Category Archives: Vacations

The Wonderful Rockies

We still feel blessed that we have such wonderful scenery and wildlife so close by. While Janet’s parents were visiting we thought we would show them Jasper in the sunshine (the last time they were here, it was April and our trip to Jasper featured an initial drive to Edmonton in blizzard conditions.)

Day 1: On our journey to we stopped at Lake Louise to eat our lunch overlooking the lake in the sunshine. Here are some of the flowers outside of the hotel.And of course the very famous view of Lake Louise.This little bird, we believe to be a Clarks Nutcracker, helped us out with our lunch.Our next stop was Bow Lake to take in another breathtaking view. There were lots of wildflowers around too.
Our next stop was Peyto Lake, a little hazy from the forest fires in BC, but stunning all the same. Peyto Lake is alive with Chimpunks, this one was complete with totally stuffed cheeks. Just as we were coming into Jasper, we were greeted by a family of Mountain Goats. Baby Mountain Goat
After we had arrived in Jasper, we had time to relax and get a bite to eat. Then we drove to one of our favourite spots, Patricia Lake – stunning. Day 2: We decided to take advantage of the warm sunny day and take a trip up Whistlers Mountain. The cable car took us to an elevation of 7,496 ft or 2,284 metres. Views weren’t great, due to the forest fires again, but it was still pretty spectacular. We then took a ride out to Athabasca Falls. After dinner, we took a drive to Beauvert Lake at the Golf Course, with the clearest water we have ever seen. Elk on the Golf Course… Day 3: On a trip to Medicine Lake, we saw lots of Pikas, which entertained us for quite some time (we will post this separately as there were quite a few photos taken!).

Long ago, Medicine Lake was believed to be inhabited by spirits. This is because the water level fluctuates wildly, sometimes disappearing altogether due to a combination of an underground drainage system and the spring run off. This is one of the largest “sinking” lakes in the Western Hemishphere. Medicine Lake Big Horn Sheep by Medicine Lake (there is less water at this end of the lake). Big Horn Sheep in Jasper Field of Bighorn Sheep in JasperPyramid Lake
Day 4: We decided to go on a boat tour on Maligne Lake. Maligne Lake is the largest natural lake in the Rockies (22km / 14 miles long). Picture taken from Spirit Island, the “turn around” point for the boat tour. Back in Jasper, we came across some Elk The moon on our last night… Day 5: was pretty much taken up by the drive home, but we did manage a quick stop off at the Columbia Icefields…Will it ever get tired and mundane visiting the Rockies? We seriously doubt it.


Boxing Day

We started our Boxing Day with another hearty breakfast at Poppy’s Brasserie in Chateau Lake Louise, perfect before a chilly but magical sleigh ride around the lake.

Mouse, on the left and Mutt, on the right, were the lucky pair who took us on our ride.We rode through the winding path around the lake. All we could hear were the jingle of the horse’s reins and the creaking of the sleigh.Despite several blankets and lots of layers of clothing, hats, gloves, scarves etc, we were freezing by the time we got to the turning circle at the far end of the lake. The driver joked that this was the end of the line and we had to make our own way back. Oh how we laughed (while staying firmly tucked under the blankets!)
After our ride and a very large cup of hot chocolate, we made our way down to Banff and the Sulphur Mountain Tramway. Truly stunning, but absolutely freezing.J&E.

Our Christmas Day

Before we begin with our Christmas day activities, we just had to post this picture. Spot the Brit (one of our visitors), desperate to get out in the lovely white powdery snow at every opportunity!We started our Christmas Day with a hearty breakfast at Poppy’s Brasserie, followed by a stroll out onto the frozen Lake Louise.

We then went for a walk in one of our favourite places, Johnston Canyon. We have posted pictures of Johnston Canyon in the winter before, but the sheer beauty and strangeness of this place in the winter-time never fails to amaze us.On the drive down to the Banff townsite, we were lucky enough to spot this herd of Elk on the frozen Vermillion Lake.We decided to take a drive around the picturesque Minnewanka Loop and as the evening started to come upon us, we were treated to the most lovely Christmas Day sunset.We drove back through the Banff Townsite to look at all the pretty Christmas decorations, all ready for our Christmas Dinner back at Lake Louise.J&E.

