Go Float Your Boat continued from premature post!

This morning we ate breakfast with Joan and her God-daughter, Mary Frances, who just graduated from high school. This trip is the young woman’s graduation gift.  She got to choose between Spain and Canada.  Clearly this Joan gets the St Joan of Godmothers’ prize. 

Our float trip depended on weather –whether it rained or not.  When we left at 9 am the skies were gray, but no rain so we suited up and hopped (eh, maybe not exactly hopped) onto the raft. 

I felt safe with Andrew handling the oars once I found out his experience included white water rafting on the Ganges River. First I said, “Ew,” but then he explained that they were rafting near the Himalayas. All I could picture was the brown Ganges you usually see in National Geographic articles.   (On second look the water in the above photo looks a little brown.)
Around the first bend we got this view of our hotel, fashioned after a Scottish castle. Banff Springs Hotel in Banff National Park.

The water was running FAST.  If the guide hadn’t purposely slowed us down for these views we would have been done in 30 minutes!

These pinnacles of sandstone and hard rock are called Hoodoos.

So…there’s a story behind these light green low shrubs.  But I can’t remember what it is.  It will come to me around midnight.

Rafting trip over, it was time for some serious shopping in the little town of Banff.  How do you like this notice:

Possibly could be mistaken for urinal also. 

Here’s a shot of downtown Banff…

…and John explaining something to me, no doubt.  What he was saying is stored away with the above mentioned Bush Story.  We happen to know that woman walking down the street.

Tonight is our last night with the whole group. A few of us are spending tomorrow in Calgary and flying home Friday.  This trip has been a dream of John’s and it certainly lived up to our expectations and even exceeded them.  We met some fun people and hope to continue corresponding with some.  John found a kindred spirit in a man who is his church’s Building & Grounds Guy, like he is.  A lot of ideas traded.  New Facebook friends!

A quick change of clothes and we were off to a Farewell Reception and Dinner here in this grand hotel.  The special guest speaker collared John for misconduct:

One last circle around the castle-like building just before sunset.  Filter applied  to this pic that was our dinner view.  

Suitcase stuffing begins.  Early call tomorrow for the drive south to exp,ore our last location.

Nite nite


Artsy Fartsy Tuesday

“Sunrise wake up call” means they will keep calling your room at 5:20, 5:21, 5:22, 5:23 until you figure out how to properly answer the phone and acknowledge the call. Then they send a person to knock on the door to see if you really ARE awake. Unfortunately, this commotion also wakes up the person who does NOT want a 5:20 wake up because you can see the sunrise perfectly fine out of the window. From the bed. 

We have about 30 shots of sunrise because the light changed every minute.  Outside, John said, it was like being in an enormous cathedral.

On a walk along the lake I wanted to take some “background pictures” to use in the digital photo album I’ll make for this trip.  I like using my own rather than the stock backgrounds in Picaboo.  Samples:


I’d like to think I got exercise, but with stopping every few minutes for photos there wasn’t anything aerobic about this 2 mile “hike.”  Maybe dodging mud puddles counts as Jumping Jacks.  I was also working on my “selfie” skills.  My brain isn’t wired for taking photos of us that includes both people and background scenery.  This is what I got:

See my new turquoise jacket?  The color is the same as the lake, though it doesn’t show that in the picture.  One other woman on the trip also found this bargain jacket:

Took off for Lake Moraine after lunch.  Supposed to be the most gorgeous lake we would see. Shortly after Pat and John started climbing a moutain of landslide rocks, the rain began pouring down.  Since I wasn’t climbing I was able to get some ground level shots of a logjam.

It poured as we drove on to Banff.  The bus (excuse me, coach) was quiet for the hour drive, except for the sound of snoring.

So…our room here at this Scottish castle style hotel looks down on to the entrance.  The first few times I looked out the window I wondered why the horse in front of the main entrance wasn’t moving along.  Every time I looked out he was standing there. Seriously.  

Italian dinner tonight and we added vegetables to our diet — which have been seriously lacking.

These were soooo good.  One of our foursome, who asked me not to name her, (ha!)  wondered if I actually got 15 stalks because the menu said “Asparagus         15.”  This person must not eat out often enough to realize that they actually put prices on the menu. $15 not 15 asparagus.  Funny thing is, there were actually 15 asparagus in the bundles. 

