Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Traveling in Herds

We arrived at The Crossing last night in darkness, so although we knew there were mountains around us, the spectacular views this morning were still rather startling.

Back on the road to continue our trek south through some of the most fantastic landscapes I have ever seen.  This drive is making me feel patriotic! Not only are we lucky enough to live in a country that has this kind of geography, but our country has the foresight to protect huge swaths of it for future generations in national parks that are the size of small European countries!

(For the record, those aren't our bikes on the ground behind us.  We bumped into a party of 10 who were biking from Banff to Jasper over the course of a few days. They were all extended family.  What a great idea!  Mike? Paul? Are you in?)

Anyway, on the topic of Europeans, we're heading south to meet back up with Paul and Stella in Canmore this evening to experience some of this incredible country with them. In the meantime, though, we had some serious issues to consider.  First and foremost?  Which is prettier - Jasper or Banff?

In Banff's favour, it does have Lake Louise...

If you want to eat at the Fairmont Lake Louise, may I suggest that you put in your name when you first arrive?  It seems the pagers they give you have some decent range, so you can enjoy the view while waiting for your table. As we didn't have that foresight, we determined that a lunch in the town of Lake Louise would suffice.

Lest we think Lake Louise is the only reflective beauty in the park, this imitation volcano caught my attention.

Another gorgeous view:

It got to the point that we didn't bother stopping for the stunning landscapes.  I mean, it was "just another fantastic view of a forested mountain above a crystal clear lake of unbelievable blues and greens". Routine!

The herds of long-horn sheep still got plenty of attention, though, as they stopped traffic along the Bow River Parkway.

Black bears get even more attention, even when they aren't right at the road-side.

Tantalised by this glimpse of a bear, Mindy and I set out on a forested path to look for more wildlife. We found a large patch of grass trampled down by several large bodies.

It might have been a group of people enjoying the view of a mountain over a pond. Or it might have been a family of bears sleeping together last night. I understand that is normal bear behaviour. The one thing we were certain of was that the view was worth it for whatever creature was here!

Mindy managed a short run, largely to take advantage of the background, I think.  I was impressed her legs could bear it at all.

I thought I was inured to the endless mountain beauty, but then as we approached Canmore, the sun glinted off a mountain and made my breath catch.

Of course none of these photos do the mountains any real justice.

When we got to our hotel - another setting with a stunning mountain backdrop - we had plans to go out and explore the city. After two days of aggressive traveling, we barely managed a brief visit with Paul and Stella, and then dinner at a local Asian-fusion restaurant. Leaving the restaurant, we attempted to drive along Spray Lakes Road, the most popular road for wildlife sightings in Canmore.  As the rain pelted down and the thunder thundered, the visibility and traction grew unpleasantly poor. We retired to our hotel for the night to count sheep.

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