Location: Calgary, Canada
Monday, I still had the hire car until 4pm so I headed north to Red Deer and more specifically Sylvan Lake. After arriving it started to rain so I wandered through some small local shops. I managed to escape from one store unscathed, where the owner insisted I try on 20 things, and assured me that everything looked great. Trust me, they didn't all look great!! I found a great little surf shop and after getting back to Calgary realised I should have bought more stuff! The lake was beautiful, although nothing like Moraine Lake, and once the sun began to shine I grabbed some pictures and walked along the beach.
After I arrived back in Calgary and Mikaylie had finished work, we raced through tea and got ready to see the Foo Fighters which I managed to get tickets for this morning. We met Glen there who also decided to come last minute. We were running on time until we realised that we were locked in the zoo compound. A few weeks ago there was a break-in where one of the bikes Scott lent us was stolen. Very frustrating. Anyway security changes the locks and didn't give us a new key. Security had to come and let us out and drove us to the train station, which was handy as it was raining. Despite buying the tickets so late, we had floor tickets and were quite close to the front, and the concert was awesome. The support band was Sloan, a Canadian band, who were great too.
We went to Moxies restaurant to meet Glens mates before winding up at Ceili's, with the rooftop bar. Had a great night and after getting escorted home by the police (Glen and friends), and let back into the zoo suite by security, we were in bed by 3.30.
Tuesday, I slept on and off, but had had enough at 11.45 and had to get up. Mikaylie struggled at work again today and wound up in bed from 12.30-3 before heading back to work for a few hours. She was fortunate that it was a very slow day at the zoo. Very much a recovery day so after cleaning up a bit we both read books and headed to bed early.
Wednesday, I didn't realise how cold it was outside when I caught the train to town wearing shorts. After updating the web at the library and going to the gym I was freezing waiting for the train again. I ducked into Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) again to grad a couple of things we'd previously forgoten before grabbing groceries and lugging them back to the suite.
As we may have mentioned, Australia has the best fruit and veg compared to here. I managed to pick up some Aust Naval oranges which I am so glad about now!! We spent the night updating the website at the zoo and I started to feel very fluey. Went down-hill quick, so after enjoying one of those Aussie oranges, I was in bed.
Thursday, I am definately not well. After sleeping in I made a few phone calls to insurance regarding Scott's stolen bike, and just 1/2 hour later I was asleep again. A very uneventful day. Being sick is not fun, but especially so whilst on holidays.
Friday, feeling a bit better but still had a slow morning getting things up to date before a quick trip to the library and post office for Mik. Mikayie and I both support the phone companies over here so tonight we were on the phone to family and friends for almost four hours I think. Great to catch up with what's going on in Australia.
Glen was on duty tonight, so he and his partner stopped over at about 12 for coffee and muffins. The suite has not been that tidy since we've been here. After sticking around for an hour or so they were on their way and Mik and I were well and truly ready for bed.
Location: Banff, Waterton Lakes, Canada
On Thursday I rode into the library before heading back to the zoo and getting organised for another long weekend. Mikaylie was able to get Friday off work and Daniel Uden and Paul Wallace from Australia were nearby in Banff so we hired a car and headed back to Banff for a day. It was great to catch up with both of them and we had a great (but very late, 10.30pm) dinner at a Banff restaurant before heaing out for drinks at the Irish pub. A bit of a late night but great to spend time with friends.
Friday, the four of us met up at 9 with a plan to head to Lake Moraine, near Lake Louise. Mikaylie and I realised just how organised we really are after waiting around for the guys for ages! We made it to Lake Moraine (1 1/5 hours away) by 11.45 and were immediately blown away by how beautiful it is. You will need to check out the photos of this one to believe how blue the water is!! We ate lunch on the shores of the lake and spent some time taking photos and walking around the shore of the lake.
After heading back to Banff we said goodbye to the guys and drove south to Waterton Lakes National Park, which borders Montana. The drive was amazing. After seeing so many mountains it was nice to see a bit of flat farm land and the praries. There are red barns scattered across the landscape, along with hay bales, tractors, wind farms etc etc etc. Mikaylie took heaps of photos as we drove and we stopped to look at different things. It was a bit of a slow trip but we were so enjoying being able to go at our own pace, as opposed to being stuck on a bus looking out the windows.
Once we arrived in Waterton it was a pretty early night, we were both tired from the last two days.
