Sunday 27 October 2013


Our weekend has been so busy - celebrating MWM's 65th birthday, which was yesterday.

It started on Friday evening when we took all our family to our favourite Chinese restaurant for a meal.  Here's some photos from the evening.

Sitting down to dinner.

In the next photo are
Back row - Sons Nick and Dan, MWM, Me, Daughter-in-Law Alison.
Next row - Eldest Grandson Sam, Kai, Nate and Harry
Front row - Granddaughter Gracie and Mother-in-Law Jean

There was one person missing, Dan's partner Fiona who was stuck in traffic on her way home from work, unfortunately she didn't manage to get to the restaurant but she didn't miss out on the food because there was so much of it the restaurant boxed  up what was left and Dan took it home for her.

Yesterday was MWM's actual birthday and we spent it with our good friends Tony & Karen.   We went to Manchester and did a pub crawl before going to our favourite Indian Restaurant for a scrumptious meal, after which we hit a few more bars.   Here's some photos of us enjoying ourselves.

We had a great time and MWM said it was his best birthday ever!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Canada Part 4.....

At last the part of our trip which had prompted us to book it had arrived.     No breakfast at the hotel or nearby diner for us today, we were to dine like kings on The Rocky Mountaineer!

Leaving the hotel at 8 a.m. we were transported the short distance to Jasper Railway station ready to board our Gold Leaf Carriage for the first leg of our 274 mile journey to Kamloops.

We boarded the train and took our seats in the glass domed carriage, which was to afford us a 180degree view of the scenery on our journey,

and were greeted by the staff who were to take care of us for two days, Dale, Harper, Drew and Alicia.
Before too long the train started moving out of the station for the adventure we had so looked forward to.  We were informed that there were to be two sittings for meals in the restaurant, which was downstairs, and we were on first sitting, but before that we were treated to fresh orange juice and a Danish pastry to keep us going for a short time before breakfast. 

Leaving Jasper behind we travelled quite slowly out into the countryside eagerly anticipating the beautiful scenery we knew was awaiting us.   At last the word came that breakfast was being served and we took our seats in the dining car downstairs where we were treated to a delicious breakfast.  Mine consisted of a Fruit Plate, Croissants, Scrambled Egg with Smoked Salmon, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Caviar and Creme Fraiche, all washed down with Fresh Orange Juice and Tea/Coffee.

Suitably stuffed we returned to our seats upstairs and settled down to listen to the running commentary of the scenery outside from our carriage crew.

Passing Moose Lake we unfortunately didn't see any Moose but it was beautiful.

Passed Beaver River
and Pyramid Falls
 we were in awe of mother nature.

Plied with snacks and beverages (alcoholic and non alcoholic, whichever we desired), and wandering up and down the train taking photos, including from below on the outdoor observation deck, we were surprised to find lunchtime had arrived.   Once again we made our way down to the dining car to partake of a delicious lunch.  I had the Tomato & Mushroom Soup, Pork Tenderloin, Garlic Mash, Sugarsnap Peas with Jus, then to follow Maple Ice Cream with Apple Cinnamon and Sultanas in Puff Pastry with a Brandy Snap, washed down with Red or White Wine and Tea or Coffee.   I had visions of being a stone overweight by the time we had finished our two days on the train, the food was so good and totally irresistible.

Our train was eleven carriages long and MWM went down to the observation deck to catch the front of the train going around a bend on video.

We travelled through miles and miles of beautiful scenery.

Mountain streams
 The Thompson River

A notable feature along the North Thompson is Little Hells Gate, a mini-replica of the much larger rapid on the Fraser downstream from the mouth of the Thompson. About 17.4 km upstream from the small town of Avola, the river is forced through a narrow chute only about 30 feet wide creating a rapid that resembles the Fraser's famous rapid.
MWM took this next video of our train crossing The Thompson River.

 The scenery changed to lower ground as we got nearer to Kamloops, our stop for the night.   Suddenly, after scouring the terrain all day, we spotted a bear!   It was quite far away and unfortunately it all happened so fast we didn't manage to get a photo, so you'll just have to take my word for it that we saw one.

 Eventually, about 6 p.m. we arrived at Kamloops Station where we were transported to our hotel, The Coast, for the night.  This is the view from our room.

It had been a looooonnnnnggg but exciting day and we quickly freshened up before going just across the road from the hotel, to a restaurant/bar, to get a quick meal before retiring for the night.   We had another day on the Rocky Mountaineer to look forward to and the journey to Vancouver.  I hope you'll join me for that in my next post, Canada Part 5.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Canada Part 3.....

After the fantastic experience of walking on the Glacier we continued our journey along the Icefields Parkway spending a little time at Athabasca Falls,

a waterfall on the upper Athabasca River, approximately 30 kilometres south of the townsite of Jasper.
A powerful, picturesque waterfall, Athabasca Falls is not known so much for the height of the falls (23 metres), as it is known for its force due to the large quantity of water falling into the gorge.  
We continued our journey to Jasper and our hotel for two nights Chateau Jasper.
After quickly unpacking a few items we ventured further into Jasper to get something to eat before retiring for the night.
There are some lovely buildings in Jasper, a church,
 and individually styled houses,
beautiful scenery,
a totem pole,
and an old steam engine.

The following morning was crisp and a little cold so we wrapped up and boarded the coach for a trip to Maligne Canyon, a natural feature eroded out of the Palliser Formation, the canyon measures over 50 metres (160 ft) high.

Flowing out of Medicine Lake, the Maligne River flows about 15 kilometers upstream as a full size river, but very quickly disappears seeping into the ground and completely vanishes from the surface not far from the lake for most of the year.

The smaller streams that feed the valley below that point rebuild the river by the time it reaches the top of the canyon.

Our next stop was Medicine Lake,

a geologic anomaly in the sense that it is not actually a lake but rather an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River) backs up and suddenly disappears underground. During the summer months during intensified meltwater runoff the lake (which during the winter months is a meandering frozen river) fills to levels which fluctuate over time and with the runoff events. Much like a bathtub that is filled too fast for it to drain, it becomes laden with water (lake) until it can slowly drain as the tap flow (runoff) is reduced (river).

The underground system is extensive and during the 1970s researchers used a biodegradable dye to determine the underground river's extent. The dye showed up in many of the lakes and rivers in the area to the point where it became clear that the underground system was one of the most extensive in the world.

Next we went to the breathtaking Maligne Lake,  famed for the colour of its water
the surrounding peaks, the three glaciers visible from the lake
and Spirit Island, one of the most photographed locations in the world.   Maligne Lake takes its name from the French word for malignant or wicked. The name was used by Father Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873) to describe the turbulent river that flows from the lake (in the spring), and soon spread to the lake, canyon, pass, mountain and range. It is also possible that early French traders applied the name to the river for its treacherous confluence with the Athabasca River.

We had a cruise on the lake to look forward to, so we purchased some sandwiches and a soft drink from the restaurant to take with us, then took our boat ride to the island.  The next photographs were taken from there.

I think you will agree it is beautiful and can understand why is is photographed so much, to say we were in awe of the scenerey is a gross understatement.

Being, by now, late afternoon, it was time to board the coach once again to return to the hotel where we just had time to freshen up and change before joining our fellow guests on the tour for a complimentary dinner at the hotel.   After dinner we were treated to a very interesting talk by a local wildlife expert.   Everyone retired reasonably early as we had to be at the station in Jasper for 8.30 the following morning to take the next exciting leg of our journey, one which had really been the deciding factor, for us,  when booking the holiday.

Join me next time for Canada Part 4 and The Rocky Mountaineer!