Day 165 – Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Banff

DSC_4330Lake Louise

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DSC_4403My bucket list for Canada is long but right near the top has to be Lake Louise. When googling images of Canada before we came over, this one constantly struck me with its beauty.
Its about a 1 hour trip from Harvie Heights. We got to see the most spectacular scenery on the way. Huge mountains with waterfalls running down to the river we were following. Every few kilometers we would see overpasses covered in grass and trees. Apparently these are for the animals to cross the highway.
Lake Louise is a short drive off the highway and a hidden gem. As we walked down from the car park I imagined what it was going to be like seeing it for the first time. It exceeded all my expectations. The water was a colour I had never seen before. They call it ‘duck egg blue’. The blue colour comes from the rocks being ground up as the water flows downs, forming a ‘rock flour’. This sediment falls to the bottom leaving only the turquoise colour suspended in the water, which reflects the colour we can see. It was incredible. As you can imagine, I was worse than a Japanese tourist, fighting for a space at the edge of the lake to capture the moment.
‘Lake Louise has become symbolic of the quintessentially Canadian mountain scene. This alpine lake, known for its sparkling blue waters, is situated at the base of impressive glacier-clad peaks that have long been at the heart of Canadian mountaineering. At about 2.5 kilometres long and 90 metres deep, the lake offers a surreal paddling experience in the warm summer months and one of the most scenic skating rinks in the world in winter’.
We were also lucky enough to experience an Indian wedding ceremony. With a backdrop that beautiful, there was no doubt that the photos would be amazing. The poor couple must have stood/sat there for 2 hours having their photo taken. I overheard that the ceremony itself can take up to 3 hours.
Lake Louise is also famous for the beautiful hotel, Fairmont Lake Louise, which takes perfect advantage of this gorgeous site. It is majestic inside and out and popular with honeymooners.
We had been told by our neighbour, Jim (who is from Alberta), that we should also take in Moraine Lake whilst in Banff NP. It was another 14 kms up in the mountains and a tricky drive at times. We managed to find a park quite close and walked down for a closer look. WOW! If I thought Lake Louise was amazing, then this was super amazing. The depth of colour was a whole other level of uniqueness. We climbed the rocky walkway to a vantage point above the lake and were rewarded with yet more incredible sights. The photos I took were only with my iPhone (yes, my camera battery ran out with all the photos of Lake Louise) but even they look like they have been photo shopped. I don’t know if I will surpass this experience in my life time.
Canoeing in Canada was always going to be a priority and it was here that we decided we would start. You can’t imagine the serenity of paddling out into the middle of that lake and having such huge mountains surrounding you. Only broken by Lachlan’s challenge to race us to the waterfalls and telling us we weren’t paddling right because our paddles were too vertical in the water. Garry tells me he got a lesson in how to canoe all the way around the lake with Lachie trying to steer from the front. I had to keep reminding Olivia that I was in charge of steering and that I would guide the canoe. My little control freak wanted to be in charge of everything. It’s interesting that our children get to age 13 and 10 and know it all, but even funnier to think they can tell us how to do it. We even get advised on how to drive.
‘Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park, 14 kilometres outside the Village of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 6,183 feet. The lake has a surface area of.5 square kilometres’.
I am still on a natural high from this experience as we drive home. I can not picture anything topping this adventure.
Coming back from Moraine Lake, Lachie spotted a some black bears at the top of a hill, a mother bear and her two cubs. We certainly are seeing our fair share of wild animals.
At Tim Hortons, for the obligatory iced capp, we noticed a group of people crowding near a car park on the opposite side of the road. They were photographing two deer in the gardens of a hotel. Not wanting to miss out we drove over for a closer look. People were going right up to the deer to have their photos taken. We were amazed that they were so brazen and seemed completely unaware of any danger. A guy who was repairing phone lines close by told us we were all way too close. We backed up quickly but the others didn’t listen. This is a common occurrence with tourists trying to get pictures close up. iPhones aren’t quite as good as the massive lenses photographers use but they still want the same results. Note to self – always keep a few tourists between you and the wildlife.
Back at our accommodation we decided to relax for a while (read – get on FB and post awesome selfies of recent activity) before going back into Banff that evening. I was sitting at the dining table when Olivia yelled “BEAR” and looked out our front window to see a big grizzly bear walking across the car park next to our unit. You almost have to pinch yourself to believe what you are seeing. He ambled along the side fence and behind our yard at the back. We could see the size of his head through the fence palings and hoped he would not decide to test its stability. They have only recently come out of hibernation because of the long winter and have come into town looking for food. This one has been sighted around here already this week. Now we do a bear check before we leave to go to the car.
Banff has plenty of shops to explore and we tried many more tonight. My beanhunter app suggested coffee at Evelyn’s on Banff Avenue so while the kids went off to spend their pocket money Garry and I enjoyed a cafĂ© latte which was actually quite good.
On the way back we saw another grizzly bear on the side of the highway (line up of cars is a huge giveaway). At least this one was behind a fence and some distance away.
What an unbelievable day!
Good night beautiful people Jxx20140704-104236-38556880.jpg20140704-104237-38557331.jpg

