Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Day 17 and 18...Our Cross Canada Tour....East to West

Day 17

We left the Wapiti Campground in Jasper National Park, still heading west. The morning was delightful and sunny, but I still needed to wear my long pants.

The mountains stayed with us all day. At 11:00a.m. we entered British Columbia. As we traveled along you could see the trees getting bigger and the valley floor began to expand. It wasn't long before the valley floor gave way to fields contained by fences. We were coming into cattle country.

We were looking for a VIC to gather information and sure enough we seen the signs and followed them on in. In order to get to this particular VIC we had to take a road that took a big swing backward. When we did this I saw it first. I took in an extra big gasp of air, scared Richard, who quickly inquired disgustingly,
"What's the matter?" No sooner had he got the words out of his mouth when he saw it, and gasped,
"Oh my word, oh my word!" It was Mount Robson, the highest peek in the Rockies. To add to it's luster it was covered with snow. As you can well imagine I fumbled with my camera to get it turned on as quickly as possible.

Mount Robson is 3954 m (1297 ft.) high. It is located in the Frazer River Valley, 4km. south of Berh Lake. Mount Robson Park is the major headwater for the Frazer River.

"Oh what a glorious sight he was that day we first saw him. There, buttressed across the whole valley and more, with his high flung crest mantled with a thousand ages of snow, Mount Robson shouldered his way into the eternal solitudes thousands of feet higher than the surrounding mountains." These were the words written by George Kinney when he first saw Mount Robson. Mr. Kinney was born in New Brunswick, Canada and was the founding member of the Alpine Club of Canada. Kinney joined fellow climbers Quincy and Arthur Coleman on an expedition to be the first to climb Mount Robson. To learn more of this adventure go to

When our eyes could take in no more we made our way into the Mount Robson Visitor Information Centre. There the lady who helped us was most informative, and we soon learned she was originally from Fredericton, N.B. She told us of where the campsites were and of the attractions we didn't want to miss in Clearwater 250 kilometers up the road. Off again we went still taking pictures as we left.

We stopped by a brook that flowed through a reststop area for a little lunch. As we prepared our lunch I noticed a guy walking around our RV. He came to the door and hollered in,
"How many days on the road?" From there the conversation took off. The man and his family sat at a picnic table across from us. We learned that he and his wife were retired beef farmers from nearby Edson, Alberta, close to Jasper.

They had done a lot of traveling since they retired. They shared fond memories of their trip to the east coast. Such places like the Confederation Bridge, Peggy's Cove, and The Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.

At this point Richard went back to the RV and brought out a brochure (we just happened to have some, about 200) of the Hopewell Rocks Motel. After we retired from this tourism business, Richard's son Brian bought it, but we still promote it every chance we get.

As soon as he saw the pictures of the Rocks, he said with great enthusiasm,
"I remember them, we were there, they were just something else!" He said on their east coast trip his favorite province was Prince Edward Island, but his wife's was New Brunswick.

As we made our way back to our RV to resume our journey, the guy drew our attention to his fifth wheel. He explained that he bought it new in 1997 and have worn out two sets of tires. We made our exit wishing each other a safe journey, and you know we never caught each others names.

We got into Clearwater, what a beautiful little town with the river running through it. The girl at the VIC called and booked a campsite for us. We headed off the beaten trail, wound our way up, up and up some more on a 37 kilometer winding road to Wells Gray Golf Resort, Lodge and RV Park. The site was just super! We registered in for two nights. {}

After a short rest we headed 15 km. back down the mountain in search of the sigh we seen on our way up. There it was, Trophy Mountain Buffalo Ranch. The sigh told us they had a BBQ every night, and the menu said buffalo steak. We were ready.

The setting was so peaceful, as you drove down the drive, to your right was a pasture full of horses, to your left a herd of buffalo. We parked and followed the stone walkway, lined with flowers, to a fenced in open air dining room. The floor was made of stone, metal patio furnishings complete with umbrellas, the blue sky as our canopy and the Rocky Mountains as the back drop. We ordered a Buffalo Rib Eye, a bottle of red wine, how perfect a way to end the day.

