We are Nico and Marlies Wobben and in February 2008 we moved from the Netherlands to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada! Nico is an RN at the General Hospital and I (Marlies) work from home, as an administrator at Canada Life and for my own web design business Feel The Fire. And we have 6 cats!

Wij zijn Nico en Marlies Wobben en in februari 2008 zijn we verhuisd van Nederland naar Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada! Nico is verpleegkundige in het General Hospital en ik (Marlies) werk thuis als administrator bij Canada Life en voor mijn eigen web design bedrijf Feel The Fire. En we hebben 6 katten!
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Canada Pics Up!

Finally it’s done………..

Four photo albums with hundreds of pics!!!!!!

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

I couldn’t go out last night so I had time to finish it. Last Friday I felt a sudden pain in my right calf and I think I have a little tear in my muscle now. I’ve had it before years ago and because I didn’t know what it was (I thought I just had a cramp) I continued to walk on it and after some days I couldn’t walk on it anymore for weeks! So I was scared…… I went home and have been cooling it since, and keeping my leg up as much as possible. Since the last time my right leg retains water more easily then the other (and it’s always thicker) and I have those special elastic medical stockings for it that give some pressure. I am wearing one of those too now, plus I’m gently stretching every now and then (applying all the things I learned too late last time). So far it’s going well, I can still walk on it. So I will go to work tomorrow and put the leg up again when I get back (or maybe even at work hehe). Looks like I’m going to get away with it a lot better than last time! But I’m still keeping my fingers crossed……

Back Home… Or Back In Holland Anyway :(

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

We got back “home” safely yesterday, but I’m so horribly homesick…. 😥

Our last days of the trip:

Sept. 26th – Regina

I had a good night sleep and woke up with a clear head again, yeah! Jack, Tim’s dad, came by to pick us up to go to Lumsden in “the valley”. This valley is about 30 km north of Regina and almost like an oasis in the prairie. When we drove to Saskatoon for the first time it was still very green and Tim said it looked like Germany. Now the colours were changing and it looked much browner, but still nice! We went to get Jack’s friend Jenny and had breakfast there in Lumsden. Really lovely town! In the afternoon Into Eternity had to practice and Tim dropped us off downtown to check out the Cornwall Centre. We really love Regina and there are several reasons why living here is a good option (as hard as it may seem to some, hehe), but we were disappointed in the size of the shopping area (read: the Cornwall Centre). You got all sorts of shops there, but we expected more streets with shops around it. After all Regina is not all that small (190.000 people I think) and must have a regional function, since the nearest city of a similar size is 280 km away. I don’t remember anymore why shops would leave downtown, but apparently lots of shops are in strip malls in the outskirts now. And there are several other malls, so it seems it’s just spread out more. After Tim and Rob picked us up again, we went to eat at Tony Roma’s (I had those delicious baby back ribs again, mmmmm 🙂 and around 7 we went to Boston Billiards for a short-notice Saskmetal gathering. We had a good time with Nathan, Marlo, Stace, Steph, Jim, Chad, Adam, Dean, Tim, Naoimi, PP (Dustin), Luc, Troy, Reid and of course Russ 🙂 (hope I didn’t forget anyone!)

Sept. 27th/28th – flight home

12.20-17.15 (local times) flight AC 1154 Regina – Toronto
18.20-07.55 (local times) flight AC 9104 Toronto – Frankfurt
09.15-10.00 flight AC 9123 Frankfurt – Düsseldorf
then shuttle bus to home…….. *sigh* (note: it’s gonna be the 28th by then!)

Time to go home, booohoooooo!!!! Tim improvised the millionth song about how he didn’t want us to leave and Jack came to get us for one last breakfast at Stan’s (the best and nicest place we’ve been to!). Of course he wouldn’t allow us to pay for anything again 😉 Mark came out to join us too. At 11.30 Tim dropped us off at the airport and we said our goodbyes… even though it would just be for a few days hehe! We’ll be seeing the band at ProgPower in Baarlo (NL) next weekend. We had the hardest time to actually get on the flight, we were very tempted to stay put and just not board! But we forced ourselves to do it… The flights went smooth again, on the one from Regina to Toronto the Ottawa football team was on board, they just lost from Regina the night before, so I was told by the woman next to me. We had a hard time not gloating over how wonderful Regina is hehe! We didn’t want to make the boys cry 😉

