheels across the mountain tops. The weather was one minute dark and gloomy, with snow falling and the risk that the road would close, to bright and sunny, with clouds breaking away from the peaks and revealing stunning vistas which ever way you looked.
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We stopped along the way to see the Athabasca River and falls..
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millions of gallons of gushing glacier melt pounding through deep gorges in cascades. All made the better by the blizzards whirling around to add to the effect.
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My Mum took to playing games and decided to start a snowball fight.
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Dad and I found a friendly bear.
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Then we moved on to the Columbia Icefields..an ampitheatre of mountains with a massive series of glaciers pushing their way wherever there is a valley between the mountains.
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Finally, we cruised along route 93 towards Banff via Lake Louise.
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Lake Louise is supposed to be a beautiful turquoise colour back filled with soaring cliffs and peaks. But for some reason, this year, the ice on the lake hasn't melted yet, and we were treated to a different observation. It was still breathtaking.
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We finally arrived at The Fox Inn at Banff for a night of rest after an awesome day. Sorry this isn't a humourus blog, but what can you say that makes this place funny on a day like today...

Posted by ackers888 22:20 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Jasper

as we enter the Rockies

snow -2 °C

Today has been a bit of a strange day. I hardly looked out of the car window on the 5 hour journey from Edmonton to Jasper. Partly because the weather was so closed in, with snow drifting down and blotting out any views, but also because I have become accustomed to driving here in Canada.

I asked for the radio to be put on to 97.3FM as we left Edmonton, K-97 radio staion, classic rock kicked in and I spent the first hour or so chuntering to myself when the DJ put on a good record. There was AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Eagles and The Who to name a few. Good to see that proper music is still alive and kicking out here amongst the Country and Western masses.

Once we had entered Jasper National Park, the atmosphere changed. The others in the car started to get more animated as more interesting things came into view. Caribou, big horn sheep and mountains were seen and gave topics for discussion. Jasper itself is a smallish ski resort in the winter (we have just missed the season despite the snow still being here), and a camping, hiking and outdoor sports centre during the short summers (next Tuesday). The Rocky mountain tourist trains all seem to stop here to disgorge hordes of tourists, who pop into the gift shops, grab a bite to eat in the local restaurants, before heading back to their train for the onward journey to banff or other destinations.

On arrival at the Beckers lodge we were told not to wander around on our own because bears had been on site the night before, and at this time of year they haven’t long come out of hibernation and are very very hungry and have young to feed. Local advice is, if you meet a bear, and have to run, make sure you’re not the slowest.

At dinner we talked about what lay ahead of us, the ice fields, waterfalls, lakes and mountains of Banff. I don’t think the others have realised how cold the mountains can be, and they didn’t pack the right clothing. I have brought my goretex boots, salopettes and walking jacket, plus several layers to wear and hat and gloves. It’s going to be brutal on the ice fields me thinks, but I am prepared.

This will be followed by the road out West towards Vancouver where we are going to meet up with Don and do some boys stuff (shooting and fishing). I am particularly interested in what Vancouver might be like. I imagine it will have a similar feel to it that Auckland does..plenty of watersports, a cosmopolitan city with great scenery. Most people who I have spoken to rave about Vancouver, and I am looking forward to seeing it myself.

So far, the Canadian people have been very hospitable, keen to please, but most of all easy going and pleasant to deal with. I am warming to them. Too often when you go on holiday, the locals put up a front, or are just plain rude to tourists and see them as an inconvenience. The Canadians seem to be genuinely nice people, always willing to help, chatty, and happy in their work. I would put them in the same category as the Kiwi’s, Thai people and Turkish. The nations that I find put up a barrier or are not very happy when it comes to dealing with tourists are the French and Americans, which is a shame really because both of those nations have fantastic countries with superb infrastructure and geography. Perhaps they don’t realise what they’ve got and are just caught up in their own little rat races. I can’t tar all of the French or Americans with the same brush as I do have some good friends from each nation, but they tend to be people who have been to the UK and sampled a bit of the way we socialise and then look back at their own with a different eye. Of course the Brits are perfect aren’t they..?? ;o)

Posted by ackers888 22:11 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Nice Pussy

and more bizarre weather

snow 0 °C

Today we left Tom and Wendys house, in Edmonton for the short hop to Jasper. Not before we said goodbye to their cute kittens who are under threat of being ousted by Tom. He said he won't go to the local Chinese takeaway for a while once he has moved them on.
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Bless em, he won't do that I'm sure. Wendy wouldn't allow it.

The weather completely changed again today, it was bitterly cold and by the time we had moved West a couple of hours the snow had set in.

Here's and image of the conditions out of the car window:
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Bearing in mind, yesterday we were playing golf in t-shirts and shorts.

When we arrived for our first pit stop at Edson, I was amazed to see this:

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A bunch of bikers had been away for the weekend, and must've been on their way home. Now that is hardcore riding, especially when you consider they have no corners here, so motor biking is a bit of a chore, and then to do it in the snow too...

On the way into Jasper national park we saw some big horn sheep, and caribou, we just need to see bear and moose now and we'll have the full set.
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Apparently at the lodge where we are staying they had a bear wander though the grounds yesterday, and warned us not to move around alone, just in case...

Just outside our cabin, where the river runs by Des mentioned to me that last year he had seen a bunch of white water rafters going by and just as we turned round, I snapped this..
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bearing in mind it's snowing and below freezing...I cannot imagine paying good money to do that.

Posted by ackers888 19:28 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Goff

in Edmonton

sunny 18 °C

Des, Ian, Tom, my father and I played goff this weekend. It's an ancient Scottish ritual that involves strolling around manicured laws, hitting a plastic object in several directions with the intention of losing it down a hole. It is supposed to be a social sport, but the way we all hit our balls to the four points of the compass, you would think we were trying to avoid each other due to some family feud or other. Still, the weather was nice.

The Edmonton Highlands goff course is a very pleasant place to take a stroll. Lush green fairways, pretty trees and tidy bunkers all added to the occasion.

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I seemed to take a liking to the trees. I have a bit of a reputation for being a tree hugger, but this doesn't help with trying to keep the numbers low on the card. The staff at the course were very helpful and courteous to us. I would recommend this as a place for anyone interested in goff to play a round.

After the first game on Saturday Ian kindly invited me back to his house to visit Jayne and their two children, Jamie and Lauren, over at their house in St Albert, a town just outside Edmonton.
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Jayne and Ian seem to have hit the sweet spot as far as being migrants into Canada. They are both young, professionally qualified and have a young family too. ALl the things you would imagine a fledgling nation like Canada desires. Good luck to them, they seem very suited to this place.

They live in a lovely house, on a cul-de-sac, and treated me to dinner and several beers. Ian and I reminisced about our Army days (sorry Jayne, I'm sure you've heard it all before). For those that don't know, it was Jayne and Ian who brought Lois and I together in 1990 at the Worthing hockey festival. I am not sure if it was deliberate match making on their part, but, if it was, it was a stroke of genius and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for the ensuing 19 years that I spent with Lois.

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Gluttons for punishment, Tom, Des, Dad and I went for another game of goff today. I blew hot and cold, but managed to come in with some good matchplay scores and helped win the day. Quite satisfying really considering I haven't played for a couple of years.

Footnote on the weather. Yesterday and today have been pleasant, spring like, days here in Edmonton. This evening though, the temperature dropped like a stone, and we are faced with 2 x days of arctic like conditions, around 0 degrees celsius, and snow forecast. It is May isn't it?

Posted by ackers888 22:28 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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