Archive for May, 2013

Diamond Princess Day 6 – Glacier Bay

We woke this morning as the ship came into Icy Strait on her way to Glacier Bay.

Princess is one of a select few cruise lines permitted to cruise the pristine waters of Glacier Bay. Just west of Juneau, this breathtaking national park boasts some of the world’s most spectacular tidewater glaciers, such as Margerie Glacier, which often drops colossal chunks of ice into the sea. Not surprisingly, Glacier Bay National Park and large glaciers are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising Alaska’s park system.
During our scenic cruise,  Park Rangers joined the ship at about 6.15am, as we entered Icy Strait, to share their knowledge of this amazing place and give us a commentary  while we sailed past the glaciers.

As we sailed through Glacier Bay, we saw several glaciers, including Reid Glacier, Lamplugh Glacier and John Hopkins Glacier and we were surprised at how many hundreds of pieces of ice and icebergs we saw floating around the ship – there were some small ones that would have been the size of a dinner plate and many large ones as big as a car.

We then sailed into the Tarr Inlet where we hovered for an hour in front of the Margerie Glacier, the face of which is over a mile long and approximately 250 feet above the water surface and at least 100 feet below the water surface.  We were lucky enough to see several glacier calvings, which is where chunks of ice break form the glacier face, tumbling down the surface and crashing into the water, making a thundering sound.  The captain turned the ship through 360 degrees during the hour we were there to ensure that everybody had the opportunity to view this magnificent glacier.

Next to it was the Grand Pacific Glacier, which had a wider face, but was almost black in colour because of the rock and debris that has been carried along the face front by the glacier.

We had rugged ourselves up with coats, scarves, beenies and gloves and joined most of the ships passengers out on the various vantage points on the decks from about 9.00am to about 1.30pm when the ship turned to make her way back down the bay to drop off the Park Rangers and continue her journey.

It was very cool, windy and overcast for the first part of the morning but by the time we reached Lamplugh Glacier the sun had come out and the skies were clearing, making for magnificent colours in the ice.

This was a fantastic experience and awe-inspiring as we watched nature at its best.

After a late lunch, we had a relaxing few hours in our stateroom followed by a lovely evening with our friends, Cheryl and Keith.

The ship has sailed back down Glacier Bay around into Icy Strait, through Cross Sound and out into the Pacific Ocean and she now has the occasional small roll.

Diamond Princess Day 5 – Skagway

Today, we got up early and successfully uploaded our photos for the past couple of days onto the gallery on our website.

Once again we had breakfast in our cabin while we watched the ship arrive in Skagway, which was the gateway to the gold fields for the thousands who flocked to Alaska and the Yukon with the hope of striking it rich. Skagway may have boasted the shortest route to the Klondike, but it wasn’t the easiest. Over 100 years ago, the White Pass route through the Coast Mountains and the shorter

but steeper Chilkoot Trail were used by countless stampeders. Many a would-be miner perished on the treacherous Chilkoot Trail.

Today, Skagway has less than 1,000 residents but it still retains the flavour of the gold rush era.  The population expands to 2,000 in the summer when people come in from other places to work the tourist time.  There are three other ships in Skagway today so that would add another approximately 8,000 visitors to the area.  Interestingly, Skagway is accessible by road, whereas Ketchikan and Juneau can only be accessed by sea or by air.

Today’s excursion was “Yukon Expedition and White Pass Scenic Railway”, which started off in a bus at 8.30am when we left the dock and headed for a quick tour of Skagway before heading up the steady climb of the Klondyke Highway.  Once again, today, we have experienced some absolutely stunning scenery with a significant amount of snow and frozen lakes and rivers.  We stopped at each of the following places for a short while to take photos:  the Black Lakes, Denver Valley, Deadhorse Gulch, Pitchfork Falls and William Moore Creek Suspension Bridge (a single span suspension with a drop of 180 feet).

Next stop was at Tormented Valley – aptly named because the stampeders had to struggle through this vast valley with their 1 ton of mandatory supplies in winds of up to 80 – 90 miles per hour and sub zero temperatures of up to -60 degrees fahrenheidt.  We stopped at an Innukshuk area where hundreds of people had built little Innukshuks from rocks beside the road – it was very picturesque as there was a frozen lake behind them. We then crossed the boarder into Canada at Fraser – a Border Security Officer came onboard our bus to check our passports.

