23 August 2006

IMG_5023-01.jpgA vacation report without photos – that’s like an ice cream cone without ice cream, or a car without a steering wheel, or a computer without internet :) Well, I have made extensive use of the latter and compiled a gallery for our family vacation in the summer of 2006. Now you can read and see what we were up to. Almost as if you were there yourself. While I’ve regularly visited Alberta since 1997, it has been a very first for my parents and my sister (my brother wasn’t able to join but the Hawaii cruise he took in October made up for it). I have introduced them to my circle of Canadian friends and also for them it was good to finally meet the family :)

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I drove back to Black Diamond and stayed at Liz’ for the night. I needed – and got – some decent sleep (the one in the cabin was constantly disturbed by flies, mosquitoes and moths). The next day was pretty much a chill-out-day until the evening, when another friend of mine came over for supper. Shortly after that I packed all my belongings together and waved good-bye.
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21 August 2006

We used our home-base to explore the area on various day-trips. On one day we drove to Drumheller which is famous for its badlands and dinosaur excavations. We followed the “Dinosaur Trail” and crossed the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry, one of the oldest cable ferries in Alberta. Seeing that it was already mid-afternoon, we decided against the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum (which I think is one of the best museums I have ever seen) and stopped in Drumheller for a late lunch. The way back through the prairies was little spectacular, if it wasn’t for a thunderstorm suddenly darkening the sky.
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15 August 2006

This was our last stop before the foothills where we were staying for the rest of the trip. We left the bungalow in the morning and drove north via Golden, then east along the Kicking Horse river towards the 1A which took us to Banff – the destination my Mom was keenest to see because she had just read an article on Banff in the newspaper back home. I had been here before and therefore toured them through the town – it was super busy with tourists. We decided to park the car and walk around for a bit, this was a good way to get a feeling for Banff. The town is pretty neat. Its shops deliver a cosmopolitan aura yet its purpose of a ski town does not. In absence of a Tim Horton’s we stopped at Starbuck’s and carried on with our trip – straight east towards Calgary.
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14 August 2006

We were booked for two nights, so we explored B.C.’s south the next day, and also tried to find some hot springs for the parents (we are kind of allergic to tourist traps, hence “Radium Hot Springs” was not an option). We drove south to Kimberley and were surprised by it’s “Platzl” town center, an all Bavarian setup which reminded us of a movie set. Pleasant and scary at the same time was a souvenir shop that played German Volksmusik and sold German memorabilia and souvenirs. Too funny! Carried on our drive south to Cranbrook to hit Safeway, then followed another road north that at Columbia Lake merged with the road we came down. My parents really liked it there – a gorgeous lake nestled in between two mountain ranges. We were already house-spotting, and I have official permission to move there and buy a house big enough for my parents to move in after they retire. Sure…
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13 August 2006

No breakfast for us in Jasper due to bureaucratic obstacles, but we were all prepared with our cooler bag, knives and coffe mugs. We left touristy Jasper to drive down the Icefield Parkway, a very scenic drive that I had driven a couple of times before. We stopped at nearly all the sights on the way: The Athabasca Falls, Peyto Lake (another hike to a viewing platform with a breathtaking view of the emerald lake and a glacier) and Lake Louise. This ‘jewel’ of the Rocky Mountains turned out to be everyone’s jewel, a mass of tourists stood by the lake and blocked the views for us. No picture taking opportunities either, unless you were keen on having hundreds of unknown people in the photo. Nah… We don’t think so…
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12 August 2006

A lot of driving ahead of us the next day. We had our accommodation in Jasper, Alberta already booked. We took another walk around the ranch and then left for Kamloops and the Yellowhead Highway. It took us through remote wilderness and we saw with fascination how the landscape changed from the semi-arid desert of central BC to towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Seven hours and almost 550km later, we arrived at Jasper.
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11 August 2006

After another night at the B&B and a great breakfast, we left Vancouver for our first destination: Historic Hat Creek Ranch at Cache Creek, about 50mi west of Kamloops. We headed along the US border to Hope and then turned north along the Fraser River. First stop in Yale to grab a geocache. Another stop at “Hell’s Gate”, a narrow gorge of the Fraser Canyon. They have built a tram across the canyon that takes you down to the gorge, but 15$ pp weren’t worth it. My parents had the glorious idea of hiking down on a service path (why do travel books always populate such information?!?).

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10 August 2006

The next day we decided to listen to the B&B host’s advise and substituted the tourist traps Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension bridge by Seymour Mountain and Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Also stopped at a salmon hatchery at the Capilano Canyon. The substitution proved to be a good decision which gave us a chance for a couple of good, short hikes through spectacular rain forest. Continue | Weiter »

9 August 2006

On Aug 9th, we signed off and picked up our wheels right at the pier. I went for a – not so mini – van, a Pontiac Montana, great vehicle! Spacious, great to drive, good on gas (the only argument for not getting an SUV this time). Drove to downtown Vancouver and walked around in the sun – it was a gorgeous day. Got a good overview from the Harbour Centre (don’t y’all love the spelling) observation deck. Had lunch at Tim Horton’s, drove then to North Vancouver to check in at the B&B for two nights. Lovely Slovenian couple who spoke German. Continue | Weiter »

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