Day 18

We went back into town the next day for supplies and sightseeing. The Town of Clearwater was aptly named and hints at the pristine surroundings and the many opportunities for adventure. The Wells Gray Provincial Park encompasses 515,301 ha; established in 1939, and named after Wellesley Gray, a prominent Minister of Lands.

We hiked through an old growth cedar and hemlock forest, along the canyons edge to find Spahats Falls. We were thrilled at the 47 meter high falls. Our next excurshion was a trail that lead us along Myrtle River to the top of Helmcken Falls. Richard and I were spell bound. These falls plunged 141 meter down into Helmcken Canyon. The falls arcs cleanly over the edge and roars down into the pool below. The local people say that this pool is as deep as the falls are high. The falls leap and drop one more time, 15 meters as the Murtle River made hast passed the canyon walls to meet the Clearwater River a kilometer down river. The Helmcken Falls are considered the fourth largest waterfalls in Canada, and are three times higher than Niagara Falls. And I might add here they are 100% pure nature, no motels or gift shops are found anywhere, just majestic forests, and well worn paths to lookout platforms. I got some great shots.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Day 15 & 16...Our Cross Canada Trip....East to West

Day 15 & 16

We got an early start, the countryside is beautiful, farmland for as far you can see. At 10:00a.m. I could see blue form off in the distance. We kept driving, closer and closer, Oh My God! We are in the 'Rockies'. I can't put my camera down!

It was still early when we arrived in Jasper National Park. We sure weren't the only ones with Jasper for a destination. It was hard to find a campsite, but we did. It was in an overflow parking lot with only hydro, but we didn't care. We filled out the necessary paper work and paid for two days and off we went back to the town of Jasper.

A four lane divided highway right through the center of town, the traffic is slow and laid back, good job, for people were milled about without a concern. On one side of the highway was a railway line with trains continuously running and on the other side shops and restaurants and a bank.

We had to go to the far end of town to find a place to park the RV. There were crosswalks everywhere for pedestrians ruled. We made our way to the Visitor Information Centre, booked a wildlife tour for later that day.

Our tour guides name was Fred. He loaded us all into the small van and away we went in search of the wildlife in Jasper National Park. Fred was very pleasant and informative. He took up one roads we never would have found for ourselves. We did see elk, deer, big horned sheep, and squirrels. We didn't see any bear. As we were hiking to a picturesque lake we came across a squirrels nest in the ground under a tree. Fred stopped the group and began telling us all about the squirrels habitat and habits of survival. Richard gave me a poke, and mumbled in my ear,
"Yeah, like we don't know about squirrels, he's just trying to kill time to justify the cost of the tour."

We clamored back into the van in search of more wild animals. All along the highway were signs telling tourists not get out of their cars to view or take pictures of wild animals. They went on to say it's especially dangerous when the males are in rutting season and when cows have young calves.

As we made a turn in the road we could see up ahead many cars stopped. Fred said that was a good sign, and that there must be something to look at. Sure enough, right along side of the road was a magnificent male elk sporting a hugh rack still covered with fuss.

Fred whipped the van into a safe position, came to a stop and jumped out. We followed close behind and why not, everyone else was out of their cars snapping pictures.

The elk was oblivious to we humans and just kept grazing and slowly moving along in our direction. Then, all of a sudden we heard this great roar coming from behind us. We snapped around and saw this man, in hiking gear carrying a tripod and camera with a very powerful looking telescopic lens. He was roaring in our direction,
"Do you have a guide in this group?" Not one of us answered, especially Fred. Well, he asked two more times getting louder and angrier each time. Finally Fred stepped from among us, and spoke up,
"Yes, I am, what seems to be your problem?"
By no the elk was no more than five feet from us. The angry guy asked why Fred allowed us to get so close to this animal. Then he angrily went on telling us that just a few minutes before a park Ranger had ordered him to get back at least 40 feet.
"What right do you have getting so close?" he asked.

