Alberta – Jasper edition

Banff and Canmore were beautiful, but it’s time to move on. To the GLACIER!

There is a route called the Icefields Parkway between Banff  and Jasper. About 2/3 of the way through are the Columbia Ice Fields, home to a number of glaciers. If there are glaciers, I want to see them and the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre is just the place to go!

They have 22 of these enormous bus-like vehicles called ‘Ice Explorers’, and each tire on these vehicles is about 5 feet high. These are the vehicles used to carry you and 55 of your closest friends over the various huge piles of rock and gravel left behind as the target glacier, Athabaska, has melted over hundreds of years. It also drives right across the glacier itself, so you have to opportunity to stand on over 900 feet of ice and collect your own glacial ice water – if you remembered to bring a bottle.

And it’s cold there. Really cold. If standing on top of a couple of miles of very thick ice isn’t enough, there is always a cold wind blowing down off the glacier itself. So no matter how silly you feel, wear a winter coat. And gloves. There were a lot of freezing tourists from all over the world on my bus, and I expect every bus has the same. Plus, the huge blob of cold causes weird weather patterns on the glacier. Just as we were boarding the ice explorer to return we were hit with the famous ‘wintery mix’ – snow, cold rain and hail.  Lucky we were leaving, the people just arriving were certainly not prepared to get out of their ice explorers!

The Discovery Centre  also has a ‘Glacier Skywalk’. A lovely opportunity for the insane to walk off a cliff onto a clear platform and view the Canadian Rockies ‘au natural’. Fortunately, I did not have to decline the opportunity because the storm on the glacier also triggered some lightning, which closes the skywalk. Too bad! Because Trish would have gone out there, and I would have had a heart attack.

And then onward to Jasper toward Prince George, British Columbia.  A new province, a new time zone. And very different weather. It rained most of the drive in. For the first time in over 1,000 miles the fire condition wasn’t High or Extreme. We’re all the way to Moderate! On the other hand, this is the area accepting the evacuees from the fires in the rest of British Columbia. When we arrived in Prince George, our RV park had filled with evacuees in RVs, and we were placed in an adjacent field for the first night. We had just come off a couple of days of boondocking and really needed to empty our tanks, but we made it through the night. We’re on a site now, the laundry facility is excellent and we finally have access to internet, so I’m not complaining.  There are now a LOT of pictures on Instagram. The National Geographic is supposed to have called the Icefield Parkway the most scenic road in North America – and I believe it. Look at the pics and see what you think.

Tomorrow, after a month and 3,400 miles of independent travel we leave to finally join with the Alaska Caravan in Hazelton, BC.. Can’t wait!!


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