On the big flight to Frankfurt there was a medical emergency, but luckily it wasn’t too bad, the man who passed out was walking around again later on. After the flights we took the shuttle bus back home, we arrived safely at 11.30am. Vera put a welcoming card on the door, and some food in the fridge, wow! She just thinks of everything! And Thijs has been taking well care of the house and Robin, we were sure he gained weight haha! But he came running to us right away – ya never know with a cat! We tried to stay awake, but couldn’t… I wanted to nap for an hour, but I slept 3 hours! Our heater was broken, we had no heat nor hot water and they wouldn’t come until the next morning, so I went to Vera’s for a shower and crawled underneath a blanket on the couch, being very very depressed, very very homesick and crying my eyes out – Canada, we have to get back to you!!!!!!!

So here we are….
We’ll have to get back into our daily routines here, but we’ll be reading and talking about emigration a lot. I already told my dad we’re gonna check into moving to Canada. I said it was a bit far away, but he said, honey you have to think about yourself, go for it if you want it! My dad’s the best 🙂

This is where our Canada 2004 journal ends… keep an eye on my posts for further developments 🙂

Regina – Wascana Park

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 25th – Regina

Unfortunately the migraine is still there! I was so hoping to meet more people at the show at the Gaslight tonight, but I’m too sick to go 🙁 We did go for breakfast with Jack and I lay down after that. Later on we went downtown, hoping some fresh air would do me good, and we still didn’t see much of Regina yet. We went to the Wascana Park and that’s a really nice place! The weather was nice, so lots of people were strolling along the lakes, or (inline) skating. There was also a biker toy run going on that day, and what are the odds of running into someone we know at that spot… Just when we got there, Todd and Steph pulled out there too! We chatted for a bit and then we continued our stroll along part of the lake, the park and the legislative building. We stayed in that corner so there is still a LOT of the lake we didn’t see! But the fresh air did do me good and we also went out to eat afterwards with Danny. We stayed in for the evening and watched TV.

Saskatoon, Regina

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 23rd – Saskatoon

In the early afternoon we went to Saskatoon, because there was an extra gig for Dirtbred (also from Regina) and Into Eternity (support: Sparky from Saskatoon)! YAY! We stopped at a music store in town, where I taped a short video of Tim shredding on a banjo hehe!

At the club we had something to eat and waited for Dirtbred to arrive, since they would bring the kit. Brent and Jen came out, I had asked them to 🙂 I think Sparky started at around 10pm and put on a good set. A bit more hardcore than what I like, but good and it also had some different moments (more quiet, clean vocals and a bit jazzy even at times). Dirtbred was one of the Regina bands I really wanted to see, they were great! Very energetic band, playing mostly fast grind/death metal, with hardcore influences and some other elements. I loved to finally see Donnie on stage and he was so sweet to mention us during the gig. “We have some people here who came all the way across the planet from Deutschland, Germany…” and then Troy tried to correct it “Erm, actually, it’s Holland!!” hahaha! Donnie was so ashamed afterwards hehe, he won’t forget in his life where we’re from 😉 By the time Into Eternity played, the volume of the music had been turned up a few times, it was way too distorted. But it was fun anyway, and cool to see Dean and Adam on a stage. Dean’s still growing into the lead singer role (he plays guitar as well in his own band) but it all worked out well. No two singers are the same, but Dean’s voice fits the others perfectly. Roque of Dirtbred joined them for the final song Sell God, that was cool. Different (he has a higher voice) but cool 🙂 I think there were 60 or so people in front of the stage, but they screamed for one more song as if they were 200 🙂 So we got Spiraling Into Depression as well 🙂 After the gig we sat with Brent and Jen a bit, we met Dave (Danny’s brother) and a few guys that recognized me from Saskmetal came up and introduced themselves, cool! We drove back in the middle of the night and got home at 4.30 or so…. zzzzzZzzzZZzzzZZZZ!!!!

