New Photos!!!

Hi All….   We have arrived safely in Banff and as we now have a very good internet connection we have added a load of new photographs to the Flickr feed on our blog so please go and check it out :0)

We still have 3 days worth of photos to add, but need to eat as fading fast…  Enjoy and we appreciate your feedback.

Lewis & Kim

Day 7 – Wednesday 14th September 2011

Apart from the usual waking up and having breakfast which by now I suspect you had already worked out…..

We took a drive into Jasper which is about 30 minutes away from our cabin and stopped at the Canadian equivalent of Tourist Information in order to find out where the best places were to go for wildlife.

Lake Maligne appeared to be our best bet as there had been various reports of Bear, Moose and Elk in the area.  So after a little “window shopping” we jumped into the SUV and headed off out.

With Kim not feeling 100% today we decided to have a fairly quiet and tranquil day and so with the time being about 12:30 we thought we’d go and have coffee at the Fairmount Lodge which is in a similar vicinity to the Lake.  Well on arrival at the lodge we thought we’d better quickly turn round and get the hell out of there !!!!  Let’s just say we didn’t think our budget would stretch that far….  We always thought that price was for a room, not a coffee!!!! :0)

We pushed on and head along Maligne Road and came to Maligne Canyon which had a cafe and so we stopped there. Lewis got talking to a couple as he loved their dog – we thought it was an Alaskan Malamute but ….. it turned out to be a wolf hybrid dog, allegedly 60% wolf, 40% Malamute – and he looked stunning!!! Kim eventually got her hubby back and we got drinks and snacks – Lewis had an Apple Pastry and Kim had home-made Pecan Pie – both were yummy!!!

We then decided to head back for the cabin as it was “too early” for wildlife spotting or so we thought.  We were told any time after 5.30pm or before 9am were the best times…….yet on the way back we saw mountain sheep on the side of a mountain (funnily enough) and elk in the river!!!

Time now to head out again on our wildlife expedition…..”We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one, what a beautiful day, we’re not scared……well not much any way!”

Day 6 – Tuesday 13th September 2011

Good morning Everyone!!!

Well we both had a much better nights sleep last night and were up at 06:00 this morning.  Having sorted a couple of bits out we’ve already been out at sunrise up to the road to Lake Louise and also up the road to Lake Moraine again to see if there was any wildlife around….  Funnily enough I think you can all work out the answer to that one  :0)

This morning, after breakfast, we are heading on up to Jasper via the Columbia Icefield.  From Lake Louise to Jasper is 232km or 140 miles in English money….

It’s overcast and certainly very chilly this morning, but we are both looking forward to going and actually standing and walking around on a Glacier…..  :0)  We’ll let you know how we get on.

Bye for now…

Lewis & Kim

P.S.  We are finding it difficult trying to edit and get video up on the blog.  In fact to be honest we are not sure what the photos look like seeing they are un-edited and have come straight off the camera.  We will get some more photos sorted out this evening as there is Wi-Fi at our lodge in Jasper :0)

We’re back, although it is the next day strangely enough…

Well they say the road to the Icefields is the most beautiful in Canada – and it certainly is stunning – the journey to the Columbia Icefields, up highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) from Lake Louise should take about 1 1/2 hours …. We took about twice that !!! So would you have if you’d kept stopping at the view points to look at the scenery and take yet more pictures.

After about 10 mins on the Parkway we saw an awful lot of cars and RVs just pulled over, so knew that there had to be some sort of Wildlife upfront.  At long last… Hallelujah!!!   We finally get to see a bear from ground level….  He was a pretty good-sized black bear and we got some video footage and we think some wonderful photos of him.  Humans are strange you know; just because Mr Bear was wearing a collar, people obviously decided that he must be tame and so the 100m rule set by the Parks Authorities went straight out of the window!!!  Believe me when we tell you he was most certainly wild….  As so many people decided that they could get within 20 feet of Mr Bear, Lewis decided he’d get closer to get some lovely photos and he just hoped if bear fancied a snack then he’d choose someone else.  There was only one problem with this theory as was demonstrated when Mr Bear come quite quickly out of the bushes to the roadside and everyone else just ran, whilst my dear husband was standing there with camera to his face getting photos!!!  Well maybe hubby had “gone off” seeing the bear didn’t eat him……

Eventually we got to the Columbia Icefield Centre and booked our tickets for the Glacier tour. We got on a coach that took us up the mountain to the start of the glacier where we transferred to the glacier bus for the next part. Out on the glacier we went, with an entertaining guide giving us commentary on the way, we were allowed to get out at the top of the glacier for 20 minutes to take pictures and sample the glacier water which was very pure but cold….brrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

After that experience of a lifetime, we drove on and thought we would make time up on the way to Jasper but the landscape kept getting in the way! And then the mountain sheep got in the way…..and then the magnificent stag on the road……

Eventually we found our home for the night – Pocahontas Cabins, about 30 minutes outside of Jasper.

