This could be quite a short post really. The Rockies are incredible! I asked Keith to write this with me and he suggested I write: “I would strongly recommend anyone looking for a two week holiday to come and do what we’ve just done”. I then reminded him we were writing a blog not a formal letter and that perhaps we could describe a bit about our experience and what we enjoyed…he then started throwing out a few random words and phrases:
‘Amazing views around every corner’. ‘Breathtaking’. ‘That drive’ (he is referring to the Icefields Parkway which connects Jasper National Park and Banff National park). ‘Amazingly friendly people’.
So hopefully you get the picture – and I’ll include a few more here, although choosing from the hundreds we (I) took will be hard. It seemed as though around every corner we were confronted with yet another glorious mountain or a magnificent lake, some of which were aqua marine or turquoise in colour and really did take our breath away. Neither of us have ever been anywhere like it.
The drive to Jasper from Tofino was pretty uneventful and the landscape wasn’t particularly interesting, although for a good portion of the journey there was so much smoke in the air we couldn’t see the mountains. In fact, we were a bit worried that the smoke (from the horrendous fires that have been burning further inland in BC) would really impact our experience in the Rockies but thankfully as we neared Jasper the air cleared, the blue skies emerged and we got our first glimpse of Mount Robson which is the highest peak in the area. “WOW” was the collective gasp from the car – which is saying something, as for most of our long journeys the girls have had their eyes cast down on kindles or some other device and our attempts to point out various sights quite often go ignored.
Arriving in Jasper we found our apartment to be perfect (rented through VRBO which is similar to airbnb). The family who owned the apartment lived upstairs and were so lovely and friendly. They had a daughter named Willow (which of course caused much excitement – her birthday was also a day before our Willow – cue even MORE EXCITEMENT) and a gorgeous Golden Doodle dog named Rosebud. I absolutely loved having this ‘home from home’ experience. Watching the girls playing outside with Lindsay and Jesse’s kids and the dog, meeting the neighbours, playing on the hopscotch they had chalked on the pavement and just sitting in the sun while they played in the sprinklers in our host’s garden was all just lovely.
Our highlights from the three (too short) days we spent in Jasper included; Our first white water rafting experience; Taking the Skytram to the top of Mount Whistler and the short hike to the summit; Visiting Medicine and Maligne Lake. Walking around Maligne Canyon and finally the truly amazing drive from Jasper to Banff. This famous drive is apparently one of the all time greatest and most beautiful journeys on the planet. Rated as one of the top drives in the world by Conde Nast Traveller, the road is a 232km stretch of highway which takes you through soaring mountain peaks, valleys with beautiful lakes, past huge waterfalls, Columbia Glacier and many more ‘never seen before’ sights.
We spent a further two and a bit days in Banff. The girls were very happy because the hotel we were at had two pools, waterslides and an indoor play zone. We were all fairly exhausted after two weeks of pretty much non stop exploring and so took it fairly easy. We did visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake which are two of the most picturesque lakes we have seen so far and I think true to say in the whole region. They are both bright turqouise in colour and really quite unbelievably beautiful. The only problem was the thousands of tourists who were there at the same time as us. We have been quite lucky up until then and found most of the places we have visited were, if not quiet, then at least quiet enough for us to go where we wanted when we wanted. These two lakes were chocca-block with visitors and selfie-taking posers and I have to say it did impact our experience a bit. We didn’t stay long at either, although long enough for the older two girls to give me another near heart attack when they climbed a small mountain of what looked like rubble and rocks (probably about 40-50 meters high) with Keith. We had witnessed a helicopter mountain rescue half an hour earlier and so I of course had constant visions of them falling and hurting themselves during the time they were climbing.
One of the highlights of our time in Banff was our first ‘insta-meetup’! I have been using instagram a lot during the past year to connect with, follow and learn from other travelling families. The community that exists of these travellers is so amazing. People are so generous with their advice, tips and experience and much of our trip has been planned from this one source. I came across one post from @crosscanadafam- a family of four from Squamish, Canada who had just started a 12 month trip across Canada with their two girls age 10 and 7. I commented on their post and we connected and then realised we were in the same area. Kari, Bal and their girls made the trip to Banff and came and visited us at our hotel. The girls spent a couple of hours shooting down waterslides while we sat and chatted about our experiences and plans. It was so lovely to meet them and I really hope there will be more of these connections to come.
We are now on day 19 and have arrived in Seattle after two quite long days in the car. Whilst it’s nice to be back in a city with all of its familiarity, I notice I don’t have quite the same excitement as I have had when I’ve woken every day so far. We will have fun though -there is loads to see and do and I’m particularly looking forward to our meal at Salty’s – a recommendation from Megan, on the beach with apparently one of the best views of the Seattle skyline!
In order to write this, I bribed the girls with doughnuts from the ‘Donut’ shop next door to our airbnb. The deal was if they spend an hour writing in their journals and give me the time to write this, they get a donut – which has actually worked surprisingly well but time is up so off we go…