Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Beer, Burgers, and Horse Thieves





If you missed last month’s blog, we investigated the hoodoos. Scroll down a bit for that exploring adventure. 

Hubby likes westerns and war movies. So, given the fact our bellies were having a good discussion with us, we turned and headed across a dirt road with gorgeous, some rickety, one-lane bridges toward the town where you could surely find John Wayne and ‘The Last Chance Saloon’. 
We arrived at the restaurant where time has chosen to stand still, with style. It’s a perfect location for a movie shoot. A couple walked out as we approached the door.  



They raved about the food. So, in we went. Canadian hospitality at it’s best, we were greeted with smiles as we entered. The walls are covered in history and memorabilia. We couldn’t help but stop and gaze around.    



We headed to the patio out back to enjoy the perfect Canadian summer.
My travelling companions were served beer in mason jars. We ordered moose burgers and took some fun pictures while we waited for our meal. 
     



The burgers, fries and onion rings arrived and we licked our fingers clean. I wobbled out, my stomach bursting, filled to capacity. 
If I were to go back, I’d spend a night at the adjoining hotel. Looking at the picture on-line, The Rosedeer Hotel is quaint and the prices are reasonable. 






We drove back that same road and then turned toward the North Dinosaur Trails on route to the 'Horse Thief’ canyon.    



  
What a name. Of course there’s a story behind that.  According to the legend, horses and cattle were smuggled in the canyon on route to Montana. Supposedly the animals were hidden in ravines created by the ice age floods within canyon. The canyon turned out to be a reputed way station for the smugglers. 



Fact or fiction? Who knows, but this land would offer a wonderful location for a game of hide and seek. 


Wow. Simply wow. Words do not do this area justice. The dark ribbon of coal that curves around the eroded canyon. Spectacular. Having arrived late June, in a dry spell, we would have hiked down the sandstone if we’d had more time.  We didn’t so we stood and simply gazed in awe. 





Our day continued, but that can wait until next month.  Our travels continue.








Wednesday, 1 November 2017

HooDoo







In last month's blog, we travelled from Canmore to Drumheller and visited the museum. 



  The Royal Tyrrell museum is so beautiful, we headed back the following morning. After parking the car we headed up the wooden staircase. Step after step after step we climbed. Okay, I admit. I'm not in fantastic shape but my good old heart and my muscles got a bit of a workout with that climb. Huffing and puffing, I wasn't blowing anything down when I reached the top.  But it was so worth the effort.     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I would describe Drumheller an an old pit that has been dug out and left. An accurate description given his history. 

Men arrived looking for oil. Who hasn't heard of the oil sands in Alberta? The digging began. What a shock when they found fossils and bones. Yup. Once upon a time the dinosaurs roamed freely. The workers stopped. Word was sent back. The palaeontologists went in and the exploration began. 
Mother nature is more than a bit stubborn.  She doesn't give up easily. Vegetation began to grow. Man didn't given up either, after all, it is residential.
 From our vantage at the top of the lookout we can see lush green tress and bush and that beautiful lake. It's truly spectacular.  We remained elevated in they sky and gazed about, just taking it in. A few tour groups wandered around searching for treasures. What a fantastic place for kids.



Of course we've done our homework so there is more to see of this area. We're off in search of the HooDoos.   


HooDoos are sandstone and clay particles that are cemented together and erode at a rate of about one centimetre per year. The interesting aspect. They resemble mushrooms. How cool is that. Gotta love Mother Nature. An adventurous person can attempt to climb the soft sandstone around the HooDoos. Many did during our sightseeing. I did not go to the top. If only I'd come in my youth, I would have.   
It's worth the trip to see these unique formations. 



Leaving the HooDoos, we headed for Horsethief Canyon, but that can wait until next month. Check back in December to see if the horses survive.       
                                                                           
  

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Something old ... something older.