Sept. 24th – Regina

I didn’t drink a lot, but maybe those two Sambuca’s I had after a few beers were too much.. for I woke up with a migraine!!!:( Mark (from the Into Eternity yahoo group) called and we went out for lunch with him. After that I had to lie down for the afternoon, I was too sick. We stayed in the rest of the day, later on Danny, Roque and Mark came over and we played the Metal Mental Meltdown Trivia Board Game. It was fun for a while, but most questions were so difficult or obscure that we didn’t know most of them and that killed it a bit. Kristie had joined us by then and we all watched some TV after that (we have to get some Trailer Park Boys DVDs!), and that was it.

Back To Regina

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 22nd – back to Regina

15.55 AC 8274 flight Calgary – Regina

It’s pretty warm in Calgary at the moment, and we have a hard time getting used to it after the refreshing chilly winds in the mountains, haha! We want the cooooold! Oops, we better not shout that out too loud, nothing above 0°C is cold to a Canadian 😉 This morning we didn’t do anything special, shower, eat, check mails, pack our stuff and at 2.15 our cab got here to take us to the airport. We flew with a small airplane again, just 37 seats I think. All this flying in all sorts of machines takes some fears away from me 😉 At least as long as it all goes smoothly of course. Tim and Rob came to get us from the airport in Regina and they took us to Kelsey’s for dinner (we had grrrrreat wings!). Afterwards at Tim’s we had some of the delicious chocolate birthday cake Tim got me, mmm 🙂

Today, the 23rd, we’re going to Saskatoon for an extra Into Eternity show with Dirtbred and Sparky. Should be fun!!

Last Days In Banff, Back To Calgary

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 19th (part 2) – Banff

After we last update, we also strolled along Banff Avenue and finally found a Canada sweater that’s big enough for me (and I thought they’d have a lot of big sizes here, like in the States!), we finally found a copy of the “Parkways Of The Canadian Rockies” book we borrowed from friends (it had been our major guide on our whole route!), we ate something at McDonalds, crossed the Bow River and made some standard pics of Banff Avenue with the immense Cascade Mountain in the back and then followed the Bow River trail almost to the Bow Falls. It had been a long day, our feet hurt and we were tired, so we decided to leave the Falls and the Banff Springs Hotel for a next time. When we walked all the way back to the motorhome, we decided to drive to the nearby Vermillion Lakes, where it’s beautiful around sunset. We parked near the water and I walked down the road for a while, thinking I’d get to another lake, but it took me more and more into bushes and forest, so I wasn’t too comfortable. I started to sing somewhat and a bit later a coyote crossed the street, that was my key to turn around, sing louder and rush back to the motorhome 😉 By the time I realized it wasn’t a dog but a coyote that I saw, it was too late in catching him in a picture.

Back on the campground I had a great shower in the washrooms building. In general it’s amazing how many washrooms (bathrooms, toilets) you’ll find (sometimes flush, sometimes dry toilets like at points of interest in the park), how clean they usually are, how well stocked with toilet paper and… all for free! Europe can learn from that, here in Canada it’s a common service to the people!

Sept. 20th – Lake Minnewanka, Banff

Our eighth wedding anniversary! We took our time for breakfast and packing part of our stuff, then drove out to Lake Minnewanka. It had been raining a lot but we were again lucky, once we got out of our RV it was dry! The sun came out and it was really beautiful there. Lots of picnic tables and benches along the shore and apparently a popular place for boating and fishing as well. Also scuba diving, the village of Minnewanka Landing lies under water since the last dam (1941) raised the water level with 25 m. We also stopped at Two Jack Lake, which has a picnic area that looks just as beautiful as Spirit Lake. Ever since I’ve seen pics of it, I wanted to have a picnic there.. well, we were there without the picnic, but it was as gorgeous as it could ever be 🙂 I’m sure that spending a nice summer day here would be great, the views are wonderful and the clear water is very inviting. We went back to Banff to get some dinner at Safeway. Instead of eating out we decided to get the ready-to-eat BBQ chicken there with some extras and a coffee-to-go from the gas station and since we got back to the campground fairly early, we could still (finally!) have our festive meal outside at the picnic table! Happy wedding anniversary! 🙂 After that we relaxed a bit and continued packing and cleaning the motorhome… we don’t want to give it back 🙁