We drove along beside a beautiful lake called Lake Tutshi (pronounced too shy), which is 30 miles long and 500 feet deep – it was still partly frozen but in the sections that had thawed out, Richard got some beautiful mirror image photos.

We stopped at Lake Tagish before arriving at Carcross, a native village with a population of 450 and was named because the caribou cross at the narrow part of the lake – we didn’t see any as they have gone north already!

We went to the Trading Post for lunch and had free entry to the Wildlife Museum, which was very well done, with numerous animals that had been authentically stuffed – they looked so real!  They had  animals of Yukon’s past and present that include steppe bison, grizzly bears, monster moose, wooly mammoth and the world’s largest mounted polar bear. They also had a training camp for huskies involved in the Idatarod Race.

We returned to Skagway via the White Pass Rail, which is a narrow gauge rail from Fraser To Skagway, taking one and a half hours to travel 27.7 miles down the mountain, hugging the cliff face and traversing deep valleys on very narrow bridges.  The White Pass Summit is 2 865 feet above sea level and at times the train’s brakes screeched as it inched its way down steep sections.

The scenery was breathtaking and some of the highlights are:  The Bridal Veil Falls, which cascade 6,000 feet from the glaciers on Mt Cleveland and Mt Clifford;  the Steel Bridge constructed in 1901 that was the tallest cantilever bridge in the world but stopped being used in 1969 when a safer bridge was built; Dead Horse Gulch which is a very deep ravine, approximately 1 000 feet, that claimed many horses’ lives in the gold rush era; and the Trestle Bridge built  to carry the railway, to name but a few.

We arrived back in Skagway at the Rail Depot just after 4.30pm and walked the short walk back to the ship.  We passed many names of ships painted onto the cliff face beside the Diamond Princess and were told that the first time a ship comes to Skagway, the crew climb up the cliff face and paint the ship and the captain’s name onto the cliff.  After putting our things in our stateroom, we went up to the Sky Deck to the Outrigger Bar to have pre-dinner drinks with some of the rest of our tour group.

We have really enjoyed our excursion today, spending it with Fay and Ray, two of our fellow APT tour group and we are currently about to leave Skagway.  Tomorrow is an “at sea” day, exploring Glacier Bay, which we are looking forward to.

Photos

We got up early and have managed to upload the last 2 days of photos without any issues.  We are just docking at Skagway – more news later!

Diamond Princess Day 4 – Juneau

We woke up early this morning because it was light not long after 4.00am.  Sandy tried again to upload the photos from yesterday to the blog with no success!  After breakfast we watched our ship dock in Juneau, which is the Capital of the state of Alaska and has a population of 30,000.

At 8.30am we set off for our shore excursion, which was described as the Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari and Whale Watching.  There were 13 other people on the excursion and we headed off to a spot close to the glacier and walked through a picturesque nature trail, stopping to take photos along the way, to a lookout at the base of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Before we left the ship, one of the Princess crew members introduced Pembroke Bear to us and asked our tour guide/professional instructor, Hugh, to take him with us and show him a good time, with the idea being that Hugh would take photos of him and us and give the camera memory card to her when he returned Pembroke at the end of the excursion.  Needless to say, this provided quite a bit of hilarity as we all thought of lots of poses that we could put him in including sitting in a tree, trying to raid the bear proof rubbish bins, him taking photos of the glacier and the whales, having a ride on Sandy’s shoulders and generally having a great time!!

Hugh encouraged everyone to try new settings on their cameras and explained how we could take better photos.

The Mendenhall Glacier began about 3000 years ago and is fed from an icefield high above Juneau.  The glacier is approximately 13 miles long and rises above the Mendenhall Lake, which is dotted with icebergs that have broken away from the glacier.

Our adventure continued when we reboarded the bus and were taken down to the harbour to Auke Bay.  We boarded a boat specially designed for wildlife viewing – it had panoramic windows that opened completely and even had arm rests on the windowsills to help rest your camera.  As we headed out into the bay, we admired the snow-capped mountain peaks and the placid waters of the bay and Stephens Passage, on this perfect sunny and warm day.

We were fortunate to find a pod of Killer Whales and watched, as well as took photos of them as they frolicked not far from our boat. We also saw a majestic bald eagle, sitting on top of a channel marker. We saw some sea lions from a distance but quick enough to get photos.

