Families & Fantastic sightseeing – USACANADA Adventure 2018 – blogpost #4

Greetings

Our adventure’s fourth week has been so different to the desert, heat, humidity and more of the first three weeks.

I write this on a Friday from a fourth floor Lakeview room of the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise … in the Canadian Rockies. Beautiful.

Last Friday we left beautiful Sedona (yes, I know I’m using “beautiful” just once or twice) en route to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada – right in the heart of the Canadian prairies. Our flights took us firstly to Toronto and Saskatchewan’s capital, Regina. All went smoothly until my checked in suitcase never made it to the carousel. Anyhow, Air Canada all-apologetically delivered in late the next day.

A feature of so many of our North American travels over the years has been the quantity and quality of time spent with families. Sure, as we’ve been so blessed this trip, we’ve certainly done the touristy stuff and revelled in it, but nothing quite matches spending time within folk in their own home OR at least with them in a holiday apartment.

We’ve been blessed for much of the past week to spend time with Barry and Dianna, brother and sister in law of Glenn and Jan from Cairns, our much loved friends and travelling companions from Cairns. Barry is Glenn’s older brother. Both Barry and Dianna lavished us with hospitality, good humour and much local knowledge. So did Glenn’s sister, Donna.

So … our five nights based in Moose Jaw included:

  • drive out of town to see a herd of 80 bison … bison being important in Canada’s history, including their First Nations heritage. Yes, we enjoyed bison burgers for dinner the next evening.

Making it to breakfast at another Canadian icon, Tim Hortons … and then walking forever in minus zero temperatures to Walmart the other side of Moose Jaw

⁃ Really enjoying a Western Hockey League ice hockey game. A great experience.

⁃ Setting the alarm for 3 am to watch an anticlimactic NRL grand final on my iPad.

⁃ Visiting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage centre at Depot, their training centre in Regina.

⁃ Being part of an earlier than normal Canadian Thanksgiving Meal. Thanksgiving in Canada is about a month earlier than the States and while the foodstuffs are similar the historical basis is much different!

And then, just two days ago, we set off on a 10 hour drive to Calgary, the starting point of our five day Rocky Mountain adventure. Much snow either side of the highway, but great time travel on the Trans-Canada highway … the country’s highway #1. We made it to our airport hotel just before dinner, enjoyed a soup dinner (nice food, lousy service) and turned it in for the night.

Friday morning’s minus 4 temperature greets us as we head off by coach toward the Rockies and Banff.

Upon checking in, we walk the Main Street of Banff … Rocky Mountains all around us, before taking the Banff Gondola way up to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

You see, the Rockies have been on my bucket list for decades. I’ve flown over them a few times, delighted in countless John Denver songs inspired by them, but never seen and experienced them until now. Yes, “experience” is certainly the word!

If one ever makes it to Banff, taking the eight minute Banff Gondola ride up to 7500 feet high Sulphur Mountain is something to do. Blessed with a picture perfect day we could delight in magnificent views in all directions, including from a huge viewing window – yes, in the men’s disabled toilet!!

It’s an experience we will never forget. I could overdose you on pictures from the experience. Here are just a few😀

And today … while the weather was not quite as good, our Rocky Mountaineer experience (coach for the first half) took us – helped by good-humoured driver Brad to such sights as the Spiral Tunnels (inenguity to enable a train to get down a mountainside safely), Emerald Lake and much more.

However, much though I’ve seen the images in countless magazine pictures and TV docos, nothing quite prepares me for the sheer beauty and awesomeness of looking out from our hotel window onto Lake Louise. Magical, helped by a decent helping, albeit a bit muted, of sunshine. So, so beautiful.

We’re feeling incredibly blessed and grateful right now.

Blessings

David

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