Monday, August 20, 2012

Second Black Bear on way home

First Black Bear on way home

Emerald Lake

Lake Louise view blocked by Beth and Jim

Lake Louise

Lake Moraine

Lake Moraine

Friday thru Sunday in Banff Area

On Friday, we got up early for a change, had breakfast at our hotel and headed towards Lake Louise.  We decided to go to Lake Moraine to get some more pictures beating the crowds to the limited parking.  It is neat that we have not had to pay for parking anywhere on our trip, including in the cities and the parks.  We found the path to climb the hill overlooking Lake Moraine and took loads of pictures.  It is hard to stop taking pictures since this place is so beautiful!  We took a hike on the path along the lake and took some more pictures along the way.  

We then headed to Lake Louise.  We were lucky to find someone leaving a parking space.  We took a couple of pictures and had someone take a picture of us.  We did not stay long before heading towards Yoho National Park.  We stopped at the Spiral Tunnels that are visible from Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway.  We were lucky to arrive just as a train arrived.  I (Beth went to use the restroom - what timing) was able to watch the train enter a tunnel and a few minutes later see the front of the train come out the tunnel just above it.  The tunnel is like a circle all inside the mountain.  There are two of these spiral tunnels that every train goes thru to lengthen the tracks to maintain a 2% grade thru the Kicking Horse Pass.  They were built by hand over 100 years ago.  They used an idea from Switzerland.  Prior to these tunnels, many train wrecks and runaways occurred in this pass because of the 4% grade.

 We then went to see the Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest in Canada.  Takakkaw means magnificent in Cree.  They were right, and the path leads right to the base of the falls.  The mist felt good on another warm sunny day.  We then visited Emerald Lake, very pretty, but not as spectacular as Lake Moraine.  On the way home, we stopped to see the natural bridge that had been carved by the fast flowing stream.   We decided to follow the Bow Valley Parkway home for maybe a chance to see some wildlife.  This road is the original road between Banff and Lake Louise, only two lanes and a 50 KM limit.  We saw two black bears on this drive!  The first was right by the road but five or six other cars had already stopped so it was hard to get good pictures.  But then a few miles down the road I spotted a black bear walking in the woods near the road.  This time, we were the only car around.  We spent five to ten minutes watching and filming this bear as it loaded up on berries from the bushes not more than 10 feet from the road. 

 We went home satisfied that this had been a great day.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fairmont Banff Springs

Picture of artwork for sale in Fairmont Banff Springs

Lake Minnewanka in Banff

Main Street in Banff

City of Banff

Many Lodge in Glacier

Grizzly in Glacier

Lake view in Glacier

Beth hanging on in Glacier

Glacier in Glacier Park

Mountain goats in Glacier

Beth in our Red Bus

Beth at entrance to Glacier

Trip to Glacier and Canadian Rockies

We flew from Minneapolis to Spokane, Washington on Saturday, August 11th. We picked up our Avis rental, a new red Chevy Cruz, and headed towards Kalispell, MT. We had reservations for two nights at a motel in Kalispell. We went shopping for pop and stuff for our snack lunches. On Sunday morning we drove to Glacier National Park and took a free Park shuttle to Avalanche Creek and took a hike up the valley next to the creek, but did not have time to reach the lake as we had reservations on a Red Bus to take us half way on the Going to the Sun Road. 

 The Red Busses are restored or more accurately they were rebuilt by Ford with a modern truck frame under the original 1936-38 truck bodies. They have room for 17 passengers and the roof is open so you can see the mountains and you can stand to take pictures when the driver stops at appropriate photo opportunities. We will put pictures in one at a time as the new version of blogger still will not let me insert pictures within a posting. The driver told us many interesting tidbits about the Park and how much James J. Hill and his son were instrumental in getting the Park developed. The Great Northern Railway sold lots of tickets to early visitors to the Park but they also spent a lot of money getting things built so passengers would want to go to the Park and enjoy their stay.

 The next day, Monday, we drove the whole Going to the Sun Road that goes from the Western side of the Park to the Eastern side. We were lucky to see a couple of mountain goats and then a grizzly bear. It was an added treat to see some wildlife as well as so much beautiful scenery. We drove into another entrance to the Many Glacier to see other scenic parts of the Park. The Senior Pass is sure a nice feature of the US National Park system - $10 for life to enter any National Park in the US. We left the Park and drove across somewhat boring Montana prairies to Shelby, MT where we had a motel reservation. There is nothing in Shelby but trains and trucks but the Comfort Inn in Shelby is one of the nicest rooms we have ever stayed in. We had a good meal in the truck stop. 

On Tuesday, we drove to Lethbridge, Alberta Canada and had a nice visit with Henri and Fran Oliver, who I know from my days at Cargill. We then headed for Canmore, AB, which is just outside Banff. The weather turned very windy with heavy rain. We had no problems but saw on the news that night that one of the overhead signs on the highway we drove on thru Calgary blew down onto the road. We drove past the Calgary Olympics ski jumping site. The Nordic events for those Olympics were held here in Canmore. 

On Wednesday morning, we drove to Banff National Park. Since we are going to be here for a week, we bought the yearly pass. Canada has a senior rate but it is still $9 per day for each of us.  We visited a number of the sites in and near the town of Banff including the most impressive Fairmont Hotel at Banff Springs. We wandered all thru that hotel. There seemed to be no areas marked guests only. It is nice that the town of Banff does not charge for parking either in their lots or ramps. We took lots of pictures and took a hike around one of the lakes. We had a very good pizza at Boston Pizza and slept well. 

On Thursday, we drove to Banff and took the gondola ride to the top of Sulfer Mountain. Beautiful views of the whole Banff area from up there. Saw a couple of mountain sheep just after we got off the gondola. We took many pictures and then took the gondola down and then drove to downtown Banff to pick up our GyPSy Guide device (Google it). This device is like having a tour guide with you in the car but you decide where to go and the device tells you information about what you are seeing. We have this for four days. We drove to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine and took more pictures. We took a good tour of the Faimont Lake Louise but were not as impressed as the one in Banff. We hiked up to the outlook spot to take a picture of the lake and hotel. Our knees are feeling that climb. We will sleep well again tonight. No time to add pictures tonight. Will do that tomorrow.