Alberta – Day 14 Whitefish to Calgary and Home

This morning we shopped for a couple of hours in Whitefish. What a great “city” – although it really has more of a town feel. The shops are all different and interesting and art work abounds both in the shops and on the streets. The city is nestled at one end of Whitefish Lake. I’m assuming there are whitefish in this lake, judging from the sculpture downtown by the train station.

Leaving Whitefish, we traveled north to the Montana-BC border crossing at Roseville and then on to Fernie BC for a pit stop. Gorgeous mountains all around…I can’t stand it any more. The input overload is shutting down my brain. But wait, we’re not done yet.

Onward to the Crow’s Nest Pass between BC and Alberta. Here you will find breath taking and wind-swept vistas. This place is serene, unpopulated and beautiful. Gosh and golly-gee. Oh, but there’s more.

The final stop before the run to Calgary is Frank Slide. This is the site of a mountain rock slide that buried the town of Frank in 1903. Very humbling to see the rubble still laying there more than 100 years later…and knowing there is a ghost town under there. Now I think I’m ready to go home.

Back to Calgary to Stuart and Janice’s. Pizza and stories before bedtime. We are pooped and so that is a good sign we gave it everything we had. What a wonderful vacation. Many thanks to Stuart and Janice for their hospitality, way way above and beyond. Thanks also to Sarah and Mary-Ann for their hospitality in Red Deer.

The Alward Family Vacation is done for 2013. Thanks everyone for journeying along with us. God Bless.

Alberta – day 13 Montana Road to the Sun

And just when you thought you’d seen it all… today we (Monica, Sarah, Mary-Ann and I) drove from Calgary down into Montana with destination Whitefish. To get there we chose “the Road to the Sun” drive through Glacier National Park, over the mountains to Logan’s Pass and down the other side.

The views are spectacular as you would expect. The road is built on the side of the sheer mountain sides. Don’t look down…just look out at the immense beauty. Photos don’t give you the binocular effect to show the vastness and distance. So here is a short 360 degree video taken from the Logan’s Pass Visitor Center.

About half way down the other side of the mountain, a violent thunder and lightning storm ripped through, breaking trees and driving hail down on us. It was really spectacular but very nerve racking. Now I think we’ve seen just about everything.

Into Whitefish and found our hotel, then downtown for supper at the Craggy Range Bar & Grill. I had the rare tuna steak – so delicious. Tomorrow we will explore Whitefish before heading back to Calgary.

Alberta – Day 12 Jasper back to Calgary

Alas, all good things must come to an end. We left jasper Park Lodge this morning, each of us quite and pensive and a little sad for what was ending…but totally grateful for what we shared and also anticipating what comes next. Into Jasper for breakfast and then on the road south to Calgary. This would turn into a 6 hour trip because of the stops we had planned along the way.

First stop, the mighty Athabasca Falls. If you have never been here, the falls thunder pounding your chest makes this experience as much physical as visual. I added a few pics but a movie really does it better justice. This is very short (less than 1 minute).

Here you can walk around the falls to several different viewing points as well as down into the gorge valley through water carved grottos. At the bottom you will see the river still cutting through 40 meter canyon walls. Absolutely spell-binding.

Onward to the next stop – Sunwapeta Falls. A little smaller than Athebasca but just as impressive. The water originates from the Athabasca Glacier and is blue/green in just the right light. Soooooo pretty.

Carry on south through the mountains, past the Columbia Ice-fields. Next stop, Peyto Lake. The traffic was horrible but the view makes if all worth it. Here is the quintessential emerald green lake of the Rockies and perhaps one of the most photographed.

Continuing past Lake Louise, past Banff and finally arriving at Calgary. Janice got home from work just as I was lighting the BBQ. Sarah and Mary Ann also arrived from Red Deer. They went out to visit cousins for the evening so Monica and I called it a day. Early to rise tomorrow because …wait for it…. the four of us are heading to Whitefish Montana…this trip is going to be Legen…wait for it….dary!

