Alaska Trip Part V — Heading for Banff

This entry is part 5 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 13, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

This is the fifth in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Scenery that gets us excited.  Grand views everywhere.

Scenery that gets us excited. Grand views everywhere.

All day long it felt like we were driving into a postcard.  Had there been more places to pull out of traffic, the 168-mile trip could have taken two days or more.  We envy the bicyclists chugging up mountains on their overloaded bikes.  They got to be in the moment for hours.

Visiting Luxury at Banff Springs Hotel

Visiting Luxury at Banff Springs Hotel

Monique called our route though the top of the Okanagan Corridor and into Canada’s Glacier National Park (not connected to the U.S. version) “Waterfall Alley.”  The melting snow streaming and tumbling down steep mountainsides fed into jade-green shallow rivers.  It seemed endless.

Gondolas - 6849Add to that the picture-perfect blue skies and you couldn’t find more beautiful scenery.  Last night as Monique and I sat around a campfire with four young travelers from Switzerland, we asked, “Why would you come here?  It looks like Switzerland.”  The response was, “There’s more of it here!”

Enough terrain-talk.  Now for a few comments.  I’m sure there are several readers who would like to have a map of our route included with these articles.  That was my original intention, but there hasn’t been enough time to work on one … and then it occurred to me that a map isn’t a good idea.  Going to Alaska is about exploring, and plotting a course based on our travels would diminish the adventure.

When you’re planning your trip, the first place to start is the book “Milepost,” which is an incredible source of information about every road and every stop along the way, plus lots more.  Canadian and Alaska tourism offices are glad to provide information, and, of course, there’s the web.  You can browse for hours finding out about what to see while moseying on up to Alaska and back.

And besides, traipsing along behind a caravan isn’t really fair to Adventure Caravans, is it?

Forget what I said yesterday about cellphone charges.  There are apparently more options I didn’t know about until this afternoon.  Check with your service for the right information.

Today we learned that the cost of a 7-day national park pass is $57.00 (Canadian) for seniors … and that’s per person.  Then, there are provincial parks that have different fees.  If no officers are around to put a ticket on your vehicle if you don’t have a pass, you can take a chance on stopping at some of the breathtaking sights.  Otherwise, you need to pay.

Rushing Jade Waters

Rushing Jade Waters

Speaking of cost, we’re still learning the conversions.  I stuck a speedometer sheet on my steering wheel, e.g., 100 Km/H equals about 60 mph in the states.  And, of course, all the distance signs are in kilometers, and everything has the French translation attached.  We have a pocketful of $2 coins and some pretty paper bills.  We’re using our ATM card when it’s more than $20 for fuel, food or a fishing rod & reel.

Our route today was dotted with massive construction projects, with heavy equipment operating even though it is Sunday.  The road-widening work is impressive and didn’t cause us any delays.

Enjoying Our Trip With a Circle of Friends

Enjoying Our Trip With a Circle of Friends

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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Our Alaska Trip Part VI Banff & Lake Louise

This entry is part 7 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 15, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 4 Comments  

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

This is the sixth in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

It’s been raining off and on all day, and speaking of off and on, we still managed to have an interesting day getting off and on a tour bus for about eight hours today as we toured the resort areas of Banff and Lake Louise in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

The Water at Lake Louise is Really That Blue

The Water at Lake Louise is Really That Blue

“Be aware!  Nothing’s for Free!” or as the locals abbreviate it, “B-a-n-f-f,” according to our tour bus driver.  Banff is your typical, quaint tourist town in the summer when the skiers have gone home.  We spent hours circling muat-see sights, including the hotel and falls, which were included in yesterday’s blog.  Today, most of the members of the caravan rode together on a field trip.

From Banff we traveled to the incredibly turquoise Lake Louise, where we spent almost two hours viewing the lake and chatting leisurely with people visiting the area.  Beautiful, of course, but since I still can’t find enough picturesque words to convey what we experienced, I’ll let a few pictures help and get on to other topics.  The photos are random shots, not the postcards you can see elsewhere.

