May 31, 2018

5/29/18 - Bears in the Campground

We arrived at Grande Cache Municipal Campground in Grande Cache, BC, about 12:30.  There was a note on the door that read “Back at 1:00”.  I went inside the 5th wheel to fix lunch, and George went for a walk to check out campsites.

When the sandwiches were ready, I went outside to find George. I watched a big black dog walking around by a motorhome nearby.  As it kept moving, I realized it wasn’t a dog, it was a mama bear with a cub following behind!

I grabbed my camera out of the truck and ran back inside the RV.  They wandered around the yard right outside the office for awhile.  The cub did documentary baby bear stuff and climbed a tree. 
They looked in the window of the office.  Maybe she saw her reflection in the glass?  Maybe she wanted a campsite?

She stopped to check out the blossoms on the tree--not sure if she was eating them or smelling them.  The cub's back in the tree again, rather proud of his vertical accomplishments.

And then they decided to continue their stroll.
When the manager arrived and we checked in, she was very surprised about the bears, and said she was going to call Forest Service right away.  Later I took my camera over and showed her the pictures.  She asked me to e-mail them, and later forwarded them to someone at the city office.  She in turn e-mailed me asked me permission to post them on the municipal website. I checked back a couple of times, but doesn't look like it happened--they're not very good pictures, taken through dark dirty window. 

I’ve decided that my career as a wildlife photographer will never get off the ground.  Honestly, when I went out to the truck to get my camera, I was rather nervous.  I don’t think that’s a very good attribute for a budding wildlife photographer, although really long camera lenses would help a lot.

Here's the link to Flickr and all the pictures:  Bears in the Campground

May 28, 2018

5/27/18 – Jasper Natl Park

The road from Lake Louise to Jasper is called the “Icefields Parkway”. It goes past a lot of mountains with their own personal glaciers, some of which probably have their own names.  Icefields are a bunch of interconnected glaciers.  

Since I don’t really know how to tell the difference between snow on a mountain and a glacier (unless you wait until summer to see if it's still there), I was happy to see this turnout had a name:  Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint. Apparently at one point there were 3 toes to the glacier; now one is gone so there are just 2.  You can see it on the far left.
The lake in front of it is Bow Lake.
I’m glad we’ve already been to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and were impressed by it.  After these big pointy peaks, I’m not so sure…
The highlight of the Icefield Parkway is the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier, which is one of the toes of the Columbia Icefield.  It's the most visited glacier in North America because it's so easily accessible. You can actually ride a bus to the base, then go on guided hikes on the glacier, should you be dressed properly and are so inclined. 
There’s a big Visitor Center they call the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre (no, that’s not a typo, it’s Canadian for “Center”.)  We walked up all those stairs, checked out the prices on the tours (next trip to Canada we'll do some of this), looked in the gift shop where I discovered I love ammolite, then went back outside.
Besides learning a lot about glaciers and mountains, you can buy tickets to ride on the Ice Explorers (huge vehicles designed for glacier travel) that take you out to the foot of the glacier) or walk out on the Glacier Skywalk.  On another trip to Canada maybe we’ll do that…the bus thing, not the glass sidewalk thing.
By the way, this is home, even though the neighborhood has changed.
Back on the parkway, just past the Discovery Centre and next to the highway is the Glacier Skywalk,sticking out into the canyon.  There's a Skywalk out over the Grand Canyon--and I'm not interested in that either!  I can (barely) stand at the edge of a tall building or canyon and look down.  I don't think I could handle it standing on something I could see through.  This one isn't even over the glacier.
Pictures on Flickr:  Jasper National Park

May 25, 2018

5/24/18 - North to Alaska!

The much-anticipated, once-postponed, long-awaited trip to Alaska has finally begun! 

To get to Alaska from the US, you obviously have to cross the border into Canada.  Shouldn’t seem like a big deal, but George has worried about it for months.  Some people we know said it was a breeze; others said there were long delays because their RV was pulled aside for a complete inspection inside and out.  George was heavy onto the negative side, of course. 

We crossed at Eastport, ID.  There was a short line when we got there.  Not only was there a short line, but there was only one … open with just one Canadian Border Patrol guy running the whole show.  (Could have been lunch time, I suppose, and they left the young one to man the gate.)  He was very nice, asked some questions—“Destination? How long in Canada?  Route? Visiting anyone in Canada?  Any guns?  How much wine?”  (Not sure how he knew we’d have wine…) 
I had to take off my sunglasses because Washington State now makes us remove glasses when we get new driver’s licenses—as if anyone ever sees me without glasses.  There was no pull-over, no inspection, no delay, no problem.  “Enjoy your stay in Canada,” he said and we drove on into a country that reminds me a lot of Washington.

Canada doesn’t use US measurements—everything is metric.  Speed limit signs are in kilometers.  You’d think after all those years of having both MPH and KPH on our speedometers, some of it would have sunk it.  So much for subliminal learning…

It’s not just that all the signs are in km; it’s that there are so many of them!  You go from speed limits of 60 km to 70, then on to 80, then back to 50 for some indeterminate reason, then up to 70, then down again, then up to 100!  I must say that 100 takes a bit of getting used to.

The RV park we stayed the first night has a gorgeous view of the Canadian Rockies.  We'll cross them tomorrow when we head to Lake Louise in Banff National Park on the other side of the Continental Divide.

See them on Flickr:  Border Crossing 

5/25/18 – Canadian Rockies

We were in two national parks today, but one was a surprise.  We drove from Cranbrook to Radium Hot Springs, and as soon as we turned onto Hwy 93, there was an entry booth into Kootenay National Park. I didn’t even realize it was there. So we bought two Annual Senior NP Passes, rather than $16 for every day we were going to be in a national park in Canada. 

Dragging the trailer meant we didn’t have a chance to stop and explore, but the views of the BC Rockies as we drove through the park were impressive.  The windshield was covered with bugs so ignore the spots.

After we crossed the Continental Divide, we entered directly into the Province of Alberta and Banff National Park.  I knew (more or less) we were going through Banff.  One of those flat mountains is called Castle Mountain—don’t know about the others, but they’re certainly different than any of the others we’d seen on the way.

On Trans-Canada Highway 1A, heading north to Lake Louise, there are--to quote the Milepost--"Dozens of large animal overpasses that allow large animals to cross the busy highway without gtting hit by vehicles. The overpasses are covered in sod and made to look like natural rock.  They are used by 11 species of large mammals."  We didn't see a single critter, but it's a pretty cool view going through the overpasses.
When we drove to the campground, there were flaggers and a big sign that Lake Louise parking lot was full. We waited until after dinner hoping it would clear out.  Parking was available, but the lake was a big surprise!  Yes, it’s a mountain lake in the Canadian Rockies the end of May, but we didn’t expect that there would still be ice in it!  It's not that turquoise color you see in pictures, but it's still lovely.

Flickr Albums:  Kootenay Natl Park
Banff NP and Lake Louise