Fred was quick, he replied that the elk had gotten close to us. That answer only ticked this guy off even more and he stomped off in discussed. Later on we came across the camera guy again and he was still looking for that perfect picture of something or anything. Fred slowed down to check out his license plate, he was from Texas.

We then made our way back to the town of Jasper to end our tour, but before doing so, we agreed the highlight of our tour was the guy from Texas.

Day 16

Our plan for this day was to take a tram ride up into Jasper National Parks alpine tundra area. The Jasper Tramway is the longest and highest guided tram ride in Canada, and is the only guided aerial ropeway in the Canadian Rockies. The view from the tram all the way up was spectacular to say the least. We could see three mountain ranges, glacial fed lakes, Alberta's longest river, the Athabasca River, as well as the entire town-site of Jasper.

The building where we purchased our tickets was already 1304 metres (4279 ft.) above sea level. The tram cabin holds 30 people and takes 7 minutes to reach the upper station on top of Whistlers Mountain which is 2277 metres (7472 ft.)above sea level.

Once we reached the top Richard and I took a stroll along the boardwalk, took some great pictures and just huddled and relaxed as we watched people leave the confines of the station to hike to the summit of the mountain. The wind was brisk and I'm glad I put on three layers of clothes, but it was not unbearable at all.

When we arrived back in Jasper we discovered a back street that was just as busy and had as much to offer as the front street. We heard music and smelled food and followed our nose to an upper level Italian restaurant. We sat out on the balcony encompassed about by pots of herbs, tomatoes and flowers. Our waiter was of Italian decent and was a delight. He told us they used the tomatoes from their pots in many of their recipes. Of course we ordered pizza, and I have to say it was the best pizza we had ever eaten. The crust was so light and crisp and the spices and toppings were in perfect proportions.

We got a chuckle when a girl was busily watering the many potted plants and made a mistake and put too much on one. There was a splash and a laughing scream rise up from below. Everyone was of good cheer.

We did a lot of shopping, for the grandchildren back home, for the rest of the afternoon, then retired to our campground for some R&R.

I was restless, I was not happy with my shots I had taken of elk, so decided to go for a walk. It was around 3:00p.m. and there was lots of light left for more pictures. I walked out the campground road to the main highway. There on the side of the road just in the woods a ways was the elks pathway. It looked just like the pathway cows in a pasture make. So I decided to take this path. I walked for a ways and the pathway veered deeper into the wooded area. The highway was still in plain sight and I could see the cars passing by.

I heard a noise off to my left, there no more than 15 feet from me was mother elk and her calf, oh shit. I stopped dead in my tracks, she stopped grazing and watched me. It seemed like we stood staring each other down for a long while. Now what do I do, well means I'm in this predicament I might as well get that good shot came after. Now I had the attention of both calf and mother, and they weren't moving away. I knew I had to get out of their sight. Close by was a young 10 foot high spruce tree, I buried myself in it. I couldn't see them and they couldn't see me. O.K. now maybe they'll move along. The calf kept blatting, yeah, it's probably calling it's father to come see this implant in the tree.

Just then a car had to come to a complete stop to let another elk cross over to my side. Great, this one is probably the calf's aunt. As the elk made it's way across the road and down in the ditch coming my way, the darn little calf came over to greet it. They met, touched noses, yes, I got a shot of that too. She was so close her eyes lit up from my flash. She sauntered out of sight, but the calf hung around where I was.

I could come from out of the tree and walk up to the road out of her territory, but by doing so I would be coming out in plain sight again and the calf was closer than ever to me. I could go back the same way I came, but I would have to pass close by the calf, bad idea. Just then a car stopped, seeing me close to the elk, they rolled down their window and began asking me questions. O.K. it's now or never. I nonchalantly strolled up toward the car, all the while checking out the back seat. Good, the door was unlocked and only one person was in it, if I had too I would jump in.

