I love traveling, and I'm constantly talking with Graham about all the neat places I want to visit "someday". We've decided to try to pick at least one new place to go each year. That way, we will eventually work our way through our LONG list of "Places to See Before We Die." This year, as we were talking about possible vacations, Graham said to me, "You know where I've always wanted to go? Banff."
Maybe you all are more informed than I was, but I had never heard of Banff; I didn't even know how to spell it. Still, Graham's descriptions of gorgeous natural scenery in the Canadian Rockies won me over, and our big summer vacation for this year was decided. Even better, when we were telling my parents about our idea, they said that they had wanted to go to Banff on their honeymoon years ago, but it wasn't feasible at the time. Before we knew it, we had a "double date" vacation. SO FUN!
We took nine days at the beginning of July to drive up through Montana, British Columbia, and Alberta. We went through four national parks: Glacier National Park, Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park, and the southern tip of Jasper National Park. In all of this, we took close to 300 pictures. I will not subject you to all of them here, but I thought I'd share a few along with some of the interesting things I learned along the way.
Top 5 things I learned on our trip:
#5 Glaciers are fascinating, especially to my geology-loving husband. The definition of a glacier is basically any snow that doesn't melt from year to year and compacts over time into ice. Many of the canyons in the areas we visited (and several in Utah, too) were formed by the slow movement of glaciers carving out the rock. Who would have thought that water would win against rock? But it's the constant pressure over time that makes the difference. Cool gospel insight there.
This is the top of the Athabasca Glacier, where it meets the rest of the Columbia Ice Field.
#4 Glaciers not only affect the rock, but they affect the water. Glacial runoff carries tons of minerals into the water (called "rock flour"), which makes light reflect differently. Thus, the crazy light turquoise color. It was brilliant, and not enhanced at all by Photoshop. It really is that vivid.
Peyto Lake overlook. Gorgeous and worth the two mosquito bites I got. :)
#3 Graham's walking cast made a good impersonation of Bigfoot tracks. (FYI - he injured some ligaments right before the trip, so he had a boot part of the time, but we were still able to do quite a bit of hiking. YAY!)
#2 Mom REALLY does not like being up close and personal with large wildlife. She's happier to look from the safety of the car. To be fair, that's smart when dealing with a bear. We all kept our distance with those guys.
This was one of five black bears we came across during our trip. He was really cute, though I wasn't tempted to pet him. Along the way, we also saw four elk, several wild turkeys, countless deer, squirrels, and birds, and some really pretty butterflies and flowers.
See the elk's velvety antlers? So pretty. Apparently the velvet rubs off when they start crashing around and fighting in the fall.
#1 Driving through new countryside can be as good as getting to the destination. There are so many gorgeous places in the world, and not all of them get a lot of attention. We accidentally happened upon many photo-worthy spots as we drove.
P.S. - There are more fun photos on Facebook.