If you're following my blog you'll know we spent our summer vacation in breathtaking province of Alberta. Using Canmore as a base we enjoyed day-trips, touring the area. We couldn't possibly fly home without a trip to a totally different part of the province, and a history every kid likes.
Looking at the map, we had two options to head east. As beautiful as the Trans Canada is, we came in that way, so opted for a scenic route with a different perspective.

With the luggage packed and a picnic lunch ready, we waved goodbye to the mountains as they vanished in the rearview mirror. 


Our journey took us through Cochrane, Airdrie & Acme. Beautiful, bustling towns with gorgeous parks. So much to see, so little time, we kept rolling along toward our destination.
Why is it our stomachs had to have the worst timing in the world? Seriously, all three of our bellies imitated a thunderstorm in the middle of nowhere. One grumbled and the domino effect went wild. The rumbling drowned out the music. 

So where did we stop for our picnic lunch? On a side-road by a farmers field of course. I'm surprised the residents of the area didn't send men in white jackets to rescue us. I must admit it certainly was peaceful. Most of the time. Too bad the odd truck went by. Nothing quite like a cloud of dust smothering our sandwiches. Just kidding. We closed the doors and raised the windows to keep the air clean and fresh. At least we tried to. We kept the mini coughing fits to a minimum. Amazing what guzzling a mouthful of water can accomplish.

The picnic bag / cooler went back to the trunk and our journey continued. 


 The land of the oil.


Once we got out of the mountains, Alberta seemed relatively flat. 


And then suddenly, out of the blue, the descent began. 



Impressive really. It felt like we were entering a tunnel, but I could see that rich blue sky through the skylight. Doing a little research, if you think about how the area came about, it really does make sense. They began mining for oil and low and behold, didn't they find dinosaur bones and fossils.  




Yes, we had arrived in Drumheller, Alberta.

First impressions. Wow. Simply wow. Driving through the winding hills into the valley known as the town. Second impression. Wow. This truly is the land of the forgotten, in more ways than one. Shame on our previous government. Nine years in power. His home province. This area is and should be heavily promoted as a tourist attraction. We saw, and talked to a lot of people from all over the globe. Tourists are visiting. A little bit of money and this town will flourish. They just need a help to get started with the cleanup. Give me a reason to stop and stay more than a day. But then, when has there ever been employment created through tourism. (Just a touch of sarcasm there).


After checking into the hotel, the highest point in the entire city, we headed for the renown Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Friends had raved and with good reason. The state of the art building is nothing shy of spectacular.










We paid our admission and walked through the archway. A humongous dinosaur and her not so tiny baby greeted us. Literally. Eyeballs glared into our souls and they spoke. Well, they growled, a chest rattling friendly sort of voice. Excited as a kid Christmas morning I was hooked. 


The stroll around the museum continued. We met Clement along the path. Knowledgable and super enthusiast his words rolled off his tongue like he was born to discover these ancient creatures. 

A five star review for the museum. I couldn't come up with a complaint about the place if I had to. A must see if you're anywhere near the area. Pictures do not do justice to this museum.

           
We overstayed our visit, hogging his time, closing the place down but not before getting a 'recommendation' for dinner from another tourist. My travelling companions wanted a beer so we headed the Vintage Pub and Grill and had a meal with the locals. Relaxed service and yummy food. We trudged back to the hotel with full bellies. 
Energized the following morning we would tour around this incredible area. 

The land of the largest dinosaur. 

But that can wait to next month's blog.  Stay tuned. Hoodoo!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Ah, the water

If you've been following my blog, you'll know we celebrated Canada's 150th birthday in the scenic mountains of Alberta. Canmore is a stone's throw from the provincial boundary so we packed another picnic lunch and headed for B.C. 