First and related, as we trekked along Canada Hwy. 1, our driver explained that the entire length of the 4-lane is getting fencing on both sides.  This is because of how often migrating wildlife is killed on that stretch.  What they have done is build “wildlife underpasses,” which are favored by deer, elk and bighorn sheep wanting to cross the roadway, and “wildlife overpasses,” like bears and wolves.  Considering the investment, it had better work.

Juvenile Bighorn Sheep: Is "Sheep" Singular or Plural?  (Yes, it's a photo effect)

Juvenile Bighorn Sheep: Is “Sheep” Singular or Plural? (Yes, it’s a photo effect)

We find the construction underway amazing, and it brings up another point – VALUE.  Whether you embark on a trip to Alaska on your own or with a caravan, as we are doing, it’s expensive.  How expensive depends on your rig’s fuel consumption, your penchant for spending money for food and trinkets, what excursions including cruises that you want to take, where you plan to camp, etc.  You have to decide.  You’re still going to pay for fuel, food and shopping, but signing up with a caravan adds a hefty amount to your outlay.

With that in mind, I think your decision has to be made based on value.  Do research, including digesting what these blogs have to say, and then make up your mind.  We chose the group approach because it relieved Monique of the intricacies of planning each day including deciding what to do and where to go.  Today we found value in learning things that we found fascinating.

Despite the weather, this was another good day.  We did some touring we probably wouldn’t have wanted to do to conserve on diesel.  We hopped on the bus at 7:45 a.m., which was included in the cost of the trip, and that was it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are not a convoy; we have ample opportunity to do our own thing and don’t travel like ducks in row — there can be 10 miles or 50 between rigs.

Site of an Avalanche in the Making Above Lake Louise

Site of an Avalanche in the Making Above Lake Louise

In addition to explaining about the wildlife fencing, our driver told us that scientists predict that the glaciers, which are retracting, will begin expanding again in 10 years.  We are happy for any hopeful news along those lines.

If you come up through British Columbia, you might go through the Okanagan Corridor.  When we started the trip, we pronounced it “O-kanagan” until I changed to “o-KAN-nagan.”  I now think it is really “okan-NA-gan.”  If you’re not coming this way, don’t worry about it.

The Zanders in a Pergola at Banff

The Zanders in a Pergola at Banff

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Comments

4 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part VI Banff & Lake Louise”

▪.  Sucie on June 15th, 2010 10:43 am  
To bad you missed the Valley of the 10 peaks (Moraine Lake), which is located to the Southeast of Lake Louise. It is absolutely breathtaking. Where you turned right to go to the Lake Louise Chateau, you turn left and take the Moraine Lake Road instead. It is about 10 miles or so. Next time you pass through, be sure to make the trip. You won’t be disappointed

▪.  hockeyguy on June 15th, 2010 9:34 pm  
I agree that Valley of the 10 peaks is spectacular with less development than elsewhere. I was there a long time ago and it still is vivid in my mind. It helps that the valley was the model for the back of the old $10 dollar bill at the time. 
I had a meal at the lodge that was there and it was very good by any standard. 
Everywhere else is still spectacular but the valley is unique. Another attraction to look at is the cliffs that are called Hoo-Doos. The best time to look at them is at night after the moon has risen. A little spooky but very striking. I hope to go again someday.

▪.  Bill Stanley on June 16th, 2010 3:43 pm  
Oh-ka-noggin

▪.  Old Grey on June 16th, 2010 8:27 pm  
I’m re-living parts of our travels in BC as you pass through. Wonderful mountains, lakes and waterfalls. Enjoy your travels!
We plan to head to the Yukon and Alaska in the near future. in our 13 ft. trailer. Alas! We will be unable to travel by caravan (great fun that is!) but we will enjoy our trip nearly as much as you are enjoying yours!