Sept. 21st – back to Calgary

My birthday! We were still awake at midnight, and Nico gave me my present 🙂 A DVD of one of my favorite movies that I couldn’t find in Europe: “The Clan Of The Cave Bear” with a.o. Daryl Hannah. He bought it in Calgary, when I wasn’t paying attention 😉 In the morning we got up pretty early, packed our stuff, cleaned the interior of the motorhome and drove back to Calgary. Bye bye Rockies… 🙁 Officially we were supposed to be at Cruise Canada at 11am but they had told us we could be a bit later. We got to Derek’s at noon, went to clean the outside of the vehicle in a truck car wash, then we drove to Cruise Canada for the big goodbye. From there we went to Chinook Mall, at the end of the afternoon back home to Derek’s and out for dinner at the nearby Boston Pizza. My dad and his gf had called before we got to Derek’s, so we missed it, but thanks for calling anyway! 🙂 After dinner Derek gave me his birthday present for me: the (handmade) Metal Mental Meltdown Trivia Board Game! Cooool!!! Thanks bro! \m/

Tomorrow we fly back to Regina…

Jasper, Back To Banff (IfPw, LL, Field, Emerald Lake)

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Hello all!

We are back in Banff, here are 2 new photo albums and our wild adventures of the past days! 😉

Sept. 16th (part 2) – Jasper

We intended to go elk-hunting after we got back to the campground.. but the elk went man-hunting! The bull was aggressive today, he chased a few people and even a vehicle, we heard. I had just made dinner when we saw him with his herd again, close by, and we followed them a bit. At some point we were standing next to 4 other people near their trailer when a calf wandered off and got right in front of us. Resulting the bull to come and chase after the calf to get back to the herd and then the bull stood still in the same spot the calf was in before, just a few meters away from us. In the meantime we were standing near the door of the trailer, with the picnic table between us and the bull. One man was still standing on the front corner of the trailer and even though he was staying real still, the bull looked at him, decided he didn’t like him, and charged at him. He backed off and the bull charged again, more towards the sunscreen of the trailer (that part I filmed!) and then he walked away. Phew.. you don’t wanna mess with him! But I know that I’m gonna miss the guy and his herd after we leave tomorrow 🙁

Sept. 17th – Icefields Parkway

After breakfast and getting gasoline in Jasper we started our little journey back to Lake Louise, over the Icefields Parkway. We appreciated the scenery a lot more than when we came up (when Nico was so tired after a long day) even though the weather wasn’t as good at some points. Just when you think you’ve seen it all by now, the beauty of certain slopes, views or valleys will still surprise you. First stop we made was at the Athabasca Falls, where the Athabasca river suddenly has to squeeze all of its water between a couple of rocks and falls down into a very short canyon before it continues its way as if nothing happened. Needless to say these were the most powerful falls we’ve seen! There were a lot of paths and viewpoints around it. Next were the Sunwapta Falls (still only 50 km from Jasper) and I thought they were the prettiest. It was drizzling a bit when we were there and it turned out to be the edge of a rain- and snow shower!

When we passed the Tangle Falls alongside the road I hopped out in the rain for a shot, at the viewpoint of the Sunwapta Canyon the view was temporarily unavailable *rolleyes*. And in the Columbia Icefield area we got snow! We could barely see where the Athabasca Glacier was (normally you’d have a good view on it from the road), because everything was swallowed by the fog, or rather, the (wet) snow. The snowflakes got bigger and bigger but it wasn’t cold enough to make the landscape white. When we came around the corner of the Parker Ridge (just before the Big Bend): POOF! it was gone! A few minutes later we were driving in the sun again 🙂 After the Bend we drove through a narrow part of the valley, I think I like that part the most! The mountains are so close. Near the Waterfowl Lakes we entered another shower, rain at first and by the time we were at Peyto Lake it was snow again! There was really no view at all, the road itself is at its highest point there. A bit later we drove out of it and came to a point where we had the most beautiful view over the valley with the blue river streaming through meadows with colorful vegetation, awesome! Even a bit of sunshine there. A bit further we stopped at the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at the side of the Bow Lake. Again a very beautiful location, despite the next shower we were slowly getting into. We had a coffee at the coffee bar in the gift shop and continued our drive to Lake Louise. Shortly after 4 we arrived at the campground. Yet another nice spot in the forest. After this long drive (234 km) we deserved a night out in the town 😉 So we went to the “village” and had dinner at the Lake Louise Village Grill & Bar 🙂