Day 5 – Monday 12th September 2011

Even with the delights of a king size bed, Lewis had a bad night; he is
feeling the effects of altitude sickness and was really suffering last night!
He eventually got to sleep in the early hours and we rose at about 10am to
shower and get ready for the day.

We headed to Lake Louise Gondola – this is a ride up the mountain in either
an enclosed gondola or a ski bench and apparently is one of the best places to
see a bear – which is what we want to do so much!!

We chose an enclosed gondola for the journey up which takes about 15 minutes
and the views were outstanding- we scanned the area below us and the tree line
each side so we could say those immortal words “Hey bear, it’s only me
bear” …. But to no avail…sigh. When we arrived at the mid-point where
we got off, we were greeted by one of the guides who informed us that a grizzly
had been spotted within 100 metre of the platform so for safety, we were not
allowed to get off but were sent round to do the descent and climb again…..
we looked long and hard for this pesky bear who was stopping us from getting
off to take his picture but not a claw or tooth could be seen…grrr!! We descended,
continued scanning the woods and open land below us, and went round and climbed
again….and the same guide very apologetically told us that the bear still
hadn’t moved so we were being sent back down again – and still not a whisker to
be seen!

On this descent, we decided to get off, go get a coffee and come back up in
a short while when hopefully we would be luckier and catch sight of the pesky
varmint who had thwarted our intent to take his picture!

Up we went, on the open bench seat this time – Kim loved it but Lewis felt a
little queasy. We had our eyes peeled all the way up but nothing, not a rustle
in the trees. We got to the top ….and yes! We could get off! We were told that
the bear had moved up the mountain and over a hill. We hoped he would put in an
appearance but it was not to be – so we carried up two cameras, three lenses,
one tripod and one tripod head to take a few pictures of landscapes from the
top of the mountain!

Some news came up via some tourists who had come up recently, they had seen
a black bear between poles 10 and 11 so we packed up our stuff and got an open
bench ride down, and counted the poles …….13, 12, 11….eyes peeled ….looking
left and right…..and there in the trees was a small black bear …so cute, not
sure if we managed to get any pictures of him, and no video as we were so
awestruck – we saw our first bear ….and were finally able to say “ Hey bear!!!”

We went back to the hotel to have something to eat as we hadn’t eaten all
day, then went back to our room for a little rest and then near sunset we got
back in the SUV and drove to Lake Moraine which is up a 14km small windy
road.  Apparently it’s one of the places where there was a good chance of seeing wildlife…..  What did we see?  Absolutely nothing!!!  Having said that we think we got some lovely photos of the lake and the Fay Glacier that feeds the lake.

By 10:00pm we were both knackered and so off to sleep we go…..

Day 3 – Saturday 10th September

Have been awake since about 2:00am (ish) with those wonderful “Jet Lag blues”. So Lewis decided to get up and go and use the hotel’s public computer to be greeted by the night receptionist with the most annoying question: “Jet Lag?”  Should have answered “No I just normally get up at this time of the day, but was too knackered and could just about answer yes… ”

7:00am arrived and all packed, dressed and video blog done and the car is packed and ready to go….  So where to?  Well we decide to head to Revelstoke, a railway town and jesus are their goods trains long!!!  Must be talking of 1 mile in length and they travel very slowly that’s for sure.

Along the journey we begin to enter the actually Canadian Rockies and National Parks.  All we keep saying to each other is “Oh wow, look at this” and “Oh my god look at that…”

Having been on the road for a good few hours, we decide to stop in Sorrento which is on a tiny part of the massive Shuswap Lake.  We found a nice little diner place where breakfast was served and oh jesus what a feast!!!  bizarrely the cook’s family originated from the UK and her father was in fact stationed at Biggin Hill !!!  There is one thing that you realise when you travel nowadays and that is just how small a place this planet has become, especially with the use of modern technology… :0)

Feeling rather full from our breakfast, we got back to the vehicle and saw the only Grizzly bear in town…..  Sadly he was an 8ft wooden carving!!!

Onwards to Revelstoke and when we arrived there it was a little bit too industrial for our liking so we stopped for coffee and ice cream and to make a new plan of where we were going and where we were going to stop and spend the night.  We managed to book a log cabin in Golden, British Columbia and when we eventually got there we found this place to be absolutely stunning… Cedar Restaurant and Cabins is certainly well worth stopping at when you have a log burning stove, a large sleigh bed and your very own hot tub out on the porch!!!!  Mmmmmm luxury indeed.