Saturday, with no solid plans for the day we went to the information centre and decided to do the 13km hike around Waterton Lake into Montana and catch the ferry back again. It was an interesting day, and since we had no plans to hike we were both dressed in skirts to try to avoid agravating our heat rash. We were on the track by 10.30 and had reached the Canadian/American border by 12.30 (7.7kms). We spent most of the two hours looking out across the lake and taking in the different type of forrest around us, running into quite a few others who were enjoying the hike. We were a bit grateful for that after seeing fresh bear poo on the track and knowing that there were bears around. While we ate lunch on a small jetty at the border we watched two guys trying to paddle their makeshift raft out into the lake, back to where ever they'd hiked from. They obviously didn't feel like walking back. The raft they'd made was going nowhere after 20 minutes and they were in luck when some Canadians in a ski boat stopped at the border and asked if they wanted a lift. I've not seen two guys get out of the water so quickly.
After lunch we continued into American territory and realised that not one of the hikers we'd seen on the Canadian side had continued into America. The bush also got a lot thicker. Needless to say Mik and I talked loudly and continuously for the next two hours, and Mik's hands were very red from clapping the entire time while I jingled the clips on the side of my skirt. We were grateful to see the rangers hut at the lake, and not to have stummbled on a grizzly bear. Moses, the ranger we met after emerging from the bush was a bit suprised to see two Aussie chicks in skirts hiking out of the bush. We assured him that skirts are much easier to hike in on such a hot day.
We lounged around the lake for a few hours while waiting for the ferry to take us back to Waterton. After and hour or so the water got the better of us and we changed into swimmers and dived from the jetty into the lake. It was so cold that you could stay in the water long enough only to swim quickly back to shore. After much convincing I jumped in but was only stupid enough to do it once. Mik had had enough after two jumps. Despite being so cold it was the best thing to do on the extremely hot day.
After catching the ferry and arriving back in Waterton we walked a few km's back to the car and headed to Cardston, abouts 40kms away. On the way we ducked up to Cameron Lake to look for bears and had to brake hard to avoid a black bear that was wandering across the road. He was too quick to get pictures though. Unfortunately, still no grizzly bear!!
Sunday, we woke and headed back to the national park again taking heaps of pictures of barns and tractors. We were on our way to see Red Rock Canyon which we were looking forward to after seeing postcards. After loading our day packs with water, sunscreen, hats etc we crossed the carpark to discover the canyon right there. The entire canyon took about 10 minutes to walk around (and that includes reading all of the information plaques on the way). A bit disappointing.
Anyway, we decided not to hang around and headed north towards Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. The site, where native indians herded buffalo over the 22m cliff, got it's name when one brave, who was waiting at the bottom of the cliff, was trapped between the falling buffalo and the cliff-face and was killed. It was interesting to see how sufficient the indians were, being able to feed and cloth themselves for up to a year at a time from one successful kill. Unfortunately we couldn't do the lower hike around the cliff because of a vicious cougar in the area! The museum was intersting but after 1 1/2 hours we headed for the gift shop and then back to Calgary.
Location: Calgary, Canada
Tuesday was an uneventful day, just cleaning up after the long weekend and getting a bit organised. Mikaylie and I have both been reading some books we were loaned so we have been relaxing and reading a fair bit.
Wednesday I headed to the library, gym and post office before riding back to the suite, and then catching the train back into MEC with Mik. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is a massive store with everything for the outdoors. After looking around for almost two hours Mikaylie was disappointed in her efforts as she ended up spending less than $20. I spent a bit more than that but was also a bit suprised that we hadn't bought a lot more gear. A very unhealthy takeaway dinner had to do before we went grocery shopping and then carted the load back to the zoo via the train.
Location: The Rocky Mountains, Canada
July 28- August 1
Thursday was another uneventful day. We planned to go to Banff and tour the Rocky Mountains with Scott on this long weekend so it was just a day for laundry, packing etc. We planned on grabbing all the food we needed from the grocery store but it was raining and it is quite a trek from the train to the zoo suite with arms full of groceries!
Friday the weather improved heaps so first thing I was out to the store while Mik was at work. After racing around to get organised by 2 o'clock, Scott phoned to say he'd been held up. By 4.30 we were on our way, only a short 1 1/2 hour drive to our campsite just outside of Banff on Lake Minnewanka. We had missed seeing bear # 66, a mother grizzly bear with her 2 cubs who passed through the campsite that afternoon. It is a bit different to camping in Australia. We had a "trailer" which is like a pop-up caravan but you aren't allowed to keep any food out, it all has to be locked in your car, and all of the bins are bear safe, designsed specifically to keep bears out. We had to be careful to prevent attracting any hungry bears.
After setting up and cooking tea we cleaned up and headed into Banff to wander around and have a few drinks. Like Whistler, Banff is very touristy, but nowhere near the scale of Whistler. It was beautiful and after wandering through shops until about 11.30pm we headed to and Irish bar and the Rose & Crown for a few drinks before heading back to the campsite.
