Already the 12th time in B.C. and Alberta! In 1993 we got married in Vernon at the Okanagan Lake. Before and since we were really often here to visit. But now it's really the last trip in our lives to these two Canadian provinces. So to speak our farewell and revival(foto)tour. This time we have spent a lot of time to look, enjoy and take pictures. Unlike usual, we did not set any location or time goals except for visiting our friends in Vernon and our "Great Bear Rainforest" boat tour from June 8. So we just drove on it with only the current day's destination Sufficient rest and the right leisure time to find her photo motifs and to put them into the right composition. With a lot of patience and perseverance. We enjoyed it very much and we were rewarded for it, because we have also had a lot to experience - beautiful and touching. With people, the animals and the nature of Canada, it will probably be a very extensive travel blog .....
But let's start at the top: We land at noon sitting in an in time and friendly 747 of LH in cloudy Vancouver and experience the fastest (less than 30 min.) and smoothest customs clearance of our life: Brand new via fully electronic detection. An impeccable Jeep Cherokee is already waiting and will accompany us to almost 8,000 km from now on. We find our B & B in the green district of Granville with plush white carpets and "shoe out". In the late afternoon we visit Downtown and get our first ticket for wrong parking (costs: 40 Euro). Somehow, car parks in this city are hard to spot. Vancouver is a one-way street mess. Despite the many tourists in the Gastown the poor people who live here on the street can not be overlooked. We dine in the venerable "Old Spaghetti Factory" with original tram wagon inside and drive tired in the drizzle back into our sleeping nest.
The next day is the loved by us Stanley Park and once again the small Chinatown with the narrowest lane in the world. Unfortunately, the sky was gray again and the otherwise desirable colors do not quite come out. A challenge for the photographer! A small highlight is the Marine Building with its fantastically designed, very old interior design. A mini-insider tip. On the other hand, it looks quite sad on and around Hastings Road in the east of the city. We've probably never seen so many hundreds or thousands of homeless, poor and drug addicts as close together as there. We are very horified and Andrea takes some pictures of these people. It's just awful! We'll find out more about this situation later. Very different and contradictory. We do not know what is true and what does not. As so often in this world.
We decide to leave Vancouver in an easterly direction, out of the now huge city with its large Asian city districts. After Osoyoos and Penticton we spontaneously turn north. There we stop in the heavily grown Kelowna at the southern Okanagan Lake and want to surprise our friend Rod, who now lives there, after over 15 years. As luck would have it, our B & B, Starbucks coffee stop and Rod's apartment are just 2 km apart. The visit will be a complete success.
The next day its Matthias birthday and we plan to walk on the Myra Canyon Trestles near to Kelowna. 18 supergenious, high wooden railway bridges as in the Wild West on a distance of 12 km. We are very sad, the entry is denied us because of tree cutting work on this day. So we drive in the direction of Nelson and stay there in the historic Hume Hotel from 1898 (see Travel Tips). On our previous visits, hippie-like people strolled on the well-known Baker Street with its pretty, colorful wooden houses. There was a lot of music and it was very romantic. To our regret not much is left of this flair these days. One day later we set out via Creston, Cranbrook, Fernie, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest to Waterton Lakes National Park, our southeasternmost point of the tour. We get heavy rain, sleet, gray clouds and freezing cold at just over zero degrees! We did not think so. In addition even the famous hotel "Prince of Wales" on the small hill right in front of the magnificent lake with mountain backdrop behind is closed. With shaky ice fingers, Andrea does a timelapse video of the bit, which we can see, then we eat a badly prepared pizza and sleep in the not too cozy Bayshore Inn.
Command back. The weather looks a little better the next morning. Shortly after leaving the village there is a small, unexpected encounter: Andrea wants to photograph a bit of the nature and suddenly a herd of deer surrounds us, who are not afraid of humans at all. Some of them lick our Jeep with their long tongues. Matthias is in it, Andrea is out. We return the same way over a beautiful plateau and an exciting pass with a well-known landslide and turn off at Cranbrook on the highways 93/95 via Kimberley to the north.
The first shots of bighorn sheep close up in the middle of the landscape. They are not impressed by anything and bath in the rising warm sun. Next stop is Golden, in our memory a rather inconspicuous place on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. But far from it! The small town shines freshly dressed up u.a. with a large, interesting railway area and nice little restaurants. It is 20 degrees C., just a few clouds and the sun is shining. We spend the night in a sensational B & B with very friendly hosts high above Golden (see Travel Tips). The evening will be filled with the fantastic "1122" in the center of town. They cook really well there. A big surprise for us.
We will take the following photo goals for the next day: a) a Wolf Wildlife Center, b) a buffalo farm and c) the long rail freight trains in Golden. The "Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Center" was founded in 1998 by Shelley and Casey Black and is located a bit hidden near Golden in the Blaeberry Valley (no spelling mistake!). It houses a wolf pack with captured wolves or shortly before the minting phase presented wolves. The Blacks and their supporters have been struggling for more pro-friendly laws in Canada for years, and do not mince words. Her program "Walk with Wolves" is part of her educational work. We would like to write here at this point much more worth knowing and certainly unknown about wolves, which we have heard there, but this would be beyond the scope of this travel blog genuinely. Instead, here for those interested the link to the English website www.northernlightswildlife.com. Our wish: Just read it there. You will be totally surprised what you learn about wolves!
