We had an early morning call - really early this time - 6
a.m. Took a taxi to the Hotel Vancouver, a beautiful Canadian
Pacific Hotel that took 11 years to complete. It was completed in
May 1939, in time for King George VI and the Queen Mum to stay there.
We set out early, at 7.30, following a delicious buffet
breakfast. It was a beautiful sunrise over the mountains, with the
snow on the ground and the tops of the mountains. As we drove
off the plateau we came into very dry countryside. This was once a
copper mining area. We drove through Kamloops, which is very dry - they
only have 10 inches of rain per year, which surprised us. There is a large
native American population in this area. We travelled by the
unusually shaped Shuswap Lake - house boating is very popular on this lake.
Once again, there were lovely colours in the trees. We stopped for coffee
at our first Tim Horton's at Salmon Arm. Tim was to become a very
good friend of ours whilst in Canada. They serve wonderful donuts, danish
pastries and coffee not to mention their rolls. This is an area with
a lot of lumber mills - they put logs in the lake, then onto rail cars, into a
drying kiln and out the other end. When we made a stop at
Craigellachie, where the last spike was driven for Canadian Pacific Rail on
November 7th, 1985, there were lots of men with caps on wandering around and
Peter informed us that they were in a German Male Choir travelling around.
Then we wound through the mountains, through glorious scenery - snow-capped
mountains and lovely trees once again. Stopped for a boardwalk
through red cedars. Thought how much Yas and Jordy would have loved this
as they love the one at Chookarloo in Kuitpo Forest so much. This
area we were travelling in is part of Mount Revelstoke National Park. We
passed through an avalanche area in Rogers Pass where we went through several
avalanche sheds. The army is called out to set off avalanches if
there is a build-up of snow and therefore a threat of an avalanche. The
summit was 1330 feet. We had a delicious lunch at Glacier Park Lodge - a
beautiful setting up in those mountains. When we left there we
crossed the time zone into mountain time. Then it was on through Kicking
Horse Pass and into Yoho National Park. Beautiful scenery once
again. When we arrived at Lake Louise Chateau and walked into our
room we nearly cried - six floors up, jutting out and right in the middle of the
view of the lake. So beautiful - a perfect room. It had six
windows, giving us views in all directions. The water of the lake was calm
and clear and the weather unbelievable. We went for a walk around
the lake. After a while David sat and looked at the view while I walked on
further. It was an unbelievable place! - a dream come true, as Yas would
say. The room was perfect. We decided it was time for beers in the Lounge
looking at the lake through a lovely picture window - what a view - and yes,
Woke to a beautiful sight over the lake. Once
again, what a room with a view! We packed, then went for a walk.
Oh, that lake. We were rather reluctant to leave, but all good things come
to an end. Chuck, our new driver set off with us at 9.45. The
passengers were mainly older Yanks, from Reno - only 19 all together, which was
a good number. They were good fun and very interested in Australia.
One of the women is an author and has a new Australian publisher so she was very
interested in our country. We started out for Jasper, along the
Icefields Parkway, which is surely one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
Our first stop was at Hector Lake, then on to Lake Peyto, which was the most
magnificent blue - unbelievable. I remember the waters in
Norway being this wonderful blue/green colour, caused by the water coming off
the glaciers. We had to walk very carefully here out to the lookout, due
to the ice on the pathways. It was extremely slippery. It was pretty
cold here, but a lovely day. Then it was a hot chocolate stop at Bow
Lake/Glacier. The scenery was unbelievable - glaciers everywhere.
They were cinque glaciers, which cause huge bowls in the mountains. Very
interesting. The Icefields Parkway is the highest highway in Canada, with the
highest point of it being 7,000 feet. There were huge glaciers everywhere
we looked - MAGNIFICENT! We kept saying, "Look at
that!" Real "Ooh! Ah!" country. I was
quite excited when I saw that a young chap on our tour had a red jumper with
navy blue letters across the front saying "a.f.c.". I wonder
why? However, it wasn't for Adelaide Football Club - it was for
Arsenal Football Club because he came from England. He said he
would barrack for Adelaide though, so one more recruit!
