Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Great Cedars

Ernie spent a late night making a delicious Egg/Sausage casserole for our morning breakfast, along with fresh muffins, coffee, and juice. The Great Cedars National Park was our destination today. When we were at the Gibson’s about 10 years ago, they took us here and I remembered it being a lovely, easy walk through the forest. The trees are amazing, as amazing as the great redwoods in Washington/California. Nothing can compare to the great sequoias, but these were breathtaking and the smell of cedar was crisp, woodsy and wonderful.

 Gene and Ernie seem to have a great time getting their guests to play “Winnie-the-Pooh sticks” (where each person takes a stick, throw it in a stream and see whose stick comes under the bridge first.) Ernie also had Steve and Dad put their hands in the mountain stream and see who could keep their hands in the water the longest. Thinking that this sounded simple, they were both sport! So down to the creek they went placing their “macho” hands into the icy cold mountain stream. Jayna had just felt the water declaring that was the coldest water she had ever felt, and the guys didn’t believe her as they had already had their hands AND feet in the glacier water on the Icefields Parkway. One, two, three,…ten, eleven, twelve….and Dad couldn’t stand it any longer, his hands shot out of the water as he declared “That’s the coldest water I have ever felt in my life!”

We snapped a lot of pictures throughout the cedars. Some of the cedars would grow together creating these humongous trees with wonderful places to climb up into them and snap a picture.

After the Cedar’s we went to a Sturgeon Farm on the Kootenai Indiana Reservation. We had a wonderful tour and history lesson on the endangered fish. It was quite interesting.

Lunch followed by a 2 hour nap, then we headed downtown to a little restaurant called Chick-N-Chop where the guys ate porkchops and the girls ate soup. Gene took us tonight to the Natural Wildlife Refuge to see if we could find some moose as the weather was overcast and a little rain had fallen while we were taking a nap. Gene seems to know where to take us because not 10 minutes into our “Moose Safari”, he saw a Momma and her baby. Field glasses in hand, we all spotted the moose and then a little later we found another one in the meadow.

Ernie fixed fresh fruit over white cake with ice cream for dessert, which we ate around 10:00 pm. Then we headed up to the cabin, packed our bags and fell asleep around 11:00.

Fishing in Idaho

Ernie had a lovely breakfast of Oatmeal, toast, fresh muffins, coffee and juice, then we headed to some fish license store and the guys bought their fishing license. Gene took us to Perkins Lake. The guys fished from a boat and the girls fished off the pier! Jayna caught the first fish. I think Ernie called it a Red Ear. It was a nice sized fish, but for some reason the Gibson’s throw all fish back into the pond/lake. Mom caught the second fish, a little bluegill. I guess the guys caught only 2-3 fish. It was very hot. Dad had a sweater on and the winds were still. So still you could see mirrored reflections (that we were coveting in Banff and saw very little of).

We went back to the cabin and ate lunch… Fresh fruit galore. Ummm. Raspberries, blueberries, peaches, melons over white cake tasted the best to me. This entire vacation, we have not seen much dessert, so the fresh fruit and cake was wonderful. Ernie also served corend beef, ham and turkey with lettuce, tomato and condiments. She made fresh lemonade and ice tea.

Everyone took a nap, except Stephen and I. We went down into town to fill the car up with gas and to just snoop around for awhile. When we got back we loaded up in Gene and Ernie’s van with the fishing boat and headed to Brush Lake. Once again, the men took the boat and the girls fished off the pier. The day was very hot so Gene was afraid that we wouldn’t catch anything, but the guys were catching fish upon fish. Sometimes two and three fish at a time. Bluegill, Croppies. Bass….Dad wanted to keep most of them, but Gene tosses everything back into the lake. The girls didn’t have such luck. We caught one bluegill and one small rainbow trout. It was rather frustrating, the other people on the pier were catching trout, but no matter what we tried (even asking the advice of our “pier friends”) didn’t work for us. The guys finally come in, laughing and whooping it up, like they caught many fish hollering at us “How many did you catch”? Grumble grumble when they told us they caught 50-60! Gene couldn’t believe we didn’t catch any fish. He put a worm on the hook, threw it out in the water and said “now just sit there until the line starts being pulled out to the deep!” I said, “Oh Gene, don’t you think we have done that tonight”? He said “well maybe, but you had a sinker on your line…this one doesn’t” and in two or three seconds, there was a hit on the worm and I brought in a nice little trout! “YOU MAKE ME MAD” was all that Jayna could say! Gene just laughed!