Alberta – Day 11 Jasper Lodge

Today was a down day – as in no driving except into town and back. Nevertheless, the day was just as memorable as any other…perhaps more so in some ways.

We decided to start the day with a walk around Lac Beauvert. Stepping out of our room we were greeted with a rainbow over the Lodge. So incredibly lucky to get the shot. The walk itself around the lake is short but breath-taking…the emerald waters reflecting mountains at every turn, other hikers greeting you ‘Good Morning’, around to the Outlook Cabin where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed, among other celebrities.

Arriving back at the lodge, we did a browse through the art gallery and a tour of the kitchen where Monica scraped dinner plates 36 years ago. Then into town for lunch at the Jasper Brewing Co. with a stop at Lake Edith and Lake Annette on the way. Monica remembered coming here to sun bath on her days off. Then back to the lodge to relax…totally. A dip in the pool with a mountain backdrop and even a short afternoon nap seemed sort of fairy tail-ish.

We got cleaned up for dinner and wandered over to the Moose’s Nook for a 7:30 reservation. We had a beautiful meal…lamb for me and duck for Monica…with red wine for both…and the piano player played Somewhere Over The Rainbow just for us.

After dinner, Monica and I snuck into her old residence. She was transported back 36 years and I caught it all on film. What a photo junkie 🙂   This was truly a wonderful day. Thank you Monica for bringing me here. Happy 36th Anniversary of being in Jasper, Babe.

Alberta – Day 10 Maligne Canyon and Hot Springs

Words can hardly express the magnitude of this day. Monica and I are in a dream world.

We started the day with breakfast and a shopping walk about Jasper. It rained softly but with umbrella in hand, we explored the many gift shops and historic sites the downtown has to offer. This town is not as commercialized as Banff and so has a more laid back feel. The tour highlight was seeing Monica walk into the Jasper Train Station where she would have almost exactly the same date 36 years ago to return home to New Brunswick. I could tell she had many memories rushing around her head making her a little verklempt. Before we left for our day’s drive, we decided on the place for supper…at the Sayuri Sushi Restaurant – I am pumped!

At noon, the sun began peeking through the clouds we headed north toward Maligne Canyon. What a spectacular place. This ancient canyon was formed by glaciers millions of years ago. Some of the sheer drops are 50 meters. It’s almost nauseating to look over the bridge handrail and peer straight down to the rushing mountain torrent below…but exhilerating also.

After the canyon, we continued north to the Melita Hot Springs. The drive up the mountain is unforgettable. We stopped briefly to get a shot of some Mountain Sheep and although I didn’t get a shot of it, a wolf ran right acress the road in front of us. It was huge… definitely a wolf. At the hot springs, we soaked our travel weary bones (no sympathy) in the 40 degree water. Sooo wonderful. What a fantastic national park area. I highly recommend it.

Back to the lodge to change for supper and then into town for sushi. The Sayuri restaurant is amazing. Authentic atmosphere, cheerful service and incredible food. This has been my favorite meal so far. After supper, a stroll to the Post Office to mail some postcards, and then home to the lodge. We had to stop along the way to allow the grazing elk to cross. They were thankful and posed for a snapshot or two.

This was a wonderful day. I tried to keep the photos to a minimum just to show the highlights, but even at the mnimum there is so much to share. So here goes.

Alberta – Day 9 Arriving Jasper

Today Mon and I said good-bye to Sarah for a couple of days and headed west again to the mountains – this time, destination Jasper. On the way, a quick stop in Red Deer to visit the Bower Ponds and the downtown central park. A beautiful morning for driving…not too hot.

We also stopped in Rocky Mountain House to see the national historic site where I got to see the bison up close. They look delicious.

Then on through the ice fields parkway. We stopped for a minute at Mount Michener on the shore of Abraham Lake, Bridal Veil Falls and the Athabasca Glacier. The air temperature dipped to about 13 degrees. It felt very refreshing. So beautiful driving through the mountains.