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Day 164 – Flying to Calgary and on to Banff

We were up at 4.30am for our trip to Toronto. So excited I don’t think I slept much. It was already light when we woke up.
Our car trip was pretty uneventful. We left our car at a park ‘n’ fly in Etobicoke. The driver, Bill, was awesome and very helpful. He dropped us off right in front of the terminal we needed with much less hassle than trying to park there ourselves. It only costs $65 to park there for a whole week. Cheap for a major airport as you will know if you live in Sydney or Melbourne.
Air Canada had us through the airport quickly and we arrived just as they opened for boarding. The seats had plenty of leg room but they charged for headphones and snacks on a four hour trip.
At Calgary airport they have a great display of everything they are famous for, of course, the Stampede being one of them. We loved seeing everyone wearing cowboys hats and hearing cowboy slang. Y’all is a favourite.
We received an upgrade to our car from Alamo and drove off in a brand new Dodge SUV. After driving through Calgary and stopping for lunch we headed toward the Rockies. Calgary is quite flat so it’s hard to imagine being so close to these mountains.
Travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway we began to see the Rockies in the distance. Getting closer, we all watched in awe, as the size grew and grew and grew….
There are not enough words to describe the immense beauty of this area. Snow capped peaks, dense forest, rocky slopes and size like we have never seen.
We drove through Canmore and stopped for coffee to enjoy the scenery. After doing a grocery shop at Safeway we headed to our accommodation. It was more than what we had hoped which is always a bonus when you’re the one who chooses it. We are staying 5 minutes out of Canmore which is about 20 minutes from Banff. The kids are just happy that there is a pool and there are TVs in every room.
After unpacking we made our first visit to Banff National Park and Banff itself. Such a picturesque place full of tourists. The shops stayed open until after 10pm when we left so we had our fill of souvenir hunting. There was a Scottish bagpiper in the main street (Banff Avenue) which I loved and lots of great people watching.
We sought out tour shops and left with an armful of options for the rest of the week.
Home and exhausted from the early start but excited with the anticipation of tomorrow.
Good night beautiful people Jxx

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Day 162 – Ribfest comes to town and Garry’s second game of ice hockey

With the last of my work calls taken care of for the summer, we headed over to Memorial park for Ribfest. The park had been transformed into a carnival/festival in preparation for Canada day on July 1. There were dozens of rides, lots of stalls (selling everything from Tupperware to car flags to candy) and of course RIBS. It seems that it is a lot more competitive than we thought with all the vans displaying their trophies on stands at the front. We ordered the Tree Huggers Special – a trio of meats including pulled pork, chicken and ribs. Adam couldn’t get enough whilst we all sat there completely stuffed. But what would a carnivores meal be without a plate of deep fried onion and dipping sauce. Tasted good but you couldn’t eat much of it. The Canadians pride themselves on recycling so there were stations everywhere with volunteers sorting your rubbish for you.
There was plenty of great people watching to be done especially carnies Sharon. See if you can pick him. We got a photo with some nuns who found Lachies lost $5 note.
The bands will continue on into the night and I imagine we’ll still be able to hear them when we go to bed.
We left our kids having water fights with the neighbours and strict instructions to be inside by 9 o’clock. It probably won’t even be dark by then. At the moment I am sitting at the ice rink waiting for Garry’s second game to start. I was talking to a few of his team mates whilst he was getting changed (they all greeted him with ‘mate’) and told them that we had been skating for four months. They thought Garry had said he’d only been watching hockey for 4 mths and were amazed at how well he was playing. Time to go and sit in the cold seats.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx.
P.S. Garry’s team won 4-3. Woo hoo!

