A Travellerspoint blog

More Blachford, and travelling to Ottawa

sunny 25 °C
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Well, the third night didn't disappoint either! It was semi cloudy all day- we had a super super relaxing day......this place is awesome and I'd highly recommend it to anyone wanting to see the aurora. Given it is in the middle of nowhere (almost literally!) it is just a beautiful relaxing place. There were only 12 of us- 3 from Germany, 3 from Hong Kong, 2 from China, us three from Australia and 2 from Montreal, who were originally from Wales but have lived in Montreal for some 30 years. The husband, Peter, was a Chemistry lecturer at the University in Montreal!
We didn't see any bears but that was probably just as well, as the whole staying calm thing probably wasn't going to be our forte! We saw plenty of squirrels and we loved watching them- funny little buggers!

The aurora came up around 10pm and i photographed madly. Around midnight some cloud came over and we decided to head for bed. We'd just climbed in and then the aurora came out again. I was happy with what i had (photo wise) but Mick insisted I get up, load on all my warm layers again (big effort!) and head outside again. So, finally, around 3.30am I decided I was heading for bed.

As I had had such a late night we really just took it easy today. We were waiting for the float plane to come and collect us, and deliver some new guests, and take us to Yellowknife where we spent the night in readiness for a few more flights to Ottawa, for the wedding.

Yellowknife was a strange little town, very much like Geraldton. It is a mining town, with diamond mines near there, and there are a lot of First Nations, and a lot of unemployment and street people. I was rather dubious, and certainly wouldn't go walking around town on my own. We had dinner at a lovely little restaurant, as recommended by a local out at Blachford- a gorgeous Ethiopian restaurant. Go figure, right? But it was lovely, and a cuisine I'd definitely try again!

The next morning we were up at 3.30am to head to the airport- a lot of time is spent in airports! We flew to Calgary, where it was 1 degree, and then onto Ottawa.

Jack is getting used to the finer things in life- demanding that we have a room with a separate room for him, or, he suggested, as he is so big now (9) perhaps it would be more enjoyable for him to have his own hotel room, so he can have some space......and if he gets lonely he will pop over to our room for a cuddle......hmmmmmmm.......great idea Jack! :/

We arrived in Ottawa and headed to the Fairmont Laurier, built in 1912 at a cost of $2,000,000. Then the most expensive room was $2.00 per night! (Oh, how I wished it was 1912!) We had a great room though and the Fairmonts do not disappoint as far as architecture, beautiful baroque paintings on the ceilings and the whole hotel is just amazing, as have been the last few.

We headed out to Zoe's parents house (the bride) to have a BBQ. Here the BBq's have ribs...and they are to die for!!! We met a fair few of the other Aussies and a few locals. Everyone is so friendly, and we enjoyed hearing about everyones travels to get there. Some had come direct, some via Vegas (they were the hungover ones!), and we discovered that some were going to the Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Gardens in New York with us!

We headed home, exceptional tired and off for a good nights sleep, before sunrise, when I would be out and about again!

Here are some snaps!!


Posted by Jochester71 21:14 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and angels....

Bucket List ticked but want to see it in winter.....

overcast 4 °C
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Well, Sunday (today its Tuesday) we got up super early (5am) drove from Lake Louise to Calgary, dropped off the hire car- goodbye Jeep! and flew to Edmonton, then Yellowknife. We then jumped onboard a float plane and took off to a spot in the middle of nowhere, Blachford Lodge. So we are up in the North West Territories of Canada, far north, in very flat country. We are a mere 200kms from the treeline (the line across the land where the trees stop growing - i.e. the Arctic Circle).
Cold? Bloody freezing, but for them its not yet winter.
The first night was cloudy and overcast, and we saw no aurora. To say i was disappointed would be a bit of an under statement. I've only got three nights here to hopefully capture one of natures most amazing experiences, and, well, no one can control the weather. We slept well though as we were all so shattered.
So Blachford Lodge is built on the edge of Blachford Lake, which is approx 100 kms from Yellowknife. The closest lodge, or people, are 75kms away. The land here is relatively flat and arid, but the ground is covered in rock- pink granite, and moss is everywhere. Although it is considered arid land, it is extremely green and lush. Walking through the trails it is soft and spongy underfoot- like a great comfy mattress! haha
We went hiking yesterday morning and Jack had a competition with another guy here, as to who could see the most squirrels during the day! We saw 8!
The Lodge is an eco friendly lodge, solar panels, water pumped direct from the lake, and able to be drunk out of any tap in the place. True wilderness, with the added bonus of wifi!

Yesterday, the clouds were plenty, and at the end of our hike (around 11.45am) we thought it started to rain......until we realised it was snow!! Yes, it is that cold here! So, Amy, the manager got very very excited! It wasn't enough to leave snow on the ground, but was awesome all the same.

