Week of May 23, 2010
Ahhh, Lake Louise. Unfortunately, this beautiful lake was not named for me nor me for it; however, it was named after Queen Victoria's fourth daughter, Louise (who apparently, never saw the lake itself). I know that if "I" had a lake named after me, I would make the effort to see it, wouldn't you? (tsk tsk tsk)
As Lake Louise and much of the Icefields Parkway stretch maintain their snow well into June, we were not surprised that we did not get to see the area in its full glory. Lake Louise is known for is spectacularly turquoise mirror water and its equally magnificent mountains reflected in its 'mirror'. What we did experience was a lack of crowds, and even though snow and ice dominated, a very pristine and breathtaking lake. (Would you expect anything less?).
||Yep, had to find the street sign
and buy the t-shirt!
Lake Louise and Louise
||Imagine that water turquoise in color
and reflecting the glacier-cut mountains
From Lake Louise we went down the road and around the mountain to Lake Moraine. A smaller, but no less impressive lake, still had a significant part of it frozen over. Being the rather adventurous type, I tip-toed out a bit on the ice (of course, I made sure there were tracks of someone else who had already tested the ice, again, not THAT stupid).
We had planned to take a bit of a hike; however, with the cold and looming wet weather, we decided lunch in a warm lodge sounded better.
||Gerson at Lake Moraine
Louise on Lake Moraine
View of Gerson and back to
|I 'borrowed' this from a
Lonely Planet book.
This is Lake Moraine in
The warm lodge was located at the base of the Lake Louise ski resort and we indulged in a "lift and lunch" pass for the afternoon. We rode the ski lift up the partially snowy mountain and turned around to look back across the glacial valley at Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. The view was spectacular and during our incline, the sun almost made its presence known.
We wandered around at the top of the lift as there were a few lookout points that offered differing views of the surrounding mountains, and I mean 'surrounding' mountains. When standing within this community of behemoths, you tend to realize how truly insignificant we humans are.
||Lake Louise ski resort
and its very nice lodge
Ground squirrel looking cute
Louise overlooking Lake
||View to Lake Louise (can you
imagine the turquoise water
Some deer grazing near the lift
More awesome views
After Lake Louise, we had thought to take a stroll around Banff and take in what we were told was a "nice little ski town". Well, what we found was a bustling, crowded, ski-tourist town in which we even got caught in a traffic jam. That was enough for us and as soon as we could squeeze our truck out of the downtown, we kept on heading southeast toward Calgary.
Ok, a funny note here. As we tried to avoid the most touristy areas, we fell off the camping wagon in search for a TV for the night. As we both found ourselves rather hooked on "Lost" and this night was the finale, we did not want to read or hear about the final show before we watched it. As we could not find a campground that had a TV hookup (and as we have had difficulty figuring out our satellite TV setup), we succumbed to a cheap hotel with a good TV.
At the end of the night (or rather, well into the wee morning hours), we watched the finale for "Lost" and were totally, absolutely and dumbfoundedly disappointed by the show. If we had paid for the show itself, we would have considered it a rip-off. Well, at least that cured us of making an effort to find a TV for any particular show (notice I said "show", this does not include anything to do with televised soccer....do you even need to ask "Why?").
The newest Recruit
|This totem pole is over 100 years old and tells the history of the family it represents|
The next morning, we made our way to Fort Calgary and enjoyed a walk through the area's past. It was particularly fun to watch Gerson try on a Mountie uniform that was definitely not made for a rather hulkish Brazilian. Had I taken longer to snap the photos, Gerson would have been turning as red as the uniform because of his holding his breath (IE: sucking everything in) to stay in the uniform.
We then made our way to a fantastic place of history, the Dinosaur Provincial Park, via the Badlands. This Unesco World Heritage site has thousands of dinosaurs encased in it grounds and its recovered skeletons grace many of the finest museums in the world.
||The circle posts for a temporary
shelter for the peoples of the
The badlands used to be
||Some beauty in the badlands
Like I said....
