Rockies Road Trip.......................

Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
Trip End Apr 16, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Saturday, May 6, 2006

Hi again to all!! We have survived the Rockies and Lou's first overseas drive! She did great though, especially in the face of many stresses and potential hazards. It's been a long week of touring, but worth every bit. Nowhere near, have we scratched the surface of what the Rockies has to offer...what a truly amazing part of the world though!! The size, diversity and beauty of the whole area, is just mind blowing. There are so many national parks to discover. The main interlocking national parks of Jasper, Banff, Yoho and Kootenay, along with the provincial parks of Mount Robson and Assiniboine, are a world heritage sight and the largest protected area in the world, at 21000 sq km. Its natural beauty at its best! The sheer amount of pristine wilderness is a lot to take in. We've driven through hundreds of miles (which seemed to last forever) of snow capped mountains and peaks. At every turn, we were faced with new and amazing things to see. The fast flowing rivers and endless forests were also a constant feature along the way. We visited waterfalls, gorges, lakes (some frozen & some not, but most frozen!!) and glaciers. The big highlight though, was the wildlife!!... Yes we were lucky! We got to see bears in the wild! Thankfully, these were not close encounters, whilst on walks etc....It was pretty scary sh*t! Our first sighting was of a black Bear, spotted by Lou on the road verge. We were going too fast to stop and it had cleared off by the time we went back. Well! We were on the wildlife hunt from then on!!..... We began to see many other creatures, as we clocked up the miles. There were Elk galore (which Lou kept calling Elf's!!mmmm).There were Mountain sheep, Deer, a lot of birds (including a cool woodpecker) and many different rodent like critters! All of these,normally exciting animals, now seemed boring in comparison to the prospect of another Bear sighting! Eventually our constant lookouts finally paid off...! It was another fairly big black bear, crossing the road. It went down the road verge, out of sight... So Dan was then out the car, Steve Irwin style! We got a few good snaps of him, until he got shy of the camera and disappeared in the woods. It felt strange that animals like this, just roam free in their numbers, but without the constraints of the usual Zoo enclosure. With this you also have the wolves, Cougars and Moose (the latter of which, are supposed to go nuts if you get too close). It's a big thing out here, about bears and animals in general.On all maps and literature that you get, there are warnings about what to do (apart from pooh yourself) if you do cross paths with these animals. With so many walks/treks available, it seemed crazy how people were not put off by the fact that you could easily come by a bear at any time. Basically, if it were a grizzly you encountered, there would be little a person can do (helpful and warming advice on these leaflets that they give out?!)
Basically, we started out from Vancouver and decided to go straight for it and just get there!!!.... Well we arrived in the town of Jasper in 'just'' 10 hours. We spent a few nights in this nice, alpine style town. It's surrounded by great mountains and landscape. There were numerous drives and walks that can be done from here. We visited Maligne Gorge and lake, along with a doing few small walks. Dan was armed to the teeth with a 'small' pen knife, just in case a 1000lb grizzly wanted to rumble!!! We sadly did not get to see (even from a distance) a Grizzly Bear, wolf, Moose or beaver on this trip.
Next on route was Lake Louise. A large, highly popular lake, known especially for its natural beauty.... Well this maybe the case in the summer! But for us it was totally frozen!! Oh well... Nice none the less. Luckily we didn't drive 10 hours just to see that alone. It appeared our chosen month to visit the Rockies was a bit of an 'in-between month'. The skiing had finished for the year,(But Dan was too scared to attempt to Ski anyhow!) but all the usual sights and treks (summer things) were closed for another month. The best lakes to see were frozen, again until the end of May. Still... This didn't effect much of the good time we had. The advantage was the fact that a lot of the scenery, was very dramatic and the snow is always good to see. One of the best drives in our opinion (also reputed to be one of the best around), was the Icefieds parkway. It's a long highway, of constant snow capped peaks, glaciers and pristine lakes. This was situated between Jasper and Banff. After Lake Louise, we had a night in Banff and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of this ski village. Much to Lou's relief we found a veggie/vegan restaurant, that was amazing food, but for some reason Dan opted for a Vegan dish and then wondered why it was pretty dry tasting!?!?! The rest of the time was just spent checking out a few walks and soaking in the atmosphere of the town.
With our weeks car hire nearly up, we headed back toward Vancouver. We were going to do the 600 km drive straight through, but it turned out to be a slow(but lovely)start of the journey, back through the mountains. With this,we opted to do a half way stop at a small city called Kelowna. It was back into British Columbia and had a really nice position, right next to a huge lake. In fact, the area itself had a huge amount of lakes and a large river system. It was a relaxing place to walk around and the weather was pleasant.
All in all, it has been great. It's hard to know how to fill up your time, with so much to offer and only little time to do it in. We think that Hiring a car or Camper is a definite must in the Rockies. You can visit where you want, stop to take pictures where you want and can explore further out, without the restraints of a bus tour. We are due to leave Canada on the and head back to the USA. Our first stop being Seattle. Canada has been tiring, but great. Well, hope you enjoy the pictures... Not long now till Viva Las Vegas!!........
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