So after getting settled in for the night we needed to eat and so made our way into Golden where we found a bar that served food so stopped and ate.  After that it was back to the cabin and off to bed for another exciting day….

Day 2 – A retrospective Backtrack

Good Morning Whistler !!!  Well it’s a 6am start and we’re wide awake and enjoying the sun coming up over the mountains …. 7:30am and Lewis finally wakes up.  8am and we use Skype to call Lewis’ mum and dad and then I take this doll called Spike outside to photograph him on his “travels”.  Well without trying to bore you too much, who or what is Spike? Well he is a doll character used to try to engage with kids and get them into school.

Well now that we are up and dressed, we go downstairs and next door for breakfast where we have eggs benedict with Canadian Bacon and hash browns.

So now that the we and the vehicle are fuelled up we program the SatNav for Savonna and oh my god what a drive!!!  What an incredible drive through the mountains so of course the journey took god knows how much longer because we just had to keep stopping to admire the view.

We arrive in a place called Pemberton where we stopped at a Gas station to try and buy a map, but sadly they had sold out.  Due to us being British the guy asked for help with his crossword with the clue being “8 stone in the UK” and the answer was 3 letters !!!  Well we couldn’t help him with that one so we moved on….

When we arrived we were advised that if we were going anywhere outside of towns or cities that it would be wise to have a bear spray, so whilst we were in town we stopped at a shop called Spud Valley where we bought a large bear spray and holster and a new knife to replace Lewis’ old trusty Beretta which has seen better days….

So we continue to drive through the most magnificent mountain scenery where you wouldn’t believe that we see another Ford Escape, the same as ours, as in the same colour.  Well it turns out that the number plates were 1 digit out and that they had rented theirs from the same company but had picked theirs up from Calgary and were driving to Banff…  Who would believe that you travel all that distance to meet a Scottish family in our vehicles “Brother”..

After bumping into the Scottish family we drive down the road for a kilometer or 2 and then stop at a gas station to fill up.  They seem to have a very strange rule over here where you have to pay for your fuel “up front”, but were both very pleased to see just how cheap fuel is over here for us British !!!

Well we finally arrived in Savona and were pleased we hadn’t pre-booked accommodation as this place was nothing to write home about so we swiftly moved on up the highway to Kamloops where we stayed in a Sheraton hotel.  To be perfectly honest we have decided that we were just spoilt with the very first hotel we stayed in Whistler…..

WIth jetlag kicking in nicely it was back to the hotel to flop out after we had eaten.

Day 4 – Up a mountain, visited a wolfs den & McDonalds for lunch!

We woke up ridiculously early this morning-wide awake by 6.30am! What to do?

The owner of the log cabin told us of a trail that we could drive that leads to the top of one of the mountains so we put the cameras in the car and off we went. Take a right by reflection lake we were told-how hard could it be??

We found the road and I use this term loosely as it’s a forestry “road” which winds 14km up a mountainside……half an hour later, with Lewis doing his best off roading efforts, and having seen our first wildlife of the trip- three deer, we reach the top of the mountain and wow-the view as the sun lights the mountains.

We were not alone- we met 2 guys who had slept int heir cars overnight so they could go paragliding first thing! We watched one of them launch himself off the top with a very flimsy looking chute!

Onwards to the Wolf centre where were spent some time listening to the work they are trying to do and realising how wolf like our two hoolies are! As we arrived, we were greeted with howling- apparently that doesn’t happen often so we were honoured!

Now in MacDonalds as we missed breakfast and it’s nearly 2pm here…… and having a giggle with a very large couple who came in and made everyone else feel skinny….order 2 go-large third pounder meals and when they were asked what drinks they wanted, she said-” Oh I’d better have a diet coke” and he said ” I’ll take a coffee but I guess I should have sweetener in it”!!!!!!!

We were thinking of heading to Banff but as Lake Louise was closer we’d go there first instead and stop there for the night.  We drove into Lake Louise village and up to see the Lake.

Well Lake Louise is just breath-taking, stunning, scenery that just takes your breath away.  The Lake itself is a spectacular blue pool that is fed from the Glacier behind it.

Eventually we tore ourselves away and headed back into he Village to secure some accommodation where we managed to find a place and so checked ourselves into the Lake Louise Inn, which to be perfectly honest isn’t the best hotel we’ve stayed in, although it’s certainly the most expensive.

Dinner was in the bar on site where Lewis had a Bison burger and Kim had Nachos and we were entertained by live music with musicians just doing an open jam session.  Have to admit the guys were excellent!!!

