Whistler to Vancouver

Wednesday, 8 August:

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After breakfast, we boarded our coach for the last time, leaving Whistler, travelling on the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver.  As we made our way back, we noticed we were driving parallel to the train tracks for some of the time.  So we were seeing some of the same scenery that we saw from the train, but from a higher perspective.

DSC_1573DSC_1572DSC_1575DSC_1576Such lovely views in every direction – mountains, glaciers, rivers and forests and we made a couple of photo stops along the way, to Tantalus Lookout and Shannon Falls Park.

 

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Banff – Day Two

Thursday, 2 August – Off to an early start after breakfast to drive to Moraine Lake situated in the beautiful Valley of the Ten Peaks. Stunning scenery.

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Then continued on to Lake Louise which I was really looking forward to. The unbelievably turquoise lake and its surrounding backdrop of mountains is, without doubt, the main attraction for many people and it was quite crowded there

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We had plenty of time to walk part of the way around the lake and admire the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – a beautiful building with an interesting history and lovely gardens. Very impressive.

Lake Louise is of course, the iconic place to visit but I don’t think Moraine Lake should be overlooked. In terms of beautiful lakes, it was up there and less touristy.

We also learnt about rock flour (we misunderstood and immediately thought of rock flowers!)  Rock flour refers to the silt created when rocks are grinding from the movement of a glacier.  The rock flour is very light and stays suspended in the water for a long time.  The sunlight that reflects off this rock flour gives the lakes their stunning turquoise colour.

For the rest of the day we were free to explore Banff on our own, and then we all met up to hop on our coach to be taken to the Banff Trail Riders ranch, for a ride in a covered wagon drawn by two horses to enjoy a cookout.

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It was about a 40-minute ride along a narrow dirt road through a pretty forest alongside the river.  The horses were very keen to up the pace and had to be slowed down a few times.  When we arrived at our destination we were greeted with drinks and lasso and horse shoe throwing lessons while we waited for our meal.  Also, some very large mosquitoes – which made us feel right at home!

On the way, the driver checked out how we would like our steaks cooked and phoned through our orders – such attention to detail!   The home cooked beans were fantastic – will be searching out some recipes when I go home. Salad was followed by baked potatoes to accompany our perfectly cooked steaks and beans, then individual cheesecakes for dessert – who doesn’t love a barbecue?

Even though it was late when we made our return trip back to the coach, the weather was warm and still daylight! I’m loving these long days.

Banff

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Hoodoos – beautiful pillars formed from glacial material

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Bow Falls

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Wednesday, 1st August, we hopped on the coach to explore Banff, Bow Falls, the viewpoint of Surprise Corner along Tunnel Mountain Drive and the wind-shaped Hoodoos overlooking Bow Valley, before boarding the Banff Gondola.

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Situated in the heart of Banff National Park, the gondola ride is a must-do.  There are 40 gondolas, each taking 4 people and we had a breath-taking ride up to the summit where we found lots to do – grab a coffee, eat at the restaurant, buy souvenirs, visit the theatre, explore the interpretive centre or take a walk on the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak.  It was quite a climb – lots of steps.  So pleased we had plenty of time here to take in the beauty of Sulphur Mountain and the stunning views of the six mountain ranges.  Perfect weather once again.

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Banff Springs Hotel

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The summit and the start of the boardwalk

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Sanson’s Peak

As for Banff itself, it’s a very pretty town surrounded by the mountains.  We spent the afternoon in town and it was a good opportunity to catch up on the laundry as well.   We walked from our hotel but later found that a bus went by the door.   Good to know as we are here for two days.  The town was bigger than I expected with wide streets, lots of shops and interesting places to eat.

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That night, we met for dinner in the restaurant at our hotel where we had a “Meet a Mountie” local specialist presentation from a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman.  He was very entertaining, and he answered all our questions.  Such an interesting insight into his time with the RCMP and we enjoyed learning about its history.

 

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Rocky Mountaineer – Day Two

 

We continued our journey to Banff today, following or crossing seven rivers.  The landscape has changed, it looks more lush and we’ve seen some rapids as well.

 

It was nice to be able to stand outside from time to time on the viewing platform to take in all the sights and sounds.

The scenery was everything we thought it would be, and more, and we had a very happy day just relaxing and taking it all in.  What a great experience!

 

 

The Little Town That Did!

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Thursday 26 July:  We visited Chemainus, on Vancouver Island, where the spirit of survival lives on in this beautiful little community.  When the sawmill closed down in 1983, threatening to disrupt the lives of families who had depended on the forest industry all their lives, this little town survived and has continued to flourish as an outdoor art gallery for which it has received international acclaim.

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Murals by well known artists fill the sides of buildings around the town, celebrating the history of the forest industry and life in a small mill town.  There are now 44 murals and 10 sculptures located around the town and we were taken around by horse and cart to see them.  At the end of our tour, we were happy to purchase a charming little book “The Chemainus Murals” by The Chemainus Festival of Murals Society as a souvenir of a very enjoyable morning.

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We also stopped to see the statue of Terry Fox and later watched his biography in the coach.  As well as being Canada’s hero, he is such an inspiration to the world and I felt very touched by his story.

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