Remember, this was the bottom
We spent quite a bit of time walking along many trails that took you through millions of years of geology. The museum itself was a highlight as the recovered fossils were a bit intimidating in their size and completeness.
||Gerson holding up a "hoodoo"
A classic "death pose"
Very cool skeletons
||Check out the size of
the foot next to Gerson's size 12 foot
We became a bit pressed for time so we pushed on across Southern Canada and found a lovely campsite outside of a beautiful Lake of the Woods town called Kenora, Ontario. We had the place to ourselves and made a note to return when we have more time.
||The plains were not so plain
Kenora was quite nice nestled
||Pretty Lake of the Woods
This is how it should be...men
We were off early the next day so we could make it to our next stop, Itasca State Park, the home of the headwaters of the great Mississippi River. We followed the southward winding highway that ran along the Lake of the Woods and found ourselves marveling at the numerous beaver dams and dens dotting the landscape. This definitely is an area slated for another visit.
Of course, we could not leave Canada without a little souvenir...a speeding ticket. As we were toddling along, we (or should I say "Gerson) were not paying much attention to the unexpected reduction in speed and yep, we got radared by one of Canada's finest. He was a nice enough chap, and let us go with a minimum fine ($52US). Heck, a couple of T-shirts would have worn out...but the memory of getting the ticket...forever.
||Lake of the Woods and its
|What you do not see are the many
summer homes that have their own
sea-plane "docks" - now that is
the way to travel
Just over the border into the U.S., we stopped in a little restaurant in International Falls, Minnesota. I have to give it honorable mention as the food was delicious and by the time we had finished, we were seemingly on a first-name basis with the owners, employees and the locals. It was quite the small-town experience and quite enjoyable.
We made it into Itasca State Park and found a terrific spot right near the lake and a perfect place to grill our celebratory meal (a celebration of a fantastic trip). Gerson was in his element watching his steaks sizzle on the grill and his beer chill in the ice.
||Sandy's Place is highly recommended
Our campsite at Itasca State Park
Now, this is what I call camping!
The look I get when I tell Gerson not to eat
A beautiful end to a beautiful day
We had been wanting to visit this area for several years and as we have been at the tail end (tailwaters??, bottomwaters?? footwaters??) of the Mississippi River, we were excited to tip toe through the headwaters. Inasmuch as we were enjoying our time strolling across the mighty Mississippi, our giddiness was nothing compared to a few busloads of children that swarmed us while we were taking our pictures.
||Yep, that is the beginning of
The swarm of kids having
||Our canoe around the lake and
over to the headwaters
Don't we look fierce
A little story about the kids...as I was striking my post in the shallows of the headwaters, Gerson was fumbling with the camera and trying to get it configured for the perfect shot. As he was eliminating seconds from the clock, I see behind him a multitude of colors flitting through the trees. Realizing that these colors are attached to little peoples, I (ahem) gently tell Gerson to "HURRY UP", at which I, of course, received a scowl, a terse response and the finality of one picture being taken.
Within seconds, Gerson was lost in a sea of flunged (sic) shoes and tossed socks and a screaming mass of little bodies. I almost fell off the rocks as I was laughing so hard at Gerson's face as he was totally unaware of the invasion. I think it was then he realized why my "HURRY UP" was a bit panicked.
||Lovely day for a canoe trip
Lily pads were everywhere
Unfortunately, the University of
||We stopped back at the
headwaters, this time via land
One of the reasons for taking this little jaunt up and around Canada, was to drop into Minnesota for a surprise congratulations party (and later, a wedding). The congratulatory party was for Kirk, the husband of my very good friend, Michelle, who just graduated with his Engineering Degree, a difficult feat to achieve when you are young and unencumbered, and definitely an arduous task when you are married with two kids.
We just could not pass up the opportunity to be there to show our support and amazement at what Kirk accomplished. And, Kirk was completely taken aback by the festivities and especially, the Sponge Bob Squarepants decor (which has something to do with Kirk's and Bob's legs being rather similar).
||Liesel and Hawkeye await Kirk's
Kirk was surprised
He was even more surprised to
And, of course, the bar-b-que
||Loved the cake...
and the pinata
Kirk found his mark
We had a wonderful stay with Michelle and her family (we have been friends since we were six years old...yep, a very long time) and the weather behaved quite well. It is always nice to fall into their household as we seem to just melt into the rhythm of the family.
||Getting ready for the surprise
This is what is all about - Family and Friends
Just hanging with Hawkeye
The joys of having dogs... Autumn and
|When the boys
where their pants
down so low, they
are just asking for
this to happen!
