Canmore, Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Revelstoke - Sept 9 - 20

It's been a while, and we could blame it on the fact Internet is almost impossible to obtain in the Canadian National Parks, it's mostly because we've been soaking in every moment in this land.

Let's start with some food. We were finally able to do a Bison v. Elk cook-off.  Buying two kinds of steak for 5 was a bit pricey, so we opted for burgers at a local market.  The Elk is dark and a bit more lean. Both were excellent and it was a split vote on which was better. 

JAK tried for Arctic Grayling in Quarry Lake early one AM.

We spent a couple days in Banff.  The first trip included a hike up Tunnel Mountain. We were proud of our little climbers and thought it was a fairly large climb for being six.

The next day, we found their breaking point.  We hiked up Sulfur Mountain which was across the valley from Tunnel and above the Banff and RimRock Hotels.  As we started we noticed the sign said plan 1.5 - 2 hours one way. We spoke to a young couple who had completed the hike up in 90 minutes.  We rallied the team and agreed to shoot for sub 2 hours. 91 minutes later, we hit the peak with only one piggy back required at the end.  Here is the view - that's tiny Tunnel mountain across Banff.

Another fun sign - "Animals, please cross in pecking order"

Next, we were off to Jasper. We had been told by many friends this was one, if not the, most beautiful drives in the world.  It did not disappoint. We stopped for the night at the parking lot for the Columbia ice fields. 

Katie had a loose tooth and she decided she wanted it pulled at the Athabasca Glacier the next morning. Why not? We hiked up to the glacier and yanked it out amongst the ice.  Glacial wind is quite a numbing agent!

As we drove north, more than just the natural scenery changed. Suddenly our multi-colored RV stood out like a sore thumb against the rows of white RV rentals full of European travelers on holiday; and our white haired kiddos suddenly blended in with the prolific blond-haired local children. 

 When we got to Jasper, we found out that there was no room in the Inn - at least not for a large RV that was looking forward to hookups for a few days. We couldn't even get a non-hookup spot for more than one night without having to move. Sadness fell.  It could be snowing any day, what are all these European people doing here!;)

There was an option of going to the "overflow" parking lot where you pay $32 a night to park on a parking lot with electricity, but we couldn't stomach the thought of sitting on a parking lot in Jasper National park.  We opted to move camp every day.  Despite the morning shuffle, we really, really enjoyed our stay at Whistlers campground. 

We headed into town where the kids completed another ranger booklet and were sworn in - this time complete with the Canadian National Anthem ringing out from an iPad.

The next day we hiked Maligne Lake canyon and had a picnic on the shores of the lake (truthfully this is the Maligne river leading into the lake, but it was windy so the lake picture doesn't do it justice)

One of our highlights in Jasper was our visit to Mount Edith Cavell where we saw and heard Angel Glacier calving. Technically this probably wasn't considered calving, but it was very loud (thunder loud) and looked like a mini avalanche. And yes, the picture isn't very good


JAK and Dad continued on to the peak. JAK's hiking legs are getting strong and he ran most of the rocky 4km down the mountain.

Back to Whistlers where the kids enjoyed the playgrounds made entirely of natural timbers

Oh, and we must include this picture. If you get a chance ask JAK about the 8 lbs rock he and Mommy carried 2.4km. (Those are hammer marks on the side btw)

And of course there was wildlife in the campground. One morning we had a cow and calf Elk camped 20 yards from the RV. And this was the Elk highlight of Jasper.  JAK spotted this big guy while on an AM run and we watched him for 10 minutes as he "courted" the females down from the ridge. Sound Required!

After Jasper we headed back south.  We meant to stay at Lake Louise, but missed a turn amongst the road construction and ended up staying at Kicking Horse campground in Yoho national park a short distance away.

This is Emerald lake. JAK says they got it all wrong because it's turquiose. Either way, its awesome

We hiked the trail up to the teahouse at Lake Louise. That is a kayak in the middle.

Moraine Lake

Ok, so that's probably enough lake pictures for a while! 

