• Frank DeArmas

The road to Alaska continues

Banff/ Columbia Ice Fields / Jasper National Park




I can’t help but feel that I am some how cheating these three amazing places by putting all three into one blog. But the past two weeks have been a whirlwind since leaving Calgary and heading towards the start of the Alaskan Highway in Dawson Creek.


 

Banff


Starting in Banff, with a trip to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine and the town of Banff itself.


Last year when we went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, I would have said there is no way we will equal what we just saw. You know what? When you're wrong it’s best to just say so and move on. Man I was wrong.


I think it is folly to try to compare these locations, as each has a wonder and splendor of its own. The gondola ride to the top of the world and looking back towards Lake Louise was just a thing of such immense beauty that my heart felt it would burst just for looking at it. The Color of the water, the crispness of the sky, the bold lines of the mountains mix with your raw emotions to elicit responses that I did not believe were possible.


I am often asked what places in the world do I think are the most beautiful. Now I can say, they are right here in our backyard. I know I have said this before, but if you can do it, visit the National Parks, visit here, you will never regret it. And you don’t need an RV, you can take a car, or the Rocky Mountaineer train, but do it, you’ll thank me later.



 

Colombia Ice Fields


There is a highway that runs from Banff, through the Ice Fields, and onto Jasper. It is one of the prettiest roads I have driven. We got to the Ice Fields center parking lot where we were to boon dock for the night. We were excited because we wanted to go up the glacier, and also because we have never boon docked. That’s where you spend the night with no hook ups, no electric, water, or sewer.


Don’t laugh, those things really make a difference. We did fine that we enjoyed it, however we did not get to go up on the glacier. Just before we were to gather, our wagon master came to our door and said one of our fellow travelers had felt bad and tested for covid, she was positive. I too had had a sore throat for one morning, and thought nothing of it.

Well I tested, and yes, I was positive for Covid. Jan was negative, but due to her exposure to me, we both had to isolate for 6 days the wear masks for an additional 4 in order to meet CDC and Health Canada mandates.


We were both worried and of course a little apprehensive of what this Virus would do to me. I had my vaccinations and both boosters so I was not too worried, but I know others in the same situation that were having a rough go of it.

So we spent the night in our rig, away from the others, and waited to see what this was going to be like. In the morning we watched the sun hit the ice, then we were off to Jasper.





 


Jasper


Let me tell you, if you have to isolate, then a beautiful wilderness with stunning views and wildlife surrounding us is the only way to go. I kept waiting for my symptoms to progress but I was very lucky in that I did not even get a fever the entire time.


My Covid infection was relegated to being classified as a mild head cold. I know, right? A stuffy nose is a pain but given this is Covid we are talking about, pass the tissue, I'll take it.

We explored the park and got to see many wonderful creatures as they went about their lives and we got to be out in nature, away from everyone, exposing no one else to this virus.


In the car I would wear a mask to protect Jan. The same for when we were near each other in the RV. The RV is not that big folks. But I am very happy to say we came through it, me with a stuffy nose, Jan staying negative through the 10 day mandated protocol.





 

Jan’s Facts

Ever since this whirlwind of a trip started in Montana, it seems like we haven’t stopped for a minute. That is why I haven’t posted anything about the foods in the areas we’re visiting. I thought since we haven’t had time to taste all the unique foods, I would write about interesting tidbits we have learned along the way.


 


I’ll start in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Frank and I found a pow wow at the Sunchild First Nation Reservation. There are 634 First Nations communities in Canada, speaking more than 50 distinct languages.


The Sunchild First Nation is one of the smaller Reservations. The Chief and Council oversee approximately 1300 members with approximately 75% living in the Nation. Most of the attendees at the pow wow were the Sunchild, there were only a handful of us who weren’t. They were all very friendly and it was a wonderful experience.




When we visited Banff National Park, I was amazed at the beautiful color of the lakes. It reminded me of the Caribbean. They get their color from the glaciers that surround them, In the springtime and early summer, melting glaciers run into the lake and deposit fine rock grounded by moving glaciers, which refracts the sunlight.


Columbia Ice Fields: Just as the name implies these glaciers or “fields of ice” is the largest ice field in the Canadian Rockies and is the largest south of the Arctic Circle. This is part of Jasper National Park.


Jasper National Park is home to 53 species of mammals including elk, moose, mule deer, mountain goats, grizzly bears, black bears, and bighorn sheep to just name a few. We got lucky and seen a few of these.




So now we head towards Mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway and our epic adventure, healthy and in awe of our surroundings.

 




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