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Lofty's Visit to Canada & Alaska 2005

I stayed in Calgary overnight and having done some food shopping picked up the R.V (recreational vehicle) It was 26 foot long and a good 8'6" wide with the mirrors but there were no problems because the roads are very wide and traffic volume compared with the UK is nothing, out of town anyway. They do of course drive on the right but having done it on the continent there were no problems.

The R.V sites were great some providing all facilities which allowed you to connect to the electricity, dump waste water and empty the toilet system. Others provided only the minimal either way it didn't matter because the RV had everything aboard, lighting ,cooking ,air con, heating , toilets , and fresh water it sleep six so there was plenty of room. The vehicle a Chevrolet was easy to drive being automatic with cruise control and was economical on fuel (petrol) which was less than half the price it is in the UK.

The signs displayed on the rubbish bins made it very clear I was in Bear Country having spent one night at the first site in Canmore It was later learned that a female had been killed by a bear that same weekend. So the threat was a real one.

The next stop was Lake Louise where the site was again in the forest and it goes without saying right next door to a railway line. The National Parks Managers must have chosen a railway enthusiast to locate their site's because all apart one was next to a line which goods trains running at regular intervals, all of which sounds their horns about every 100 yards or so it seems!

The weather while at lake Louise was not good, very overcast and misty rain which didn't make for good photographs but even so the views were great and the colour of the water still very attractive with some snow still on the mountains.

The lake even in the overcast conditions looked mysterious, the colour of the water adding to it's mystic, and if you can believe it when we first arrived early morning we were the only two there. that soon changed of course when the notorious coach loads of tourists arrived.

Not a lot of wild life had been seen apart from a few deer and bears whilst on the train. In the park at lake Louise RV site a sign warned of bear in the area so that made and evening stroll a little less attractive. Even so sitting in the R.V the animals mainly deer and squirrels came very close and seemed to be acclimatised to sharing their forest with the R.V's. At the lake itself warnings were up of grisly bears and to travel in teams of at least six persons? I assume they cant eat more that six humans at a time!

This little guy was more put out than the deer, who were not in the least surprised at us being on their patch. I'm sure if this guy had been bigger he would have slung us off, as it was he had a lot of chatter.

The following day I moved on, the weather no much improved but the change of scenery was very welcome that was when I saw the first black Bear, up close anyway I had seen the family from the train but that seemed different? I was now on the road towards Jasper from which HGV vehicles are banned so life was much easier from a driving point of view.

It was a pity but a wonderful as the scenery was the low clouds hindered the view. I was pleased that I had in fact got time to spare and so if the opportunity arose I could always double back and see it when the weather was in a better mood.

This Raven knew he was a beauty, and knew exactly where to perch for the best photographic opportunity; just like the one's in the tower of London, Intelligent and obliging, interesting that these were the largest birds I saw, it appeared all the Eagles etc were still in Alaska.

It was now possible as the weather cleared to take a few photographs but there was still considerable cloud cover.

Even so the views of the glaciers was spectacular, never having seen them before. I would have to make a point of coming back this way and hope the weather would be kind?

Despite the overcast conditions I decided to visit the Athabasco Glacier, along with taking a trip up the glacier in one of the purpose made vehicles, the driver made a big play about the amount the glacier has receded over recent years , I couldn't help but wonder just how much these vehicles had played in its demise, one in the heat created by their large engines and two by the large track tyres that ground the glacier to a slush. One can only add that in their defence the monies taken from the tourists does go to preserving other parts of the national parks, which I must say are well kept along with public toilets and other facilities.

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