Sunday, 14 September 2014

A Weather-full Week

This week for us has been shaped completely by the variations in weather and of course we've been very British and talked about it a lot. Shortly after polishing off last weeks blog post on Saturday morning we left Edmonton and started the journey west. Our flight out of Canada next week is from Vancouver making the aim of our two weeks here to see a much as we could while travelling the 1500km between the two cities.


Saturday was a warm clear day, great for watching the changing views as we travelled towards Jasper. Initially we had a couple of hours driving through large swathes of pine forest, with little else to mark the passing of time which we found a little disconcerting. The roads here are clear and wide  and we ended up having a gummy sweet every 15mins just to give us a tangible time marker! We were surprised to find the lorries doing the same speed as everything else, they're not restricted to a different speed limit as they would be in the UK, and that all corners here are marked with a warning sign - no matter how gentle.

On one of our days driving we stopped to stretch legs and found a boardwalk
through a giant cedar forest!

Then we saw it, the hazy row of mountains in the distance, and suddenly everything felt much more exciting. Other drivers were watching us while we kept stoping to take photos, looks of "you know there's a better view round the corner, right?" but we didn't care! Slowly but surely the view just grew and another couple of hours and we were in the national park itself . The weather was perfect and we just couldn't get over panoramic after panoramic of grand mountains and beautiful turquoise lakes and rivers.

Jasper National Park

We'd booked to stay in a wilderness hostel just outside Jasper, meaning it was completely off grid. Limited power from solar panels, wood stoves for heating and no running water (unless you jog to refill the barrels for the kitchen, as the hostel manager informed us), but regardless we had a great couple of days there meeting a variety of people (mostly Europeans). When we arrived we sat outside with a cup of tea and just absorbed the quiet mountain surroundings, and we were glad we did because Sunday was a little grey and damp and by the time we got up on Monday the ground was covered in snow!

  
Left: the hostel on Saturday; Right: the hostel just 36 hours later on Monday morning

Knowing that the hostel was at a much higher altitude than the main road, and that even there the roads seemed to be clear we didn't worry too much as we set off for a days driving down the Icefields Parkway to Banff. Little did we know that we were about to spend the entire day driving in a snowstorm! We stopped a couple of times to enjoy the view first at Leach Lake (very pretty) and then at the Athabasca Falls (huge volumes of water, plus some cool rocks from where the water had worn it's channel), but by the time we stopped at lunch time the glacier that was supposed to be over the road was completely lost to the mist.

Beautifully carved rocks at Athabasca Falls
By the time we arrived in Banff that evening we'd come to the conclusion that if the snow wasn't going to improve we were going to need to change our schedule. We weren't really geared up for cold weather (this snow being an unseasonable early cold snap) and the car wasn't either. When the weather forecast said another 10-15cm was due a day later we got in contact with the family we were staying with for our next stop and arranged to come a day early. Over the course of the following day the thermometer in the car went from reading 1C to 20C as we moved west again, we slowly stripped off all the layers we'd dug out in Banff, and by the time we reached the Okanagan Valley it was lovely again. We found we just kept chuckling over experiencing such a change of temperature in just a days driving, something neither of us had done before.

Quails Gate Winery

Kelowna has been lovely and we don't in the slightest regret getting here early. We've enjoyed visiting a couple of the regions wineries, even if just to enjoy the view and the sunshine (they have picked the nice warm slopes for their vines as anyone would do). We've seen the city from both the top of Knox Mountain and a sailing boat in the middle of the lake. We've explored the local craft distillery and wandered through the town centre. I think we've got past the point of looking at everything and gaping at how big it is, though Joe's been loving the occasional sight of the large trains pulling miles of carriages.

Sunset over West Kelowna from the top of Knox Mountain

Despite all the weather changes it has been a good week. We've seen plenty of stunning scenery, met lots of different people and just about got used to the Canadian road system. We're finishing off our week with the final part of our Canadian journey over to Vancouver and I'm sure that will be as different again as the places we've seen so far. 

6 comments:

  1. Canada is such a gorgeous country. I have never been further west than Ottawa and now I see what I've been missing-not to mention their Northern Lights which is the first (and only) thing on my bucket list.

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    1. We wondered if we'd see the northern lights this week here, but it wasn't to be. It is a stunning country :)

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  2. Julie.sisley@gmail.com15 September 2014 at 06:03

    Grat blog, Jen. The photos are lovely. Knowing how much Joe loves taking photography he must have the camera permantly stuck to his face! Kelowna looks beautiful. Have you got another camera yet?

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  3. Looks/sounds idyllic! That top photo and the one of the vineyard are especially beautiful.

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  4. Hi you two! they are absolutely stunning photos - glad to hear/see you are enjoying yourselves and I hope you see the northern lights - they move even the most cynical of us - Joanne K x

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  5. Oh wow, how stunning! I am enjoying your travels as much as you are I think. What a great time you are having!xxx

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