As we neared Jasper, Monica started to tingle. It has been 36 years since she worked the summer here when she was 19. And we were not disappointed! Jasper Park Lodge is spectacular. Our cabin faces Lac Beauvert and out our picture window, I can see the water through the trees. The Canada Geese are calling “welcome”.

Mon and I relaxed on the patio for a bit and then wandered over to the main lodge for supper at the Emerald Lounge. The view off the deck across the lake to Mount Edith Cavell is stunning. After supper, a stroll through the grounds offered a chance for a couple of memory photos…like the elk grazing right by the shore.

We watched the sun go down over the mountains as we enjoyed the night air on the patio. An embarrassment for me was when I shut the door and left the keys inside the room. So I had to walk over to the main lodge to get help. Everyone was just coming out of the dining room dressed to the nines and me in pyjamas and bare feet! Shawn, nice young fellow, came to the rescue with a key.

We are so fortunate to be here. Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Alberta – Day 8 Edmonton back to Red Deer

Another beautiful and hot day. We got up early to take Ryan to the airport and hugged him goodbye as he headed back to New Brunswick. Then we kicked up our heels and pointed the GSP into downtown Edmonton. Monica navigated me perfectly. This is a beautiful city…so picturesque against the Saskatchewan River.

After a quick tour around the commercial heart of the city, we parked in the Old Strathcona shopping district and walked the shops. Great fun poking into all the neat boutiques and the huge farmer’s market. I picked up a couple of new masks (on sale @ 2 for 1…gotta love that). Then we had a huge lunch of nachos and salad at Tavern on Whyte. Did I say it was a hot day? Beer helped with that.

We then stopped at the huge IKEA store to pick up a new dresser for Sarah and booted back to Red Deer. Time to relax and then work up an appetite assembling the dresser. Rewarded with Indian take-out for supper, I walked it off with Oland around the Bower Ponds Park. It was dark by the time we got back to Sarah’s… but you should see this beautiful little park. Absolutely stunning. I’ll try to get some shots tomorrow morning before we leave Red Deer.

All in all, the first half of our vacation to has been outstanding. So many wonderful memories made with the family against the beautiful Alberta backdrop. Cheers.

Alberta Day 7 Red Deer to Edmonton

Coming down from the Rocky Mountain High of yesterday, today we relaxed the morning away at Sarah’s in Red deer. The day began with a coffee run. Sarah was my navigator and she showed me some of the sights in her neighborhood. I wanted Starbucks because there was no line-up in the drive through. Tim Horton’s had at least 25 cars lined up wrapping right around the store and out onto the street. So, of course, that’s where we went. On the way back to the house, we saw the Bower Ponds Park which is literally a 5 minute walk from Sarah’s house. Beautiful spot…lots of dog walkers.

Once we got everyone caffiened-up, we struck out for Edmonton…and made, it amidst unbelievable traffic. What a busy province!!

We really enjoyed the mall for a couple of hours. What a fun place. It really is a complete day adventure but we rushed through in just a couple of hours.  Then back to the hotel for supper at The Chops steakhouse. Fantastic meal. Just one little hiccup when I reached for my camera and spilled red wine on Monica. I was red in the face – she was most gracious.

This is Ryan’s last night with us. Tomorrow he flies back to NB. It’s been a total blast but we will miss him as we continue on for another week. Here is the obligatory photo journal of the day.

Alberta – Day 6 Banff and Lake Louise

Today the four of us bade Stuart and Janice a heart-felt goodbye in Calgary, for a few days, and headed west toward the mountains.  What they say about the photos not doing it justice – is so totally correct. But that didn’t stop me. No siree.

A truly once in a lifetime memory trip with Monica, Ryan and Sarah through Banff via Sulphfur Mountain and the downtown, then on to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake and finished through Rocky Mountain House to Red Deer….I took every classic photo that millions before me have taken – and I loved every minute. Never-ending oohs and ahhs with smiles forever captured on film and in my heart. Remind me to tell you about the elk story sometime 🙂

Here is a montage of memories that I narrowed down the best I could. Picture titles will narrate the journey. Enjoy.