Sept. 18th – Field, Emerald Lake, Banff

Last night we had nothing but rain and apparently some snow, because it was still partially white around us when we woke up (but melting quickly). After breakfast we took the Trans Canada Highway to Field (Yoho National Park, British Columbia). The clouds were so low that you couldn’t see any mountains and when we came to the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint we were standing in the rain, waiting for the freight train (that we had seen before) to arrive and go through the tunnels (the railroad made several loops, partially through tunnels, to overcome the differences in height in the valley). Freight trains here are incredibly long, so we saw the same train on three parts of the track (passing in front of us, going in the tunnel higher up the mountain AND coming out of the mountain as well). A bit further we arrived in the tiny village of Field, where we had a coffee at the local bistro/general store, called the Truffle Pigs. Weird but cozy combination! Dining or having coffee in a local, charismatic, chaotic looking, but surprisingly well-equipped grocery store 🙂 I had a “love handle” with my coffee, that had at least a lot of butter, pecan nuts and maple syrup in it, mmmm!!! The mountains were still swallowed by clouds but the town looked lovely with its colorful houses across the river, just barely up the hill.

Shortly after Field we took the road to Emerald Lake, first passing the Natural Bridge, a small waterfall that found it’s way through the rock, but leaving the upper part still in one piece. Emerald Lake was looking just as beautiful in the rain as on any pics I’ve seen. It wasn’t really dark so the colors were gorgeous, and the part where the lodge is, looked cozier than I expected. Only downside was the fact that once again the mountains weren’t visible. Until we were about to leave, then one mountain in the back revealed itself a bit! Driving back the same way to Lake Louise, we encountered more rain and even snow after the Kicking Horse Pass. We stayed on the 1 (the Trans Canada Highway) to go to Banff. More rain and no views until we arrived in Banff.. the air cleared up a bit (near the Sunshine Valley, no kidding!) and when we got a nice spot at Tunnel Mountain Campground at around 3.30, we decided we wouldn’t go anywhere anymore for the day, took out the chairs and sat in the sun for a while! Banff always knows how to welcome us 🙂 After a while it started to rain though and we fled into our little home – not a big punishment though, mind you 🙂

Sept. 19th – Banff

It wasn’t supposed to clear up before the afternoon, but when we woke up the sun was shining! We went to Banff for breakfast at Melissa’s – breakfast to us, so we ordered Big Breakfast with eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast, bacon and hashbrowns. And coffee of course, some good weak Canadian coffee (hey, I’m getting used to it, it’s better for my heart and you get refills 🙂 Now we are at Anneke’s internet cafe Double You, where we chatted a while with Anneke and Gerard about emigrating. We never really felt we had to leave Holland, but here in Canada we see how different things can be. That people can still be friendly and helpful, common courtesy is still a normal thing, that there is still so much space here and fresh air… Holland suddenly seems so much more hectic, crowded, rude and suffocating. It doesn’t hurt to dream, to think about it and to look into it!

Jasper, Maligne Lake, Elk Herds On The Campground

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 14th (part 2) – Jasper

When we drove back to the campsite, we had our first “animal jam”, awwww… A few cars had pulled off the road to take a picture from two elks near the road, and a few minutes later the animals slowly crossed the road. Everyone drives carefully around here, elks cross the roads daily (scary thought though). BTW, drivers in general are extremely nice here, they’ll stop for you if you’re even just thinking of crossing the road. And no honking when you’re blocking them with your RV for a moment (while turning for instance). In Holland they’ll honk for anything, people are so impatient there. Luckily it’s not so bad in the (not so hectic) south where we live, but still, the courtesy of the drivers here is a joy for us too. And in general people around here are much nicer everywhere you go!