Last night, around 6pm the clouds disappeared. Clear skies abounded and to say i was excited would be an under statement. Time took forever, I'd set up the camera, got out the hand warmers (a tip from a professional photographer, to wrap them around your lenses to stop them getting too cold!) and I was primed, as were the other 11 people here! (there are 14 guests here in total and around 12 staff, 10 of whom are volunteers, and 3 of whom are Australian!)....
9.30pm, the skies were getting darker and then BOOM! It starts to look like a light is shining on a cloud, it then gets brighter, and then the sky started dancing. Amazing to see, and it moves quite quickly across the sky, at times fading in and out, at times dancing across the sky like ribbons, always spectacular, and different. Cameras were going crazy, self timers beeped, and I discovered a true loathing for non photographers and their bloody torches! I'd be half way through a long exposure and someone would turn on a "brighter than the freakin sun" torch and blow my pic. I managed to calm myself as the sky continued to dance. We stayed up until around 12.30pm to watch. I stopped taking pics around 11pm as I really just wanted to watch and marvel like the others.
So this morning I woke up to an amazing sunrise, but clouds........so here is hoping they clear for tonight. But even if they don't, the show we got to see last night has truly made my heart sing, and my eyes cry.
Enjoy.....(again, totally unedited pics at this point)

Posted by Jochester71 07:50 Archived in Canada Tagged wilderness amazing aurora northern_lights angels yellowknife aurora_borealis nwt north_west_territories blachford_lodge Comments (0)

Moraine Lake and a vey sore bottom!

sunny 10 °C
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So, sunrise (Again) saw me trek to Moraine Lake.Moraine Lake is about 14 kms from Lake Louse. The light is all wrong for sunrise at Lake Louise and i was told this was the spot to be. After asking the lady if I'd be ok with bears, etc she assured me that other people would be there. So at 6.30am I discovered that it was a fairly popular spot. I walked up about 200 steps (probably more but i was fairly puffed by the time i got to the top!) and there were around 3 others there. By sunrise, there was about 30!!! And the number just kept climbing!

So here are some shots......again, raw shots, no editing.

i spent the afternoon doing a horsehide up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. It is a climb of approx 385m up a 2 k trail. It was amazing...except it had been 21 years since I rode a horse and , well, I discovered bones in my bottom I didn't think I had. I also decided that riding western saddles isn't my favourite- but Roper and I had a great time being led by Sarah, a girl from Montreal. It was nice to meet a Canadian, as it seems that most people that work here are Australian, and the people in the hotels are all Australian, especially South Australia. We are beginning to think australia must be a little light on for people at the moment!

Whilst i was horse riding, the boys hired a canoe and went canoeing on Lake Louise. They've become quite the duo. It all goes well as long as Jack is declared the Captain of the ship (canoe). Clearly Mick does most of the paddling!_02A3057.jpg_02A2920.jpg_02A2918.jpg_02A2903.jpg_02A2899.jpg270__02A2862.jpg_02A2853.jpg

Posted by Jochester71 06:51 Archived in Canada Tagged sunrise canoeing lake_louise moraine_lake lake_agnes agnes_lake Comments (0)

Athabasca Glacier and Lake Louise......and my crying!

sunny 16 °C
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So, up and at em! We left Jasper and the only request (demand) was that we stopped at Athabasca Falls, before heading to the Columbian Icefields.
The falls were only around 200m from the carpark (which by 9.30am was almost full!) and they didn't disappoint. The water falls down beside a huge rock, leaving two falls side by side! amazing stuff, but hard to photograph with the light directly hitting the falls from the front......oh well!

we drove casually through the mountains, again, photos cannot do the scenery justice. Just a lonely drive with us, and a few thousand others, with a few thousand RV's.

The Columbian Glacier is huge, although we only see a very small portion of it. Jack loved it- hearing all about how the glacier is formed, how ice isn't the same as snow, and how it takes 3 years to compact 4 metres of snow into 1 metre of ice. It is also quite sad that they think the glacier will have retreated and disappeared in around 70 years. That's it- gone forever.

Th specially made trucks that drive you onto the ice field are amazing! Jack loved it.

As we were on there we heard a huge crack and bang, we looked up to see a small avalanche on the top of the glacier......let me say it was so loud that i looked to where the boys were.....just _02A2846.jpg_02A2844.jpg_02A2843.jpg_02A2841.jpg_02A2777.jpg_02A2762.jpg_02A2747.jpg_02A2745.jpg_02A2738.jpg_02A2708.jpgin case! In the photo all you see is the puff of ice...but believe me, it was rather scary!

We then did the Skywalk- a metal semi circle structure that literally is built on the side of a mountain. it has a glass bottom. Needless to say, i tentatively walked out, and DID NOT look down-although Jack was quite keen for me to do so!

Then it was on to the Fairmont Lake Louise. Well, lets just say the hype I had created about this place did not disappoint. The place is amazing. We discovered that so many people want to see Lake Louise (which has the hotel on its shores, but you need to drive up to look at it, and park in a carpark behind the hotel) that people were walking 2-3 kms up the hill to get to it as there weren't any parks left!