Dinner was at at “Feist Creek Falls Bar” out in the country. The landscape was beautiful around the “bar”. There was a little pond with huge trout right out in the front of the bar. There were tables sitting out there so you could watch the trout swimming. There was also a lovely little falls along the side of the bar. We sat by the falls and listened to the water falling and feeling the misty coolness of the evening.

We didn’t get back to the cabin until around 10:30, but the men were happy and I think caught the “fish flu” because they were very disappointed when Gene told them that we were not going fishing in the morning, we would head to the Great Cedars in Montana.

Icefields here we come!

Imagine with me driving through heavy laden forests, sparkling blue waters, dense low clouds hanging over the mountain tops and glaciers all around you. The sky is gray, the mountains are gray, the roads are dark and everything looks cold, hard, and daunting. It is beautiful. It holds you in awe. The experience reminds you that you are only a speck of dust on this earth as the mountains tower thousands of feet above your head. As we entered the Icefields Parkway we were greeted by a lovely little lake called Hector Lake. At 8:00 a.m., the waters were so still that you could see your reflection in the glassy sparkling blue water.

Picture upon picture revealed the cloudy gray skies, the dark mountains and tree covered water's edge both above the shoreline and below. The driving was easy and the scenery easy to see from the road. We saw glacier upon glacier. The snow was icy blue in color and towered hundreds of feet in the deep crevasses and across the tops of more than half the mountains we passed. Every turn, every stop, you could snap pictures in a 360 degree circle. Each time exclaiming “Oh Wow”. There were mountain streams that would jut out of the canyons thousands of feet. There were mountain streams that would gurgle beside the roads, there were mountain streams that would be rushing beside you one moment, then you would heard this thundering sound and the stream would tumble hundreds of feet to the next level. It was simply incredible.

About half way through the Icefields Parkway we came upon the Columbian Icefields rest stop. You could take a special bus tour out onto the Columbian glacier and walk upon it if you desired. We did not want to take 3 hours to do this, so we just snapped pictures. But, oh, the pictures. I have never seen so many glaciers all at once…so massive…so deep…so glorious. The sun was beginning to shine by the time we got off the Columbian Icefields and the pictures were incredible. Ice blue glaciers…white puffy clouds dancing shadows over the facades of the massive stone structures. We snapped pictures, but the pictures cannot capture the glory.

Did you ever see such blue water?
 You marvel at creation. You marvel that you have sight and can see the majestic sight, the glorious color. You marvel that you can smell the evergreen forest and the mountain flowers. You marvel that you can feel the cold blow of wind off the glaciers and yet feel the warmth of the sun at the same time. We ate our picnic lunch right here – hugging our coats a little closer and pulling our hats up over our head.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday July 21, 2010
Lake Louise
Johnston Canyon
Castle Mountain

We started down the Trans-Canadian highway and then took the 1A to take the scenic route. Scenery was incredible and our first stop began at the Johnston Canyon. We began the .5 mile hike through the canyon totally enthralled with the glorious beauty of the canyon. Every 5 feet we would snap pictures on our way to the lower falls.  At times the trail would go over the river making for great Kodak moments. Stephen and Dad walked on ahead of Mom and myself. But, we had a wonderful time snapping pictures and slowly enjoying the beauty. By the time we were ¾ of the way to the falls, Steve and Dad came running back telling us that we needed to continue on to the “Prize” of seeing the falls. Steve and Jayna went on to the falls and Dad came with Mom. However, Steve and Jayna did not see Mom and Dad, so we took pictures, we headed back to the car. Mom and Dad were not in sight and we couldn’t believe that they would actually “beat” us back to the car but we kept on going fearing that they did not have the key to the car and would have to wait long. By the time we reached the car, there was no Mom and Dad. We walked back to the restaurant, restrooms to find them, but couldn’t find them. We walked back and forth, frantically searching for them, but 30 minutes went by and no Mom and Dad. Jayna ran back to the car one more time to no avail. She came back across the mountain stream and there was Steve walking with both of them. They had evidently gone to the Falls and took the upper trail, while we took the lower trail. They didn’t see us, we didn’t see them. They were waiting for us at the falls!