We enjoyed a cafeteria style lunch at The Crossing, where the road crosses the Saskatchewan
River. The view here once again was magnificent. There
were huge ravens (like big crows!) on the ground and on the cars.
After leaving the Crossing, we saw quite a few white goats up on the hills.
Our driver, Chuck, had trouble in getting his words out. I think he had a
speech impediment and when he got on the microphone it was quite funny, as we
were to find out next morning. He always referred to his
left or his other left as he had trouble sorting out his left and right.
He was great fun. We climbed our way up to a great view back
down the valley. On a bit, four big horn sheep were right in
the middle of the road, apparently eating the salt put down on the road for snow
and were they going to move? Never. We
had to go around them. We stopped at the Athabasca Glacier and Columbian
Icefields where it was sunny, but VERY cold and windy. We
couldn't go on the Athabasca Snow Ride on the glacier as that had finished for
the season, but we knew this before we left home so we weren't disappointed.
On we drove through wonderful scenery to Athabasca Falls - a huge amount of
water rushing down. These were quite amazing, crashing down through
the rocks. Very pretty. Then it was on to the
beautiful Jasper Park Lodge, where we were 'buggied' to our wonderful room (once
again) looking out over the lake - a huge room, with a lounge room, bedroom
which could be enclosed by folding doors, a small kitchen and bathroom
A really big room, to say the least. It was so quiet there.
The Lodge stretched along the shores of the lake and we had individual units.
Different, but lovely. We decided to go for a look at the main
building and on the way we called in at the golf club house. There is a
wonderful golf course at Jasper Park. We then walked around and had
a look over everything and of course, in the shops. David
bought Jack a lovely little suit, with a polar bear in the pocket - well, I had
a bit to do with it!
We had an early call at 7.00 a.m. and had a hasty breakfast
of crackers, etc. in our room. We were finding, with the size of the
serves, that three meals a day were too much for us, so we often had crackers
and something light to start us off. We walked to the main
lodge for our pickup for the tour of Jasper. As we drove out of the
Lodge area we saw quite a few elk resting. There were 32
on this tour (people, not elk) - quite a crowd by our standards.
The sunrise was magnificent over the mountains - quite spectacular - it put a
lovely pink glow on the snow. In fact it was once again a lovely
morning. We picked up the rest of our group and we were greeted with
"G'day" from our author friend. She said she'd been
driving her husband mad all night, practising "G'day mate".
On our drive around Chuck became tongue tied when asked what a certain tree was.
He said it was a Clitoris tree, all soft and furry! It was really a
Clatoris tree, and this set David and I off chuckling. We could hear
murmurs from the rest of the bus too. David thinks Chuck may
have done this deliberately, but I'm not sure to this day. We visited the
Patrica and Pyramid Lakes. The reflections in them were wonderful.
It reminded us of New Zealand and one particular lake we visited there.
It was a lovely clear morning - of course. We were starting to expect
this. From the lakes we could see the Tramway we were to ride on
shortly. This left from near Jasper and rose up, up to
the most amazing view. We were very lucky, once again, as it was the
second to last day the Tramway was operating for the season. Our
luck was holding out! We could see way off into the distance, the
Lakes we had visited earlier and the parkway we'd come in on the afternoon
before. We were to travel on this in a few hours, back to Lake Louise and
to Banff. As well as all this, the mountains all around us were so
beautiful, with their snow-capped peaks. We then travelled to Maligne Lake
and Canyon. The canyon was so spectacular. It just dropped off
suddenly for hundreds of feet. In fact, we couldn't see the bottom
at all. As David said, explorers coming through that area in earlier
times would have received a shock when they came to the canyon as there was no
sign of it when we were approaching it. As we were leaving, one of
the women tried to convince David that I needed a jacket like she had bought at
Banff, as I had admired it on her. It didn't work though, so I still
admired the jacket on her and wore my old top. Chuck then drove the
other people back to the Jasper township. Most of them were catching
a train the next day to go back across Canada by train before travelling home to
Reno by coach. Chuck said he couldn't see why, as he agreed
with what we'd been told, that the train trip is very dry and boring after you
leave the Rockies, and from what we saw later around Calgary, I can see what he
meant. He drove us back to the Lodge and as we walked along the lake back to our
room, we saw an elk grazing just outside our window. From our room
we ordered a hikers' lunch - not that we were hiking anywhere, but it sounded
good, and we ate it in our room. Then it was time to pack up
and wait to be 'buggied' back down to the main lodge. Chuck
picked us up shortly after this and we were on our way to Banff. We
once more traversed the Icefields Parkway with its beautiful glaciers in
wonderful clear weather. Peter, our driver for the first couple of
days, had told us the Icefields Parkway is the most beautiful road in Canada.
