Back in the U.S. of A. – Alaska

We’ve been on the Star Princess from Vancouver to Anchorage, Alaska.  Lots more stunning scenery, and glaciers.    It was very nice not to have too have the bags packed every single day.  And even nicer not to be up and on the move at 6.30 am.  I think we all enjoyed that.    The food was lovely in all the restaurants.  We’d chosen not to get the drinks package for a number of reasons but the drinks were very cheap as it was so not really a problem.   The cruise itinerary was a day of coastal cruising,  Ketchikan, Junea & then Skegway, then a day of cruising on Glacier Bay, with College Fjord the next afternoon.

I was glad to have the day of cruising as I really was not particularly well.  It was pouring rain in Ketchikan, the measure their rainfall by the foot.   I would have preferred not to go but it was the town I was looking forward to most.   I should have stayed on the boat.  I managed to knock the camera dial and all the photos I took have a filter over them, I didn’t have my glasses with me so didn’t notice till it was way to late, and I got soaked through to the skin.   To be honest I can barely remember the town.   Junea was nice, and is the capital of Alaska – strange that its not accessible by road at all.   Theres an interesting Russian church which was worth a look at.  The last town was Skegway an old mining, rail, western town.  It still has the wooden boardwalks around the town.   All very lovely, all very touristy with pretty much the same shops selling the same stuff.  Also for the record – the water was like glass.   No rocking boat, mostly we didn’t know if we were sailing or moored up unless we looked out the window.

We saw wildlife today – always good.   And Hummingbirds – which I think for me have been one of the highpoint of the trip.

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Russian Church, Juneau

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In the churchyard

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Local transport

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Skegway

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Skegway

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Skegway

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Skegway Port

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Brown Bear

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Rufus Hummingbird

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Canada – Lake Louise & Banff.

I forgot to tell you we stayed at the Chateau Lake Louise, very nice, quite swanky.   And enormous.   I almost needed a packed lunch to get to mums family suite.  She’s getting all the good rooms.  Early breakfast (best buffet on the trip so far) and then off towards Banff.

We made a couple of stops on the way for sight seeing & then caught the Banff Gondola to the peak of Sulphur Mountain.  Stunning views from the top of the mountain.   Interesting experience getting the scooter up there.  It only just fit into the gondola with one other person (that person would be me!)

Today was a free day in Banff, which we all sort of needed.   Mum caught a bug yesterday so today spent most of the day with her feet up, in bed.   We went for a walk around town and then came back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.  There is a fantastic Australian run coffee shop in town – White Bark Cafe.  Its not big but the coffee was worth the walk.

Tomorrow we join the Rocky Mountaineer for 2 days.

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Lake Louise

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Bow Lake

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The Natural Bridge

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Views down to Banff & the Rockies

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More views of the Rockies.

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Canada – Jasper National Park.

Today was an animal extravaganza.    We were on the Icefields Parkway – one of the most beautiful roads in the world according to surveys, so lots of scenery. Initially we went to Maligne Canyon.  I saw a chipmunk but wasn’t quick enough to get a photo.  After we’d done that walk it was back to the bus.  Not that far down the road were Mountain Goats – also no photo – wrong side of the bus.  A lone Coyote – managed to get those photos.   BUT next thing we saw a car stopped on the side of the road, so we slowed down to see why – BEAR!   I managed to get myself to a good position in the front of the bus and got some shots.  From there it was Columbia Glacier, interesting but sooo cold.   Its been lightly snowing all day.  Crossing a bridge we got held up because Mountain Sheep were on the bridge.  We are now at Lake Louise – still snowing.  We all stood in the snow to have the group photo taken, and are now in our very nice rooms.

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Coyote

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Black Bear

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Mountain Sheep

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Canada – Jasper

The drive today was through farmland for the first couple of hours.   I thought I was the only one struggling to stay awake, however when I stood up to get something out of my bag after one head nod too many – I was greeted with a sea of sleeping people.  There were about 3 others not awake.  I didn’t feel so bad.

We arrived a Jasper early in the afternoon and had a walk around.  They say that there are a lot of Elk near the train line (it runs parallel to the town) but we didn’t see any.  We went for a second walk after dinner and made the decision to walk along the tree line behind the hotels.  Lo and behold – 7 Elk.   Still no freaking bear!

Off to Banff tomorrow.

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Downtown Jasper

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The Firehall

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Jasper the Bear – the official mascot

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Most likely as close as I will get

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Evening clouds

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Elk

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Elk

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Elk

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Moose

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The Lutheran Church

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Canada – Lillooet & Sun Park

Spectacular drive through the mountains today leaving Whistler.   The only downside is we are doing a tour – no stopping! Its a minor downside. So a lot of the photos I’ve taken are through the bus window on the move. Reflections and blurriness. We stopped at a small town for lunch in Lillooet – an old mining town. From there we headed off towards Sun Park – we had an afternoon stop at Hat Creek Ranch – the high point was the Hummingbirds.   They had 6 feeders and many species of Hummingbirds – a high point of my day.  In fact I didn’t even look at anything else on the ranch.

We are now at Sun Peak – another ski field – very quite.   I was supposed to go on a canoeing thing this evening but it was freezing at 5:30pm I can only imagine what it will be like on the water at 8:00pm.  I’ll be very annoyed with myself if they see bear while they are out.

More deer and bald eagles today, still no bear.

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Leaving Whistler

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Lillooet sidewalk

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Hummingbird – they are tiny

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I mean – teenie tiny.  

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Lake Kamloops

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Around Lake Kamloops

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Covered bridge Sun Peaks

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Inside the hotel

 

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Canada – Whistler

Woke up at some awful time this morning to catch the bus at 8:30 that connects to the ferry to get to Whistler. We needed to have our bags outside our door at 6:30 am. It was torrential rain the whole way.   I suppose if you are going to be stuck on a bus it may as well be wet outside.   We had a quick stop at The Shannon Falls it was approximately a 5 minute walk to get there.  I was soaked through to the skin, wet shoes & socks, jeans wet up to my knees by the time I got back on the bus, the rain was so heavy.

We arrived in Whistler, there is still skiing and snowboarding, not great snow though.  Fortunately the weather has started to clear up.  A long driving day in front of us tomorrow.

No bears to be seen.

Look at that moss on the tree, look at the power of the waterfall behind it.

Foot of the falls

The Shannon Falls

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Whistler

Whistler – the last of the snow

People were still skiing.

One of the buildings in Whistler.

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Canada – Victoria Day 2

This morning we left after breakfast for the Butchart Gardens – simply beautiful.  It was a bit of a wild life tour on the way.  There were otters swimming in the bay, deer ravaging the very expensive golf course, and we saw 3 bald eagles.  The first eagle was sitting on top of the largest totem pole in Canada, the second was in a tree with its nest, the third was flying overhead.    No bear.

The consensus on the gardens (mum & I) worth a trip back to Canada just to see them.  They were beautifully laid out, lots of sealed paths, and perfectly maintained.   There were gardeners just dedicated to deadheading the flowers.   The newest addition to the gardens is a carousel – with a long queue of adults waiting to have a ride.

Early morning tomorrow – ferry ride to Whistler with a mystery stop thrown in.

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Tulips were the theme.

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Beautiful bronze carousel horse. So much details.

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You can’t see them but, the wings were threaded with twinkle lights.

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More tulips.

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If you must have a rubbish bin – make it multi purpose

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View to the bay

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Part of the Japanese garden.

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Bald Eagle and nest.

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