Sept. 15th – Jasper, Maligne Lake

This morning we saw some elk cows passing through our area of the campground again, beautiful animals. I could hear a bull calling but it was far away. After a good breakfast (nice and greasy Canadian type of breakfast with eggs, bacon and sausages 😉 we went to a shop in Jasper and then on our way to Maligne Lake. Close to Jasper there is a viewpoint where you can look over the Athabasca valley, then a little bit further there is a trail into the Maligne Canyon. We didn’t go in very far, it looked similar to the other canyons. This one had a trail next to the side of the canyon with several bridges where you have a good view into the canyon. Coming out we noticed the cougar warning for the area, oops! I do remember there recently was an incident with a cyclist coming eye to eye with a cougar near the Jasper Park Lodge (after the cougar tried to attack a few times the cyclist was able to scare him away by lashing out at him with his bicycle). Anyway, we continued our trip to Maligne Lake and the road was a very beautiful one. After little over 20 km we arrived at Medicine Lake. And there still was a lake, I was surprised! There are underground channels where the water disappears in (to reappear some kms downstream) and in the fall the lake disappears. Apparently that doesn’t happen until October so the water level was low but most of the lake was still there. And it was beautiful, we took some pics at the viewpoint at the beginning. At the end of the 6 km long lake we could see the water disappearing, there was just a lot of mud with a few streams. The Maligne Lake Road then follows the Maligne river upstream, crossing it a few times.

A couple of kms before we arrived at the lake we ended up in another animal jam where a lot people were outside of the car. I assume we weren’t so luckily to see a bear, because even though there are many stupid tourists that don’t listen to all the warnings, not this many people would step out I hope! It turned out to be a moose. Not an animal you should approach too closely either but he didn’t care much about the attention he was drawing. A few minutes later we arrived at Maligne Lake where I took a pic of that part of the lake with the boathouse. Like Medicine Lake it’s long and narrow, but here the road ends. You can take a boat tour to see more than half of the lake (total length is 22 km) up until the most photogenic spot in the Rockies: Spirit Island. We thought 35 bucks each was a bit expensive, so the postcards will have to do. But when you don’t take the tour, don’t hike along the shore and the mountains are partly in the clouds anyway, the view isn’t all that spectacular (compared to other lakes in the parks), so we didn’t stay long. But it was funny that we ran into our campground neighbours in the gift shop there 🙂 So, back to Jasper we went. On this Maligne Lake Road there is a pretty good chance on seeing wildlife, so we kept looking into the woods all the time, but the moose was all we got. In Jasper we stopped for some groceries and we got back to the campground fairly early (around 4.30).

These few days we also wanted to take some time to enjoy the camping, but unfortunately it was raining at the foot of the mountain (we had fairly nice weather on our trip). Nico took a nap and I edited some of the many pics I made, we had dinner and afterwards went for a short stroll (it was already getting dark) to get some fresh air again. We heard an elk bull bugling very close, he turned out to be at the side of the Icefields Parkway (we’re maybe a few hundred metres away from it). We watched it for a while, in awe of his size, the size of his antlers (way bigger than the bull we had seen before!) and of his bugling – a whistle type of sound including grunts and ascending in pitch! Very impressive animals, so we shouldn’t bitch about not seeing a lot of wildlife. These elk make the stay on this campground very special and if they’re not around, we still see lots and lots of red squirrels here 😉

Sept. 16th – Jasper

Again a relaxing day today. Apparently I kept Nico awake with my snoring (now where’s that saint smiley when you need one! 😉 so I let him sleep in, while I continued to edit my gazillion digital pics in my pajamas. It’s vacation, eh?:) After a while we saw some elk cows passing through and when we were having breakfast we saw the bull (probably the one from last night!) passing by. We got out and at one point I was behind a few trees, but couldn’t get away from them when he turned and passed by me only a few metres away! After he went away we tried to continue our breakfast but the bull came back and he was bugling again – got the sound on film this time (but you can’t see the bull)! We followed them (he had at least eight cows with him!) until they all went to lay down. By now it was past noon, so we packed it up and went to the Jasper Tramway. From the lower terminal we already had a nice view on Jasper and we decided not to go up because the top of the mountain had been in the clouds most of the time. According to the info in the lobby there was 0-30% visibility. We decided to spend our money on a DVD of the Canadian Rockies instead. Then we went to Jasper again for our last website update up here at Kevin’s shop Coin Clean Laundry. Next update will probably be in three days or so when we are back in Banff.

Bow Valley, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Icefields Parkway

Yeaaah internet access again, here in Jasper… here’s the update of the diary since Banff!

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 12th – Bow Valley Parkway

We had a good long sleep, we’re finally catching up – or is it the fresh mountain air? They gave us extra sleeping bags because the nights could get cold, but so far we’ve been fine sleeping underneath one.

