Canadian National Parks are way more commercialized that American ones, for example- in the town of Banff, right in the middle of the National Park, there is a Louis Vuitton store - can't get that in Glacier! There is a major Highway right through the park as well. All that aside, I can' t even express how beautiful it was. The glaciers- well lets just say when we left Glacier Natali still had no clue what a glacier looked like, but in Banff she had no problem recognizing glaciers. I loved it.
This is Crow Foot Glacier. The bottom toe has melted away but it still wasn't too hard to explain to the kids how this glacier got it's name.
Our first night we put the kids in PJ's and went for a drive. Here they are in front of Lake Louise with the amazing Victoria Glacier behind them. The lake was such a cool milky color from the glacial flour. The next day we rode a gondola up the ski hill and looked down on Lake Louis again. It was so incredible but also kind of rainy so the pictures from the top weren't great but the view was unbelievable. There were also some trails closed because of bears in the area - so Greg really wanted to go exploring (he bought bear spray before the trip just in case - I'm not kidding), but the kids weren't in the mood to hike. They loved the ride up and just wanted to go back down - I think they would have joyfully gone up and down multiple times but I was only paying for once. Natali even picked out which gondola she wanted ride and patiently waited till it was avalable. On our ride down she asked Greg, in the chair in front of us, to take our picture. He took the picture, but while taking care of the kids riding with him he forgot to zip the camera back in it's case. So when he got off the chair the camera crashed into the pavement. He picked it up to take another picture of Natali and I getting off and that's when Natali said, "Hey Dad your camera is all broken." So this picture is a little weird because it was taken through the broken glass. The filter was shattered but miraculously the lens only has a little chip. It still seams to work alright but it's hard to tell if the image is as good as before - all things considered we were very lucky.
Of course we spent a lot of time looking for animals and were rewarded with 5 more bears, elk, deer, big horn sheep, and a porcupine.We think this one might have been our only grizzly.My favorite part of the trip was our hike to Moraine Lake. It was a simple little hike from the shore of a seaming uninteresting lake up a terminal moraine. Yet, when you look down on the lake from up high you suddenly see the spectacular color of the water. I have never seen anything so beautiful. I love this picture of the kayak down below because the color contrast is so stark. The next day we drove up into Jasper National Park in order to see the Columbia Ice Field. Waters from this ice field drain to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Ocean. The drive up there was spectacular- right up next to the Rockies. Once we got there we rode on what they call an Ice Explorer.This machine drove right onto the Athabasca Glacier. It was markedly cooler up there but the kids loved having their coats on and throwing ice at each other. They climbed all over the designated area and loved the ice explorer. It was amazing to see how thick the ice was and to learn more about glaciers. However, one of my favorite parts had nothing to do with glaciers. We were the only Americans in our group and at least half of our group were Asian. Well a family with 5 kids draws attention almost anywhere you go - but throw in the fact that most of the kids are blondies, and one less than 4 months old, and you are a magnet for Asian tourists. Every time I got on and off everyone pointed, smiled, touched, gawked at my baby and while on the glacier some people were taking pictures of our kids rather than the glacier. We even had one man ask to pose with our kids. It made me laugh. Natali thought it was so weird.
Everyone loved the ice explorer ride, and more than one kid came back with cold, wet feet from jumping in cold pools of melting glacier.
Well that day got a little crazy when Greg decided that since we'd already gone that far we might as well check out a little more of what Jasper National Park has to offer. Let's just say we put a lot of extra miles on the trip that day and didn't get to our condo till 12:30am.
The next morning the kids took one last dip in the "hot spa" while we loaded up our stuff. We headed home by way of Kootenai National Park where we stopped to see the paint pots. We were expecting bubbling pools of odd colored water like in Yellowstone - not quite. This area is covered in streams that leave behind minerals that make the soil a deep orange color. Apparently, the Native Americans used to come here and use the soil to make paint. Early English settlers also used this soil to produce paint. The bottom of our shoes were totally orange along with any pants, hands or knees that touched the ground.
It took us two days to get home but the kids were great in the car. I have to thank Barbie's Princess and the Pauper movie and the singalong extras on the Anastasia DVD - the trip wouldn't have been as smooth without these tools.
At summers end we have seen 48 of the 50 licence plates plus 9 Canadian Provinces, been through 7 states and 2 provinces, seen 14 bears, and spent too many hours in the car to count and we'd all do it again, but maybe not for a few years.