Lake Louise was very beautiful. As soon as you come in from the parking lot the scene is glorious. Here is this icy blue lake surrounded by mountains on three side, with a huge mountain (called Mt Victoria) covered in the Victoria glacier. There was a trail all along the lake and every angle of the trail, the picture was incredible. Steve and Jayna decided to take the Agnes Trail to Agnes/Mirror Lake as this hike was rated as the number 1 hike to take in the Banff National Park system. We started the trail and it became apparent that this was not going to be an easy trail. Straight up the hill for 3 mile. When I say straight up the hill, that is exactly what I mean! Jayna was having trouble breathing and had to stop every 10 minutes or so, but not Steve…he just kept going at an incredible rate. It amazed me as he has just had his second heart surgery about 4 months ago. The Mirror lake was a lovely little lake and the water was clear blue mirroring this lovely mountain. We decided not to go on to Agnes lake (another .5 mile) as we were both exhausted and hungry. We headed back down the mountain and began looking for Mom and Dad again. 20 minutes later we found them just sitting along the lake trail enjoying the beauty.

After Lake Louise, the trails and seeing the lovely Lake Louise Fairmont Chateau we headed for Moraine Lake. Oh my… this valley is called the Valley of the 10 peaks. These gorgeous high, glacier laden mountains surrounded this aqua blue water and made for a highlight of our trip. Stephen dunked his head in the mountain water lake (and said it gave him a headache); followed by Dad deciding that Steve was not going to have one up on him, so into the icy frigid water Dad dunked his head totally not finding the exquisite joy that Steve get’s out of the experience.

Mirror Lake
On our way back to Banff we of course looked for wildlife – only to see a couple of bucks. Disappointed in our wildlife find, we turned into Vermillion Lakes again, knowing that everytime we go in to that Lake chain we see wildlife somewhere. Well, we were not disappointed…5 minutes into the slow ride around the lakes we came across about 3 big elk. All of a sudden we saw in our rearview mirror 2 great big female elk galloping on the road behind us!

Johnston Canyon
Moraine Lake
Lake Louise
Lake Louise

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Canmore Calgary

We were supposed to go to Lake Louise today, but the weather was raining and foggy, so we altered plans and took off for Calgary, Canmore. As soon as we got out of Banff National Park heading to Calgary the fog lifted and the sun was shining. We stopped at the Calgary Olympic Park first. What a delight to see the 1988 Olympic park is still in use today. Canada did not win any gold medals in the 1988 Olympics, but as time has gone on, they are making a concerted effort to win more and more of the winter games. The Olympic park has added all kinds of buildings and altered the original ski jumps, etc… Everywhere we looked there were children being trained on how to ski jump, there were lessons on luge and ice skating, etc. Children were everywhere. It seems that in the summer month’s mountain biking takes the place of downhill skiing. There were bikers everywhere. AND, they were very young. This first picture is of a ski jump that was used in 1988: The second picture is a luge.

The Calgary fort was rather interesting to me. As the Calgary Stampede was just last week, the town was tearing down all of the entertainment areas. We were not able to get into the stampede area, but a “real cowboy” as Mom Beutler called him, greeted us and encouraged us to turn back. I think the “real cowboy” was enough for Mom as she thought he was quite handsome in his cowboy boots, chaps and hat! I understand that there were over 3 million people here last week! That seems very amazing as the Stampede park was right down town.

The old historic fort at Calgary evidently hosted a reenactment of the old Calgary Mounted Police Days when the Canadian Mounties called “F-Troup” were stationed at Calgary to make peace with the Indians. The fort was not that impressive, but it was fun to hear those who were at the reenactment talk about the “F-troup”. I thought the old television program was just a hoax but we soon learned that there was actually a F-troup. The Chief indian’s name was the same as the name used in the reenactment. “Ze Burglar from Banff” was actually a real person.

Canmore was a city that was put on the map as they participated in hosting the 1988 Olympic games. They are now a very tourist town. Actually the town looks a lot like the town of Banff. We visited the original Canadian Mounted Police station and took some pictures.

We then headed back to Banff out to Johnson lake. What a lovely lake. It was not in my book on places that you must see in Banff, but I am very glad that we went today. I do believe that it is one of my favorite lakes here. We saw a couple of female elk that were majestic. Stephen dunked his head in the mountain stream and we walked around the lake on a well defined trail head

As we left this park and headed down the Bow River Parkway we ran into a great big bull elk. He had 12 points on his rack. He was incredible. The people didn’t seem to bother him at all, he just kept on eating. Both Dad and Steve got out of the car snapping pictures. Then, just about ½ mile down the road we ran across a little black bear and had a great time getting pictures of him…then about 500 feet, we ran into another black bear. Only this one was much bigger.