During our travels in Alberta, we had seen a number of wildlife overpasses. Months ago, hubby and I watched a documentary on these structures being built in Alberta. I know, I know, you're thinking, seriously? But these bridges/overpasses have a special purpose. Wire fences line the highway and lead to lush grass and tree covered bridges. This allows an enticing and safe crossing over the busy highways for wildlife. What a fantastic idea. A safe haven for the animals, and prevents automobiles from swerving to avoid a collision. We did not see a single fatality by the side of the road. Nor did we experience a road closure for an accident. That's a win win. 

Road construction slowed our progress shortly after we crossed into the province. As we got closer to the road crew we realized B.C. had an animal overpass in process. Congrats. Hint hint, we need more of them, Canada. Protect our wildlife.















Our journey west continued toward Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site. We parked at the spiral tunnel lookout. An engineer had designed a route for a drop in elevation that zigged and zagged railway tracks through the mountains and around a thick forest of trees. A train had just passed when we arrived.















Continuing along, into Yoho National Park, we began steering the car up along a sometimes steep, narrow road through the mountains into the heavens. At least I thought we were heading towards heaven. The view of snow capped mountains had my jaw hanging. Spectacular doesn't begin to describe the scenery. Hubby steered up and up and up, pulling to the side when able and giving way to the odd oncoming vehicle. "There it is." I pointed. My voice rose with the excitement of a three year old, getting my first glimpse of the narrow but high falls. 
We parked our car in one of the three almost filled to capacity lots. 
A young med student from the southern USA joined us for lunch and a great conversation. With our full bellies, we hiked toward the cascade.  




Even from a distance, the heavenly mist damped my face and body. As we trekked closer, the overwhelming force of the waterfall created a powerful wind as it plunged to the river below. A small person alert. The wind caught the tip of my baseball hat, sending it airborne. Thankfully, my husband caught it.




Check out this picture. The climbers. The mountain rock is sandstone. Sand cemented into rock. It can crumble. Not the best for this sport. 




Leaving B.C., we gave Lake Louise one last chance. I wanted to cheer with delight when we were guided to a parking spot. Following the signs, we strolled through a small forest and saw the hotel. Not as grand or stately as the Banff Springs Hotel, we veered to the left and spotted the lake, nestled discretely behind. 






We stepped onto the boardwalk and stood in awe at yet another glacier fed turquoise lake. Seeing the sunlight glisten on the glassy surface, time stood still as we took it in. Out came the cameras. 




My bucket list received another tick mark. 

Next month, our vacation continues as we headed east. 


Heather Greenis

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Celebrating Canada Part II

Our holiday continued, travelling though the province of Alberta. 
Day number 5.

I hoped to see the Columbian Icefields; The Athabasca Glacier, but the 2 ½ hour journey would take us through some incredible sights, so no promises. We rose the following morning, packed a picnic lunch and began traveling north, towards Jasper.  The road took us through mountains and past gorgeous glacier fed lakes. My husband and I took turns driving. 















We couldn't help but pull over at the designated sight seeing locations and just 'take it in'. Spectacular scenery wowed us around every turn.  We stopped at the side of a road, ate our lunch and simply enjoyed the lake and mountain.



Arriving at the glacier late afternoon, the ice field is worth the trip.  At an elevation of about 3000 metres, it's spectacular. The area is well fenced off so a tour company takes those interested onto the ice.



Unfortunately, it's melting at an accelerated rate. Signs shows how it's receding.








Posted signs remind those that are a little too adventurous that rescue teams will come out if you happen to fall into a deep crevice, but you will probably lose your life to hypothermia. 
Dressed in a t-shirt, capris and a cardigan, we hiked up the mountain, along with a lot of other tourists and gazed at the ice and the scenery surrounding it. 


   








Leaving the ice, we headed for the tourist information centre and bought tickets for the Glacier Skywalk. 














This glass bottom walkway was the brain child of a tour bus driver. Nice! That person deserves a raise and perhaps a promotion for thinking outside the box. 
I had reservations heading to this attraction. I have been up the CN Tower, a landmark in Toronto a number of times, but struggle to step onto the glass bottom. My fear of heights kicks into high gear. 
We were offered audio devices to listen to a narrator. 


