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