Category Archives: Travel

Banff

After Josh had finished his work in Calgary (which is a wonderful city – I enjoyed my stay there) we drove to Banff National Park to spend a few days in September. This was the last trip for me before the baby comes, and we had a wonderful time.

We stayed in the Fairmont Banff Springs, the historical and gorgeous hotel in Banff. Our room was way up in one of the turrets, with little windows looking out in about 180 degrees. We loved the whirlpool bath as well – wonderful for a pregnant woman at the end of a day of walking.

Our activities were limited by my pregnancy, and unfortunately we were not able to go to the hot springs, but we did take the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. From the top the views are wonderful, and we managed to do the 1km hike over to the old Cosmic Ray Station. I just had to stop on some of the benches along the way to rest.IMG_1942

We explored the roads around Banff, taking side trips along the golf course road and up to nearby lakes. It was all gorgeous. What a wonderful place to visit and explore. My dad grew up coming to Banff regularly and climbing the mountains around here. It would be wonderful to live so near to somewhere so beautiful!

DSC_2903On the next day we ventured from Banff to Lake Louise, as was highly recommended to us. The drive there didn’t take very long over the Trans-Canada Highway. We went to the Lake Louise Gondola first, riding up the ski lift to the nature center about halfway up the mountain. There are bears sighted regularly here, but we didn’t see any except for the stuffed ones at the nature center. We did see a deer foraging, but that was the extent of our wildlife spotting. The view from the top here was also very beautiful. All of the views in Banff National Park are breathtaking – basically we just enjoyed God’s wonders in every direction as far as the eye could see. Awesome.

After the gondola and a forgettable but cheap lunch at the ski-lodge, we went to Lake Louise (there is another Fairmont hotel located directly on the lake). The lake is a beautiful icy blue color, glacier fed and full of minerals. The water is very cold, but the sun was quite warm. We almost rented a canoe to go out on the lake, but decided it was too hot to manage. Instead, we walked through the woods for a little while around the circumference of the lake. If we return again when I am not pregnant, I want to hike up to the Tea House. The hike was too long for me to manage on this trip though.

DSC_2960Lake Louise was very crowded, so we stayed for a little while, then drove on to Lake Moraine. It is another glacier fed lake. It was very beautiful, and I soaked my feet for a little while in the cold water. I was tired out, so we didn’t even try any walks around at this lake, we just sat and enjoyed the view for a little while, then drove the scenic road back to our hotel.

I highly recommend visiting Banff National Park. I think that everyone could find something to do in such a wonderful place, and as I demonstrated in my visit, you don’t have to go hiking if that is too much physical activity for you. You can go and enjoy beauty from your car, and out the windows of many restaurants. Breathe deep and rest in the natural world.

Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta

I traveled with Josh to Calgary, Alberta and spent one of the days there at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. I had been to this museum before, when I was young and lived in Alberta. It is one of the best dinosaur museums in the world, and you will find all of the “classic” dinosaurs on display here. They also have very good exhibits of other fossils as well. I really enjoyed my visit, and I am looking forward to someday bringing my children here to see the dinosaurs as well.

California and Highway 1

DSC_2432In the middle of August, Josh and I flew to California for a friend’s wedding and made a little bit of a vacation out of our trip after the wedding festivities.

The wedding was just outside of the San Francisco area, near Mount Diablo. On a free morning before the wedding, Josh and I drove up Mount Diablo and enjoyed the scenic views from the summit. It seemed like a popular mountain to bike on, and I was very impressed with all of those in-shape bicyclists. It looked like a really hard ride.

DSC_2439There were some enormous pine cones on some of the pine trees, you can see the size beside Josh’s hand.

DSC_2517After our friends were married, we spent a few days and drove down to Monterey on Highway 1. The weather was really foggy and rainy for most of the drive, unfortunately, but there was sun at the beginning and end of our trip.

We stopped at some sort of bunker, but we never figured out what it was. The views were very nice from there, though.

DSC_2513DSC_2530bwThe next time we stopped it was at a lighthouse on Pigeon Point. We didn’t see any pigeons, but we did see some seals on the rocks below the lighthouse.

And on we drove to Monterey. The sun was shining and beautiful in the bay, and the sun seekers were out in droves. We walked out onto the pier and had lunch at a seafood restaurant. Then we walked around for a little while before heading back to the car and to our hotel.