Today we took the Bow Valley Parkway (the A1) to Lake Louise. A beautiful road that’s less crowded and more scenic than the Trans Canadian Highway. Of course we were hoping to see some wildlife there, but no such luck. All the bears we’ve seen so far weren’t very alive – either toys (from tiny to at least 2m or 6-7ft. tall!) or real stuffed bears (“a fed bear is a dead bear”). You see bear warnings everywhere, but most dangerous right now are the elk, at least the male ones, it’s rutting season and they’re supposedly very aggressive then. Since they’re quite big too, they can seriously injure you! But.. we haven’t seen them yet either 😉

We stopped at Johnston Canyon and took a hike into the (mostly) limestone canyon to the lower and upper falls, over the many boardwalks they made, hanging on the cliffs, to make the Canyon accessible. Very beautiful and an excellent short hike (5,4 km in total). We stopped for a picknick at one of the most gorgeous spots so far: at the foot of Castle mountain with on the other side the wide view over the river, forests and on the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. I took a shitload of pics there and I think I uttered quite a few “fuckaduck!”‘s 😉 This is pretty much what we came for 🙂

Near Lake Louise we found the campground and got a spot there with electricity again. The sites are in the forest along the railroad, so in the evening and mornings we heard trains go by, whistling loud, probably to warn the wildlife (if it’s there that is, we still didn’t see it). We went to the visitors info centre in “town” (= some hotels and a strip-mall) to ask which campgrounds were open on the way to Jasper, we went to the ski area on the other side of the village to go up with a gondola again – never cheap (this one was CAD 21) but always worth it! Excellent for those like us who don’t go hiking for hours and hours to higher regions and summits 😉 Even though a dozen grizzly bears live on those slopes, we didn’t see one, we only saw some mule deer. The view over the valley (you can see Lake Louise on the other side!) was phenomenal, esp. since you can sit in an open chair (there are also closed gondolas). We got back at 6 or so, so we went to get some groceries, but didn’t find internet access at all. It was Elke‘s birthday, so… happy birthday!!! – we did think of you 🙂 Then we went back to the campground. After dinner, copying the pics onto the laptop and some reading in “An Altitude SuperGuide – Canadian Rockies” we bought there (the most complete guide we’ve seen!), it was time for bed again.

Sept. 13th – Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, Jasper

We wanted to get to Lake Louise real early (for a parking space and for the light), so we left at 8 – and there were already a few buses of people (lots of Japanese) there! Some Japanese had their morning meditation ritual right there! I have to admit.. the beauty of this lake has not been exaggerated! The sun didn’t touch the surface of the water yet (the sun wasn’t even there, duh!) and the mountains reflected in the milky blue water – what an amazing combination of colours! We waited a while for the sun to come out since the clouds were breaking (in the meantime eating some sandwiches and bagels we brought along) and got some more pics. Then we went to the nearby Moraine Lake: much much much more beautiful even! We got up on the “Pile Of Rock” for the best view (we saw a pika there and some ground squirrels) and the water was very bright and very milky aqua-blue! The snowy peaks of the mountains (the valley’s called the Valley Of The Ten Peaks) were also very impressive. In the Lodge we had a coffee and some pie with maple syrup, mmm!! I gotta take a good supply of that syrup back home with me;). Back in Lake Louise village we got some gas and LPG and hit the road towards Jasper – the famous Icefields Parkway!

