South to the Border
Trip Start Aug 12, 2002
8Trip End Aug 29, 2002
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One of Many Crossings
Leaving British Columbia Province and heading East to Alberta Province is done by going through the Kootenay National Park of Canada. It is breathing taking and, of course, entails crossing the continental divide. This is the point where water flows in one of 2 directions - to the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. Note that this is also the dividing line between the Banff National Park and the Kootenay National Park. During this entire trip we figured we crossed the continental divide at least 10 times - but did not try to keep count. (Back in the States we crossed it many times in one day.)
The Mountain is in the Way
The highway was easy to navigate with a few obstacles in the way - at least they loomed up in front of us like obstacles. They were mountains that did not move but the road did miss them.
The Elk on the Highway
Then there were obstacles that had to move from the highway. Many sights and sounds were part of the trip that even included that favorite bridge for Bev.
Bev just loves swinging bridges (:>) so when this one popped up we just had to stop. In reality it was not very "swinging".
The town of Lake Louise is very small. Once we got checked into our lodge we could easily walk everywhere - and that was nice. There was a small shopping center on one corner, a restaurant and gas station on another corner. Lodges occupy the other corners. The major attractions were a ways out of town.
We stayed at the Mountaineer Lodge and considering the time of the year we were surprised that the rates were so good. When we travel we do not make any reservations ahead of time - this trip was the most planned we have done. We picked out our high points to see and then played it by ear from there - including places to stay. It gets us into trouble at times - but have never had to sleep in the car.
Getting a Tip from the Greeter
The restaurant was pleasant with a very impressive greeter. You can see he whispered in my ear the best pick of the menu - (it was the chicken - not the bear steak (:>). The view was great - but what would you expect - there are mountains in every direction.
We learned there was a gondola/ski-lift trip up the mountain on the opposite side of the valley from Lake Louise itself. The lake is 2 miles to the West and the ski slope is 2 miles to the East. Breakfast was served at the ski lodge then off to the gondola.
Interesting Sign of Instruction
The Ski Lift as Seen Without Snow
The ski lodge is high above the town. It was impressive and the ski runs were clearly seen as they came down the hill through the trees. An interesting fact - there is a 2 mile long electric fence around the ski area. This is to keep the bears out of the "people" area. When we were getting instructions for the gondola ride, one was to watch for wildlife and report what and where as to what we saw. One of the reasons is to make sure there are no bears "inside the ropes" and they use tourists to be the spotters. We did see deer but no bears.
A View Back to the Lodge
The scenery got better and better as we rode up the hill. This view looking back at the lodge was only 1/3 the way up the slope. I do not remember how much elevation we went up - but the town elevation is about 7000 feet - so the air is getting thin.
Flowers at the Top
The trees were healthy and the flowers were in full bloom. The chipmunks and ground squirrels were abundant - BUT the pleasant part - no bugs.
Bev Views Map of the Mountains
At the top is a museum and gift shop. A lot of information about the animals and surroundings are provided via pictures and graphs and words - no lectures. This building is well below the ski lift drop zone. Climbing that hill back up was a chore - especially in the thin air (and not being in shape probably had something to do with it.) At one of the many rest stops climbing the hill I got the picture that became our symbol of the trip. It is on the opening page of this travelogue but it re-presented here. It is Lake Louise in the background.
The air on this mountain was thin and it was cold - the mornings in this area are expected to be cool but when the late morning sun peaks over the mountain it warms up. By mid afternoon the coats and sweaters are shed.
Meeting a Chair Going Up
Bev is one of those people that cannot look over the edge of a cliff with ease. This meant that the trip up a gondola/ski-lift was a BIG adventure for her. The "cars" are small enclosures and she was comfortable with this. Also there are chairs to ride - the actual ones that are used for skiers in the winter.
Bev Holds on TIGHT
I convinced Bev to take the chair down - she did well and even "enjoyed" it. Her reason was that it never is more then 20 feet above the ground - so there is some security.
Leaving the ski slopes and driving through town and up the hill to Lake Louise was about 5 miles (8km?). There is a big hotel at that site and lots of space to walk around viewing the lake from all angles. You can even rent a canoe. I thought the canoes took away from some of the beauty but all to his own.
