The Rocky Mountaineer

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
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Trip End Nov 24, 2006


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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Paul's parents Brian and Gill came to visit and we were fortunate to go on the very famous 'once in a lifetime' Rocky Mountaineer Train from Vancouver to Banff National Park.

The train was fabulous, every morning we had to get up at the crack of dawn, but we got to enjoy sunrises in all sorts of exotic locations which made it all worthwhile. We were extremely well fed, and while Paul and I brought the average age of the tour down by about 30 years, we had a pretty raucous crowd on board. We started off the first day in Vancouver at the railway station and got the 'ALL ABOARD' call (which was very cute). We cruised east through Vancouver heading into the interior towards Kamloops. We followed the Fraser River (the areas working river) until it met with the Thompson River, where things got a bit more interesting. We passed through Hells Gate - the narrowest part of the Fraser River, where crazy people white water raft, and passed through heaps of cute lakeside towns. It just so happens we were on the train at the spawning season for the local Salmon, which is a quite an interesting story. The salmon are born, and begin their journey down the river out into the ocean, where they frolick for 2 years. After their two years, they head back up the river to spawn and then die - if they haven't already, as only 2 out of 400 000 salmon make it back up the river. Wowsers. So, in the shallow parts of the Thompson River, all we could see was a sea of red fish. It was really cool. We were so lucky with the weather, it was cold but so clear and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Very unusual for October!

We stayed overnight the first night in Kamloops, a dodgy little town which apparently has nothing more going for it than a trainline going through it. Day two of the train got a lot more interesting as we reached the Rocky Mountains. We went through the spiral tunnels through one of the rockies (as the incline was too steep, the clever engineers carved a tunnel through the mountain in a loop - which let them continue the rail further east. Hoorah. The second day was also a better day for spotting wildlife, as we saw a Bear on the tracks (apparently the trains drop grain on the tracks and the bears come up and eat it), we saw stacks of Elk - as it was rutting season, so lots of Elk Biff going on, and we also so heaps of Bald Eagles eating the dead salmon in the river. The animal enthusiast couple on our carriage argued over whether they saw a Mountain Goat or if it was a Bighorn Sheep, (which we never clarified), and of course we saw lots and lots of big big mountains.

The next day we arrived in Lake Louise after a short morning tour in Yoho National Park. We went for a walk around the lake (which looked really different in Autumn than it did in summer), and then Brian, Gill and I went for a hike to a lookout. As Lake Louise is 5680feet, I was certainly pushed to my limit while hiking up a rocky. Even Paul's parents who are way fitter than I had a bit of trouble getting up to the lookout. Once we arrived at the lookout, the views were to die for! It was so worth it. We stayed at Chateau Lake Louise, which is without a doubt the flashest hotel I've EVER stayed in. It was absolute luxury, marble bathrooms, huge room, 2 king beds, antique furniture, it was soooo cool.

The next morning we headed to Banff and our fabulous weather was no longer. Not only was it FREEZING, but it was wet and completely grey. We did a tour around Banff and got the gondola to the top of the mountain and couldn't even see 2 metres in front of us! Luckily it cleared a bit so we could see the view.

The next day we headed to Calgary which was beyond freezing. We spent the next few days in and around Calgary and weren't overly impressed with it. It was freezing cold and completely deserted. A strange empty vibe about it.

Paul and I flew back to Vancouver, while Brian and Gill continued their trip further South through the Rockies and down to Yellowstone National Park.

Enjoy what photos we do have. My computer was stolen prior to uploading all my pics on here - so I lost them all. Gutted. I've had to 'borrow' Gill's pics!
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