As I was walking toward the car I kept glancing over my shoulder at the reaction of the mother elk. I answered the questions the people in the car were asking, just like I knew what I was talking about. They moved on, and now I was on the road and out of her territory, she went back to grazing. I was happy with my pictures and hurried back to the campsite. You know what, that little calf walked in the woods beside me right into the campsite. Once in the campsite there were many other people walking around, I felt safer, but the most safe when I got inside my RV.

Day 14...Our Cross Canada Trip....East to West

(More pictures of the West Edmonton Mall in day 11, 12, & 13 story.)

Day 14

On the road again, traveling east on 16 to get back to the West Edmonton Mall. Ho Lay! a shoppers delight.

Richard and I entered at the Sears entrance at 9:00 a.m.. The first thing we did was find an information booth and a map of the mall. We both had cell phones incase we got separated. Not very likely, we stuck to each other like glue.

We walked on down the isles just window shopping. The mall had all the brand name stores that we are use to and more. We commented on how there were not many people around. Some of the amusement sections were not open yet. Look, oh my god, there's a skating rink, and look at all the seniors out skating!

We went a little farther and came upon the extreme to the rink, there below us was a gigantic simulated sandy beach complete with a wave pool. Then we could hear a rumble of noise throughout the mall. It was the sound of the metal folding doors to the entrances of the amusement parks opening up. Then there was a reaction, like that of a giant vacuum cleaner sucking kids in from every direction. They were coming from everywhere, followed close behind by attentive parents and grandparents. Within a half hour we were making our way through the maze of kids, shoppers, gift bags, strollers. So much for thinking there weren't many people here.

I watched closely at how well behaved the children were, and how the parents were enjoying them. They all were having so much fun at places like World Waterpark, Galaxyland Amusement Park, Deep Sea Adventure and so much more.

We took the escalator to the second level, found a Tim Hortons and a table overlooking the skating rink, enjoyed our coffee while watching the skaters below. It had now been a hour since we first came in and I marveled at the seniors we saw skating then, still going strong.

We were browsing again when I saw flashing lights, heard bells and whistles going, my heart began to skip a few beats, YES, a casino! We hastily made our way toward it, well, maybe not Richard. Guess what was just outside the entrance to the casino, an ATM machine. How thoughful of these people, in we went with $100.00 in hand and great expectations. Well, we sure weren't the only ones who found the casino, the place was full. We made a walk about, dropped a coin or two and found our way out the same way we came in. On second thought, not quite the same way we went in, we were $100.00 poorer.

The only thing we bought in the Mall was a T-Shirt for Sophia, it was so cute. On the front of the T-shirt was a picture of a crown, and the writing under it said,
"I didn't ask to be a Princess, but if the crown fits...."

We headed back to the RV, made a few circles around and around and finally we were back on 16 heading west. We stopped in a little town called Spruce Grove and got a supply of groceries. The campsite we found for tonight is called East of Edson RV Resort. Don't ever let the word 'Resort' fool you into thinking you're getting anything special.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 11,12,& 13...Our Cross Canada Trip....East to West

Day 11, 12 and 12

We arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan's, "City of Bridges." Here we called Richard's nephew Tom and his wife Pat. We checked into Saskatoon 16 West RV Park, where they were camping for the summer, for a few days of rest, relaxation and visiting. This campsite was very very nice, and it's web site is:

It was a great time to be in Saskatoon, for they were celebrating their 100 birthday. During our stay Tom and Pat took us on a tour of the city. Here we discovered that on May 26, 1906, 4,500 people formed the city and derived it's name from the purple berry the Cree Indians called mis-sask-quah-toomina.