John’s veggie choice:

Hot olives and grilled artichoke. 

Beddy bye time. Tomorrow a Bow River float trip — probably in the rain.  



That’s what we are — toast.  Seems all the days have caught up and tonight we are exhausted.  Each day is packed with beauty that is overwhelming.  Just when we think a mountain can’t get any higher, or a lake any more turquoise, we round a corner and there is an even more magnificent sight.

The Icefield Parkway was mile after mile of glacier capped mountains and surprise waterfalls.  We stopped at one particularly splendid one (Athabasca Falls) — water forcefully pouring over the rocks. What a sound!

As I sit here in our room, sipping Grand Marnier, overlooking turquoise Lake Louise I am struggling to remember the highlights of our day.  On our drive from Jasper to Lake Louise we saw some critters that slowed us down.  These shedding mountain goats stopped traffic both ways as they meandered down the Parkway.

Shortly after this pic was taken we screeched to a halt for a shiny furred black bear crossing the road.  

Look at those bags under my eyes!  I am so doggone tired!

After a stop in Lake Louise Village for essentials (in our case –  socks, wine and assorted minis from the liquor store) we wound our way up to Chateau Lake Louise. Stunning view from our room — which Tauck is good at procuring for its guests.

After dinner we took a short walk along the lake and Pat caught this photo opp

Sheesh, how could I forget the Athabasca Glacier that we walked on

John just called the front desk for a “sunrise wake up call.”  Fortunately, they don’t call if the weather is bad.  We had close to 80 degrees this afternoon but expect it to go downhill from here.  Cold, rain, and possibly snow in the forecast.  How fun will a snowy river float trip be?!

A year ago today we were floating down the Lower Danube when we turned on CNN in our cabin and learned about the Pulse shooting.  It was a weird and lonely feeling to be so disconnected from such an impactful event in our home town.  We were worried about people we knew.  And people from church.  There was no one on the boat we could talk to about it.  We were feeling so shocked and sad for the families and our town.  Now, here it is a year later and we are again far away from the remembrances. I am so proud that John was able to get the church’s bells programmed to toll 49 times at noon, along with many other churches.  We were there in our hearts.


Camp Jasper

Imagine our surprise when we unlocked the door of our room at Jasper Park Lodge and found this view out our back window wall:

A bonus:  we have a huge “cabin” with two bedrooms and a large living/dining/kitchen area where we could hang out with our traveling companions.  That made dealing with a rainy day much easier.  We could hang out in our living room to chat and read and choose not to go horseback riding “rain or shine.”

Walked a bit along the Lac Beauvert.  Can’t go all the way because it is elk calving season and the critters shouldn’t be disturbed. We ran into a couple from our group who were high-tailing it back toward us.  Up ahead on the trail they ran into a grizzly standing on the trail, on it’s hind legs, arms (huh, arms?) raised, facing them about 20 feet away.  Contrary to all advice given about how to react if you run into a bear (bathroom books always have that kind of advice), they ran like hell.  Didn’t even stop to get a picture. Our walk wasn’t nearly as thrilling:

And if I have to wear those pants one more day…😬

If you are on Facebook you’ve seen our little photo contest.  Choosing our best shot from our respective iPhones kept us amused for about an hour.  I have to say there was a certain amount of extreme confidence from one participant certain that their photo would the winner. As the results come in, this person is now claiming that the survey is not valid and should be redesigned.  We shall work on that. Results revealed tomorrow.

Basically today was eat, walk, nap, eat, drink, repack.  

I leave you with the final view of the evening.

Up at 6am tomorrow to head to a glacier and on to Lake Louise.


A Day at Sea

Here’s what’s a bonus about traveling with a company like Tauck — every day is so filled with adventures that it feels like each day is actually two.  

Yesterday in Victoria we had a free morning. Which to Ann means sleep in.  Which to John means get up and get moving. A 15 minute compromise was reached and we laid out a plan.  The morning HAD to involve a boat ride so we grabbed the “bathtub boat” from the city dock to travel to Fisherman’s Wharf.  The cute little boat looked like an illustration from an old Little Golden Book about a tiny tugboat.

