A Travellerspoint blog

Toronto

Warmer weather and not a mountain in sight!

semi-overcast 20 °C

I reached Toronto Saturday evening on a day where it reached 35 here. That was an aberration and it has been around 20 for the rest of the time. Went to Niagara Falls on Monday which was fine and sunny. Took a 10 minute helicopter flight over the falls first. Have never been in a helicopter before - it certainly gives you a great perspective of the falls that you just don't get from the ground. Luckily it was half way through the flight that I started to get very queasy and had to shut my eyes and fan my face to stop being sick. Dawn was laughing at me (I would have too!) whilst she enjoyed the full experience. Of course there was the photo before you go on the flight and as you are taking off, so I can prove that I did it! Of course the one before take off is on the tarmac in front of the chopper, which has it's rotor going. My face cannot be seen because my hair was blowing all over it. I declined to buy that one - Dawn got it instead and hasn't stopped laughing at it.

The falls were fabulous. Yeah it is just a waterfall, but boy what a waterfall! The mist is huge and it is funny seeing the Maid of the Mist boats go into it with all engines blazing to maintain a forward motion. Not to mention everyone on it wearing the same coloured ponchos to protect from the water (as if that is going to work!). And no, I didn't go on it - the helicopter ride was bad enough!

We spent the last couple of days up at Dawn's cottage on a lake about 2.5 hours north of here. Very peaceful but no bear sightings. Just lots of rabbits. Weather okay Wednesday but as we headed back towards Toronto today, the rain started. Hopefully it will clear up for tomorrow before I leave in the evening.

Posted by burgeea 18:32 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Train to Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer

semi-overcast 16 °C

Up bright and early to head back towards Vancouver on the amazing Rocky Mountaineer. In the Gold Leaf carriage you have a double level train. The top level is the seating with the glass domed roof so you can see those mountains above you. Plenty of leg room and decent seat size. Downstairs is the dining are for both brekfast and lunch - no buffet meal here, just full table service. Windows still allow you to see what is going by - just not the full dome experiance. You can also go to an outside area on that level and pretend you are a puppy with your face out the window of the car getting the breeze on your face. It is certainly a long day of travel - going down the mountains is a slow process (and I'm still trying work out how the spiral tunnels worked. One minute a mountain is on your left. YOu go through a big tunnel and you are lower but that moutnain is now on your right and vice-versa yet again. It just didn;t feel like there was enough room to do a 360 in those tunnels but we clearly did!

It is a food and drinkfest and not all of the rest of the carriage were necessarily pleased with our high spirits (there was a kidnapping of our bear mascot from the tour director that cuased much mirth amongst our group - you had to be there!)

Unfortunately it was on the train that a few of us came down with a cold which I am still trying to ward off. However I have never had so many people offering me drugs to try and fight it!!!

It truly is an incredible experience as you get a completely different persepctive to when you were on the bus. There were 3 bear sightings and I think I managed to get a very distant shot of one on the train tracks (not the track we were on obviously!). We overnighted in the very non-inspiring Kamloops and started up again the next day for Vancouver. THis time we were headed more through desert and then rainforest rather than mountains. Being sick, I missed a lot of it so photo's are rather thin. We finally arrived in Vancouver about 6.30 pm and after a very quick walk and take away dinner I hit the hay to try and get over the cold.

Today was a quick tour of Vancouver including the Capilano suspension brudge which I adid wlka across and back on. It is a very steep drop down but an amazing rainforest area with very tall trees.

We had our farewell dinner tonight as the tour directro does not go with them on to the boat (and neither do I). They have been a great bunch to travel with and it was a little sad to be saying goodbye to them.

Onwards to Toronto and warmer weather for me tomorrow though.

