Thursday, September 18, 2014

Don and Gail Travel

Well,  here we are at the end trail. After three years of full time RVing (home was where we parked it) we have found a a stationary home. Our new address is: 38668 Hope View Ln. Lebanon,Or.,  97355.  (The street name means volumes to us! Don't you just love it??!) Our telephones are still our same cell numbers. 503-936-2743 & 971-235-8481 the old 654-4626 is no longer in effect.

We are still living in our motorhome in our side driveway till we finish cleaning, making repairs and some changes, finishing some areas, sorting out our situation and claiming it for our own.  Our furniture, etc. arrives at the end of this month....yippee! We are finding that we love the quiet country, lovely sunsets, starry nights, and really lovely neighbors on our little private lane.  The view from the front porch takes in the lovely mid-Willamette Valley, though the picture below doesn't really show it well.  The building in the picture is Don's shop.  He loves it!

We can only praise our Heavenly Father for this truly was a gift from Him.  We've started a list of discoveries that only God could include all in one place, of desires that have been longings of our hearts for so many years.   There are too many to list now, or explain adequately, so that means you'll just have to drop in for a visit or a stay whenever you are in our area.  We always love company.  Just give us a call and come!

 This verse from God's Word says it better than we ever could:
"Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3: 20,21


 view from front porch

Monday, September 8, 2014

Canada Days 6-9

Day 6

Was a driving day.  We drove 275 miles from Jasper to Kamloops.  It was a beautiful drive and two lanes pretty much the whole way.  We went from 32 degrees in Jasper to 80 degrees in Kamloops.  It's a fairly large town but not particularly distinguishable from some others we've driven through.  This was our stop over spot before heading to Vancouver.  We had a good dinner then spent a sedate evening in our room facing the river and reading.  It was nice to be still for a few hours.

Day 7

We had a beautiful morning start on the South Thompson river in Kamloops and a delicious breakfast.  We met couples from France and Switzerland who were traveling to Jasper from Kamloops.  The conversation was interesting and breakfast was quite tastey.  We headed to Vancouver this day to catch the ferry over to Vancouver Island with our destination in Duncan (267 miles).  It was a gorgeous day for a ferry ride through the San Juans. 

Below are shots from the B&B in Kamloops of the river.

Day 8

We went to the Pacific Northwest Raptors "park" in Duncan, BC today.  We spent most of the day visiting the birds, holding/handling the birds, flying the birds and even making a couple birds "laugh".  Jamie was our expert handler and showed us the ropes.

This is Gollum, a Harris Hawk; nickname Gaullie.  This is the guy we flew through the woods.

This is Elton.  He was a total sweetheart.  Very few raptors like to be touched (petted) but Elton loved to have the top of his beak rubbed.  He make a sound like he was purring, would close his eyes and tilt his head so you could get a good angle on it.


Elton enjoying the sun after a beak rub

The Kukaburra's are adorable and had a whole vocabulary of sounds.  At times they sounded like cats with a deep meowing sound.  You could also get them to laugh by trilling and rolling an 'r' sound at a high pitch.  The are Boomer and Roo.  The male has the longer stripe of black feathers under his eyes.  Watch the video below, Terrie got them to laugh.

This is Arctos, the Great Horned Owl.  He's about 4 months old and is just learning the ropes of being trained to the glove.  Out handler said training owls is like training cats.  They think totally differently than the other raptors and are easily distracted by other things going on.  They hunt by sound rather than relying on their eye sight, and actually have a blind spot up close to their face.  The move their whole body to see and it looks like they're dancing.

We also got to feed a Maribou Stork named Gaston.  Our handler was a bit apprehensive about letting strangers into his pen.  Gaston stands about 4½ feet tall and has a wing span of 10 feet. This raptor handled us strangers like a champ and easlily gobbled down ½ a raw chicken.

We watched a flying demonstration with a bald eagle, a barn owl, a harris hawk, a perriguine falcon (fasted bird on the planet) and a turkey vulture.  All equally fascinating.  Also got very up close with a fully grown, three month old Golden Eagle named Ares.  This santuary has about 120 birds, some are rescues, some are movie stars and some are paid to work at airports and landfills, chasing away nuisance birds.  It was a fascinating day and we hope to visit again.