A circuitous route took us across the bay.  Two runways for seaplanes run right across the water and there are only 2 places boats can cross over them.  In addition, if you are entering the harbor in a power boat or sailboat you have turn power off/ drop sails and row in so as not to create a wake on the liquid runways.

Once on Fisherman’s Wharf we walked the docks admiring the floating homes.  Most quite small, but elaborate.  With decks, porches.

And look at the cute guy guarding this house

The boat returned us to a different location in Victoria –Chinatown. Himself thought he was so funny repeatedly remarking that everything was made in China.🙄

By 1:00 we arrived at the Fairmont Empress Hotel for Tea. Pinkies out, we did our best to represent the state of Florida amidst the Victorian splendor.  The boys scoffed at the cucumber sandwiches, but at the end both tiered p,ages were pretty much empty.

Now it was time to waddle across the street to the seaplane terminal for our flight back to Vancouver.

Next stop the part of Vancouver called Gastown –perfect for a woman whose IBS is acting up after days of too rich food.

By 8:00 pm we were settled in our “room” on the train for the next 18 hours.  But first, Champagne in the reserved Tauck reserved area in the panorama car.

Passed through mountains, along racing rivers and this pyramid waterfall


Now we’ve arrived at our unexpected “cabin” — sharing with Lindens –on a turquoise lake in Jasper National Park.  Residing in a ginormous two bedroom cabin with large living room between.  If we don’t come home, you’ll find us here.

Why Day at Sea?  Because that’s what 18 hours on the train felt like.  A relaxing day to do nothing.  Tomorrow we have free – may be horseback riding. You’ll find out soon!


Three Moss Moose

There are a few bucket list items I aim to check off on this trip.  One of them is to see a real moose.  Now, John claims that a far away glimpse of a moose butt in the woods somewhere years ago counts as a moose sighting.  Not to me.  I want the front side of an actual live moose.  Fearing that this might not happen I grabbed a shot of these guys in Butchart Gardens. Hopefully to be replaced later in the trip with the real deal.

Here’s a travel advisory for you if you ever visit Victoria, BC:  don’t visit the Miniature World “museum” in the Empress Hotel.  I love doll houses so broke from the group to see the miniatures.  A dark, smelly winding hallway where I walked by tiny dioramas depicting historical events.  Dusty historical events.  With the “smallest working saw mill in the world” that doesn’t actually work. Shut down by the fire department according to a sign posted..

Back to Butchart Gardens, our main event of the day.  In the rain.  Not a hard rain but steady,  I think it was to our advantage because the endless shades of green and the brightly colored flowers stood out against the gray sky.


Endless photo ops.  I’ll invite you to the slide show when we get home. #GrandpaGalt

Back in Victoria, the sun came out, the sky turned blue and the wind picked up considerably. So thankful we didn’t choose to go whale watching in an oversize pool float.  We headed to an English pub with our friends, shopped for tshirts, and bought chocolate.  Separate His and Her bags.  

We have a long and confusing list of things to get ourselves ready for a big day tomorrow that requires we pack only a duffel bag for the 18 hour overnight train ride to Jasper.  We’ll take a float plane back to Vancouver tomorrow afternoon after “tea” (la-de-DA) to catch the train.  

Once we board Canada’s version of Amtrak (tour guide did not choose an appealing comparison, if you ask me) we will be unplugged.  I bought a paper back at Munro’s Book Store today — book lovers you know how excited I was to shop there!  

Back in touch from Jasper, Alberta.


Date Night in Victoria, BC

Best waffle ever this morning.  Somehow crunchy and soft,  made with real butter and drowned in Canadian maple syrup. All carbed up like that it’s no wonder I nodded off as we drove to the Bill Reid art gallery in Vancouver.  The exhibit woke me up!  First Nation art (in the US we call them Native American) is truly fascinating and sometimes frightening to look at. But I loved this piece of carved white jade that tells the Haida Guaii version the creation story.

You can Wikipedia more if you are interested.  But you can see that the raven, attracted by a shiny white clam shell, opens the shell and the “first people” work their way out, head first and butt first.