We were also privileged to watch a Humpback Whale surface several times on its way through the channel. He would come up to the surface for air several times in a row, staying close to the surface and then he would take one last big breath and disappear under the water with a flick of his fluke (tail) he would dive to the bottom to feed on the fish there.  We learnt that Humpback Whales can stay underwater for approximately 6 minutes, so it quickly became a competition to see who could see him surface first as he could travel quite a distance in that time!

The boat skipper was great, manoeuvring his boat so that we could get great photos.

On the way to the ship, the driver and Hugh dropped us off at the Mount Roberts Tramway, which is within easy walking distance of the ship (about 15 minutes).  The “tram” is  a large enclosed gondola.  We boarded the tram, which holds about 30 people and climbs 1,750 feet in 10 minutes up a very steep incline.  We wandered around at the top, taking in the beautiful panoramic scenery as well as looking through some of the gift shops and local artisan craft shops before heading back in the tram to the downtown area and then walked back to our ship for a very late lunch.

Sandy spent a couple of hours late this afternoon trying to upload the photos to the gallery, one again with no success, so will try again early tomorrow morning before too many other people are up using the internet, checking emails etc.  The satellite/internet connection is extremely slow and very expensive, especially considering that all the hotels we have stayed at so far, have given us free wireless internet access in our room.

We set sail at 9.00pm after another wonderful day in Alaska.

Diamond Princess Day 3 – Ketchikan

This morning, we woke early to stand on our balcony in the sunshine, with blue skies overhead and no clouds in the sky and watched the ship come into the dock in Ketchikan, which is known as Alaska’s “First City” because it’s the first major community travellers come to as they journey north. Located on Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan began life as an Indian fishing camp. The name Ketchikan comes from a Tlingit phrase that means “eagle with spread-out wings”.  In the early 1900s, when gold was Alaska’s claim to fame, fishing and timber industries were established in Ketchikan. The growth of these industries helped make this Inside Passage port Alaska’s fourth-largest city.

We had breakfast in our cabin before being collected from the dock at 9.00am for our adventure on a DeHavilland Otter floatplane to Misty Fjords National Park. The seaplane had large windows for good viewing and individual headsets allowing us to enjoy the pilot’s narration and reduce the noise of the engine. Set aside as a fully protected wilderness area in 1978, Misty Fjords National Monument (its official title) encompasses more than two million acres.

The seaplane carried 10 passengers and for half the trip, Richard got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat as we took off not far from where the ship was berthed.  We flew over some stunning scenery, including

lush forests of spruce, hemlock and cedar trees, beautiful lakes, including Ella Lake. We saw an island called New Eddystone Rock – a volcanic remnant that looks like a lighthouse.

We flew past sheer granite cliffs of 3,150 feet called Punchbowl Cove and saw 1,000-foot cascading waterfalls. We flew over Big Goat Lake and then the pilot came in for a spectacular landing on Nooya Lake, which was like a mirror. Most of us got out of the plane and stood on the floats, marvelling at the awesome scenery and natural beauty that surrounded us – the snow-capped mountains were perfectly reflected in the lake’s surface – and the stunning silence.  We had our photos taken standing on the floats by, other passengers – Sandy on one side of the plane and Richard on the other.  We have some amazing photos – see Gallery.

We flew back over Thorne Arm, Carroll Inlet and Herring Bay, landing beside the Diamond Princess.  The flight lasted for 1½ hours and was absolutely fantastic.

We were dropped off at the Tourist Information Centre in the middle of Downtown Ketchikan, where we organised to charter a taxi to take us to one of the two Totem parks..  The driver, who is also a local tour guide, took us to Totem Bight Park, which is approximately 12 miles out of town.  We walked around the park and saw 13 Totem Poles and a Clan House.  As it was getting towards lunch time, there were hardly any people at there, which made it very special. The driver arranged for us to see a local carver working on a totem pole in his workshop not far from the park.  The totem poles are made of western red cedar, which is an extremely light timber making it easy to carve the intricate patterns and shapes.

After a great morning, we arrived back at the ship 20 minutes before the “all aboard” time, had lunch with two of the people from our group and watched the ship leave Ketchikan at 2.00pm.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in our lovely stateroom sorting out the many photos we both took this morning before joining the rest of our group for pre-dinner drinks at the Outrigger Bar at the back of the ship.  Our Tour Director, Inge, has been organising a get together at various times so that we can still keep in touch while we are on the ship – we will be doing the land tour of Alaska together, which will be great.