Happy Christmas!

Another year has all but passed and we wanted to wish all who know us, either in the flesh or via this blog, a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous 2009. Here’s a couple of seasonal shots from Lake Louise. In fact, this first shot was on the way to Lake Louise and shows something of a Chinook Arch over the mountains.This is an ice sculpture bench outside the Chateau Lake Louise.Meet “Sonny”, Director Pet Relations at the Chateau Lake Louise. His motto is that he “turns moments into memories, one wag of the tail at a time!”Here’s the sleigh ride horses, ready to pull the next set of riders around the lake.

Lake Louise, Peyto Lake & Bow Valley Parkway

Readers of the post below will know that we spent the past weekend at Lake Louise with Jan’s parents, who are visiting us from the UK. We’ve stopped at Chateau Lake Louise three times now, always with a lake view from our room, but never one quite like this…Down at lake level, the scene was perfect…A trip up onto the Icefields Parkway never disappoints and even in the relatively gloomy weather, Peyto Lake remained a breathtaking view…Heading down to Banff, we thought we would get off the main road and onto the quieter Bow Valley Parkway…You know how frustrating it is when you need dental floss and there is none around…At this point in proceedings, we don’t think we will ever tire of having the Rockies on our doorstep.


Trip to Kelowna

Jan’s boss at ReMax, recently sent Jan on an Office Manager’s course – that’s Jan’s role. The course took us to Kelowna, British Columbia, some 450 miles from our home here in Okotoks, Alberta. Our first thought was to fly but it seemed too good an opportunity to miss to drive up and over the Rockies and so that was what we did.

From a blog perspective, we don’t want to inundate you with too many shots you have already seen here before but as you’d expect, as you drive through the Rockies, you can’t help but stop from time to time to take in the view. This selection of pictures are all from the British Columbia side of the BC/Alberta provincial border, this being the first time we have crossed that line in our time here. As you will see, sometimes it’s the smallest things which are beautiful.The view of Lake Okanagan from our hotel room was better than we dared hope…And the views of Lake Okanagan from atop Knox Mountain were spectacular…On what was a tight schedule, we managed to sneak in a very quick visit to the pristine Mission Hill Winery… on the drive home, we had to stop at this equally impressive and classy establishment. We’ll leave you to figure out what they were selling…But hey, it MADE us stop and look…is that not the epitome of effective advertising?


Rockies Tour

Geoff & Hazel, Jan’s Mum & Dad, were with us for 3 weeks in April through to early May, during which time we do believe they experienced just about all possible extremes of weather including some quite unbelievable dumps of snow. However, with true British grit and determination, neither they or we were put off and with a little re-jigging of plans to work around the worst of the snow, we set off on an 8 day Alberta tour, first heading north to the capital of Alberta, Edmonton (in atrocious conditions – none of us had ever seen as many wrecked &/or abandoned cars and lorries as we saw that day). Our route then took us west and up into the Rocky Mountains, to Jasper, then south on the Icefields Parkway, acknowledged as one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the world, to Lake Louise, south again to Banff, before heading south east back to Okotoks. Here’s a number of snaps from the trip.

We pick the story up in and around Jasper (given Edmonton was something of a “white-out” – we ended up spending most of the time in the world’s biggest shopping centre, the West Edmonton Mall). Here, the Athabasca River had shaken off the icy binds of winter and was flowing freely although if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can still see how deep the snow is on its banks.