At our hotel, the parking lot was jammed full of fancy collectable cars. It was quite the car show, just trying to find a space. There was a car auction going on and the hotel stayed very busy while we were there.

DSC_2549The next day we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a very nice aquarium. We enjoyed the different shows that they had for feedings. One that was especially fun to watch involved a whole school of sardines. They were very fast, swirling around and around until all the food was gone, then they returned to their hiding hole to avoid predators.

I hope you browse all of my pictures below. Enjoy!

Valley Forge

Continued from Philadelphia Part 1, and Philadelphia Part 2

IMG_1751When the golf tournament started, we moved out of Philadelphia and into a smaller town right beside Valley Forge National Historical Park. Of course Donna and I had to go visit it, and it is a very nice area. We drove through the park, stopping at the different monuments. We also toured through the house were George Washington stayed after the soldiers had built their cabins for the winter.

One of the highlights of the park was the Washington Memorial Chapel. It is a very beautiful church, and I found it very interesting with all the American symbols and soldier carvings.

IMG_1790We spent more time exploring and shopping around this area of Pennsylvania, and it is very beautiful. I love the winding roads and the gorgeous houses that all look like they are in the woods. We found an awesome tea shop in Wayne, PA called A Taste of Britain. Definitely go there if you have the opportunity. Delicious scones and very reasonably priced high tea service.

Continued from Philadelphia Part 1, and Philadelphia Part 2

Philadelphia in June – Part 2

See the first Philadelphia post here.

DSC_2217My apologies for taking forever to post the rest of our Philadelphia trip. I get so behind sometimes with my photos. On our next day in Philadelphia we visited Independence Hall and Congress Hall, the buildings where the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, and where the first House of Representatives and Senate met.

We also stopped in at another small museum right around the corner: The American Philosophical Society, who had a very beautiful exhibit going on called Through the Looking Lens, with the landscape and microscopic drawings of Cornelius Varley.

DSC_2231In the afternoon we rode around Philadelphia on the Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours bus. We saw a lot of the various historical buildings and streets, as well as museums and other iconic Philadelphia landmarks.

We got off at the Eastern State Penitentiary and toured the prison. It was very interesting, as it was the first of a penitentiary style that spread: where prisoners were kept in solitary confinement and silence in order to garner repentance for their crimes. In the end, it was a failed system, but it was interesting to learn about. After that stage, the prison was built bigger and bigger, and housed many criminals – including Al Capone and a dog who was arrested (who does that?).

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See the first Philadelphia post here.

June in Philadelphia

DSC_2058In June, Josh and I went to Philadelphia, PA for a few days sightseeing before he worked at the PGA tournament. We toured around the city for a few days with Josh’s mom and dad. Obviously, there are a lot of historical sights to see in Philly. We walked around the downtown historical area, ate a pancake breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market at an Amish restaurant. We visited the grave of Benjamin Franklin, and the US Mint and saw where coins and special commemorative medals are made.

That first afternoon we visited Longwood Gardens and it was very enjoyable. I love visiting gardens and one of the highlights of these gardens were the dancing fountains. We stopped by several of the fountain shows, and thoroughly enjoyed the conservatory. After that, we headed back to Philadelphia for dinner and a rest.

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Skagway, Alaska and a Trip Up the White Pass Railroad

Our last stop in Alaska on our cruise was Skagway. It’s a tiny little blip of a town with just a couple of streets and more of the same style of tourist shops. The real feature of this town is the start of the White Pass Railroad, an incredible feat of engineering that built a way into the Yukon gold territory so that the multitude of gold diggers wouldn’t have to cross the mountain passes on foot or with their poor ragged horses and mules that died by the thousand on the way over the passes.

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The railroad passes a lot of gorgeous scenery, goes through tunnels in the mountains, and over many bridges. It goes all the way from Skagway to Whitehorse. Josh and I rode on it up to Fraser, BC. Then we took a bus back down the mountains back to Skagway.

DSC_2039Our next stop was to learn about the Iditarod race from a man who has raced in the Iditarod several times. He told us about training the sled dogs and about the work they do in the race. The dogs are taken great care of, getting massages and sleeping bags at all their stops. Then we got to meet some of the dogs and some puppies. Puppy kisses are definitely worth the whole day.

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After that we walked through Skagway and headed back to the ship. Definitely check out the railway if you are ever in Skagway. Make sure to sit on the left hand side of the train on the way up the mountains, or on the right if you are coming down – the other side doesn’t have nearly as good a view.

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