MP3 track of the day - Nice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
Weather: Perfect, blue skies, fluffy white clouds ... couldn't have asked for better
Getting up early I got ready for my tour from Jasper, to Lake Louise, long the Icefield Parkway. Now the Icefield Parkway is meant to be one of the best roads to drive along in the world and I was really looking forward to it. Plus the day was so beautiful, better than I could have hoped for, and so I checked out of Jasper HI (sob) and awaited my 'sundog' tour bus.
The van turned up and, I have to be honest, it wasn't what I was quite expecting. I was expecting a big, custom built coach with huge windows that went up into the roof. Instead a bog standard, 8 seater mini-bus arrived to pick me up. The driver stepped out (an Austrian who spoke English very well) and he said I could have the front seat ... bonus, best seat in the house ... err mini-bus.
As I got in I turned around to see my other tour guests; all four were Aussies, 2 elderly ladies around 80 (brilliant) and a middle aged couple doing a round the world tour. We set off and the guide explained that we would be driving down the Icefield Parkway stopping at the Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, the Icefield Parkway, a lake that I can't remember the name of (Hector Lake maybe) and, if we saw any wildlife we would stop. The guide explained that we had a good chance of seeing some bears as he had forgotten his camera and sure enough, 20 minutes in we saw our first black bear. Sitting in the front I got the best view of the bear, however the elderly couple passed me there RUBBISH camera that wouldn't focus to take some photos for them ... this meant that they got the best photos and I got some okay ones (ummm ... mental note, take mine first).
We made our first stop at the Athabasca Falls and I got some stunning photos; unlike Niagara Falls you could get really close to the falls. A little concerned for the 2 Aussies in the back of the van I did ask to make sure if their view outside the van was okay and if not we could swap part way down the road (I hope they thought I was being censer and not rubbing it in) however they said thank you but they had a good view out of the back. We only had 20 minutes for the stop and then we had to head off to the next stop, Sunwapta falls which were equally as impressive.
After this we made it to the Icefield Parkway where the two 'old gals' had pre-booked tickets to go onto the Columbia Icefield (the other 2 Aussies didn't go and instead went for a walk). The tickets were expensive ($50.00 to go onto the Glacier) however I just handed over the money as this was something I really wanted to do (I could have waiting until Alaska as I'm sure there will be glaciers there, however I wasn't certain and I would have kicked myself if I left the opportunity slip).
We had 45 minutes until our trip onto the glacier and so I chucked my lunch down my throat, went to have a quick look around the museum and queued up for the trip. We first went by coach for 7 minutes where we swapped vehicles onto a huge off-road 'thing' (see my flickr account for photos). The driver was really nice and there was commentary all the way up (do you know that the Columbia Icefield is at the same height, above sea level, as the viewing platform of the CN Tower ... much higher than the Eiffel Tower). After about 20 minutes we got onto the glacier and we were allowed to walk around it for about 30 minutes. I loved it, completely and utterly loved it; the views were stunning but actually walking on water ... amazing (how many people can say they have walked on a glacier? I'm sure my mum and dad would have loved it)
I didn't want to get off the ice but I had to (in fact I was the second to last tourist back on the bus) and we headed back to the centre. Continuing our journey towards Lake Louise we found another black bear and this time I got the best shots! At around 2:30pm the 'old gals' seemed to have had enough excitement and were asleep in the van. To wake them up we went to Hector Lake (I think) which was still frozen and was beautiful, very beautiful.
After this we went along the final part of the parkway and then the tour guide dropped me off at Lake Louise HI (which was massively expensive ... $38.00 per night) and I went into the TV room to start uploading photos and working on this blog. The trip today has been the highlight of my tour so far; the negative element of the tour was that I did feel rushed at each place we visited, however if I had spent the amount of time I wanted to spend at each site, I wouldn't have completed the Parkway in day ... so there are positives and negatives.
Did I mention that I have walked on a glacier?
P.S. oh and to cap it all off, I just found out that Lewis Hamilton won the Turkey GP ... can the day get any better?