The visit of the buffalo farm falls into the water, as there are simply no buffaloes. THey are probably on a sightseeing tour somewhere ..... Well, and then the railways. We drive with our car just once on the huge area there and are - after only a few photos - made aware by the security people that we here are not welcome f.e. for safety reasons. As soon as we leave that railway area and are on the highway again (to take pictures from there) we are stopped by a police car. He discreetly informs us that this project is also not in accordance with the law. He reviews our papers. After more than an hour of waiting the friendly policeman with a German grandmother finally releases us from his care. We are furthermore not not convicted in Canada and make relieved an afternoon trip west to the Rockies. Unfortunately the long-awaited spiral tunnels can now be forgotten photographically and otherwise, as the tall fir trees cover more or less everything. And of course a long train does not come until we were almost back in Golden .... Even at this time of the year the water-filled Takkakaw Falls are not accessible to us. The way there is closed.
We would like to enjoy the scenic route from Radium Hot Springs to Banff on Highway 93 and therefore drive a bit to the south again, then turn to the northeast. On the way we see the small, emerald-green Vista Lake from above at 1,700 m altitude below us and dream a bit into the lonely landscape. We arrive at Banff National Park and see two completely icy, snow-covered lakes. The world famous Lake Louise and the Moraine Lake. We definitely did not expect this at the end of May! Hordes of people are running around on the Moraine Lake and we discover a photographically very interesting group of Buddhist monks in their yellow-orange cowls. We will probably never visit the Lake Louise again, because the tourist crowds are incredibly large, the beautiful lake hotel is closed to tourists, the parking lots are even more monstrous than those of some major European cities. You can forget that.
After an overnight stay in Banff and a tasty "Mexican" in the evening, we discover the three small Vermilion Lakes located on the outskirts. A totally romantic sight. Pure enjoyment for nature lovers. Andrea photographs every quantity of birds and ducks (families). The ducklings are popularly called "Loonies" because they are roundish and look like the gold-colored 1-dollar coins of Canada from earlier times. Unfortunately the Johnston Canyon on our plan is also closed. Again we ask ourselves, why. No snow, no ice, nothing...... The destination today is Revelstoke, a small sweet place in the middle of the mountains. In the late afternoon we sit comfortably on a park bench in the sun on the banks of the Columbia River and relax a bit.
Next stop is Vernon at the north end of the Okanagan Lake. This is the town where we got married 26 years ago at a B & B called "Castle on the Mountain" - together with our Canadian friends. The castle still exists, but now it has a new owner and only two rooms are left to rent. Nevertheless we spend three nights there in nostalgic memory. And miss the old times and the family atmosphere of yesteryear. No shared breakfast and no nocturnal outdoor hot tub.
With Sharon, Eskil, Lyndell and Ian we do a weekend winery tour on the old romantic streets of land between the Okanagan and the Kalamalka Lake. we have a brilliant lobster pizza for lunch. And of course there's Eskil's legendary original breakfast with warm porridge and whipped cream including mashed fresh raspberries. Everything comes to an end. It will probably have been the last meeting of this kind ......
On this sad evening for two we do the rough planning for the second half of our car tour and leave our wedding destination early in the morning heading north again for the Rocky Mountains. Via Kamloops we come on the highways 97 and 5 to the finally sun-flooded and clearly visible Mount Robson and then to Jasper, where we get a heat of over 28 degrees C. In the meantime, too much has not changed in this wonderful mountainous place. Of course the new, wide-developed Icefield Parkways - once down and up again with a total of almost 500 km on this day with selected destinations - is a "Must": The huge and rushing Athabasca Falls, the ever-melting Athabasca Glacier with new paths and parking lots for the visitors and the unfortunately frozen Bow Lake and Peyto Lake. We would both like to have photographed in their milky emerald green color ..... But no luck!
On the second day a visit of the most beautiful lake of the entire tour, the Maligne Lake. Matthias gets angry about the guide of a huge black touring bus, which scares away moose and black bears on the roadside with its overarching diesel engine. Just as the Chinese bus passengers tried once again to take any pictures through the window with their cell phones and iPads. An American tourist yells at Andrea from apparent safety distance: "This is a bear !!" - as if we do not know what a fur animal is the bear and how to deal with it. And a Japanese runs with raised camera down the slope directly to a black bear.
Well, on these days we are really lucky with our wildlife photography: grizzlies, black bears, bald eagles (in the nest high on a totally dried up tree), moose, bighorn sheep, ducks, roe deer, Canadian geese, a kind of "weasel", Wapiti deer, wolves and lots of birds. On the evening of the last day in Jasper Matthias leave his wallet with everything in it just on a pile of bananas in a supermarket, What a luck: The staff saw and returned it intact! By the way a recommendation for dinner in Jasper is the Kimchi House Korean Restaurant (see travel tips).