Saskatoon has been named the 2006 Cultural Capital of Canada for communities with a population greater than 125,000 by the department of Canadian Heritage. One of the cities colorful characters from the past was Gabriel Dumont who's statue stands in Friendship Park to honor him. Dumont was one of the men from the North West Rebellion. He escaped capture by going to the United States where he joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. To learn more go to or or just google Gabriel Dumont. The entire history of Saskatoon is worth a look at their web site

Tom and Pat took us to the residential area where their home is. It is an older part of Saskatoon and the elm trees are majestic, making the area wonderful place to live. The city is battling the Dutch Elm disease among these trees, I do hope they are able to subdue the spread of the disease otherwise it will change the face of this area.

Day 13

We crossed over into Alberta around noon. The lay of the land changed immediately. The land began to roll and roll.

We drove all day and at 4:30p.m. we arrived in Edmonton. We seen an information symbol on a sign and followed it. A map of Albert was the only map we did not have yet. Anyway, we made this turn and that turn according to the ? sign. Then the signs stopped and no VIC Centre. We were lost and it was raining to boot, we stopped at a service station and got directions on how to get back on the highway leading west to Jasper.

But I wanted to see and visit the West Edmonton Mall and we had already passed signs directing us there. We decided to look for a campsite for the night and go back in the morning. We soon found one called SHERKS, oh man what a place, morning won't come quick enough.

Day 9 & 10...Our Cross Canada Trip....East to West

Day 9 and 10

Today we arrived at the "picture perfect" town of Wasagaming, home to the Riding Mountain National Park's interpretation centre. In this little town we found every amenity one would want or need. In the heart of the town the streets were lined with shops and restaurants complete with outdoor tables and umbrellas. The streets were lined with cars. Families walking everywhere. There were private cottages built in and around every tree, they were neat, painted up and the flower beds were glorious. We stopped to ask a park attendant if they were occupied all year, he said the owners only stayed from May to October. Another interesting facility was the log theatre, the largest of its kind in North America.

The flowers around the interpretation centre we spectacular. We discovered that the grounds and gardens were maintained without toxic chemicals and that the fertilizers used consist of organic materials. I was so intrigued by the way they handled pests, such as; beer traps for slugs, soap and baking soda for fleas and aphids and the flea beetles were treated to radish.

As Richard and I looked over the information at the centre we discovered that Riding National Park consisted of 3000 of land. The land consisted of white spruce, hardwood forests and prairie grassland and some of the largest moose, elk and bear live within it's perimeter, not to mention the 900 kg. Bison that roam in an enfenced santuary around Lake Audy. That's where we wanted to go. The interpreter told us that we'd have to get up early in the morning to see them, the heat of the day they went into the forest to stay cool.

It was 3:30 p.m. and away we went on the 36km. Trek over a washboard dirt road. Boy, our motorhome shook and rattled something fearse. Richard slowed the pace to a crawl, at this pace it would take us way too long to get there. We wondered what it would be like if we quickened our pace, Richard put the pedal down, surprisingly it was much better.

Finally we came to the an open air information gazebo with information about the sanctuary in which we were now into. We got out and headed up the ramp to read about the bison. I couldn't figure out why, at the entrance of the walkway there was a swinging metal gate that you had to pull outwards to enter. Oh well, in we went and read the displayed info. As we exited I seen a big pile of bison dung on the pathway nearby, now I know why the gate swung the way it did.

We soon came to the entrance of the campground we were going to say at. There were no attendants to tell us where to go or take our money. A sign told us to go in and pick out one of the thirty sites, then come back and put the exact change into an envelope that was supplied, place it into a metal box, and do enjoy your stay. Wow. There were only eight other campers on the river bank with us. We chose a secluded spot with a nice worn path down to the shore, and there were two chemical outhouses nearby. There was no water hook up and no electricity, boy we figured we were really roughing it.

We enjoyed our supper in this peaceful setting and listened to the water slapping against the shore. The sunset was spectacular, we retired early in preparation of our early rise to find bison.

