August 12th Got up fairly early, and had a nice pancake breakfast. We worked a little on postcards and such, then headed back into Edmonton. We made a pit stop at Mr. Lube for an oil change, then off to the West Edmonton Mall. We spent most of the the afternoon at the waterpark in the mall. We did a little speed shopping after the waterpark, before the stores closed at 6:00. The evening was spent doing our scrapbooks and some laundry. We got to bed at a decent time, about 10:30. Early the next morning we made a quick trip to the washroom. Along the way to the washroom we noticed these large balls of ice falling from the sky. Run! The hail lasted about 20 minutes, then the thunder, lightning, rain, and gale force winds started up. After an hour, the sound of our tarp whipping around lulled us back to sleep.
WaterWorld, West Edmonton Mall / a pirate ship...in the Mall
August 13th We woke up to a beautiful day. No one would have guessed that just hours before we were clinging to our tent. We had a nice hot shower, and headed out for Jasper National Park. As we got closer to the mountains, it clouded over and started to rain. We didn't even know that we were in the mountains until we went through the park gate. At the gate, we were given a guide telling us how to stay alive in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies. One tidbit of advice in the guide was to stay at least 30m away from elk. 10 minutes after reading this, we passed a number of people stopped on the side of the highway standing about 2m from a bunch of grazing elk. Not too smart. We stopped in Jasper (town) to check it out a bit. We popped into the Athabasca Hotel lounge for a beer (upon suggestion from A-M's brother & sister-in-law). Later we checked into the local campground for the night. That night it was cold. I mean really cold. It was only 2-3 deg C. We huddled together for warmth, and shivered ourselves to sleep.
here comes the rain again!
August 14th Awoke early to a fresh morning (ie. frickin' freezing). We had a quick breakfast, and headed to the Jasper Tramway. This is a cable-car ride 3200' up to the top of Whistler's Mountain (elev. 7500'). The view was spectacular. The valley was covered in fog, and sunlight was peaking through the clouds. When we came down, the rest of the world was there in line waiting to get on the tramway. Ahhh, nothing like perfect timing. We headed back and packed up the tent, then headed down the Icefield Parkway (#93A) towards Lake Louise. The weather cleared up to be just lovely. Blue sky with puffy white clouds. It never got too warm though. We stopped numerous times along the way to admire the amazing scenery and snap a few pics. We checked out Athabasca Falls and the Columbia Icefield to name a few spots. By late afternoon we were in Lake Louise, another beautiful spot. Plenty of tourists too, just the way we like it... The local campground was full, with those tourists we love so much, so we had to drive further towards Banff to find a place to stay for the night. A nice little campground called Protection Mountain Prov. Park. Sort of rustic, but with running water and flush toilets. We had a little chat with the lonely looking Parks guy while we were checking in. A-M asked him if there had been any bear sightings lately. He said: "No, not for quite a while. The last sighting in the park was about a week ago." A week, oh joy. Another freezing cold night spent huddled together for warmth.
the Jasper Tramway / view from the summit / summit view of Jasper town / Who's that handsome devil? / ...and here's our ride off of the summit / Athabasca Falls / Jim hanging out at the Falls / the Athabasca River valley / Chaba Icefield / Athabasca Glacier / glacier up close / Sunwapta Pass / Bow Lake / Lake Louise
August 15th We slept in a little, hoping it would warm up a little before we had to get out of the tent. No luck. We finally got packed up and on the road by about 12:00. We hit Banff around 1:30, and did a little shopping. I wish there were more souvenir shops, I couldn't get enough of those low quality T-shirts made in China with "Banff, Canada" embroidered on them. We grabbed a quick, high energy lunch (KFC) and headed up to the Banff Springs Hotel. We wandered around pretending to be rich folk..."Smashing dawling". Before we got kicked out we took a few pics, and A-M called her mom on the cell phone: "Guess where we are!?" We left Banff for Calgary around 4:00. We had to drive through a little rush-hour traffic, but Kelly (my sister-in-law) gave us directions to avoid most of the traffic. We arrived at my brother's place around 6:30, just in time for a yummy chicken Cordon-Bleu supper. Better than cup-a-soup and stale crackers I'll say! We hung out with the nephew, had a hot shower, and hit the sack. It was not cold or raining. Something felt wrong not having to set up the tent and precious tarp. Lots of time for that in the next 2.5 weeks!
one of the locals...grazing / out front of the Banff Springs Hotel / Jim with some famous dead guy / checking out the posh interior
August 16th Slept in, of course. Got up to a leisurely breakfast, and some work on our scrapbooks. Played with Cullen for a while (the nephew), then went for a short bike ride around the neighborhood. We did a little mall-crawling until my brother got home from work and cooked us all up big Alberta beef steaks for supper, yum. We drank wine, ate chocolates, and laughed. Life is good. So how are things with you guys? How's work? Anyway, we settled in front of the TV for a little Survivor and Drew Carey. Eventually we found the time out of our busy schedule to update you all back home. Tomorrow we are going for an extended bike ride, or maybe sailing. Chow for now.
the little rascal (Cullen)
August 17th Woke up around 9:00 to the smell of cooking bacon and western style scrambled eggs. My brother took Thurs/Friday off, and was already up preparing our breakfast. After breakfast all of us went for a nice bike ride around the Bow River Prov. Park, very near to where they live in the south end of Calgary. It was a gorgeous day, and the scenery was great (a high bluff up one side, and a meadow on the other). On the way back home, there was a final large hill to climb. While everyone else used the nice paved switch-back trail to get up, I decided to impress the nephew (and the ladies) by climbing straight up the hill. Before I got to the top, my chain decided to break. It was a lovely 45 min walk back the rest of the way to my brother's house. After lunch we went downtown to MEC for me to get a new chain (busted one old and not worth saving) and a chain tool. MEC is a great store, except that you can never leave the store without more than you went in for. I bought some cosy fleece underwear...for camping in the mountains...its cold you know. That night we had pizza and beer for supper, the old standard. Afterwards, A-M did our laundry, while I fixed my bike and loaded everything into the truck. Cullen helped. We hit the sack early, ~10:00.
August 18th We got up early, had a shower and some pancakes for breakfast. We finished packing up the truck, and got out on the road by about 9:00. Are plan was to get as close to Whistler,BC as we could. We followed the Trans-Canada Hwy all the way back through Banff and Lake Louise, and on into BC. Lots of spectacular scenery, and a decent day to-boot. Roger's Pass was especially breathtaking; a narrow pass through the Continental Divide, with high cliffs on either side. After Golden, we turned slightly north towards Kamloops. We were quite surprised to see how dry it was in the Kamloops area. There was lots of lush green fields (irrigated farms), but outside of these areas were rolling hills of arid scrub. We found a campsite just north of Cache Creek, 1 hour west of Kamloops. Had tacos for supper, yummy...and they kept us warm that night. There was a sprinkle of rain in the night, along with the distant calling of coyotes.
crazy bird that tried to steal our sandwich cheese / peak of Roger's Pass / arid central BC (near Kamloops) / typical terraced field of this area / our humble abode v2.0
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