We took a drive out to Medicine Lake. The weather was closing in and with us passing just one or two cars on the entire drive there and back, it was quite eerie. The lake was frozen and very low lying versus it’s summer height (the First Nations people used to think the varying heights of Medicine Lake were a spiritual phenomenon and it is only fairly recently that it was discovered exactly where the water drains away to from the base of the lake).We drove on and eventually stopped for lunch where, in exchange for a crumb or two of pretzel, we were richly rewarded by visits from a couple of very inquisitive Gray Jays.Road conditions were not so great and great clumps of ice would build up in the car’s wheel arches which we would chip off whenever we could. With Janet’s foot in view for scale, you can see how substantial this ice block was that we managed to separate from Lilly.On the way back and before we left Jasper, we made further stops at Medicine Lake for a family snap or two. On the last of these, the weather was beginning to improve with the sun breaking through…There was plenty of wildlife around, including this slightly cheeky deer who clearly hasn’t learned that it is impolite to stick your tongue out…There were more Elk than we had ever seen in the Rockies before and choosing one picture from the hundreds that we took of them is nigh on impossible but this one is fairly charismatic!Just south of Jasper, we took a trip in the Jasper Tramway up the 8,000ft Whistlers Mountain…Patricia Lake is a beautiful spot at any time of year but the frozen lake gives it an especially clean and crisp look against the backdrop of the mountains and the now clearing blue sky…Just up the road from Patricia Lake is Emerald Lake which also looks strikingly different from the summer version of itself that Jan and Eam have previously experienced…Some of the mountain scenery around Jasper is stunning and it changes by the hour as cloud comes and goes and as the sun begins to set…As you head south from Jasper, you join the Icefields Parkway. It is a fabulous drive, all contained within the network of Canadian national parks. The official website is well worth a visit and gives you a flavour of some of the sites you can see in the height of summer – there are things to stop and see all along the 100+ miles that it stretches from Jasper to Lake Louise.

For us, we saw it in a different state of splendour. A stop at the Athabasca Falls is always a treat and late Winter/early Spring gave the scene a whole new look for Jan and Eam, again having only previously seen the area in the height of summer…You weave your way through fantastic mountain scenery…Along the way, you can stop at the Columbia Icefield and go take a, errr, “bus” up onto the glacier. The route they take brings you down (and up) the second steepest “road” (for “road”, read “dirt-track”) in North America before you arrive at the mouth of the glacier ice pack. Hazel is about 5ft tall…and yes, so are the wheels of the “Ice Explorer”.
The scenery when standing on the glacier is of the normal standard… This is the old “bus” they used to use. Apparently it was a real bone-shaker. Here’s the relevant website.

We continued south and so did the beautiful scenery…

In the ordinary run of events, one of the absolute highlights of driving the Icefields Parkway is to stop and take in the breathtaking scenes at Peyto Lake (as per this photo taken in July 2007).
However, with the aforementioned snowfall, the best we could do was get to the nearby car park. Just in case you think we were being a bit “soft” over the issue, this is the depth of snow we would have had to battle through to get to the lake. Eam thought it was mean that Jan, Hazel and Geoff were encouraging him to go stand by the information board so that they could take a pic – it was the conspiratorial looks on their faces that made him decline the offer, especially as they seemed less interested in taking a photo and more in causing enough of a disturbance to dislodge the snow!When we arrived there, Lake Louise was as beautiful as ever and just showing the first signs of thawing but seeing as we covered winter scenes at Lake Louise with our New Year’s Eve post, we only include one photo this time…After a night at Chateau Lake Louise, we headed south again to Banff for the last stop on our tour. Vermillion Lakes had thawed… Bow Falls were running fast…We took a trip to the top of the 7,500ft above sea level Sulphur Mountain, on the Banff Gondola. Here’s their website.
Atop the mountain, the scenes were as rewarding as you’d imagine they would be…
You get great views of the Banff Springs Hotel…But even up this high, there is much wildlife and this little chipmunk entertained Jan and Eam for several minutes as he scurried around looking for food.Two Jack Lake is one of Eam’s favourite spots in the Rockies and the contrast between this early Spring view and the one we took last Summer demonstrates why it is worth trying to get to see the Rockies in all seasons.The Big Horn Sheep can always be found near Two Jack Lake. Their “thing” is to lick the salt off the road and if your car happens to have salt on it, (which, of course, it often does when you have travelled over gritted roads), they’ll come and lick it off your car too! Here’s the family…Here’s the aftermath (ie: the clean patches) of having your car sheep “kissed”!Here’s Mum and baby. Ahhh, sweet…Nearby is Lake Minnewanka (we know, we know) which is a nice place to stop and take in the views…Although the jetty and boat launch, frozen into the lake, look quite spooky we think…Here’s the Banff Hoodoos and their impressive valley setting…And finally, here is the first, the very first flower we saw this Spring, found on the path down from the Hoodoos!We returned home to Okotoks to find that all the snow we had left behind had melted away, leaving Geoff and Hazel a couple of final days to relax and enjoy themselves before they headed back to the UK.