That's Lake Louise in the background
Beginning in the Canadian province of Alberta, our tour combined the best of the prairies, the majesty of the Canadian Rockies, and the beauty of Montana’s Glacier National Park, giving us a superb overview of these U.S. and Canadian wonderlands. Our group consisted of (l. to r. above at Lake Louise) Shirley Poinsett, Doris Eggleston, Doug Ghaul, Joe and Penny Laufer, Jay Bransfield and Peg Amico . All of us had travelled together on previous tours. We joined 39 people from all over America for a total group of 46.
I took 824 pictures on this tour. I've posted the best of the overview directly to this travelogue within the narrative and inthe left margin.. Throughout the travelogue I have inserted links to my Snapfish albums of all the pictures related to the experiences being related. Enjoy!
Day 1: Saturday, August 7, 2010
Philadelphia to Calgary, Alberta
The seven of us began the day with a 7:15 a.m. shuttle departure from Vincentown to Philly. Our Air Canada plane left on time at 10 am flying to Toronto, then we connected to a 1:00 pm flight to Calgary, arriving there at around 3:00. We were met at the Airport by our Collette Tour Manager, Jeff Thomson and our bus driver, Scott.
Jeff Thomson, Collette Tour Manager
Our hotel was the Calgary Westin, smack in the middle of town, and we were on our own for dinner. Penny and I did some exploring on pedestrian Stephen Ave near the hotel, then joined our party of seven around the corner from the hotel at the Old Spaghetti Factory for a great meal. We would not meet the rest of our group until the next morning.
Click here for Snapfish Album of Calgary photos from beginning and end of tour - 32 photos
Day 2: Sunday, August 8, 2010
Calgary - Waterton Lakes National Park
This morning we learned that there were 46 in our group, people from all over the country, including Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Oregon, Connecticut, Florida, and Ohio. Jeff, our tour manager is from Vancouver and Scott, our driver is from Calgary. Today we journeyed south to the prairie lands and soon encountered the distant views of the spectacular Rockies.
Buffalo herds once jumped to their death from those cliffs.
The highlight of the day was a visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, one of the world’s oldest and best preserved buffalo jumps, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Head-Smashed-In, in the foothills of the Rockies, has been used continuously by Aboriginal people for over 5,500 years. We learned about the Blackfoot custom of channeling the Buffalo to a run that ended in their death off a cliff. The First Nation guides did a good job in educating us about the fascinating Blackfoot Nation and their customs.
Click here for Snapfish Album of Blackfoot Buffalo Jump - - 47 photos
We continued traveling south to Waterton Lakes National Park. En route, we passed through quaint villages and kept a lookout for grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats, cougars, wolves, moose and elk. By the end of the tour we would see most of them, except for a moose, wolf and cougar. We were pleasantly awed and surprised by our hotel, the famous Prince of Wales – with its kilt adorned staff, small elevator, but elegant rustic design. We spent two nights here. A rare treat at the Prince of Wales was a served plated (non-buffet) breakfast on the two mornings we were there.
Day 3: Monday, August 9, 2010
Waterton Lakes National Park - Glacier National Park - Waterton Lakes
Today we boarded our bus for a ride back through customs and into Montana where we explored Glacier National Park, a naturalist's paradise, Glacier preserves over one million acres of forests, Alpine meadows and lakes, and is home to over 70 species of mammals and 270 species of birds. The highlight of the day was a drive aboard one of the famous Jammer cars, built in the 1930s, over one of the most breathtaking roads in North America, "Going to the Sun Road".
It stretches for 52 miles across the Continental Divide and offers incredible views of the valley and Glacier National Park. Our Jammer guide was an excellent story teller. We returned to our quaint hotel and ate in a local restaurant before taking a sunset lake cruise, which took us back to Montana without having to go through customs. The open border is considered the world’s first “Peace Park” - the open border being a condition laid down by the Blackfoot Indians.
Click here for my Snapfish album of Glacier National Park and the Jammer tour - 75 photos.
