A Travellerspoint blog

Day 23

It was a fine and cool morning for our last day in Canada, around 10 degrees. We loaded up the van one last time and hit the road a bit after 8 am. We had a good run on the Trans Canada Highway into Calgary and traffic was light in Calgary being fairly early on a Sunday morning. We topped up the fuel in the van at $1.13 per litre at the Husky petrol station opposite the airport and then went into the airport. We dropped off the van, paid the one way fee of C$336 (the price we paid to pick it up in Vancouver and drop it off in Calgary).
We checked in, well sort of anyway. We got our boarding passes and our luggage tags but then took our cases with us to US Immigration at the airport. You take your cases with you and then drop them off on the luggage belt after you get through. Our bags were checked through to Melbourne despite out 10 hour stopover in LA. We didn’t expect that and as a result didn’t have access to our health bags to freshen up in LA.
Darlene made an expensive boo-boo by putting her newly purchased Clinique in her carry-on bag. They were liquids in excess of 100 ml and we had to leave them at the security checkpoint. Bugger. She bought some Sheridan Coffee Liquor and Vodka duty free on the way to the gate and was threatening to drink them both on the spot.
We boarded and left around 15 minutes late but miraculously arrived 15 minutes early. It’s amazing how many pilots either exceed the speed limit or find a short cut. LA was 25 and warm. The shuttle came along before I could ring to check on it so we hopped on for the short ride to the LAX Marriott.
Upon arrival we checked the Virgin Australia website and could not see our flight. We had thoughts of being stranded and that it was cancelled or our Agent had stuffed up again. We called from the Concierge desk to find out what was going on. As it turned out, when requesting flight status, we had to select “yesterday” and not “today” when asking about our flight. The time perspective was Australian, even though the flight was departing from the USA.
We chilled in our room for a bit before heading to the airport later. We got there around three hours early to check in, get through security and do some more duty free shopping ahead of our 15 hour flight (groan). To our dismay the duty free shopping was very limited. We purchased some “natural” tablets to help us sleep on our 15 hour plus return flight. They worked for Darlene, she slept most of the flight. I got about 4 hours, better than nothing. We cleared formalities at Melbourne Airport without incident and said our goodbyes to Lance & Karol and caught a taxi home.
See you all very soon. Thanks for reading our blog.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 17:54 Comments (0)

Day 22

20130908_070453.jpgSAM_2121.jpgSAM_2124.jpgSAM_2130.jpgWe awoke to low cloud and steady rain and it stayed with us as we drove just over 100km to Calgary for some shopping at the Chinook Mall. The forecast was for rain periods and 13 degrees Celsius. We arrived a little before midday wandered for a while, had lunch in the food court and then headed off for more shopping. This was wearing thin with Lance and myself so we went to the bowling alley and told the girls to meet us there when they were finished shopping.
This was bowling Canadian style with 5 pins not 10 like we have at home. Of course we had to have a go. I had done it once before a very long time ago when we lived in Toronto. It was new to Lance. The ball has no finger holes and is around the size of a large softball. The 5 pins are arranged like the 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6 pins if you are familiar with tenpin bowling, but they are spaced a little further apart to stretch across the lane. Lance won the first two games narrowly and I won the third. They sell the lanes by the hour and we were half way through our 4th game when our hour expired. Just as well, Lance was in front.
We found our way back to Canmore without too much trouble. We had a few light showers on the way back but nothing compared to our drive this morning. Now it is time to pack our cases and get ready for our trip home.
We have our bottle of Tahbilk Shiraz open and it is going down well. We will eat at the Vietnamese Restaurant downstairs in an hour or so. You are not permitted to take wine to a restaurant in Alberta. You drink their wine or nothing. So we have to drink it now damn it. I didn’t take any photos today as most of my time was driving and inside the shopping centre. I have one photo of the 5 pin bowling lanes and a few of the suite.
There will be one last log entry tomorrow… or the day after.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 17:22 Comments (0)

Day 21

SAM_2099.jpgSAM_2102.jpgSAM_2116.jpgSAM_2117.jpgWe ate breakfast in our room using our self-catering facilities and the groceries we purchased yesterday after dinner. We met up with Lance & Karol and headed into Banff around 9.30 am. The forecast was for 20-50 mm of rain so we were not sure what we would see and what we could do. Our luck held and it remained dry until after we returned to our hotel. We parked and wandered Banff main street for an hour and a bit then we had lunch in an Irish pub. One of the more amusing sights was a young lady serving there with a strong Canadian accent, wearing a Scottish kilt and working in an Irish pub. Darlene & I had a good Irish lamb stew. After lunch we left Lance & Karol to wander the streets whilst we went to the gondolier ride. We were so lucky arriving just ahead of a bus and we walked from the ticket office straight onto the ride. There was around 60 people waiting when we returned later.
The low cloud had lifted temporarily so we took advantage of it. We had a 4 person gondolier to ourselves in both directions. The 8 minute ride took us up to 2281 metres above sea level. This is slightly higher than Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko which is 2228 metres high. It was clear of clouds at the top but still overcast. We took a few photos, bought a T-shirt and headed back down. We found Lance & Karol at the pre-arranged place and returned to Canmore. It started raining around an hour later.
We went to tea at an Indian restaurant. The service was really slow but the food was good. The rain persisted and the drains in the car park were clearly blocked and the rain accumulated and became fairly deep in the low lying places. It kept us entertained watching cars drive through water around 30cm deep while we waited for our food. We took advantage of a break in the rain to get to our van and return to the hotel.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 20:36 Comments (0)