Tomorrow we're off to Victoria, BC then home on Tuesday.  It's been an outstanding trip.  We met interesting people, saw some amazingly beautifyl places on this planet and had some unique experiences.  We'll definitely be back to Canada someday soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Canadian Vacation Day 4

Day 4 Lake Louise to Jasper

After a somewhat leisurely morning we headed outside the Chateau to see a bit more of the grounds.  The clouds were giving way just a skosh and the rain stopped pouring down, so we took advantage.  Here are some great shots from around the resort offering a small taste of the gorgeous majesty that surrounds Lake Louise.  Fresh snow fell on the glacier overnight.

Victoria Glacier from the far end of LakeLouise

We headed northwest out of Lake Louise towards Jasper.  The drive was 145 miles of the most spectacular scenery full of pristine mountain lakes, ancient glaciers, stunning mountain peaks and broad sweeping valleys.  The route between Lake Louise and Jasper is completely within the Canadian National Park system and leads us up the Icefields Parkway from Banff National Park right into Jasper National Park.  We spotted caribou in a lake and a small black bear crossing the highway as we pulled into Jasper.  Here are a few shots of our drive.

Below is part of the Columbia Icefield and photos of Athabasca Glacier.  This glacier is one of six principal "toes" of the Icefield in the Canadian Rockies.  The glacial toes are Athabasca, Castelguard, Columbia, Dome, Stutfield and Saskatchewan.  The Athabasca Glacier is approximatley 3.7 miles long, covers an area of 2.3 square miles, is measured to be 300-900 feet deep, receives up to 275 inches of snowfall per year and recedes about 16 feet per year.  It is also the most accessible toe.  Yes you can walk up to the edge of the glacier or even take a special snow vehicle right out onto the glacier.  If you look closely in the second photo below you'll see the bus on the glacier.

Day 5 Climb a Mountain

Today we went a few minutes out of town to the Jasper SkyTram.  Opened in 1964, the gondola whisks you up Whistler's Peak to 7,500 feet in 7.5 minutes.  Then there is a 656 foot trek to the summit at 8,100 feet.  The climb gets steeper and steeper as the path ascends to the summit.  It was a tough, lung burning hike which rewards the effort with 360 degrees views of the Canadian Rockies, including Mount Robson (highest in Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet).  

Dean was certain he would die long before reaching the top then we were both unsure our legs would hold up on the way back down, as they turned into shaky noodles.  The town of Jasper appears to be shaped like a boomerang, which reportedly serves to "catch all the Australians".  There are a LOT of Australians in Jasper; they come for the busy tourist season.  The town grows from 5,000 to 25,000 during the summer.  The weather at the top SkyTram station was at 32 degrees with a wind chill going well below freezing.  I bought a new coat in Banff and was greatful to have it on this day.  We had a terrific lunch at the Treeline Restaurant.  The restaurant sits in the second floor of the SkyTram station just as the treeline begins ... or ends depending on your approach.

The structure you see at the top of the hill in the photo below is just a tower ... the summit station is much higher and not visible from the starting point.

Edith Mountain below

Pyramid Mountain to the left

After getting back down the mountian we drove to Pyramid and Patricia Lakes.  Below are shots of Pyramid Lake

Me in front of Pyramid Mountain at the end of Pyramid Island  ... on Pyramid Lake

We were exhausted by this point so we decided to go over to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge for a cocktail.  Beautiful setting for a hotel and it has an authentic rustic mountain feel.  Though we both agreed it was not nearly as appealing as the Lake Louise Chateau.  Tomorrow we come back down from the Rockies to western British Columbia to Kamloops.  We'll catch you up in a couple days.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Canadian Vacation 2014

Day 1 Seattle to Penticton

The morning started early.  It looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day here in Seattle.  Our first rest stop is planned for Bob's Burgers and Brew in Birch Bay.  We met Dean's brother, sister and the kids for breakfast.  It was great to see them, it's been almost a year since we've seen each other and the kids have grown so much.  Here's a family photo.

From there we headed northwest to the border at Sumas, a very tiny border crossing with no wait.  We rode the border East for 2-3 miles before heading Northeast to Hwy 1 and the Canadian and U.S. roads ran side-by-side.