Well we can’t stay in the bar all night and so we head off to bed where during the night Lewis started to feel really lousy and we work out that it’s basically altitude sickness, but he’s OK and we look forward to our next day in this wonderful country.

Bit Behind

Hi folks it’s day 3 of our Canada trip and although I feel i’ve been up all day and all night, I’m getting behind on writing this blog, getting photos uploaded etc… :0(

Please bare with us as it should be sorted and upto date within the next 24 – 48 hours and will then be easier to keep upto date.

At least you all know we’re both fine and the bears haven’t eaten us yet !!!  Talking of bears we haven’t seen a single bit of wildlife yet… Maybe this is because it’s sooo hot over here and everything is sooo dry… It’s like a tinder box, so it’s not surprising there have been reports of a few rather large forest fires….

Anyway, we’re off to Revelstoke this morning (Saturday) and blog will be sorted :0(

Better late than never….

I’m still new at this blogging thing, so will take me a couple of days to get into the swing of it.

Breathtaking!!!

These photos were taken from the plane over Greenland and Baffin Island.  The landscape from 38,000 feet looks just spectacular, but there is another side to it… How come we can see so much ground that isn’t covered with snow?  It’s September, shouldn’t it all be under a nice thick blanket?  Maybe there is something to be said for this global warming thing..  On the other hand maybe one could also suggest that it’s just a cyclical thing this planet does?

The flight generally was fine, that’s if you enjoy flying Comedy Class on a long haul flight that is.  The plane was delayed by an hour and we arrived in Vancouver at 13:30 Pacific Coast time which is currently 8 hours behind UK time.

So we get off the plane and then stand in a very long queue to meet the Canadian Immigration Officer… Well this is where Canada can clearly be separated from the USA.  Not only did we NOT have some official keep telling you to keep your feet behind the line, but the guy at the desk was smiley and actually friendly… That beats the American versions who generally seem to have a face like a slapped backside… :0)

We got over to the car hire company and collected a nice brand new Ford Escape and have to say it’s very quiet and very comfortable. You’ll see some photos of it later.

Now how does a foreigner work out where they are nowadays?  Simple… You take your SatNav with you and plug it in.  OK so we are definitely “foreigners” and so got the SatNav out and programmed it to our hotel in Whistler thinking this should be pretty easy.  Humm maybe not quite so easy when the screen tells you that your journey time is going to be 7 hours over 450km!!!  Surely that can’t be right when everyone keeps telling us it’s about a 2.5 hour drive.

We ignore it and decide to work our way across the city with just the basic map given to us by the car hire company…  Well an hour later and we’re still in Vancouver :0(.   Eventually though we do manage to make it out on Highway 99 and the real journey begins.

What a journey!!! The scenery is nothing short of spectacular.  Put the Lake District and parts of Scotland on steroids and that’s not even close to this place and you know what the nice thing is?  The Canadians don’t seem to take the beauty of this place for granted… :0(

So we got up at 4:00am (UK time) and finally got to the hotel in Whistler at 2:00am (UK)!!!  Yep you could call it a marathon journey so it was so nice to just check in, get to our rooms and crash…  Oh boy did we crash out!!!  Don’t know what all this jet lag thing is about, but we’ll get onto that later…  Why else do you think I’m sitting typing this at silly o’clock in the morning!!!

The Eagle has landed !!!

Well the plane from Gatwick was delayed by an hour… I suppose fair enough when your going to be sitting in an aluminium tube for the next 10 hours!!!

Our seats we’re next to each other, but a very nice young Canadian lady was prepared to swap seats with my so a) Kim and I got to sit next to each other and b) I actually had better leg room… Well thank god the 3rd passenger in our little section was a lovely english lady flying out to Vancouver to stay with her daughter and luckily she had a sense of humour and with the three of us chatting and laughing the time actually didn’t go too badly.

Vancouver here we come….. Yes the eagle has landed and god help the Canadians!!! I mean do they really know what they’ve let themselves in for?  Hummm probably not :0)

We collected the car which is actually a lovely Ford Escape and headed off for Whistler.  An hour and a half later and we were STILL leaving Vancouver, or should I say trying to leave…  Heading for Whistler became heading for Seattle and my SatNav told me that Whistler was a 7 hour drive and over 480km!!  Hummmm I don’t think so….

We finally made it to our hotel in Whistler at 19:00 and I’m sitting trying to keep my eyes open whilst typing this as it’s either 05:20 on Friday morning UK time or only 21:20 on Thursday evening so my body doesn’t really know whether it’s coming or going…

Before I depart from the night, what are our first impressions?  Well quite simply absolutely breath-taking… STUNNING!!!

Nite nite all from two very tired travellers who have been on the go for over 25 hours now :0(