Interpretive stations are set up with pictures and descriptions along the short walk to the lookout. I approached the glass, took a look down and thought, I can do this. 

Catherine was still taking pics when I took my first baby step. No problem, I took another. I took a few more steps, looked back at my friend and said, 'Look at me' and grinned like a fool. 















We were on the far side of the walk when Catherine dared me to jump on it. The tourists around us thought we'd lost it as a few hung on the railing for dear life, but we jumped and took some foolish pictures. 


               
We were on the top of the world. Well, really high up in Canada. The pictures do not do this area justice. If you have the opportunity, plan a holiday. You won't regret it. 

Happy 150th birthday to our glorious nation. 


Last month I mentioned a super high waterfall. I promise, I'll tell you all about that on next month's blog.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Celebrating Canada

Happy Birthday Canada!  





We spent Canada's 150th birthday preparing to fly home after a fantastic holiday.  For those of you on Instagram, I posted a few pics. 
Taking advantage of the federal liberal government's generous officer of free park passes, we headed to Alberta. Each province within Canada offers something very unique and Alberta is no exception. 
We flew into Calgary, rented a car, bought bear spray, just in case, and drove through the mountains. What a sight. 




We settled in Canmore, home for the next 6 nights and went to a local pub for dinner.
Number one on our list of adventures, Banff. Who hasn't heard of Banff Springs Hotel. Beginning our day trips, snow covered mountain peaks gave us a spectacular sight around every curve. Nestled within the mountains, at an elevation of 1414 metres or 4500 feet, just outside the town, Banff Springs opened to the public in 1888 as a Canadian railway hotel in Canada's first National Park. 




Leaving the town of Banff, we headed toward the famous Lake Louise. On route, we saw a sign indicating a gondola to the right. Lake Louise to the left. We headed left only to discover it was swarming with tourists, just like us. Signs instructed us to park at overflow parking  and get shuttled in. A smart idea, if you like crowded areas. Not today, thanks. So instead we headed down the hill, turned and steered toward Lake Moraine.



Lake Moraine is 1884 metres above sea level and the view is spectacular. Wow. Simply wow. I've never seen turquoise, emerald, I called it teal lake water. Glacier fed, beautiful doesn't begin to describe it. If my shoulder had been in better shape, we would have rented canoes and gone onto the lake. But I can't guarantee I can paddle, yet, so we hiked around the lake instead. Serene, a touch of heaven, we took our time and let it soak in. 
Not ready to head home, you guessed it, we headed for the Gondola. After an ice-cream bar, we walked to the lift. The gondola was part of the ski lift so of course we opted for the open lift and up up up we went to the top of the world. A photographer's  paradise. We had dinner in Banff and headed back to Canmore for some sleep. 

Catherine, our travelling companion read about a wonderful walking trail so we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Johnston Canyon on Sunday. The parking lots were full, making it a long hike to go for a hike. About to give up, I insisted on one more drive around to look for a spot. As luck would have it, a family were finishing their walk. We waited for them to load their car and slid into their parking spot before heading to the canyon. 
Once again we were treated to that glorious glacier fed coloured water. The highlight of the canyon is the waterfall. The catwalk takes hikers over the gorge where the mist from the falls rewards you for your effort. A warm day, we appreciated that cool mist tickling our skin.


  


Driving back along the two lane road, I spotted something dark by the ditch. Focusing in, I identified a black bear on all fours, nibbling on something. I called out 'bear. there's a bear.', startling both Catherine and my husband. Of course my camera wasn't in my hand, ready to snap away. That would have been too convenient. With too many cars on the winding road, we couldn't stop, but we saw it. 


Did you know there's a water fall higher than Niagara Falls in Canada? Tune in next month to find out where it's located as this Canadian celebrated Canada's 150th birthday in style.