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Day 161 – Preparation for Ribfest kicks into action

July 1 will be Canada day and to celebrate memorial park is being transformed into a carnival/festival/party/BBQ of ribs spectacular. There are plenty of tents being set up, carnival rides, stalls and even a jacuzzi to try out. Everyone talks about Ribfest and the kids are super excited. There are plans to meet friends at the skateboard park and ditch Mum and Dad ASAP. We plan to head over for a couple of hours before Gaz plays his second game of team hockey for the Oilers on Friday night.
Today I enjoyed a lovely walk around Victorian era Waterdown. The houses gardens and even sheds are beautiful. There were squirrels everywhere. Later Adam and I enjoyed a latte and smoothie at the jitterbug cafe before checking out the setting up for the festival.
Tonight Garry and I went ice skating at hamilton whilst Lachie played in the band for graduation. It’s nice for them to be in walking distance. I got some coaching from Dan and I can now confidently do cross overs on the corners and sort of stop better.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx

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Day 156 – Waterdown farmers market is a winner.

Garry and I both got up early to check out the produce at the local farmers market. Local growers from all around set up stalls with organic produce, maple syrup, meats, bakery treats, flowers and coffee. We tried rabbit twiggy sticks, asparagus flour spiced chips, sweet and sour popcorn and freshly picked strawberries. The range is incredible and all within 50 km of us. We also found some lean bacon and grass fed free range (old fashioned) chicken eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Garry knows the way to my heart. He even promised to cook it all on the BBQ for me.
Check out the delicious meat pie we bought for lunch. It’s a first as they don’t seem to do meat pies here. We were all drooling as it heated up in the oven.
Adam spent the day with one of our neighbours who owns a gaming shop. He has now discovered the pleasures of Warcraft and taco pizzas. Apparently the day went really fast.
In the afternoon we went shopping for some padded pants for me (no not incontinence, skating) and a new helmet. Most people wear the helmets which is good because we’ve heard a few heads hit the ice and it’s not pretty.
I’ve included a few pics of the girls from across the street, Bailey and Chloe. It’s Bailey’s birthday party tomorrow and we’ve been invited over. She’s turning four.
We have spent the evening ice skating, talking with family at my lovely Aunty’s birthday party over FB and finalising travel arrangements for our trip to Banff in a weeks time. Everything is starting to go by quite fast now. We will be home in no time.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx.

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Day 151 – Amanda and Corey arrive

Amanda and Corey landed in Toronto on Friday and spent the weekend sightseeing before catching the train down to Burlington. After we had lunch I dropped them off at Walmart whilst I went to pick Garry up from work. They had a great time exploring the shops and looking for a tent for the music festival they have organised to go to in Montebello next weekend. We are planning to go looking at cars for them to buy tomorrow. Not sure how they will go getting insurance but I’m sure they’ll work something out. Nice to have some more Aussies around.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx.20140622-130820-47300132.jpg

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Day 150 – A new grocery shop with Gaz

I know it’s becoming a bit of a trend but I love the grocery store here. Garry even enjoyed coming with me. We picked up our cappucinos at the cafe out the front and continued with our shopping in comfort. It is well designed to have you spend a long time browsing and filling your ‘cart’.
The day finished for Garry and I with an ice skating session. This time I got a lesson from Dan who is a great skater and has taken Garry under his wing. He promises to have me skating better than Garry. I don’t think Garry will let that happen. He eats, sleeps and breathes it at the moment.

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