Banff and Jasper, Alberta, Canada
June - July 2000

We left Yellowstone National Park on May 30th and headed for Everett Washington.
Time again for visiting the accountant, doctor check-ups, dentist visits and to see friends and family.  On this evening we met up with Cheryl's brother Larry and his wife Cindy for dinner. 

As usual, visiting our home town is very busy.  Every time we're in the Seattle area we hang a calendar on the refrigerator to keep track of all the activities, responsibilities and appointments that we have scheduled.

We spent part of our time at Vasa Park on Lake Samamish.  It's an older style lake resort with room for fifteen RVs.  It's a little known spot for campers -- a well kept secret.  Large and small companies rent the park for their summer company picnics.  Microsoft and Alaska Airlines throw some whopping picnics at this place.  It's a great park with lots of room for the kids to play. 
The boys spent a lot of their time at break-neck speeds on this old merry-go-round, (you don't see too many of these anymore -- too many lawyers we think).
They enjoy the swim dock that is complete with water slides and diving boards.  The park is owned and operated by the Swedish Clubs in the area.  The week we were there happened to be their mid-summer fest.  We invited our families and a few friends down and joined the fun.

 

They had lots of organized games and contests for the kids like three-legged race, wheel barrow races, etc.  The kids had a blast, and Patty, a friend of ours (who happens to be a lawyer), commented that this was just like a real old fashioned lake resort picnic.
After three weeks in Everett we were ready for a vacation, so we headed north.  We spent a few days at Birch Bay near the Canadian Boarder and enjoyed a day at the near by waterslide park.

From there -- on to Canada.  Our first destination was beautiful Lake Louise in western Alberta.  We stopped here for lunch, enjoyed the magnificent view and warm weather.

 

The water is a rich aqua turquoise color.  It's caused by minerals from the glacial runoff.  The minerals absorb certain wave lengths of light but reflect the turquoise color of the sun's light.
There's a wonderful old hotel located on Lake Louise.  The Chateau Lake Louise is over 100 years old and we would highly recommend it for a special Canadian vacation.

Canada's Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are joined together and run north-south along the Canadian Rockies. The campground where we stayed in Jasper, near the northern end of the park has over 700 campsites.  It's north of the 52nd parallel and would get dark about 11:00 pm.  Several nights we went out for an evening walk or bike ride after 10:00 pm and the sky was still aglow with pinks, reds and blues.  Lots of elk hung around in the campground as well.  The rangers said that the elk have learned  that the bears and wolves are not as comfortable around people so it has become a safe place to graze and raise their young.
 
We took a tour of the Athabasca Ice Field.  A bus took us to the base of the glacier where we boarded a custom build six-wheeled coach which drives up onto the glacier.  The most remarkable thing was how blue the ice was in places.  The blue color is due to the absence of oxygen in the ice.
Oxygen has been removed due to extreme pressure from the weight of the ice and snow on it.  Over hundreds of years this glacial ice has been pushed to where we were. There was a breeze and it was wet and cold.  The size and scale of the glacier is hard to catch on camera.  Even being there, the scale was hard to imagine.  The mountains and glacial cuts are so large that the ice itself is dwarfed.  The edge of the ice in this picture is over 300 feet deep. 
This picture is taken looking straight up the glacier.  Each stair step of ice is about 100 feet high.  We had a chance to see a very large chunk break off.  As it fell it made a thunderous rumble.

This glacier is enormous.  We were able to see less than one percent of it.  The waters from this ice field drains into three different oceans.

It feeds the waters of the Mackenzie River system which flows into the Arctic Ocean, the waters of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes which flow into the Atlantic Ocean and also feeds the Columbia River system which flows into the Pacific.  The growth and recession of glaciers takes place repeatedly over hundreds of centuries.  Scientists really have no idea if our consumption of fossil fuels or air pollution has any effect or not.  A hundreds years of data on these large glaciers is just a drop in the bucket in glacial time.
Though we missed America's Fourth of July, we enjoyed the Canadian equivalent, "Canada Day" on July 1st.  We went to the small township of Jasper and watched the parade, complete with the Royal Canadian Mounties. 

That evening we went to the local fireworks show.  Last year we had front row seats at a friend's professional fireworks show -- inside of the "keep out area", but here, the entire crowd was that close. 

We were all sitting around a baseball diamond.  One of the fireworks shot out across the ground and provided a little excitement as it went off twenty feet in front of us and hit the baseball backstop.

It's obvious when traveling in Canada to see how much Canadians love their country. There is great national pride throughout the entire year, but it was especially inspiring, as we were waiting for the fireworks show to begin, to see a few teenagers light sparklers, stand up among the seated crowd and start singing their national anthem, "Oh Canada".  Soon the entire crowd was singing.
 
Canada Day was great!  After the parade we had lunch at our favorite Canadian restaurant chain "Earl's".  The boys enjoyed large chocolate shakes and Ed had his favorite Earl's Rhino Ale.  It was a warm afternoon and the ambiance of Jasper is hard to beat.
 
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