We had roughly a 4 hour drive to Penticton, British Columbia.  328 miles from home with more and more winding, twisting roads the closer we got.  Penticton is a resort town which is situated at the far south end of Okanagon Lake.  The lake is enormous.  It takes over and hour to drive top to bottom and it's pretty wide as well.  It's a gorgeous day here.  We checked in to our hotel, then after a quick Google search we headed in the direction of wine and food.  The area is full of wineries and reminded us of the Lake Chelan, WA area with its varied colored rock, brownish-red dirt and scrubby brush.  

The first stop was Hillside Winery and Bistro.  We had a tasty late lunch and had a marvelous glass of Gamay Noir.  So good we bought a couple bottles.  The second stop was Red Rooster winery.  They had a deeee-licious Gewvertriminer and Viogner.  The reds were OK to blech.  The ice wine was a tastey-sweet finish.  

Day 2 Penticton to Lake Louise

This drive started out great.  The scenery was amazing ... then the traffic lights along and two-lane, "trans-Canada" highway got tedious.  489 miles of tedious.  We hit lots of slow traffic and even sat in a construction backup, on a national holiday no-less, for at least an hour.  Do I seem annoyed?  We were.  The weather also turned to gray and rain.  A six-hour ride turned into 8 and we were sooooo ready to get out of the car when we finally arrived at our destination, cranky, hungry and stiff.  From here it gets much better.  Days 2 & 3 are our splurge days and we stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

The second we stepped out of the car things got better.  We were already checked in and the bell man had our room keys and took care of the luggage.  The bell men are all dressed like Swiss Mountain Guides from the late 1800's, hats and all.  We only went through the lobby to get to the elevator.  Loved that.  The Chateau has some fun shops and several places to eat, all with different menus.  The food has been quite fantastic.  We ate at the pub our first evening because everything was reserved until 9 pm.  The breakfast buffet had a marvelous selection and everything was tasty.  Dean particulary loved the pineapple fritter (donut doough around a pineapple slice and deep fried).  

Below is Victoria Glacier sitting above Lake Louise.  

Day 3 Lake Louise & Banff

Lake Louise sits inside Banff National Park.  Both Lake Louise and Banff are winter sport destinations.  We had hoped the weather would cooperate better today, but alas it rained heavily most of the day and is slowly starting to clear as we head into early evening.  We inteneded to take the gondola to the top of the mountain today to see the Lake and the continental divide and the clouds just got in the way.  Instead, we headed 40 minutes east to Banff for some retail therapy.  Worth the drive.  Banff is an adorable town situated between several peaks.  There are clear German and Swiss influences in the town.  Sorry, not photos.  It rained like mad while we where there.  We caught glimpses of the spectacular beauty of the Canadian Rockies today, yet no lasting impressions.

After getting back to the Chateau we went to the dining room for high tea around 2 pm.  They knew we had just celebrated an anniversary and treated us to a glass of a one of the best champagnes we've ever tasted.  They told us only 2 places in all of Alberta have the priviledge to serve it, so of course we had to try it.  We had a lovely seat in the window overlooking the lake.  The finger sandwiches and the scones with deveonshire cream were our favorites.  Tonight for dinner we'll have dinner in the Poppy Brassierie.  It will be a difficult deciding what to eat.

Some interesting observations and things we've learned:
- I found a cat toy in my luggage on the morning of day 2.  Dude spent the morning we left playing in my luggage and must have packed a mouse for me to play with while I was gone.  We miss them.
- The chateau is full of foreign guests.  We've heard so many accents from all over Europe and Asia.  
- Much of the wait and shop staff are Australians.  We learned it's easy for them to get work visa's and its a great way for them to see the world while working.  We're deducing work visa's are easier for folks who are part of the commonwealth nations.
- Everything about the Chateau is elegant.  The lobby, the rooms, the restaurants, and even the different types of music playing throughout the resort spaces.  I would love to have a bathroom decorated like the one in our room ... have you ever admitted that about a hotel bathroom?
- The reservation I made has apparently put me a "gold" status with the Fairmont.  We are staying on the "gold member only" floor which has a private concierge service and lounge.  Priviledge does have it's perks, and we like them.
- The glaciers grind the rock beneath them into a fine powder,  Meltwaters wash this powder into the lake.  The resulting silty water absorbs all colors of the incoming light, except the turquoise and vivid blue that reflects back ... the color of the lake we see.

We head to Jasper, Alberta tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to start clearing so we're hoping to do the gondola ride here at Lake Louise before we leave.  The weather should be better by Thursday ... we have another gondola ride to the high peaks of Glacier National park planned for that day.