A short visit to Stanley Park convinced me that I wouldn’t mind having my remains put on top of a mortuary totem carved with important events from my life.  If John can be in one of the urns on the church cupola then certainly I can find someone to carve me a nice mortuary totem something like this.

See the cute little child peeking out the side?

Tough decision choosing what to eat for lunch in the Granville Island market.  I thought these fiddleheads looked like they might be tasty until I read the description on the basket that explained you have to boil the toxicity out of them before eating.  Wonder who was the first person to discover THAT?

The ferry ride to Vancouver island was about one and a half hours, a twisty route through lots of small inhabited islands.  

Our traveling companions, Pat and Eric

And these two.

In Victoria we wanted beer/wine and chocolate, in that order. Found a cute place on the harbor where Pat and I let “the boys” have the view.  It was Date Night at the Milestone Restaurant so we chose a 3 course meal at a very reasonable price.  Started with

and ended with chocolate ganache torte.  Followed by an animated discussion about who’s hotel room had the best view.  Eric said they had a balcony and could see the harbor if they leaned over it and looked left.  I pouted because our room didn’t have a balcony and it wasn’t fair.  Upon returning to the room I opened the drapes for the first time and, voila, a balcony with an even better view.  No leaning required.

So fired up to see Buchart Gardens tomorrow morning, even though rain is expected.
Good night 

Napping at 36,000 feet

I remember taking cranky crying infants on endless rides around the ‘burbs as a method of inducing sleep. At my age now, airplanes rock me right to sleep.

But I never believe that will happen. I anticipated today’s 5.5 hour flight to Seattle would be time to do All the Things I feel guilty about doing at home in downtime. My pregnant looking Vera Bradley carry on was stuffed with back issues of the NYT Book Review, several NYT Monday (the easiest day)crossword puzzles, a just begun paperback (The Nix), ipad with Candy Crush level 454 to be conquered, and my big ass Bose headphones.  

I was tempted by Delta’s in-flight entertainment before we even got off the ground. “Moonlight” seemed a good choice since I remember the controversial end to the Academy Awards this year. Pressed start and within a few minutes I was out. Snoozing. Nodding. Snorting. Eyelids that would not open even for the airplane cookie lady. 

Crossword puzzle undone, book unread, Candy Crush still flashing on 454 asking if I wanted to buy Candy Bombs or switchy hands or coconut wheels to aid my game.

First stop on layover: Starbucks.  

Arrived in Vancouver on time and happily ran into into our travel companions from home, Pat and Eric.  Right away we decided no political talk on vacation.  10 minutes after (if that long)….well, you know. 

I could live here with all the saggy looking pine trees, rhododendron, sharp peaked mountains, lovely wood roofed homes.  As you may guess, we arrived on a rainless day, clear sky.  View from The Fairmont waterfront not bad.

That is grass growing on the roof across the street.

So figuring out the money isn’t bad. I’m just going to say a dollar is a dollar no matter what.  John brought leftover Euros so that should be helpful 🙄. Pat has a handful of Canadian coins that I think were the rejects from a Publix Coin Star machine.

Soon time for wine and dinner here at the hotel.  Tomorrow we begin checking out Vancouver then on to Victoria. 


Stuff It

People, I need people. Like the rich Naples ladies I met last time we traveled. People to select the proper clothes for the weather at multiple destinations. People to pack it in one 50 lb bundle. And come out unwrinkled on the other end. People to whom I could ship the whole mess on the last day of the trip so that by the time I got home it would all be laundered and hung back up. True–there was a lady who actually did this on our river cruise.
36 hours out from departure this is what I’ve got:

Looks good, right? Undies in tight little net bag (gives new meaning to the phrase “tighty whities,” right?), leftover cruise slippers tucked in top, sets of clothes labeled by day and activity.  It’s a sham. Under this tidy layer is an episode of “Hoarders”. Because you never know when you will need that (3rd) umbrella, the giant emergency bag of Hershey’s Kisses, every drug prescribed in the last five years, more Wet Ones than the Octomom could use in a Mc Donald’s outing, and the two most recent issues of u read People magazines.  Been saving up those puppies.

And so my first blog post begins.  This only took 2 hours, several consultations with my personal PMP, and a smidge of Grand Marnier.  

Will keep you posted!