I awoke at 5:30 a.m. got dressed and went for a short walk. The sunrise was equally as delighful as it's setting the night before. I heard the whistle of an elk crying off in the distance, I near jumped out of my shorts. Richard was up by now and away we went.

We drove along through dense fog, there off to our left were the shadows of bison Shrouded in this fog as they grazed. As we kept driving the sun began to burn through the fog giving us better views of more bison, elk and deer. In all we seen 25 bison, five elk and two deer. I was able to get great shots of the bison and elk, but the deer, by their very nature, didn't cooperate with the lens of my camera.

We returned to our campsite for breakfast. While Richard prepared it I went for another walk farther up the shore. I came across a well worn path that lead through a patch of raspberries and down to the shore. As I walked through, my legs getting wet from the dew, I picked a few berries and wondered if a bear too might enjoy them. I kept on. There, no more than 20 feet in front of me, I stopped dead in my tracks, a lone loon floated off shore. I have been trying, to no avail, to capture in my lens a loon for so long. There she was, and she was not going away. She performed beautifully for me and even sang her haunting call for me. What a way to start a day.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 8...Our Cross Canada Trip...East to West

Day 8

We crossed over into Manitoba about 2:30p.m. and our first stop was to a VIC to get directions to The Royal Canadian Mint. We were off.

Once inside we waited for our turn for a tour, but, in the mean time we discovered gold. There was a young RCMP Officer guarding this brick of solid gold, but he did allow Richard to hold it. This brick of gold weighed 28 pounds and is worth $340,000.00.

The young RCMP Officer said, “When you see those movies with the bandits running off with sacks of gold in each hand, don’t believe it.”

The tour was very informative, but unfortunate for us it was just the time between shifts and we did not see the assembly lines in motion.

We stopped for gas and right across the road was a new establishment called Countryside Fruit Vegetables and More, and it also was a private information center. The lady inside was so friendly and helpful. She directed our path to a campsite nearby called Welcomestop Campground just 13 km west of Winnipeg. The campground was built on the banks of the Assiniboine River, the second largest river in Manitoba.

We had a very enjoyable conversation. She told us that her husband was from Halifax, and that they go east to visit family and friends in Frederiction and Saint John. Another place she said was a must see was Riding Mountain National Park. Just then more customers came who overheard our conversation and showed us on the map the best route to get us in and out of the park.

She asked us if we had brought any fish? Of course she was only kidding and remarked about the wonderful fish from The Bay of Fundy.

We then stepped out onto her front deck while she looked after more customers. When they had left she came out with a bag in her hand. She hadn’t wanted to say anything while the other customers were in her store, she handed me a bag. She had gone to her personal freezer and gave us a bag of frozen fish called Pickering. She informed us that it was delicious. I had no ingredience to garnish the fish, so she went back in and came out with a bag of flour and corn meal mixed together, and also a fresh lemon.

While we were waiting on the front deck we noticed a sign posted on her screen door and inquired about it.
“Yes,” she said, “someone stole my flower planter.”
She went on to explain that she had wished to make her deck cozy for people to come out and enjoy a cup of tea. There she had placed a metal table and chairs, over at the other end were two handmade chairs and a planter made from branches. She then added,
“There’s the flowers that were in the planter, someone took them out, neatly put them on the chair and took the chair.

She then shared the reason for her sadness of loosing the planter.
“You see, it’s not that the planter had monetary value, rather priceless sentimental value. I made the two chairs, while my dying sister lovingly made the planter to match. It was one of the last things she and I had done together before she died.” As her sign read, PLEASE RETURN, NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

She wished us well, gave us a page of recipes, saying she wished she could go to the park with us. I thought to myself, ‘such a nice soul, I hope her planter is returned to her.’

We found the campsite, not one to write home about, and a good lesson learned, don’t get a campsite close to the highway.