Well I would go so far as to say it must be one of the most beautiful in the
world. The young lad on the desk at Jasper Park Lodge had told us that it
is listed with two other roads in the world as the most beautiful - the Amalfi
Coast in Italy and guess where? Our Great Ocean Road, so how about
that?! The glaciers seemed to be even more beautiful on
the way back. Their wonderful colour is so amazing. We stopped once
again at The Crossing, this time for coffee. Chuck told us before
we started out that this was an express coach and he would not be giving a
commentary, but as he said to us, we had heard it all before so "just sit
back and enjoy" and we did. There were pretty little
spruce trees along the sides of the road, which added to the scenery. It
really is a most wonderful place. We called back at Chateau Lake
Louise, which was still glorious, then set out for Banff. The Bow Valley
Parkway, to Banff, was pretty but not so spectacular as the Icefields one.
As we were driving into Banff we saw lots of elk grazing near the road.
We drove through the very pretty, lit up main street of Banff - dropping people
off at different hotels until we came to the Banff Springs Hotel - our Castle in
the Rockies, as Chuck called it. My comment was "Wow!"
It didn't let me down. I've seen this place many times on calendars,
in books and on jigsaws and we were actually going to stay there!
For breakfast we had a snack in our room, while we watched
the Calgary Flames play in an ice hockey game on TV. The Flames is Chris
Sletvold's team so it was good to see them play. We set out for the
village in fairly crisp, cold, but fine weather. Called at the
Indian Trading Post near Bow River, which flows right through Banff, then had
brunch at the American Embassy as one of our drivers called it - yes, Macca's.
We chatted to an English lass who was on our bus to Jasper and back.
Walked the shops and of course, bought some things including a lovely copy of
"Anne of Green Gables" to put under the Christmas tree at Lisa's.
We bought this at the Banff Book Den, a wonderful book shop. I would have
loved to spend a lot more time there, but book shops are not really David's
'thing'. As we started to walk back up the hill to our castle, the
commuter bus came along and the driver stopped for us. We must have looked
as though we were struggling, which we were. We bought a few 'bits
and pieces' at the little shop opposite the castle, then up to our room where I
wrote postcards once again, and then we explored the hotel. It
really is SOME place! I then talked David into a game of
five pin bowling, which was part of the hotel complex, but across the square.
It was great fun, better than ten pin I think. The balls are not so
heavy and you don't put your fingers in them, so there is less chance of hurting
yourself. David thrashed me of course, so that made his
day. Then it was time for a swim, on my own of course.
The pools were wonderful. There was a magnificent indoor pool and
then you could go through plastic strips and down to a wonderful heated pool
outside, looking at the mountains all around. This pool was so warm that I
had to ease myself into it. It was like a huge hot bath
outside in this wonderful scenery. Talk about spoilt.
David sat and read a book while I enjoyed myself swimming around.
Unbelievable. I then went into a whirlpool, as they call it
but didn't stay in there very long. It was all great.
We had pate entrée in our room and then went for a pizza 'dinner' in the deli.