We had arranged with Cheryl and Keith yesterday afternoon to meet for dinner tonight and the four of us had a lovely evening – we have all hit it off so well and spent a relaxed time with them, laughing and enjoying each others’ company.

Another wonderful day!!

Diamond Princess Day 2 – At Sea

We woke this morning at 7.30am after a good night’s sleep and had a lovely leisurely breakfast in our room, looking at the slightly overcast but beautiful view from our balcony.

Shortly after breakfast we passed Pine Island Lighthouse (an authentic, working lighthouse staffed and operated by the Canadian Coast Guard) and watched the pilot that we had taken on in Vancouver, be taken off the ship and onto the pilot boat.  He had safely seen us through the Strait of Georgia, Seymour Narrows, Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait.

At that point we also saw a large BC Car Ferry, the Northern Expedition, heading north.

We went to a Photography@Sea class mid morning and found this to be quite interesting. Sandy had developed a migraine, so spent a few hours asleep, while Richard went to lunch with the rest of the tour group.  The tour director had organised for us all to get together as we wouldn’t be seeing much of each other until we reach Whittier.

By mid afternoon it was sunny and Sandy was feeling better, so we were able to meet up with some people that Sandy had gotten to know via the Princess Facebook.  We met up with Cheryl and Keith in the Skywalker Lounge and spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting and having a quiet drink.  The Skywalker Lounge is set high at the stern of the ship, which gives you panoramic views and we saw some whales in the distance.

Tonight was one of our Formal Nights, so we got “tarted up” and went down and had a very nice dinner in the Savoy Restaurant.  When we arrived back in our stateroom, we opened the door to the balcony to see an absolute millpond outside with the sea conditions smooth and waveless, only being broken by our bow wave.

As we write this, we have travelled 398 nautical miles from Vancouver with another 148 nautical miles to go to our first port of call Ketchikan, where we are expected to dock at 6.00am tomorrow morning.  Sunrise tomorrow morning is going to be at 4.19am and sunset will be 9.52pm – the start of our long northern days.

Diamond Princess (Escape Completely) Day 1

We woke up this morning, anticipating that we would see the Diamond Princess at her berth across the road from the hotel but she didn’t arrive into port until about 6.30am.  What a magnificent site,

watching her back into her berth, from our window.

The Diamond Princess began operation in March 2004 and cruises mainly in Alaska during the summer.  She was built in Nagasaki, Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

After breakfast, we all met downstairs in the lobby and walked over together to Canada Place to the Ship terminal to go through the process of immigration into America as our first port of call is in Alaska.  The process was very painless – they took our fingerprints, checked our passports and boarding passes and within a couple of minutes we were both cleared to enter the USA.  There had been a medical evacuation from one of the ships in dock and so they had to stop the disembarkation process of the previous passengers until the evacuation had cleared, which meant that the embarkation process had to be delayed for a while. We left the hotel at 9.45am and somehow we finished up almost at the head of the queue for boarding and we were walking up the gangplank at 12.00 midday (the only people ahead of us to board were the Platinum and Elite return Princess passengers).

We were shown straight to our mini-suite, which we are delighted with.  We have a king size bed, a 3 seater lounge and arm chair, two TVs (one in the bedroom and one in the lounge room), a fridge, a walk-in wardrobe, a bath as well as a shower in the bathroom and our own balcony and we received a large cheese platter as a welcome gift.  We headed up to the buffet for a leisurely lunch and then started to explore the ship.  We are sure that we will eventually be able to work out where the heck we are and how to get to where we want to be, but probably not until the last day.

Our luggage arrived mid afternoon and so we put on a load of washing in the laundry room, before going up to watch the Sail-away and be part of the celebrations.  We stood out on the front of the promenade deck and watched the ship slip her moorings and gently glide away out into the harbour and under the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

We had dinner at the Savoy Dining Room and it was delicious – everyone there was so friendly and made us feel very special.  We returned to our stateroom to find our bed turned down, two chocolates on the bed and a tray of giant chocolate covered strawberries on the table.

The day went very quickly and we stood out on our balcony and watched the sun set on our first day at sea.

Rocky Mountaineer – Kamloops to Vancouver

Our train journey continued this morning – we were picked up from the hotel at 7.15am and delivered to the Rocky Mountaineer for our second day’s journey towards Vancouver.  We have several more carriages today – now 23 in total

We passed along beside Kamloops Lake and then past the ghost town of Wallachin that has timber flumes that carried the water to the town from a lake higher up in the mountains.