Truly stunning part of the world.
We checked in and were taken to our room-until then, i hadn't seen the lake. I was so excited to see it, but as it had been so long coming, I also didn't want to be disappointed.
Well, we weren't. It was truly spectacular- the green of the water is a sight to behold and Mick and I just sat on the balcony and watched.
So surreal.
Again, all pics on here are totally unedited......when i get home I will pretty some up!

Posted by Jochester71 06:16 Archived in Canada Tagged lake glacier louise skywalk fairmont lake_louise athabasca athabasca_glacier Comments (0)

Driving with Mr Daisy

sunny 14 °C
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So, an early start and we hit the road to drive from Banff to Jasper, a distance of 292 kms. Not too far, except most of the way is either 60 kph or 90 kph! BUT all good, the scenery is again uplifting and to go any faster would be disrespectful to the mountains, rivers, lakes and trees! As a side note, there would be little difficulty in finding a perfect xmas tree here.......theres literally millions. Ok, its a national park, so stealing one wouldn't be a great idea!
We took the Parkway, a road of some 59kms that actually runs beside the highway- why? because the speed limit is lower but the views are to die for. (Well, they are on the highway too but I'd done my research and this was the way we were going!) Mick was driving, he only lets me drive when I'm off to do sunrise or sunset shoots- and thats probably cause he isn't in the car, therefore he is ok with that!
I was glad that we couldn't see Lake Louise from the road, although I got teary when we got there, just super excited about heading there tomorrow. So Mick and i started making up songs about the scenery, or not. We saw signs to be aware of caribou, so we started singing Caribou, Caribou, Carra care caribou (to the tune of Peggy Sue) also Caribou, boo, boo, shake pineapple, hit a tree (or whatever the hell that song was), followed by Annies Song, followed by a heap of terribly out of tune songs, remastered to suit our trip. What is also in abundance here is the special species of people called RV people. You have never seen anything so big as some of these RV's- being hauled by F350's, RAMS or trucks! There is a very blurry shot of one......as we were driving towards it and Mick insisted i start taking pics of them! They are everywhere.....it seems whole nations go RVing! The car parks for attractions have separate parks for the RV's!!!
So far, we have pretty much managed to stay on the right hand side of the road. we still don't know what the road rules are about a 4-way or 3-way intersection, but no one has hit us so far, and we haven't hit anyone else, so we figure it is all good. Anyone who knows Mick well will also know he loves hugging the left side the road (on our frequent trips to Perth and back I always have occasion to berate him for going onto the rumble strip!!!) Well, turns out, he also does it on the other side of the bloody road too. He will be commencing road side loving therapy on our return!!! It doesn't help me relax when sometimes there's a bloody big drop off the side of the road!!!
We drove up the "Icefields Parkway" and again, we are scenic drunk! Very, very drunk on this beauty.
I had researched a fair bit and was armed with the map and the stops i wanted to photograph. We stopped at some amazing spots but the best were Peyto Lake (as recommended by the lovely lady who worked at L'Occitane at Banff!), Athabasca Glacier (we didn't stop there today, but will do so tomorrow), Bow Glacier and Mosquito Creek. Peyton Lake is the green one.....so beautiful!!!The river runs pretty much beside the road most of the way, being fed intermittently by glaciers, and it so perfectly blue or green (greener near glaciers) that photos can't do it justice. It really is to be seen to be believed. The mountains are so high, Jack is also enjoying the views!
So despite road signs warning us of animals, we haven't seen any. Basically, we've decided it is all a farce and they're extinct. Canada is merely too proud to admit it! We get to Jasper and book in to our hotel, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Its all set on a massive property, around a lake, and is all log cabins and buildings. Beautiful!! So, I wanted to do Maligne Lake for sunset (famous green lake) but time was not on our side and so we decided to do Pyramid Lake which was closer. We were driving along with Mr Daisy and there were a heap of cars and people with cameras. We saw an elk and there behind her was daddy or boyfriend elk! (We think it is an elk...we are a bit confused between elk, caribou and moose!) i got some great shots but then he started coming a bit close and i hot footed it to the car!!! They are so much bigger than i thought, and you certainly wouldn't come off better than him in a scrap (unless you had a gun!)
Some awesome pics ensued then I dropped the boys back to the hotel and i headed out for sunset shooting,. I had seen a lovely spot, just off the road beside the river. It was about 50 metres from the car to a beautiful cleared spot. As i was shooting I could hear a weird calling, like a weird scream. Then another one in the distance behind me. Across the river, (directly across) was an elk/moose/caribou hiding! A big male. I looked at him, the river and decided the current was strong and maybe it wouldn't be easy for him to run across it. What did unsettle me was the other one answering from the forest up behind me! I did lots of shooting, constantly watching him across the river and looking behind me to make sure another one hadn't come to visit me!!! It is probably the only time (so far) i was a little unsettled!).
Off back to the hotel, room service and another late night ready for an early start tomorrow to Lake Louise, the tour of the Athabasca Glacier and the Skywalk!

Posted by Jochester71 16:22 Archived in Canada Tagged sunset moose jasper rv elk icefields parkway caribou athabasca_glacier pyramid_lake Comments (1)

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