The Bow River Parkway has to be about the most gorgeous parkway on the face of the earth. It is going to be very difficult to go back to the flat land of Indiana and the same old corn fields after seeing majestic mountains, gurgling rushing streams, bald eagles soaring, Elk bleating, bears, mountain goats, big horned sheep, sunsets reflecting on still waters…

We went downtown Banff to eat tonight at Eddies Hamburger Bar. They were huge hamburgers, made your way, served with sweet potato fries! Last evening Jayna was up all night with an upset stomach, throwing up, etc… and today Steve was not feeling well in his stomach. He didn’t get sick, but just didn’t feel well today. Now tonight Dad is not feeling well… BUT, the hamburger (which we split) was very tasty!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Check out our wildlife pictures

Steve got most excited when he saw animals! Tell Kinsen, Jaybin, Grant and Mason that every picture Grandpa shot, he said "Oh, I wish my grandkids were here to see this!

More pictures of Banff

Here are some random pictures around Banff - I think you will agree that they are incredible!

Banff Alberta Canada

Once again we were up early and out of the condo by 8:00 a.m. You would think now that we are on vacation we could sleep in, but not us. We headed to downtown Banff to get our National Park parking pass and to gather brochures, etc. Then we went to the Banff Fairmount Springs Hotel to see the inside of the “castle”. We walked all over the castle and found our way out on the back piazza where we took many pictures of Mt Rundle. We then walked down the hill to the Bow River Falls and Bow River. This falls is pretty small, but quite wide. The walk was very pleasant as it was lined with log fences and many beautiful trees.

We had heard that there was something in the park called “hoodoos”, so we asked at the information center and the ranger told us how to get to the hoodoos. Up the mountain road we climbed until we reached the pinnacle of Tunnel Road. There was a loop trail that we took to see the hoodoos. Hoodoos are large strange termite house looking structures that have been eroded through the years and resemble huge termite houses. They were very fascinating to see.

Then we headed to the Banff Upper Springs and the Banff Gondola. At first I was disappointed in the springs. People were in their bathing suites in a pool. That is all it looked like. Then a little down the road we saw some hot springs coming out of the rock. That was interesting. We felt the water and it was warm and steaming. I thought it might be hot, but it was only lukewarm. We did not go on the gondola because we had spent money in Whistler for a gondola ride and didn’t feel that we needed to spend the money again on the same kind of experience. Here Dad is trying to reach the hot springs... He doesn't particularly like this shot! I wonder why?

Off we went to the Vermillion Lakes where we saw deer and a couple of bald eagles. We weren’t sure if one of the birds was a falcon or an eagle, but both birds were incredible. The vermillion lakes were absolutely beautiful. We decided that if the weather was any better we would come back tonight to see if we could get any better pictures of the mountains reflection in the mirrored waters.

Mt Norquay was near the vermillion lakes, so we took the ski mountain road to the ski lodge. We were so thrilled to see more big horned sheep. As Jayna got out to take a picture of the sheep, the smaller sheep of the group started charging the lady beside her, so Jayna quickly got back in the car. At the pinnacle of the mountain was a beautiful overlook of the city of Banff and the lovely Bow river. Just a little further was the ski lodge, which of course was closed. However, the slopes were lovely and we greatly enjoyed this road. Aren't these sheep incredible?

On to the Minnewanka Lake, via the Cascade Mountain Waterfall and the Cascade ponds. The waterfall was kind of scraggly, but the ponds were glorious. We took many pictures of the ponds that were connected by charming wooden bridges. We decided that if we ever want to have a picnic again in this area we need to come back here. As we were enjoying these ponds, thunder began rolling and then the rain came, accompanied by hail and ice pellets, we hid our car under a tree until the front passed by. Lake Minnewanka was barely seeable as the fog had set in so we came back later.

We went back to the Cascade Ponds later when the sun was shining. Here are some pictures of the same place while the sun is shining!

This evening we did go back to the Vermillion Lakes to see if we could see any wildlife or get mirrored pictures of the mountains. What a fabulous eveing. We got to see another bald eagle, some deer and as we were getting ready to leave, we went back to Lake #2 and there was a whole herd of Elk. There were at least 15 that we saw. Then, out from the thicket came the grand daddy of all! He was the biggest elk we had ever seen. He strutted out of the thicket like he was the king of the pack. While Stephen and Dad were googling over the elk, Jayna began snapping pictures of the sunset on the mountains in the mirrored glass waters of the lakes. I don’t think there was a bad picture in the lot. Every picture was a masterpiece. Stephen’s chatter and obvious love of elk permeated the conversation for the rest of the way back to the condo. Immediately upon our arrival to the condo, Steve was downloading pictures to see if we got any pictures of the elk. The elk were across the lake, so we weren’t sure that the pictures would turn out, but we did get a few pictures. However, upon seeing the pictures of the sunset, he was very disappointed that he missed it!