ALASKA BLOG 01
Wednesday Sept 4, 2019
Believe it or not, we’re on a train right now … a famous luxury scenic train … and we’ve begun a rail journey that’ll take us 1000kms, up-up-up into the spectacular Canadian Rockies, then all the way to the west coast of Canada and Alaska. But, sorry, that’s all I’m gonna say. I’ll tell you more in my next post. Because we’ve already been busy here in North America, and I need to catch up.
We departed Auckland aboard an Air New Zealand jet two days ago (or was it three? I’ve already lost track) – arriving 13 hours later in Vancouver (British Columbia), where, a couple of hours later, we added a 1½-hr Air Canada flight to Calgary (Alberta). We were flying BACKWARDS, of course, through the time zones, and eventually touched down at 7:36pm Saturday … 40 MINUTES BEFORE WE LEFT AUCKLAND! (Go figure!)
After those long hours in the air, by the time we got to the elegant Fairmont Palliser Hotel our Mad Midlifers weren’t up for much – so we grabbed some dinner at the in-house restaurant and grabbed some shut-eye in our nearby beds. Aahh … yes!
Calgary, once a sleepy little Wild West outpost, has become one of Canada’s fastest growing cities – tempting visitors (each July) with its legendary Calgary Stampede: “the most fun you can have with yer boots on!” We had missed that fun, of course, and were too late to see any outlaws shootin’ up the sheriff in a sleazy saloon. So we packed bags and bodies into a coach (driven by the super-friendly Alex) and left Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway – heading, past thumping great mountains and fast-flowing rivers, for Jasper National Park
When we reached the charming resort town of Banff, we rode a gondola for some breathtaking panoramic views before checking in to our hotel – then awoke next morning ready to have our socks knocked off all over again. First stop was the gorgeous world-famous Lake Louise – ‘Jewel of the Rockies’ – where we oohed and aahed and isn’t-it-beautifulled. Following which we drove further north via one of the most spectacular mountain routes in North America – alongside towering peaks, tranquil lakes and cascading waterfalls – to the Columbia Icefield, spread over 325 square kilometres and one of the largest accumulations of rock-solid ice south of the Arctic. Here we stepped uut onto a stunning glass-bottomed skywalk, jutting into mid-air over a yawning canyon … then we boarded an oversized Ice Explorer ‘bus’ for a guided drive onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier: a true Ice Age adventure!
Oh boy! Talk about an unforgettable introduction to this remarkable region. And it’s only gonna get better from this point on …
COMING UP: We’re on the fabulous Rocky Mountaineer scenic train, ogling vast ranchlands, rocky lakeshores, high mountain passes, Kicking Horse Canyons, and hold-your-breath tunnels. So don’t go away …
Yours bloggedly – JOHN
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