There are two things that are very difficult if not impossible to find in the Canadian national forest - the first is free wifi, and the second is washing machines!  After nearly two weeks, we finally took the time to use the 1 coin washing machine in Lake Louise located in a motel…but the dryer was out-of-order.  Talk about "Mountain Fresh" scent!

Oh, that brings up a conversation while trying to find the mystery washing machine:

Anna:  "Where are we going?"
Dad:  "We have to go do some laundry today"
Katie:  "Ya, I don't have any clean socks and am wearing my last pair of underwear"

Back in Yoho, we did the "Hike back in time" where we traced the footsteps of the men who built the railroad over Rogers pass and Spiral Tunnel and saw an abandoned train which was one of two that hauled rock out of the amazing tunnel. You'd think he'd have received more credit than this resting spot in the middle of the woods!

Don't miss the massive Takakkaw falls if you visit Yoho - and bring your rain jacket so you can get up close.  Imagine squall type winds with glacial temperature mist/rain!  It's intense. 

Time to head to Revelstoke.  

These kind of signs get the adrenaline going for us (it says "10 Mile Hill brake check"). But don't worry, there is a "runaway" lane in….2km!

Revelstoke has been one of our favorite towns.  It is situated on the Columbia river amongst others.  We've been biking and hiking the area.

Did you know there are rain forests this far north? We thought Shrek was going to be around the next corner.

And after more than a month of trying, we can finally post a picture of our first fish!!  On our last night in Revelstoke we caught a "squaw fish" which a local fisherman ID'ed as a carp type fish and we release. Then JAK landed a beautiful Dolly Vardon (very similar to a Bull Trout) from the banks of the Columbia river. Of the 8 of us fishing those banks, he landed the only one of the night!  

For quotes, there was a good one we missed from back in Cody, WY:
Katie: "I'm not going to shake shake hands with a bull fighter because they have bull on their hands"

Anna on a cold morning hike this week randomly announced to the family "Just so you know, you're not allowed to blow your nose in your hand" hmmmm?

One of our favorite meals of recent was a stuffed pork tenderloin. We are craving chicken, but it's almost the same price as beef steak here, so we went with the 'other white meat'.

- Fillet tenderloin by rolling out
- Beat pork mercifully with a cast iron pan until very flat
- Cook spinach and let cool
- Stuff with feta, spinach, sun-dried tomato, garlic, and season as you like
- Roll and toothpick
- Sear and then grill to 155

And of course, a couple exhausted cat pictures:

Alberta - Aug 30 - Sept 6

We drove the "Cowboy Highway" into Calgary and would highly recommend it over the more direct route.  Along the way, we found a shop dedicated to the craft of making jerky. Brilliant!  There must have been a dozen people working in this place - that's a series jerky business!  And it was top-notch.

Our home in Calgary was located about a mile from the 1988 Olympic park. While in Calgary we spent one day visiting the downtown area, one day the Olympic park, and a 1/2 day visiting the Telus Spark museum.
One of us decided it would be a good idea to run to the top of the Olympic "hill" to get a picture of the sunrise. That person is lucky he was alive to take the picture. There is a reason they made chair lifts.

We spend a lot of time visiting public restrooms while out-and-about (TMI, we know).  JAK blushed and expressed concern that this signage was inappropriate (his exact words were "not appropriate").  We said it must be a Canadian thing;)

The Olympic park has many activities for kids including the fastest zip-line in the world - only 120-140kph. Mommy was interested and Daddy had NO interest, so thankfully they were booked for the day. We stuck to more 'appropriate' events like the cart luge.

Downtown Calgary has a similar feel to Minneapolis, MN with a central mall that is closed to vehicle traffic and waterways with parks throughout.  The evidence from the June floods is still very apparent but things are on the mend.

