The Canadian Rockies & our return to the coast

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2010

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jasper (Alberta)
A fairly long drive of 200 miles took us through some amazing scenery, passing one of Canada's highest mountains, Mt Robson. Unfortunately it was hidden in the clouds! We remembered to turn our clocks forward an hour as we went over the border into Alberta, we'll get that back when we return! 
Jasper is a small town with a country feel, not too touristy. It had cooled down considerably whilst we were here, down to 6C! At last those warmer clothes have come in handy! We were certainly glad of them. I can recommend the Whistle Stop Pub in Jasper they serve excellent Grasshopper wheat ale. There is also a fantastic bakery, Julie was in her element. 
We visited the local countryside, and were fortunate to spot a Black Bear with her two cubs; they all looked very cute but can be deadly so we were happy to view from a safe distance. We also spotted several Elk, one was wondering around in the centre of town!
Ice fields Parkway
An amazing route, this has to be one of the world's most scenic drives. Around 200 miles in distance, it links Jasper with Banff in the south. Every corner provides an impressive vista, mountains of every shape and size, some snow clad, some with glaciers and others weathered into magical shapes. The Columbia Ice Fields run special buses onto the glaciers, an easier and safer way to have the experience of a glacier than trying to climb one.
Along most of the drive we were accompanied by azure mountain streams and lakes, probably the most famous being Lake Louise, of course the down side is it was full of tourists. There are many more lakes which have equally impressive settings without the crowds.
Banff (Alberta)
Situated in a beautiful valley amongst pine trees, the town has mountains rising up in all directions. Banff is Canada's highest town sitting 4,800ft above sea level. Originally built due to its natural hot springs, which were discovered when the railway was being built through the area. The town is not too big and everything can be reached on foot. Wildlife regularly enters the town, as with Jasper, spotting Elk walking down the main street is quite normal! As a resort town Banff has every amenity a tourist could require, plenty of great restaurants and hotels. The iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which is featured on all the pictures you see of Banff, is a wonderful place for a nostalgic afternoon tea, my arm was well and truly twisted on this one (thanks Kate!), having now been I would highly recommend it, not only was the tea delicious, we also had the most amazing mountain views over the Bow valley.
Yoko Provincial Park (Alberta)
Yet another amazing park, today we visited the Takakkaw falls, these are the highest falls in Canada. It was a beautiful day so we enjoyed a picnic lunch at the falls base. From a distance the falls don't look that big until you notice people climbing at the side of them, they look like tiny ants in comparison, mind you the falls are over a 1000ft. A few miles further on we came to the emerald lake, as the name suggest this lake is a lovely jade green colour and is backed by tall mountains. For $30 an hour you can take a canoe out on the lake, or the other option was to enjoy a pint of the local honey beer on the terrace of the restaurant, mmmm decisions, contest we opted for the beer! And very nice it was too, just what the doctor ordered for cooling down on a hot day!
Revelstoke (British Columbia)
We spent a wonderful evening watching a local group perform on the plaza, only briefly interrupted every 30 minutes by the 2 mile long trains! We stayed at the 7 Acres B & B, it was high spec, and our wonderful host Martha made us feel very welcome. In the morning we drove to the Sky Meadows on top of Mt Ravelstoke where we were greeted by an amazing kaleidoscope of colourful wild flowers, there are several hikes you can take from the top, unfortunately some were close due to the presence of grizzly bears! The flowers only have a very short flowering season due to the 6000ft height they grow at, we were lucky to have visited in August when they were at their very best.
Kamloops (British Columbia)
In comparison to the rest of the countryside we have driven through, Kamloops is very dry, the climate is more like California than the rest of Canada, however it can get very cold in the winter. The climate is semi arid due to being at the top of a desert area which runs through two states south into the USA. Our abode for the night was Andersons by the River; we had lovely Canadian hosts, Nancy & Clarence who were wonderful company. The B & B is situated right on the wide Thomson River, near to the local airport. Whilst we were there we witnessed the Hell Cats (Old war planes) coming in to refuel with water to douse a local forest fire, these planes are in great shape and provide a critical service to the local community. After a very hot day with temperatures hitting the 100f mark we spent a balmy evening with our hosts in the garden next to the river. We had cheese, kebabs off the barbecue, home made wine, not to mention Nancy's famous chocolate freezer cake and fresh apricots picked fresh from the tree. We watched as hundreds of birds came into roost as the harvest moon rose over the hills, the way it reflected orange rays across the river was beautiful, it really was a lovely way to spend a summers evening.
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