Saturday, Scott was woken by Kenya (his black labrador) and took her for a walk so Mik and I slept in. After we cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast we were on our way, through Banff and up the mountain range to Kananskis Country. We saw a hoary marmot on the way to spray lakes but were no where near quick enough to get a photo. We though the Spray Lakes were beautiful but looking back they are not as nice as the others in the Rocky Mountains. On the way to Kananaskis we stopped behind a line of cars to see what they were looking at. With only her ears sticking out we watched a massive female moose slowly make her way further out of the swamp chomping on the swamp grasses. Seeing her was the highlight of my day, as I have been looking forward to seeing a moose since arriving here.
After stopping at the information centre and admiring the mountain view we trekked around the Upper Kananskis Lake before heading for the village. Scott was getting tired aso Mikaylie took over driving his massive ute (they call them trucks over here) and managed to stick to the right side of the road. Kananaskis village consists of a few very expensive looking motels and a beautiful golf course surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. We quickly visited a horse ranch while here and are hoping to go for a 3 day trek in our last week in Calgary.
Despite sitting in a car for most of the day Mik and I were so tired we slept most of the way back to the campsite before having a BBQ for tea. Scott, who is always on for a bit of a chat, met the neighbours, while Mik & I headed for bed.
Sunday, we aimed to get up earlier due to the massive day ahead. After Mik & I struggled through the Aitken's pancakes we cooked for breakfast (and vowing never to eat any Aitken's food again) we were on the road by 9.00. Our first major stop was Johnston Canyon which took and hour to hike up to view the waterfalls. It was a really nice walk but was sooo cold in places due to the temperature of the water that misted across the path.
On the road again and the next stop was the Lake Louise ski field, where we looked around and bought presents, followed by Lake Louise itself, where we enjoyed our vegemite sandwiches on the shore. It's a beautiful view but because the weather was so great the lake was dotted with every hire canoe available. The line of people waiting to hire was huge. We decided not to hike around the lake's edge and after wandering through the Chatteau Lake Louise and buying postcards, we again were on our way.
Scott was again tired so I took over the driving. A lot different to driving a little Mitsubishi Mirage but I managed. We saw what felt like a million beautiful mountains, and the same number of lakes in varying shades of blue before arriving at the Colombia Icefield. We were just in time to catch the 6pm icefield tour which takes you right out into the middle of Athabasca Glacier on an Incefield Explorer. It was beautiful but very hard to describe just how beautiful and massive the glacier is, also very cold in shorts!!!
After the tour finished and Mik & I bought more presents at the gift shop we started on the long trip back to the campsite. Arriving at about 10pm we quickly cooked tea and chatted again with the neighbours before calling it a day.
Monday, Scott cooked breakfast for us today before we all packed up the trailer and headed into Banff. After roaming around the massive castle that is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel we bought more postcards and headed for the Sulphur Mountain gondola ride. From the top of the gondola the views were spectacular: from Lake Minnewanka, where we camped, right down to the Banff village and the Fairmont Hotel. After restraining ourselves from buying presents in the giftshop we headed back into Banff village to a gem store that we had seen briefly on Friday night. Mik and I spent nearly two hours looking and buying things while Scott took Kenya for a walk, had lunch, and read the paper. I don't really think he was interested in the gems!!! The trip back to Calgary took so long after a huge grassfire burning on either side of the highway had traffic at a standstill. At 8 we were back at the zoo hanging out for a shower (did I mention the campsite had no showers...) before heading straight for bed.
Location: Calgary, Canada
This morning I caught a train to the Chinook Centre which is a fairly big mall in the south of the city. After some shopping and recharding our mobile phone I headed by train to the University of Calgary. The North American Solar Challenge ended in Calgary today and there was a massive event at the uni which included a BBQ (yay, free food) and you could walk around each solar car and check out how they work. It was very interesting and busy. It was the Uni's first year in entering and they came 13th which was a great effort considering the small budget and timeframe they had to build the vehicle. Calgarians are very patroitic, hence the huge turnout to the event, and it was great to get out amongst it.
Mikaylie had her hair cut this afternoon so I escorte her to the haridressers before heading for the gym. We met back up and found a Ben & Jerry's ice-cream shop which sells cones, ice-cream cones!! We each had a double scoop, Mik trying the Phish Food and Peanut Butter, and I had Coconut Almond Fundge Chuck and Vanilla Pecan. I am so confused by the many different flavours that I no longer know what my favourite is. They are all so yummy. Mikaylie is still stuck on the Mint Chocolate Cookie! We enjoyed our ice-creams at 5.30 overlooking the Bow River before burning off the fat on the bike ride back to the suite. Needless to say neither of us were very hungry at tea time.