On the way out of Calgary to Drumheller, AB we decided to visit the Telus Spark museum which was on the opposite side of town. Daddy drove the RV solo with his two princesses while Mommy and JAK took the jeep to make a couple stops.  We have two GPS units on board. One of which is supposed to warn about any routes with dangers to a large rig such as weight, height, and width restrictions.  Well, on this trip, Daddy found out that it doesn't always mention said risks up front!  After getting off the highway early in the drive, it was apparent that both GPS units were taking us on a direct route  - through downtown!  Gulp. With no copilot and two 6-year-olds assisting, it seemed the best thing to do was trust the technology.  For obvious reasons, we don't have any pictures of this adventure, but we soon found ourselves in downtown Calgary stuck in the middle of a parade going down the previously mentioned mall!  No problem, just go slow, right? Sadly, no. On the wonderfully bright iPad based RV GPS app a previously-never-seen screen splashed up: "WARNING:  VEHICLE HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS AHEAD. FOLLOW ALL LOCAL  RULES AND DIRECTIONAL POSTINGS"........WHAT!!!!!!  

As we approach the series of enclosed walkways over the road (also similar to Minneapolis), they graciously posted the height of 5.1....meters.  Dang. Quick...what is the conversion, we are 13' and 1"and had plugged 13'6" into RV app that was now not Daddy's friend.  ...Ok plenty of room.  Thankfully, whatever  it was that triggered the alert was a false alarm.

We've been to many great museums in the past 3.5 weeks and the Telus Spark was the most hands-on yet.

JAK volunteered during a presentation on the nervous system. The point of the experiment was to show the impact of endorphins on human reflexes. In order to peak JAKs nervous system, she had him face forward, used props to make him nervous, and then popped a helium balloon behind him with a long match. Needless to say, the experiment proved the hypothesis.

Next stop - Dinosaur capital of the world, Drumheller, AB.

It was the Sunday before Labor Day and we had made no reservations so we were thankful when we snagged the last spot at the Hoodoo RV resort.  It was very busy on Sunday, but by Monday afternoon, it was very quiet and our favorite campground thus far. We expect places to be more like the later now that school is started.

Drumheller has "Black Hills" similar to those in the Dakotas.  In additional to dinos in every directions you turn, it also has the largest dinosaur in the world

And the smallest church (room for 6 parishioners)

We went searching for dinosaur remains in Horse Thief Canyon (that golden field in the background is Canola)

Took the jeep across a ferry

Visited the Hoodoos

And possibly one of the last standing coal "Tippples" in North America (For some reason they were not 100% sure). This is the structure that sorts the coal into sizes and assisted in loading.

On the coal train tour, Anna was given the job of being the "Brakie" (not even Google could help with the spelling of that one).

And the sunsets...

Off to the Banff area where we were excited to be able to meet up with a couple who have been mentors for our time in Canada. They extended their stay in Canmore so we could meet up and we were so thankful.  We owe many of our amazing Canadian experiences thanks to their guidance.  They treated us to a great dinner and an amazing musical performance. Even though we'd never met in person, it was like meeting long time friends.

We'd travelled just over 3000 miles in our first three weeks were excited that this was our first location were we would slow down and stay put for a bit. To add to our excitement, our RV spot could not be better.  We received a spot on a creek with a view of the three sisters mountain out our window.

The area around Canmore and Kananaskis is unbelievably beautiful.  Pictures again:

And when you are 1.6k away from the nearest road and amongst all the beauty you never know who you will run into

Ok, as mentioned, our location in Canmore is special.  Not only is the view breathtaking, but it's like living in a circus zoo at times

To give you an idea of the power of the water that came down these mountains in June, here is a pic of what was a small creek river and grow 100x

They have signs in Canada that we are trying to understand.  Melissa said this one means that "it's ok to slap your dog in the face on this trail"

And it's embarrassing that we missed a turn one time with a sign like this

The girls decided to have us take their class pictures this week

There is a large triathlon in Banff on Saturday and they hosted a fun run for kids on Friday.  JAK has been getting excited about going on AM runs with Mom or Dad and we were so proud of his first race.

Friday was our first day with more than 20 minutes of rain in our first 3.5 weeks. Amazing.

God has blessed us and may he bless you this week!