Above Lake Louise is Queen Victoria Glacier. The daughter of the Queen was named Louise. You could say - the mother is still nourishing and watching over her daughter?
The Lake, the town, the ski-lift, and the great lodge made this Apex of our journey something to remember for a long time - totaly enjoyable.
The "Flat" Mountain Course - Banff Springs
About 50 miles south is the town of Banff Springs. We wanted to see the "most fabulous" golf course. It was a nice course but there were 2 things that I did not like. It was basically flat (at least compared to Greywolf described in the last entry) and it had a green fee almost triple from the other one. We stayed around to get a few pictures and left without touching our golf clubs.
On the small road that led to Banff Springs Golf was a small park on the Bow River. There was a waterfall to view plus a nice rock beach. People were everywhere. There was one person that was intriguing - I call him the "rock balancer".
The Rock Balancer
Here it shows him finding the precise point that he figures the center of weight of the next rock must rest. Then he went looking for that precise specimen to put in place. He spent too much time looking so we took off looking for a golf course to play. He told me this was a way for him to relieve stress - looks stressful to me.
Golf and Good Company
Our information told us of a resort some 30 miles south called Kananaskis. It was off the highway and into a huge development. The hotel was huge, ornate, and expensive looking. Oh well, it is getting late - and maybe they would have a golf package deal. This is where I learned about the "walk-in special". When the hotel thinks they will not be full for the night - they make a good deal for any walk-in client. I was that one - it was real good and we grabbed it. This did not include golf but the green fees were good also. So unpack and run to the golf course. There was a prediction for rain but may not get here until later. That is a mute point when you are talking playing golf.
Bev Hits Another One Down the Middle
Wrong! On the 16th tee the rain got harder. On the 17th tee there was a crack of thunder with an accompaning streak of lightning. This is a "mountain course" that really is a flat course in the valley between mountains. Storms can appear out of no where but really have just popped up over the mountain top. This one did just that and we made a bee line for the club house. We were soaked to the skin. It was nice as long as it lasted. Our foursome included a couple from Germany on vacation. They spoke very little English and we no German. It was an interesting round of golf.
Kananaskis had an incentive feature to help slow play. If you finish in less then 4 hours and presented your timed ticket to the pro shop there is a gift. Since we got back in less then 4 hours (16 holes only) I felt we still qualified for the gift. They finally agreed and we each got a ball mark repair tool with their name on it. Kind of neat I would say.
Fog Band on Mountain
The following morning as we were leaving this area of Kananaskis we saw this thin band of fog surrounding the mountain. It was picture perfect as seen here.
The next stop on our loose agenda was Calgary. We knew that the winter olympics were held there sometime in the past. Sure enough as we entered the town from the Northwest it was right next to the highway. We stopped and looked around. The ski jumps were still there. When I inquired if they are used anymore - there was a definite, yes. In fact, there was a competition just last week. Wait a minute - this is August. But it is called "grass jumping" instead of "snow jumping". Special skis and the slope is wet grass and straw. Kind of neat, I bet. (Did not take any pictures for some unknown reason.)
Calgary's "Outdoor Shopping Mall"
There is a part Calgary great for the shopper. About 6 or 8 blocks of downtown is blocked off to all traffic. That means it is a huge outdoor mall. We found some interesting items to take home.
Just outside Calgary we found another treeless golf course. This one did have a lot of hills and good greens. There was a threat of rain most of the afternoon. Near the end of the round (that we did finish) there was a short shower followed by this great double rainbow. It was so close and overhead even the wide angle lens could not get both ends in one picture.
The Canada loop came to an end by heading south to Montana. The travel on the highways were smooth and uneventful. A little note of something seen in Alberta and not seen before anywhere. Wildlife overpasses. The "interstate" highways are lined with high fences to keep the wildlife from crossing the busy traffic lanes. Every once in a while there is a fenced-in 50 foot wide overpass for the wildlife. It sure puts priorities in the right place - wildlife have rights too.
Where I stayed