Day 20

SAM_2068.jpgSAM_2070.jpgSAM_2079.jpgSAM_2090.jpgWe had an early breakfast, packed the car, had an argument with the NZ receptionist over the bill then eventually headed off to what was equal to if not better scenery than we have seen or the whole trip. There were so many highlights. They include the Athabasca Glacier, Bow Lake, Lake Louise, and more.
At the Athabasca Glacier I walked from the car park around 400 metres up a sometimes steep and rocky path to a vantage point around 150 metres from the glacier. I walked quickly as the others would be waiting for me. I was somewhat out of breath by the time I reached the top and put it down to a lack of fitness. I took a few photos and a short video. The wind coming off the glacier was freezing and I only had a thin short sleeve shirt and a light windcheater and jeans to keep the cold out. Others who were better prepared than me, were walking up to and onto the glacier. Upon returning to the car park, I then noticed a sign advising you to take it easy on the climb. We were 6,500 feet above sea level and the air was thin. Too late.
We stopped for lunch at Lake Louise where we ate at the Fairmont Hotel on the terrace of the Saloon Bar overlooking the lake and the glacier feeding it. Lake Louise is a truly special place. Picture postcard stuff. We happened on Bow lake by chance. It is right beside the Icefields Parkway. We pulled off to the side of the road and got out to take photos of the mirror surface of the blue lake reflecting the mountains and glaciers across the lake from us. Amazing.
There were many other roadside stops for photo opportunities along the way. After leaving Lake Louise we headed straight to Canmore, our stop for the next 3 nights. This is where we had to rebook our accommodation when we were in Anchorage when Booking.com advised us our booking had been cancelled. It took many discussions and phone calls and around an hour and a half later we secured a deal where it would not cost us any more than our original booking for our accommodation.
We have a one bedroom suite with full kitchen and separate living room and a laundry. It is spacious and comfortable. We went out for a light dinner and then did some grocery shopping and I bought 2 bottles of Tahbilk wine at the Safeway liquor store. I’m smiling. More tomorrow.
Footnote: I neglected to mention that it was yet another warm and mostly sunny day and reached 25 degrees. The other thing I meant to add is that we are running into Australians everywhere we go. We have met 3 in Canmore already and have been here less than a day. We had two working at our hotel in Jasper and there have been many more.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 20:59 Comments (0)

Day 19

SAM_2029.jpgSAM_2041.jpgSAM_2051.jpg20130905_071725.jpgWe awoke earlier than planned when Neil St Clair decided to call and see how we were doing at 4.30 am our time. Thanks mate! Sleep evaded us for the rest of the night. When we went down for breakfast we found it was yet another wonderful day. The forecast was for 27 degrees Celsius and sunny. We ate the continental buffet around 8.30 and then headed south down the Icefields Parkway and turned off to visit Mt Edith Cavell.
It was a narrow windy road with a speed limit of 40 km/h. At the end of the road there was a car park with a trail leading up a hill beside a small, clear, swift running stream. Lance accidentally rolled his ankle in the car park and with the girls opting to stay in the car, I walked alone up the trail about 300 metres to where I had a great view of the small glacier perched up on the mountain and the small waterfall from the melting ice. Lance was walking a bit better upon my return a few minutes later so we returned to the car and headed back towards the 93A highway. Our next stop was the Athabasca Falls. It was around 20 km along a narrow, bumpy but sealed road. There was a lot of water going over the falls and the vantage point we had was very close to the action. A squirrel was picking and tossing mini pine cones from the top of a tree. Another squirrel was eating them. I took a few photos. With everything else we did today they may not make the short list for the blog photos but let me know if you want to see them. I have a short video of the waterfall too.
We headed back to Jasper for lunch. I dropped Darlene, Karol & Lance in town to buy something and I returned to the hotel for left over pizza from last night. It was too good to waste :-). The hotel had a microwave down the hall in a staff room. The door was open so I guess they were inviting me to use it. After lunch I caught up with the others. We dropped Lance & Karol at the hotel and Darlene & I went for a drive to Pyramid Lake. We purchased an Australian wine on the way back to the hotel and relaxed over the nice Pirramimma Cabernet Sauvignon. Really happy with the photos today, I hope you like them too.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 17:12 Comments (0)

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