Posted by burgeea 21:30 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Lake Louise and Banff

Wow!

sunny 16 °C

So we headed off from Jasper and onto the road to Lake Louise which our bus driver told us would be quite pretty but would be better when we got closer to Banff. Almost immediately we were inundated with majestic moutnain after majestic mountain. I know it is a cliche but it truly is awe inspiring. It was a WOW moment around every corner. Many cameras were drained of batteries by the end of the day and many of us were standing up the front of the bus at times to get the best shots. We stopped firstly at the Athabasca falls. Once again a glacier fed river so the colour of the water was that spectaular blue you have all no doubt seen in photo's of this area. Then onwards to the Columbia icefields which has 6 glaciers that feed 3 different oceans. We went in a special vehicle onto the Athabascar glacier in full sunshine and got the best views around. By the time we were boarding our bus about 30 minutes later after a quick lunch it was a white out on the glacier. It was amazing how quickly it turned and it must have come over the top of the icefields because everywhere else we looked was clear skies. Very lucky with the timing. As promised, as we went further down the road towards Lake Louise from there the scenery just got more spectacular (which we didn't think was possible!). Suffice to say I have many boring pictures of mountains that will no doubt look the same. We stopped off at Bow Lake which was still mostly frozen, providing a new view as all others had been melted. Magical.

Then onwards to Lake Louise and that famous shot everyone knows from the hotel over the lake and up to the glacier above. Yes I have about a million of those from both ground level and from my hotel room which had the best view.

This morning was onwards to Banff via a couple of stops including the gondola ride in Banff up the mountain for 360 degree views. I'll post some photo's later.

must away to the Rocky Mountain Roundup for dinner. Hopefully will manage to see a black bear a little close today. We saw a couple on the road here but I astill haven't managed a closer view than about 500 metres and get sick of all the stories from others when they are wandering around and come across them.

Posted by burgeea 16:09 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Wildlife in Jasper

Bear!!!!!!!

rain 11 °C

Yees finally I have seen a bear up close and personal (from the comfort of the bus - a good idea given it was a Grizzly bear). On the road into Jasper there he was causing a bit of a road bloack as everyone stopped to watch him munching away on new grass beside the toad. He was about 5 years old and completely unconcerned about the busloads of people snapping his picture. it truly was amazing. The ranger finally came and shooed him away from the road (apparantly they know to buzz off when they see the green uniform worn by the rangers).

That helped lift our mood given that it was cold and rainy as we arrived at the Jasper Park Lodge. The mountains could not be seen.

At least the weather lifted a little at dinner and had a gorgeous view of thel ake and mountains. Today however was back to cold and rainy in the morning but again lifted in the afternoon. It was definitely a wildlife day on the tour that I took. A quick summary is that I have now seen elk, moose, deer, squirrels and Bald Eagles all by lunchtime! Throw in an amazing canyon and a couple of lakes (not at their bet due to the horrible weather and including snow at one stop) and it was a great trip. ONce I was back athte Jasper Park Lodge, I was off on a walk around the grounds to try and get some better pictures with the clouds slowly revealing the mountains they were covering.

It's off to Lake Louise tomorrow with further bear spotting opportunity at my dinner overlooking the golf course (the black bears love the fresh green grass growing there).

Posted by burgeea 16:31 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Whistler to Sun Peaks

Finally a (really poor) bear sighting!

overcast 11 °C

Arrived to rain and gloomy conditions in Whistler - and it was very cold. A fine dinner was had the first evening and then I was off to try and find a bear first thing after breakfast on a much finer (although still very cold) day. Best chance was meant to be the golf course (as those that had dinner there the night before had seen a mother and 2 cubs there), so i headed off and took a walking trail that went beside a couple of the holes. Not a bear in sight. In fact, not any wildlife in sight. Still it was a very peaceful walk down to Lost Lake for a photo opportunity. When I returned to the hotel ready for the days planned activity, tbhere was much gloating by others who had seen a bear that morning - in the completely opposite area to where I had been. Figures!

There was some hope that on the snowcat ride up the mountain we might see one. Nope. Dinner location was no better. Should have gonne back to the golf club for dinner that night because you guessed it - bear sightings! there was even one on the ski slope out the back of the hotel, but of course not when I was there. I even went for a walk back to where the sighting had been that morning. Nothing. I tried again this morning befiore we left. Nothing!

On the bus the rule is you shout out when you spot wildlife and which side of the bus it is on. First shout for bears was on my side. Didn't see it. Second shout was for a couple of bears on the other side. Didn't see it. Third shout and finally in the distance behind us I saw a little bear lumbering off in the distance. So yes I have seen a bear but nowhere near close enough. I have dinner at the golf club in Jasper tomorrrow night. Fingers crossed we sight some there. Otherwise I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

I am giving myself a headache on the bus scouring the forest for the little buggers. All the photo's so far that I have seen have been very cute.

Cheerio

Posted by burgeea 17:25 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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