A Travellerspoint blog

Rocky Mountaineer...Day 2

The day began at a much more reasonable hour...6.30 for a 7.15 start.

We had a lovely stay at the Hamilton Inn in Kamloops a hotel run by the Hilton group.

There was great excitement as we got ready to board and found out we were going to have the longest Rocky Mountaineer train that anyone could ever remember...44 carriages in all!!
One train that had travelled up to the mountains was joined onto the two trains full of passengers of which there were about 400!! It needed 4 engines to pull it all the way to Vancouver. We were treated to some great photos of the train almost full length as we rounded some of the bends and travelled through some of the tunnels.

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Our hosts on car J06 were amazing...we didn't want for anything. The food on board the train was worthy of any 5star restaurant with wine to match.

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We had a half hour delay along the track as an unwell passenger and her husband were off loaded into an ambulance and taken to one of the local hospitals...fortunately it was not one of our group.

We continued to follow the Thompson River until it joined with the Fraser River. The scenery changed dramatically throughout the day as we travelled down to Vancouver...enjoy the pictures.

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The train has definitely been one of the highlights of our trip!

However the day was not finished yet...we arrived at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel about 6pm and called our friends Audrey and Steve as we had arranged to meet up for dinner. We were very surprised to find out that they were downstairs in the lobby bar with Ashley and Johno waiting for us to arrive! A quick freshen up and we raced down to spend a wonderful evening full of laughs and great conversation with some very special people. We are very lucky to have such fantastic friends...thanks guys...we will miss you!

Posted by thewoodsies 17:32 Comments (2)

Welcome to the Rocky Mountaineer

Oh my...what a building of excitement! The train trip through the rockies has been on my wish list for many years. I have spent hours looking at brochures depicting amazing views of the mountains and the clear dome cars you ride in to look at the non-stop scenery.
So often your expectations are much higher than the real thing...but this time it is the reverse!!! Our experience on the train has far exceeded any expectations built up over the years.

Train awaiting our arrival.

Inside the Goldleaf seating car.

A toast to the trip...juice...it is only 8am!

What made it even better was the fact that we have been travelling with the same group of Aussies for 11 days now and we are all having a wonderful time together. Some great characters indeed...lots of belly laughs all around...surrounded by the magnificent rocky mountain range.
We are eager to see sightings of bears but they are proving to be elusive at this time of the year...but there is always tomorrow.

I have had fleeting thoughts today of those left back at school, preparing for the dreaded NAPLAN testing the government insists upon...but then I find myself smiling quietly as I look out on the scenery....

As I look out the window of the train, the mountains are getting smaller as we travel further down towards the west coast. We are still following the rivers all the way and finding waterfalls and small, isolated rail towns along the way. The scenery changes every hour from mountains to plains, from logging mills to farming...magic. The darker side is the massive remnants of a huge forest fire...started accidentally by a fire fighter and a cigarette butt not extinguished fully. It wiped out a massive area including homes and businesses.

Pyramid Falls

Blue Lake...a railway town
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Little Hell's Gate

Low cloud cover on our way down from Jasper

Forested landscapes


Devastated areas from forest fires
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We have had to pull off to the sidings as we let the much longer freight trains pass by.

Tonight we stop in Kamloops for the night and then tomorrow the train doubles in length as we join up with the other train coming down from Calgary and Banff.

The mounted patrol welcomed us to Kamloops...are they the cousins of the Royal Canadian Mounties??

Tomorrow we get another day of luxury treatment, with great food, wonderful wine and fantastic company. :)

Posted by thewoodsies 18:59 Comments (1)


We set off from Lake Louise about 9.30am...a late start (to make up for the 5am mornings to come!) off towards Jasper.
Our first stop was the Icefield Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier.
IT WAS FREEZING...about -10 but they said it was a beautiful spring day!!!
We walked out on the glacier...and had a shot of whisky...with snow in it of course...courtesy of our tour guide.
We had a bit of a snow fight...and then jumped back in the Explorer to thaw out...brrrrrrrr.
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The upper glacier

The wind and snow was soooooo cold!!!!

The original Explorer vehicle and a new Explorer!
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We then went to Athabasca Falls and the Athabasca River
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The whirlpools in the water make the rocks into curved walls.

Four layers of clothes for this beautiful spring weather!!

Early afternoon we arrived at Jasper Park Lodge...Wow...a totally different experience to al our other stays.
Cottages spread out over the resort. It surrounds Lake Beauvert...spectacular and with the slightly warmer weather in Jasper the lake was almost thawed!!!!
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Next morning we went on a tour of the surrounding areas and visited Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake...both still fairly frozen!