When we went to the front desk to book an early morning call our two friends
were there once again. They must have recognised the royalty in us
and gave us a key for a special look at the room next door to us (the one where
I heard a ghost). We unlocked and I was nearly blown away as it was
the royal parlour used by the King and Queen. There were all sorts of
'artefacts' in this room about the royal visit. We were so lucky to
see this. The 'boys' said if we had been staying longer they would
have let us use the room, but that is easy to say when you know people are
leaving. Nevertheless, it was a great honour to see it.
I am sure now that the noises I heard from that room the night previously, were
actually King George VI inviting us in for a brandy, but we'll never, never
For more information on the hotel we stayed in, visit one of the following sites:
We were picked up at 8.00 for our Banff Discovery Tour.
It was, as we were beginning to expect, a beautiful morning once again.
Our driver was Murray - once again a wonderful soft Canadian accent and once
again only a few of us on the tour - 5. Two Japanese girls,
one of whom reminded both David and I so much of Meredith Maraun, and a chap
from Costa Rica. Such lovely friendly folk. We found out that Banff
is named after the founder's birthplace in Scotland. I had thought it must
be something like that as I knew Banff was a Scottish name.
Off we went, travelling through Bow Valley and very soon we saw a coyote trot,
trot, trotting along. As we travelled through the countryside,
Murray told us quite a bit about the animals in the area. He also
told us to keep our eyes peeled as many tourists had 'seen' lots of animals
during these tours. In fact, he told us that lots of his passengers think
they see bears, wolves, etc. - of course the fact that many of the tree stumps
and rocks look like those creatures, could probably have something to do with
this. We did see one white tailed deer on the road though. He also said
that wolves have been known to come into Banff Springs onto the golf course in
winter. They are encouraging them back to control the elk and deer. This
seems cruel, but I guess it's really nature taking its course. It was 4
degrees celsius or 27 degrees farenheit outside. Rather
chilly, but sunny. We saw Two Jack Lake with the beautiful
mountains all round - also Lake Minnewarka. The trees stop growing
at 7,000 feet so the tops of the mountains are bare. We
went into the site of Bankhead, which was an old mining community.
When the town closed, many of the homes were towed into Banff on large skis and
set up there. They're still there to this day. We did the Lake
Minnewarka Loop, which was very beautiful, then on to Tunnel Mountain and the
Hoodoos. We had a great view of the hotel from here.
This looked like real Indian territory to me - but of course I do have a rather
vivid imagination. As we walked back I saw a coyote cross in front
of our bus in the car park, but as no one else saw it David suggested that I'd
had a few too many cokes the night before, or my imagination was working
overtime. I did see it though, believe me. Murray
then took us through a university area where the 25th anniversary of the Banff
International Mountain Film Festival was to be held very shortly.
This festival is for films about outdoors and is quite a prestigious event.
Then, as we turned a corner, we had a wonderful view of the Banff Springs Hotel.
It was then time for our trip up Sulphur Mountain, so we were driven to the foot
of the mountain, where we boarded a gondola for the ride to the top.
From there we had a wonderful 360 degree view. Once again we
had to be careful walking as it was rather slippery on the wooden decking.
There were young Japanese people everywhere. There seemed to
be a lot of school groups right throughout the Rockies and in Vancouver.
We each had a cup of hot chocolate there and then I spied Benny the Bruin.
A gorgeous cuddly brown bear who I felt just HAD to come to live in Kangarilla.
After much wheedling and whining and reminding David that it WAS our anniversary
next day, Benny left the mountain in very safe hands. Down we came,
in the company of a young Korean couple who had been married the Saturday
before. By this time we were running a bit late, so we had a quick visit
to the Cave and Basin Sulphur Springs, which smelt like rotten eggs, and then
back to the hotel to pick up our bags. On the way to the hotel, we
actually passed the bus we were supposed to take to Calgary but our driver told
us not to worry as he would take us to the depot and the bus would still be
there. He tried very hard to convince us that we would be
better off to stay in Banff for the rest of the day rather than going on to
Calgary too early anyway. There was another bus at 7.00 that
evening. Unfortunately we didn't take any notice of him.
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