(L) Montana moment! - (R) Cruise on Waterton Lake
Day 4: Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Waterton Lakes National Park - Banff, Alberta
This morning, we journied to Banff and soaked in a backdrop of wonderful wildlife and the majestic Canadian Rockies. Thanks to the creativity of Jeff and Scott, we took a unique alternate route that provided a stop at the Ranch-Bar U, a National Historic Site at Longview, Alberta which interprets ranch life in the Rockies. It was a great stop where we got to see beautiful Percheron horses (cousins of Clydesdales) and meet a real cowboy.
Click here for my Snapfish album of Waterton, Alberta --- 98 photos
We arrived at the grand Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, known as the “Castle in the Mountains,” for a luxurious two night stay. We started out with a walk through Banff, the “Town that Tourism built”, as Jeff would say. Jeff told us interesting stories about the creation of the hotel and the town and the role played by the Canadian Pacific Railroad and hotel designer Charles VanHorn..Jeff was a treasure trove of information. In the evening we attended the award-winning dinner show, “Oh Canada, Eh?!” , a musical tribute to Canada as a singing Mountie, lumberjack and other native characters served our delicious, family-style meal in a log cabin atmosphere – actually, a Canadian “Sugar Shack”. We had a lot of laughs!
Click here for Snapfish album of Banff Springs - 101 photos
Day 5: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - Banff
We began the day with a sightseeing tour of the Banff area including stops at Bow Falls, near the hotel, and at the fascinating Hoodoos, also known as the “ Land of Sleeping Giants.” . Many of us took a ride to Lake Louise for a ski lift ride to the top of a mountain for a fabulous view.
Doris & Shirley returning - Joe & Penny at the top
Click here for Snapfish album of Lake Louise Gondola Experience - 68 photos
We also visited the Chateau Lake Louise, another luxury hotel, and Lake Moraine, a uniquely beautiful lake from which you can see ten different mountain peaks. We had a nice dinner in Banff, once again, in another Old Spaghetti Factory – by choice. The lasagna is great!
Click here for Snapfish Album of Lakes Louise and Moraine - 81 photos
Day 6: Thursday, August 12, 2010
Banff - Jasper
Our route to Jasper was filled with beautiful scenery.. We journeyed along the unforgettable Icefields Parkway and viewed lofty waterfalls, rushing rivers, glacial peaks, imposing cliffs and snowcapped mountain ranges.
Click here for Snapfish album of Icefields Parkway -------- 74 photos
Continuing up the parkway, we stopped at powerful Athabasca Falls, and then some of us boarded the rafts for a 90-minute fun-filled ride down the Asthabasca River, before arriving in Jasper We had dinner in a nearby Jasper motel.
Click here for Snapfish album of Whitewater Rafting Event and Glacier walk -- 90 photos
Day 7: Friday, August 13, 2010
Jasper - Calgary
Leaving the wonder of the Rockies for the prairies of Alberta, we enjoyed a trip to the extraordinary Maligne Canyon. We stopped at the Columbia Icefields for a ride across this mass of glacial ice which is over 1,000 feet thick, representing the largest accumulation of ice south of the Arctic Circle
Glaciermobile transports us onto the glacier
Our whole group at the Icefields
Penny & Joe - top middle
On the return trip, we passed the location of the very successful XV Calgary Winter Olympics (1988) and then arrived in the vibrant city of Calgary. We had our farewell dinner at Mavericks restaurant on the grounds of the Calgary Stampede – a very special treat.
Click here for Snapfish album of Calgary photos - 32 photos
Day 8: Saturday, August 14, 2010
Calgary - Tour Ends
We arose early (5:30 a.m.) for our 9:00 a.m. flight to Toronto. Our flight out of Toronto was delayed till around 5:30, getting us into Philly a little later than planned.(around 8:00 p.m.). Our tour ended with all of us raving about what we had experienced in just one week. We have lots of wonderful memories.
Click here for Snapfish album of Canadian Rockies Vistas ---- 101 photos
Click here for Snapfish album of animal sightings 57 photos
Elk & Bear above; Eagle & Deer below
Joe on Lake Morane; Penny in Montana