Upon our return we had a lazy time wandering through the townsite of Jasper then we headed back to the Lodge to visit the Spa.
Rob needed a Stress Relief Massage and I needed a Jasper Body Wrap...

The relaxation room in the spa
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The view while we sipped our herbal tea...

All this travelling is very stressful you know!

Well it is time to go to bed as we have a 4.45am wake up call to head off to board the Rocky Mountaineer Train. We have two days in the dome car travelling down through the rockies to Vancouver.

Posted by thewoodsies 06:00 Comments (1)

Beautiful Lake Louise

Oh how lovely...a lazy start to the day! We didn't head off till 10.30am this morning!!!!
We were able to have a late start because we only had a little way to travel from Banff to Lake Louise, which was ony about an hour's drive away.

We said farewell to the beautiful Banff Springs.

We first had a stop at Bow River which was just behind the Banff Springs Hotel. We also managed to get a picture of the Hotel from a higher vantage point that showed it as it should be seen.
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Next we drove to the Hoo-Doos...a limestone formation similar to the Pinnacles in Cervantes...just that they are surrounded by mountains. We also had our first spring day as the temperature rose...we found some early wildflowers, the Mountain Crocus growing nearby.
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Next we made our way to board the Banff Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain. It was perfect weather...blue skies and not a breath of wind until we got out in the open up on the mountain boardwalk. The boardwalk was fantastic, although a little hairy to walk with all the ice and snow on the path.
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Excitement was building as we now headed to Lake Louise...we arrived ... the Chateau Lake Louise appeared before us and it was magical.

Our Room

We had a tour with our guide Mike who gave us an account of the history of the place and told us of the amazing mountain climbers who helped create the world renown destination. The glaciers surrounding us were totally awesome... the lake was huge and of course totally frozen!

The Frozen Lake

After we checked in we headed off to walk the lake...it is a mile long (1.6km) and a quarter mile (400m) wide...it took us 35 minutes to walk across the ice and snow to the other end at the base of Mount Victoria. It is impossible to describe the feeling of being surrounded by such huge mountains and glaciers...amazing. The photos certainly can't capture it as it was!! We have now decided it is a must do to come back when the lake is thawed and shining in all her emerald glory!

Ice holes in the lake

A snow family

The Hotel at the start of our Ice Walk...
Half way down the lake...
All the way down the lake on the pass to Mt Victoria.

Mount Victoria

Is the snow really melting???

Frozen Waterfall at the end of the lake.

A spectacular view of a beautiful hotel.

Spring is trying to come...buds appear

Even better was to come...we had a drink before dinner in front of the famous arched windows and then dinner in the Fairview Dining Room and it was SPECTACULAR!!! Amazing food and great views...just a perfect finish to an amazing day.

Anyone for cocktails...no alcohol of course!

Prawns for dinner?

The view at dinner...

Tomorrow off to Jasper...

Posted by thewoodsies 20:48 Comments (2)

Banff...Part Two

It was freezing this morning!!! We had to get ourselves rugged up for a tour of the area. All our guides keep commenting on how unusual it is to have this weather we are experiencing...it is supposed to be spring! Unfortunately because the snow is still so heavy there are a lot of activities that are unavailable for us to do which is a little disappointing, but you make the most of what you have got!!

We headed out today towards Lake Louise ...first to Bow River...which is only partly thawed.
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We encountered some Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep on the side of the road...nibbling at the only fresh grass for miles!!
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We drove up to Castle Mountain. It is surrounded by Chalets that are available all year round.
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We headed off to Two Jack Lake...named after Jack and Jack!

Lake Minnewanka was a spectacular expanse of water...of course still frozen...about a metre thick of ice! We walked out onto the lake to view the "floating" boatshed and pontoons that will be towed into shore when everything eventually thaws. It is a magic place for boating and fishing in the summer.

Me on the Lake

Rob on the "floating dock"

There was and amazing rock garden where people had made numerous Inukshuks from stones.
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Now this is especially for my boss...Mr Patrick Bourke...the solar man...they spent $$$2 million on building a solar panelled washroom at the Lake and it was by now a sunny day with temps nearing 11degrees celcius and GUESS WHAT? It was closed for the winter!!!
Patrick...this photo is just for you...

We got dropped off in the township and decided to get in some much needed exercise so we walked around for a couple of hours...in the sunshine...CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!! It got to about 14 degrees...whoo hoo! It was delightful.
We walked back to the hotel...just thought I would share our humble accommodation with you :)

"The Chateau Banff Springs Hotel"
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I just had to add an internet picture to give it the ooohhhhh's and ahhhhhhh's it deserves...images_4_.jpg

Posted by thewoodsies 15:58 Comments (3)

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