Our recent vacation trip was with Ann and Armond to western Canada (British Columbia and Alberta). Flew to Vancouver BC and spent three days being tourists. Crossed the Canadian Rockies by rail (two days). Toured around in Banff National Park (two days). Visited Fay (Julie and Ann's cousin) and Gardiner Smith in Bowden, Alberta. What a great time!
Day 1. Cab from the airport to downtown Vancouver. The driver is from New Delhi, India. He has a family he wants to bring to Canada and is waiting for visas (maybe another year) to get them there. He is not Christian. He looked into it but decided the various religions are not unified in their beliefs about Jesus Christ and so was turned off about it. I told him his observation was correct. However, what if Jesus Christ personally came to the earth again and restored that which has been lost; that he appointed a prophet on the earth to straighten out the confusion. Would he be interested? Yes. Left him a "Finding Faith in Christ" pass-along card. He said he should like to receive the free video and learn more about it. I should have gotten his name and address but I didn't. Hope he follows through on getting the video.
After arriving in downtown Vancouver we checked in to the Pacific Palisades Hotel. Nice place.
We ate a late lunch at the Flaming Wok...
... and took a cab to the Capilano Suspension Bridge north of Vancouver. Very touristy but, hey, we are tourists. Bit the bullet and paid the price. We thoroughly enjoyed it and the peaceful surroundings.
Day 2. I dropped my camera on the pavement first thing in the morning and broke it. Had to rely on the Garner's camera somewhat while we went to Vancouver Island. Then I hit upon this marvelous idea... When we got back, I checked out Google Images and found other people's vacation pictures that paralleled our adventures so I was able to make up the camera loss with supplementary pics for a couple of days. I even found pictures of killer whales that looked just like the ones that passed by our ferry on the way to Vancouver Island. We just didn't get our group of four people in any of those pictures.
The ferry holds over 350 cars on level 4 and also filled level 2 with trucks and buses. It is a massive operation and makes several trips a day. A round-trip by car costs a whopping $150. If you "walk-on" the fare is only $12.50.
We saw a pair of killer whales on the way.
World-famous Butchart Gardens is on Vancouver Island. Here are three pictures of this marvelous garden spot. You could spend many days and evenings and even different seasons just wandering around the grounds. It is constantly changing. This is a good place to work if you are a botanist or horticulturalist.
The Sunken Garden
A Passion Flower (watch out!)...
Vancouver Island is the location of British Columbia's capital city of Victoria. It is only accessible by ferry and seaplane; kind of a bummer for easy access to government offices. One of the most famous sights is the very posh Empress Hotel.
We ate a late-lunch/early-dinner at the Blackfish Cafe down along the Inner Harbor Promenade (just to the left of what is shown in the picture at boat-level). An excellent choice. We also watched a few street artists. One called "Plasterman" was funny with the passers-by.
In late afternoon we retraced our path back to Vancouver via the bus and ferry and got back very late due to a delay at the ferry terminal.
Day 3. Started today with a tour by bus of the Vancouver area. Stopped at many of the best attractions and drove past some of the others. Not enough time in Stanley Park or at Granville Island but we enjoyed what we saw.
The public market at Granville Island:
Vancouver Pubic Library modeled after the Coliseum at Rome
View of Vancouver from Stanley Park:
Steam powered clock in the Gastown section of Vancouver:
That evening we passed a drug store on Robson Street on our way to dinner. I bought another digital camera. Now I'm back in the "personal" photo business. So here we are eating dinner at the Savory Coast ("Cucina Mediterranea"), an open air cafe.
Day 4. This was the start of the Rocky Mountaineer trip throught the Cascade Range to Kamloops.
Great service, plentiful food (remember how airlines used to serve real food on their flights?) and warm hospitality. The hostess for our coach was Amanda...
Very picturesque scenery:
We went to a dinner theater presentation in Kamloops that evening. Buffet-style food and a fun melodrama-type show to watch with singing, dancing, comedy and a very thin plot. The audience got involved as well.
Day 5. Continued the rail trip to Banff through the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
There were a number of houseboats on this lake. Apparently there is a pizza place in a town nearby that accepts phone orders and delivers by motorboat.
Got into Banff just a bit late. By then the Mt. Royal Hotel...
... was jammed packed. We were fortunate though because they were out of normal rooms so they upgraded us free of charge to a full suite. We loved it. Even had a Jacuzzi in the bathroom. Garner's had a "regular" room with a really tiny bathroom. This is a panoramic picture of our Living Room.
We found out right away that Banff is a very pricey town. Restaurant fare and everything else is pretty steep. The least expensive dinner prices are around $25.00 each and go up drastcally from there. The first night I had "Pear Pizza" at an Italian resturant named Giorgio's (not related to the Giorgio's in San Jose).
Wild Grizzly Bears are known to frequent the mountains. This friendly one was in a candy shop.
What a beautiful setting in Banff!
Day 6 in Banff. Breakfast in the hotel was buffet style and cost a mere $14.00 each! However, we found a coffee shop diagonally across the street from the Mt. Royal that opened early so we could be out of there to catch the tour buses we had booked. On the way to the Columbia Icefield we stopped at Lake Louise. Better in person than any pictures I have ever seen of it.
It had snowed lightly the night before so there was a white dusting of snow on the Lodgepole Pines adding to the beauty.
We stopped at the Crowfoot Glacier ...
... and Peyto Lake; supposedly is the outline of a bear but we thought it looked more like a coyote with no legs.
Then on to the Columbia Icefield and the Ice Explorer ride out onto the glacier. There are really interesting facts about icefields and glaciers but there is not enough time and space to include them in this blog.
We even scooped out a drink of glacier water that should add a hundred years to our lives. [Well maybe not, but it could put hair on my chest.]
Day 7 in Banff. Great scenic tour of the Banff area. Beautiful gardens at a former Parliament building (now a museum).
In the background is the famous Banff Springs Hotel.
A ride in the gondola to the top of the mountain was not in the package but we decided to spring for the extra bucks and do it anyway. Very well worth it. Very invigorating (Uuuhh! Cold is a more descriptive word) on top of the mountain.
A view of Banff (left) and Tunnel Mountain (right) from the top.
Then we caught the bus to Calgary but instead of flying home from there we rented a car and drove about an hour north to Bowden to visit Fay and Gardiner whom we haven't seen for a long time. In fact, we had never been to Canada to visit at all. Spent the night with them.
Day 8. Toured around the Bowden area in the morning and then headed back to Calgary for the flight home. We were impressed with Bowden's community spirit. The "Main Street" has hanging baskets of flowers for its full length. This picture is out in front of Fay and Gardiner's house.
Oh! And we found our cell phone in the Seattle airport on our way back through. Well, it wasn't really that easy to find it but that's where it was. And I sold my broken camera "as-is" on eBay for $12 plus shipping.
A week later... Brad took this picture of us showing the fantastic souveniers we purchased while in Canada. It doesn't show the necklace mom bought. It also doesn't show the genuine Canadian Maple Butter we also bought. Wow, was that ever delicious!
Did I mention that a good time was had by all?