We slowly started to descend from around 4000 feet above sea level to Ashcroft at 2099 feet above sea level.  We continued to travel along the Thompson River and passed the Jaws of Death Gorge. The next point of interest was Avalanche Alley where we went through several avalanche chute sheds.  There were also horizontal wires 18 inches apart up beside the train and over the top of the train to detect any rock slides/avalanches – the wires would send a signal to Edmonton and from there they would turn the signals on the tracks red so that the trains would stop until the tracks were clear and safe.

We then passed the confluence of the Thompson River and the Fraser River and could clearly see the difference in colour between the two  – the Thompson River is clear and the Fraser River is muddier.

The next point of interest was Cisco Crossing, which is where the Canadian Northern line and the Canadian Pacific Line crossed over each other.  The Canadian National Line, which we were on, crossed the river on a bridge that has the largest single span bridge on the rail system in Canada and is 810 feet long and 220 feet above the water.

Next was Skuzzy Creek and then Hell’s Gate Narrows – 909,218,000 litres of water pound and surge each minute through the 33 metre gorge.  The United States and Canadian governments did a joint venture to build concrete ladders so that the salmon could swim up them and get back upstream to their spawning grounds.

We travelled through Hope, which is a town that is famous from the Gold Rush days in 1858. It is in the Cascade Mountains and is surrounded on 3 sides by mountain peaks and is at the junction of the Fraser and Coquihilla Rivers.  Logging and tourism have become the prime local industries.

We then travelled through the Fraser Valley and continued on to Vancouver after a long wait at one of the sidings because of congestion on the track ahead.

As we came into Vancouver we could see the Golden Ears Bridge and then went over the Port Mann Bridge.  As we crept our way into the Railway terminal, we had one last piece of fun when some of the people in our carriage presented the poems that they had written last night and the 4 crew members judged the winners – Fay and Melissa from our APT group and Fiona from Scotland all won “The Order of the Salmon” badges.

We have had a wonderful two days being spoilt by the Rocky Mountaineer staff and we had lots of laughter and time to get to know our other fellow travellers even better.

Today was a beautiful sunny day, which showed off all of the stunning colours of the Canadian countryside.  Richard spent a lot of time out on the vestibule (viewing platform) at the back of our carriage taking copious amounts of photos.  The meals on the train would leave a lot of first class restaurants for dead!  We thoroughly enjoyed our two days on the Rocky Mountaineer and would class it as one of the highlights of our trip.

We have travelled 441 kilometres from Jasper to Kamloops and then 460 kilometres from Kamloops to Vancouver.

When we arrived at the station, our bus driver, Steve, was there to meet us – he had been to the luggage depot and had delivered our suitcases to our hotel, the Fairmont Waterfront, and had collected all our room keys so that we could just go straight to our rooms without any mucking about and our suitcases would be there waiting for us.  We said our farewell to Steve as we won’t be seeing him again, but our Tour Director, Inge, is coming with us for the rest of the trip.

We had a lovely Farewell to Canada dinner put on by APT and welcomed two more Aussies to our group and they will continue on with us for the whole of the rest of our tour – we now have 36 in the group.

We will be boarding the Diamond Princess tomorrow morning heading for Alaska – very excited.  We are not sure how good the internet service will be so we may not be able to post our blog and/or our photos for a week until we get to Alaska.

Rocky Mountaineer – Jasper to Kamloops

Today we started our journey on the Rocky Mountaineer train from Jasper to Vancouver, stopping at Kamlooks tonight.  We were up early at 5.15am so that we could get organised before our luggage was picked up at 5.45am to be trucked to Kamloops, our first stop.  Our bus driver, Steve, drove ours to Kamloops on his way back to Vancouver (he will collect our luggage and meet us off the train and take us to the hotel in Vancouver).

It was “All Aboard” at 8.15am and we pulled out of Jasper station shortly after 8.30am.  Our tour group is sitting in Gold Class, which is on the top deck of a two deck carriage, with our dining car underneath.  The carriage has a glass dome and has 66 seats and each person has loads of leg room and very large windows.  Our carriage has 3 attendants, as well as its own chefs.  We were spoilt with lovely food, constant supply of complimentary drinks and snacks.