Alberta Day 5 Elbow Falls with Stuart

We let the kids sleep today until almost noon…(sigh, kids!). The morning was too beautiful to waste so Mon and I walked the around the neighborhood. Not a cloud in the sky. Around the Lake In the afternoon we went to Inglewood, a trendy little shopping district in Calgary east. One wrong turn landed us in the downtown by mistake. With knuckles white on the wheel, Monica navigated us safely through. Calgary Day We browsed the antique shops for funky souvenirs Inglewood  and then enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Hose ‘n Hound pub. Surprise, the waitress was from Saint John! Hose 'n Hound Pub Enchiladas buffalo burgers

Later in the day, Stuart took us to see Elbow Falls in the Kananaskis Park region. This is one of two rivers that devastated Calgary in June. The damage along the river was sobering. Huge trees ripped out, river banks erroded, park picnic sites swept away and bridges washed out. washed out bridge  But, the Falls themselves are gorgeous. at Elbow Falls Elbow Falls

After supper, Stuart took us downtown to see the lights. Calgary at night is a sight to see. It was a great day.

Calgary at Night

Alberta – Day 4 Fireworks Competition

The weather here just keeps getting better and better…we are so lucky…just one little interesting blip to mention. Today Monica and I went to Red Deer to pick up Sarah as she got off work at the Red Deer Hospital. We arrived early so we drove out to Sylvan Lake to see where Albertans go swimming. It is a man-made lake and a beautiful resort area. The blue skies clouded over suddenly and an impressive thunder storm raged through complete with hail stones the size of peanuts. We enjoyed the show from under the canopy on the top deck of the Fireside Pub over yummy Ruben sandwiches. Then as quick as it came, the storm was gone and sunny skies opened as far as you could see.

Thunder Clouds Rubens and beer

Then back to Calgary for the evening. Janice took us all to the Globalfest International Fireworks Competition. We enjoyed the international culture at the pavilions and then settled into our VIP seats. It was Great Britain’s night and we ooh’ed and awe’d at the most spectacular display of pyro technica set to some of England’s most popular music. Bonus, a full moon rose over the lake just before the show started. You can’t ask for more than that.

Mon and Scottie Thailand dancer

Family Shot  Here is a 2 and a half-minute video I took. Watch this build and build toward the end for a spectacular finish.

Alberta – Day 3 Calgary Pro Bass shop

Today was low key, as in… not too much travelling around except for a 5 -minute drive to the Cross Irons Mall in Calgary…but Oh My, you should see the Pro Bass Shops store at this mall… the stuffed animal displays are unbelievable! … most impressive was the pack of arctic wolves chasing the herd of caribou across the second floor of the store. Here is a little 3-minute video montage of photos …it doesn’t do it justice.


Alberta – Day 2 Drumheller

Today is an exciting day – we are going to Drumheller to see the Bad Lands and maybe a dinosaur or two. When Ryan was a little boy, he could name all the dinos and lecture for hours on each one.Two highlights for me were the Hoo Doos and the Tyrell Dinosaur Museum.

Sarah has to work tomorrow so after visiting Drumheller, we will take her to Red Deer and then head back to Calgary for the night.

Alberta Bound – Day 1

We are off on an adventure to visit Alberta this summer. I have never been here before and it’s been 36 years for Monica since she worked the summer of ’77 in Jasper Park Lodge. Since Sarah lives in Red Deer and Monica’s brother Stuart and Janice live in Calgary, the time was right for a visit. Ryan is with us so this will truly be a family vacation.

We arrived in Calgary just after 11:00 PM Friday night. Sarah had arrived from Red Deer this afternoon and she and Stuart picked us up at the airport. Home to crash at Stuart’s and up next morning for a full breakfast. Then off to explore the downtown. My eyes were wide open. Calgary is a beautiful city. Very clean! Hard to believe it was underwater just a few weeks ago.

Later in the day, we all headed over Mike (Stuart’s son) and Tammy’s for a big family hoopla and BBQ. Great times.