One tired pup
As our timing would have it, the wedding was the next day. My cousin, Greg Wright (grandson of my grandfather's brother - Father's/Scottish side) invited us to attend his daughter, Lindsay's wedding. We were happy to be able to make the wedding and it was a great excuse to catch up with my sister, Alexis, and with two of my nieces and my nephew.
||Louise with Claire, Reid and Grace
Grace, Reid and Claire enjoying
Cousin Rebecca (and bride's sister)
Proud parents, Greg and Linda
||Cousin Amanda (and bride's sister)
coaxing her son Nicholas to
continue walking a straight path
instead of wandering
Cousin Nicholas and the flower girl
Beautiful bridesmaids and the anxious
The wedding was held at the beautiful Nazerath Chapel and seemed to go off without a hitch. Lindsay and Zach were all smiles and there were even a few nervous giggles exchanged when things got the most serious. A truly joyous occasion and we were happy to be able to take part in it.
|Watching and waiting for the final
The reception was held at a wonderful building within Como Park Zoo, that actually overlooked several of the zoo's attractions. It turned into a party filled with laughter and dancing and some catching up for Gerson and me with my sister and the kids.
|"You may kiss
Husband and Wife
Louise, Greg and Alexis - together
Greg's step-mom, Janet and
Lindsay and Alexis sharing the
I am always amazed at how fast all the "kids" around us are growing and to see Reid, Claire and Grace turning into such nice people, it really was a great thing to see.
|The first couple take their
dance and proud papa, Greg
enjoys his time with his
||Alexis with Reid, Claire and Grace
Nicholas trying to get away (in a
and channeling John Travolta
Greg gave a terrific toast and his happiness at gaining such a great guy in Zach as a son-in-law was evident. All the elements were there for fantastic evening: Family, Friends, Food and Fun.
||Greg making his toast
Lindsay illuminating the room
||Reid and Gerson
Claire and Grace
(OK, so I am biased, but aren't
Greg, like me, enjoys looking back into our family's history and tracing some of our Scottish roots. His grandfather was the older brother to my grandfather and they were both born at Commonhead, in Scotland. Greg has been hankering to get to Commonhead before it is destroyed to make way for more "Council" (government) housing and I hope he gets there this summer. As Greg is the last male "Wright" in the family, it is only fitting he walks the path of our Wright ancestors.
||Nicholas enjoying some time with his
Greg's step-mom, Janet was making
Greg and Linda enjoy some time with Nicholas
Cousins, Greg and Alexis take a spin
||I just love these pictures of
Lindsay and her grandmother,
The following day, we hung around so we could visit a bit with Greg and Linda at the wedding brunch they were hosting. We had a good chat with step-mom Janet and I found myself blinking back tears as listening to Janet reminded me of my mum (yes, Janet is English and sounds so much like my mum).
|Janet, Greg and Louise
After the wonderful two days spent near Minneapolis for the wedding, we traveled back south to Rochester to stay a few more days with Michelle and Kirk. Our time there gave us a chance to re-tool the camper and the truck and knock off our "to-do" list before getting a work assignment. When we left home, we anticipated that we would receive work in the Midwest, so with that in mind, we had loaded all our work gear in our truck.
At least while we were at Michelle's, we were able to do a couple of fixit things around their house to say thanks for letting us use their house as a base before launching to work. Heck, I even got to hone my hairdressing skills when Nathaniel, after seeing how much better Gerson looked after cutting his hair, decided to let me shear his locks. That, and I kept saying that Nat looked like this obnoxious teen singer...so off came the hair!
|Before, during and after
There was a very handsome person
These past few weeks may not have been the most exciting to read about amongst all our adventures, but sometimes, it is the enjoyment of the simplest of pleasures that life affords us that is the most important. To be able to go from a home I love to visit with friends and family that I love and to do this with a man that I love...well, let's just say, I loved it!
Home Page Canada - Diary Index Canada Diary Page 2