A little bit of information about the train:

It is being pulled by 2 x General Motors diesel 3000 horsepower locomotives, made in Colorado

Each carriage weighs 82 tonnes

The train has an average speed of 35 miles per hour and top speed of 60 miles per hour

Along the way we notice lots of Propane tanks beside the tracks and we were told that this is used to heat the tracks in winter.

After our early start, we had a delicious breakfast on the train and relaxed while we watched the scenery go by.

We travelled from tree-laden mountains to the open flat landscape of the Kamloops area.

We passed Moose Lake; Thunder Falls; Pyramid falls, which have a 300 foot drop and is glacially fed from a lake high up in the mountains; and Little Hell’s Gate Rapids.  Some people were fortunate enough to spot a black bear but the photos didn’t turn out particularly well as he was on the other side of a river with trees on our side of the river.

We travelled along the North Thompson River for most of the day and arrived in Kamloops at about 5.00pm.

Kamloops is in British Columbia and is located where the North Thompson River  and the South Thompson river and Kamloops Lake join. Kamloops is a Shushwap word for “the meeting of the waters” and its population is 90 000, with a further 90 000 guests per year, stopping over on their Rocky Mountain journeys.

We were bussed to our hotel, the Coast Hotel, set high on a hill overlooking the town.

The overcast conditions, a light shower and lots of trees made for difficult photography today, so there are not many photos in the gallery.

Our tour group made up the majority of the people in our carriage and by now we are all feeling comfortable with each other and so there was a lot of fun and laughter, which also involved the carriage staff.  Kevin, who is the carriage supervisor, provided commentary along the way when we were approaching something of interest so that we could be ready with our cameras as the train slowed so that everyone could get a photo.

Lake Louise to Jasper

This morning we got up at 5.45am so that we could watch the changing colours that were produced when the sun rose behind the hotel and shone onto Mt Victoria and the Glacier and the lake.  It was beautiful, changing from pinks to gold and we could see the mountain reflected in the parts of the lake that had thawed.

We forgot to mention yesterday that we were not able to go to Moraine Lake because the road was closed because it still had snow over it – a bit disappointing.

After breakfast, we boarded our bus to head towards Jasper.  We journeyed along the Icefields Parkway, a very scenic drive, travelling along a chain of massive icefields straddling the Continental Divide.  We entered Jasper National Park, established in 1907 and one of Canada’s oldest and largest national parks.

Our first stop was at the Crowfoot Glacier, Crowfoot Mountain, Bow Lake and Bow Glacier.  As we drove along we were surprised to see that there was still snow on the ground in same areas.

We stopped for a cuppa just past the Saskatchewan River Crossing and then continued on to the

giant Columbia Icefield, which is 325 square kilometres, and had lunch in the Icefield Centre.

After lunch we were driven in one of their buses up to a changeover point where we went for a ride in a specially designed Ice Explorer up onto the Athabasca Glacier.  The glacier is 300m deep and is moving at 25m per year, which is pretty amazing.  We were able to get out onto the glacier and stand on the ice. Sandy had a drink from the glacier water and said that it was lovely.

Our visit to the Glacier was absolutely brilliant!!  Lots of photos were taken here!

As we drove along we came to an impressive mountain that, through thousands of years of water rushing down it, had created what is referred to as the Weeping Wall.  We drove past the Bridal Falls and stopped for a photo opportunity overlooking the highway we had just travelled on and the Nigel Creek beside it.

Our next stop was at the Athabasca Fall, which, at a 23 metre drop is not very high by Canadian Rockies standards, but the size of the river makes it one of the most powerful falls to be found in the mountain national parks. Pouring over a layer of hard quartzite, the falls have cut into the softer limestone beneath, carving intricate features, including potholes and a short canyon.  Lots of photos were taken here too!

Very soon after this, our driver suddenly slowed down as he could see a couple of cars and a bus stopped by the side of the road, and there in amongst the trees WE SAW A BLACK BEAR!  We were not able to get any good photos, but were delighted that we had seen it.

We continued our journey north and arrived at Jasper late in the afternoon. Jasper is located in western Alberta, Canada and is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies in the Athabasca River valley.

We checked into the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, a mountain retreat located on the shores of Lake Beauvert and surrounded by magnificent scenery.  As we drove into the large grounds, we saw an elk.

Another beautiful day with lots of varied scenery but with the common theme of mountains, snow, rivers, trees and animals!

Tomorrow, we will be boarding the Rocky Mountaineer train for two days, so we are not sure if we will actually have any internet coverage until we arrive back at Vancouver.