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#936820 09/01/22 03:40 PM
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After 13 months of COVID delays, the Mountaineer 8 departed on our journey to the Canadian Rockies. The first miracle on this trip occurred when both of our plane schedules departed the terminals on time AND arrived in Denver and Vancouver 15 minutes early. WOW. Of course, there is a but available as in Denver, we had to wait for our loading gate to become open. Our plane sat in a holding area for the 15 minutes. Vancouver is a great city but with some covid rules still hanging around, it took the Mountaineers over an hour to be checked in by Canadian Customs. Our transfer driver was waiting for us once we cleared the “total check in process” fiasco and delivered us to the hotel. This long day ended with the Mountaineers having dinner on a Vancouver Harbor Dinner cruise. Good food and great scenery. It was 10 PM PST went the group finally went to bed making it a 22-hour day.

On Thursday, August 25th, the group went on an all day excursion to Victoria Island. On the way our bus driver/guide described the development of British Columbia and the northwestern US. Basically, the weight of the glaciers changed the earth’s rotation which caused more snow and ice and then, when receding, left rich soil which remains today. The rivers and streams were fertile for salmon (5 species) especially the Frazier and Falls Creek River so man had the ingredients for life. As for tree life of the Douglas Fir and the western Red Cedar are huge with tree being over 100 years of existence was favorable to man as the bark was used for fibers to make clothing and easy to cut or mold, building protective shelters, and material to burn for heat and food. Today, Vancouver and Victoria Island are in a rain belt that produces fertile soil (saanich) and plenty of rivers for hydroelectric dams and electric power.

On Victoria Island, we visited one of the most famous gardens – the Butchart Gardens. The flowers and trees are awesome – every turn produced greater beauty than the last view. Majestic beauty of colored flowers cannot be described without visiting the gardens. That is the one thing about Canadians, they love colorful flowers and manicured gardens. An interesting item about this area is the Agricultural Land Reserve – farm land must remain farm land. You might build a house on a lot but the balance of the lot must remain agricultural – so five acres retains four and a half give or take an acre of farmland.

On Friday, August 26th, we caught the hop-on-hop-off bus and connected with Terry and Pat and Jim and Susan who are staying at a different hotel. We made it just in time to see the Steam Clock in Gastown. We decided to separate and take in different sites – They too in Granville Street and we visited Lord Stanley’s Park, about a 260 acre park. So nice. Once we got our bearings, we walked along the sea wall for at least a mile and then we came to the Totem Poles. The carvings are beautiful and the stories are interesting. We ate lunch at the Stanley Park Grill. We returned to the hotel and later met up with the travel agents to get our tickets and baggage tags.

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Angie #936821 09/01/22 03:41 PM
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There are two things I wish to add to the Thursday happenings – our bus driver was named Alex and he drove an all Electric bus. That’s right, the bus had 11 batteries and ran like a champ. It had plenty of power whether on city streets or 4 lane highway. Alex told us that electricity in British Columbia is one of the cheapest utility in the world due to all the hydroelectric plants. Also, 60% of the public service buses are electrified. .

Friday, August 26th had the Mountaineers doing the Hop on/Hop off bus tour. Basically the Hop on/Hop Off bus allows you to drive around the city and stop at any attraction you wish to see. Our first stop was in Gastown, the old town originally settled in the 1880’s. There is clock on the corner of Water and Crown Streets. The clock operates by steam controlled pump that on a fifteen minute schedule will release steam to a known melody. We hopped back on the bus and went to Lord Stanley Park known for its rose garden, sea wall, and many totem poles. We ate lunch at the park’s restaurant. Some of the poles are over 100 years old. Returning to the hotel to check in with Rocky Mountaineer to be assigned a seat number and schedule of pick up times and hotel names. Angie and I crashed after checking in as it has been a whirlwind 2 days in Vancouver and a 6:30 AM departure from the hotel to catch the train leaving at 7:30 AM.

Saturday, August 27th has the Rocky Mountaineer train departing Vancouver for Whistler, the home city of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. On the way to Whistler, the train followed the Fraser River Gorge which is known for salmon and being the longest river in British Columbia. We passed through Squawmich Hill (a hill designated by the “First Nation people as the birth place of the Winds).The train rode on tracks alongside the river and we saw many small water falls and unique rock formations. After three hours of sitting on the train we arrived in Whistler and transferred to the Fairmont Whistler hotel. The hotel had many ski trails; a mountain bike down steep hills; a golf course; and a kids area. I guess this is just another hotel. The group even had a chance to attend Mass at Our Lady of the Mountains church. Early to bed as the train had a departure timr of 7:30 AM or earlier.

Sunday, August 28th has our train waiting for us in Pemberton, the potato capital of British Columbia. The reason the conductor gave as to why we had to go Pemberton was the track set up between Rocky Mountain (RM) and CRN, Oh well RM knows what they are doing and it is a great job. Roomy, double deck cars, a private dining room for each car on the train, and alcohol and beverage service while riding in that car is what I call this a great trip. Continuing north along the Fraser River to Quesnel, we had a wild animal watch (bears, deer, and big horn sheep) in constant action. The steep gorges, rock erosion, and ragging rivers made the trip a wonderful sight. The RM people are great, helpful, and courteous. Food on the train is extraordinary. Our hostess is a future stand-up comic and entertained us with her puns.

Angie #936831 09/03/22 02:53 PM
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This trip is rapidly coming to a close. Today the Mountaineers walked around Lake Louise viewing the Columbia Ice field and the green water of the lake, Lake Emerald. We are staying at the Fairmont Lake Louise which is a century old lodge built in the 1920’s. This lodge is a majestic building with 7 restaurants, a spa, a swimming pool, stables, and elite stores.

We made several stops along the way from Lake Louise to Banff. We stopped at the Spiral Tunnel. This is a specially constructed train tunnel so that the grade is not steep. We passed Kicking Horse Pass and River. We traveled through Yoho National Park. Our driver said that Lake Louise stays frozen from mid November through mid June or July. It is known for trout fishing. We saw what was left of Natural Bridge which spans Kicking Horse River. The lake is so green because of Rock Flour (glacial flour - fine silt).

As we drove into Banff, the mountain views were awesome.

Presently, the Mountaineers are in Banff at another Fairmont Hotel. Banff is a world renowned skiing resort. We grabbed a bite for breakfast and then circumnavigated the hotel – quite a beautiful walk. We could see a little of the Bow Falls from one of the viewpoints. I've probably taken 600-700 photos. I'll need a photo manager by the time I get home to cull my photos and create an album.


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