Well, the Parkway certainly is beautiful with lots of different scenery, sometimes a lot of trees, sometimes meadows, lakes and of course.. many mountains 🙂 Most pullouts and viewpoints were at the other side of the road (we’ll do most of them on our way back), but we stopped at a viewpoint across the Crowfoot Glacier and took a short hike to the Peyto Lake viewpoint where you look down on once again a bright blue lake! It was pretty cold there and we even got a few tiny snowflakes!! Again many tourists there and a couple of Japanese girls even wanted to be in a picture with us, haha! Those places aren’t very secluded, but you meet a lot of real nice people this way. We also drove past Bow Lake and the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, the Waterfowl Lakes (walked down to the shore of the Upper Waterfowl Lake) and hiked down to the Mistaya Canyon. That was again very impressive, the river squeezes itself into a narrow canyon with a lot of power! The water has carved its way through the limestone, going deeper and deeper and leaving the rocks sculptured to impressive forms and shapes. A while later we passed the Weeping Wall (water falling off the cliffs in several small streams), the viewpoint after the Big Bend where you can look down on the Icefields Parkway in the (there fairly narrow) valley (gorgeous!!!) and soon we arrived at the Columbia Icefield, the place where the Atabasca Glacier comes real close to the road! Very impressive to see, but we didn’t desire to go on it, we wanted to find the campground there. It was the only one halfway on that route to Jasper that would be open. Well, it turned out to be the parking lot where you’re allowed to stay overnight for 8 bucks. Even though Nico was kinda tired from the driving, we didn’t feel like staying there and decided to drive on to the Whistlers campground near Jasper. Another 100 km! Pfff….. Luckily it went quick (we didn’t stop much at viewpoints and falls, we’ll do that on the way back) and finally at 6 or so we arrived at Whistlers! Unfortunately only unserviced sites were still available, but we went out to a diner close by (at the Jasper House bungalows) for a delicious dinner (the nice waitress turned out to be from Saskatoon) and went to bed early – only thing we missed was the furnace. You can run it for a short time on the battery of the car, but we didn’t bother. ZZzzzzzZzzZzzzzz….

Sept. 14th – Jasper

First of all happy birthday to Sped! I’m sure we’ll have a beer together when we get back to Regina 🙂 But for now, we’ll stay in the Rockies a bit more, if you don’t mind 😉 Back to the campground stuff: Nico went to the office before 9 to stand in line to get a full hook-up site for the next three nights. We moved to the new spot (again a very pretty site in the forest), and our main goal for today was: RELAX! At home we say: aankuttelen 🙂 We plugged everything in, had our first shower in the motorhome (and my dog, did I need one!), took time for breakfast (or rather, brunch hehe), catching up on typing all this and gathering laundry. We saw some elk on the campground, there’s a herd walking around the area and I heard that the bull has been misbehaving a bit before. Today we saw some cows with one bull, don’t know if it was the same one, but he was big! I first thought it was a horse I saw through the trees! We didn’t go too close, but Nico took some good pics with his camera.

Now (afternoon) we are in Jasper for some shopping, laundry and internet access. In the same place even, Coin Clean Laundry – nice combination (laundry-internet-coffee)! 🙂

Getting The Motorhome, Off To Banff!

» photo albums 2004/CANADA

Sept. 10th – Calgary, Banff

We went for some breakfast at McDonalds (McGriddle – a pancake-cheese-syrup type of thing, yummyyyy!!) and then called a cab to get to Cruise Canada. It was not far from Derek’s place. so he came along with us. The C25 we booked wasn’t available yet, if we wanted to leave right away we could get a C22 or C30… okaaaay….. C30 please!!:) That thing kicked ass!!!! With Derek we went to get groceries at Safeway and he borrowed us chairs… then we were ready to go on our way. WOOHOO!

video and more info: http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/our_vehicles/large_rv.aspx

The driving went very well (Nico’s a natural 😉 ) and driving through the prairies and foothills (where we saw a fox) we saw the mountains (and the sun!) coming closer. Very exciting!! We arrived at Banff (Tunnel Mountain Campground) around 6 I believe (not sure) and after a cloudy day in Calgary we found some sun there in Banff! Nice welcome:) We made something to eat and had our first “dinner” at the picnic table (each site has its own picnic table). We walked around the campground a bit and did some reading and stuff in the motorhome (we had a site with electricity).

Sept. 11th – Banff

Last night and early in the morning it had been raining, but around 11 it cleared up a bit. We had decided to stay another night in Banff and relax a bit. We went to the Gondola to go up to Sulphur Mountain, even though the weather was still a bit unstable. Since we were in no hurry we stayed up there a while, but we didn’t get a real good view on the Banff area… until we were about to leave! Then it was suddenly all there… and it was so overwhelming I almost cried! We also saw the first ground squirrels there, they follow tourists everywhere. Back in town we looked up Double You, the internet cafe of Anneke (who I knew from a Dutch Canada forum) and Gerard where we are now typing this 🙂 Tomorrow we’ll be going to Lake Louise.