Banff National Park – Canada

From our original group of 14 that went to Glacier; six of us decided to go to Banff National Park for a few days.  Before we left, the entire group of 14 decided to travel up to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada to see the Prince of Wales Hotel and eat lunch there.  Perched on Waterton Lake, this landmark 1920s seasonal hotel is beautiful.  See below for the picture of the outside and of the lobby.  You can tell from the first picture of sky above the hotel that it was very smoky.

We arrived here right before lunch time intending to lunch at one of the restaurants in the hotel.  However, since the wild fires were also up in the Waterton Lakes area and the smoke was so bad the hotel was in the process of closing things up.  There was a voluntary evacuation in place for health reasons due to the smoke.  So we had to go to plan b which was to find something open in the town.  We found a restaurant appropriately named Fireside:)  Here’s a picture of those of us who decided to stay and have lunch.

After lunch the group heading on to Banff left and drove through some of the remotest land I’ve ever seen.  There was no where to stop until we were about three hours into the drive.

The place we stayed in Banff was an air b&b that one of the ladies of our group found and it was just a block from the downtown area of Banff.  It was a great location and since it was on the Whyte property we were able to go to the Whyte museum for free.  The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is located in Banff. The museum collects, preserves, and exhibits materials related to the cultural heritage of the Rocky Mountains of Canada.  The Whytes were both artists and some of their work was displayed at the house we rented.

The town of Banff was filled with restaurants and shops.  My favorite shop was the Banff Tea Shop as I love tea.  Our favorite restaurant was Melissa’s.  Of course, I should say this was the only restaurant we went to, but we loved it so much when we went to breakfast that we went back the next night for dinner.  Since I have celiac and cannot eat anything containing gluten, I must say that everywhere I went in Canada had lots of options for me.  I think the US could take lessons from them on this:)

This picture was taken on a walk we took up to see Banff Springs Fairmont.  This hotel is simply awesome.  We walked through the hotel and had drinks on their outside deck.

 

The next day we went up to see Lake Louise.  I had it in mind to do a two mile hike to a tea house on a hillside.  I am an avid walker so two miles sounded like an easy hike to me.  Unfortunately, it was two miles all uphill.  However, we all made it to the top and enjoyed a tea and a cookie at the top.  Before we got to the top, we came to Mirror Lake where we were able to catch our breath a bit before the last section of the hike to the tea room.

Lake Louise is an beautiful lake.  It is known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks and overlooked by a stately chateau.

The Lake Louise Chateau is also a Fairmont and it is quite huge.  However, we all thought the Banff Springs Fairmont had more character.

On the way down from Lake Louise, we came across Moraine Lake.  Moraine Lake is a glacially fed lake in Banff National Park, outside the Village of Lake Louise. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 6,183 feet.  It was also beautiful.

You can see that my pictures are quite smoky as there were also wild fires in that area as well.  We all enjoyed our brief stay in Banff and headed back across the border to meet up with our friends for a final dinner before some of us headed home and the rest headed on to Yellowstone.

Cheers friends; until we travel again!

Glacier National Park

As the sign above says; Welcome to Montana!  We just returned from a trip to Glacier National Park.  We had a great time!  The scenery was beautiful and we had a great group of friends that went with us.  We flew into Kalispell and drove to Glacier National Park.  It was approximately a three hour drive, but it was such a beautiful drive.  We took the Going to The Sun Road into the park and if you have a chance, I would recommend you driving in on that road.  It is a bit of a curvy drive, but the scenery is so worthwhile seeing.  We were lucky we drove in on it as half of the road was shut down due to wild fires for the rest of our trip.  The wild fires made for some smoky pictures, but it was still beautiful.  We stayed at Many Glacier Hotel which is inside the park on the east side.  It is very nice and just like most national park hotels; the rooms are cozy; aka very small:)  Many Glacier Hotel has a deck in the rear that overlooks a lake and this was our view every morning.

Our first morning there, we decided to do a red bus tour so we could get an idea of where things were in the park  There are about half dozen different tours that the red bus offers, but we took the shorter, four hour one.  Red Bus Tours are the perfect way to enjoy Glacier National Park. Most of the red buses are restored originals that have been on tour since the 1930’s. The guides are seasoned Park veterans who are here because they love the Park and enjoy sharing it with visitors.  Once aboard the bus, they roll the canvas top back to reveal a commanding view of the best scenery in the Park. They pick you up at Many Glaciers Hotel and several other hotels in the area.  Here’s our crew.  As you can see, we took up almost the entire red bus.

After the red bus tour; our bus driver took us back to our hotel where some of us decided to do a hike to Red Rock Falls.  It was a beautiful falls and unbelievably we ran into people we knew from our home town.

We took many hikes while in Glacier National Park, but the hidden lake trail was perhaps the most challenging especially to those of us who were not experienced hikers.

The hike to Hidden Lake begins from the west side of the Logan Pass Visitor Center.  The trail begins as a paved surface, but soon turns into a raised boardwalk after only a short distance. At this elevation snow tends to linger around well into the summer. The boardwalk helps to keep hikers above the snow, slush, and mud. Once the snow melts, however, the Hanging Gardens becomes an incredibly beautiful carpet of wildflowers.

A little more than a half-mile from the visitor center, after climbing a series of steps, hikers will reach the end of the boardwalk section. From here the trail shifts to a more southwesterly course, and begins heading in the direction of Bearhat Mountain.

Even relatively late into the season it’s likely you’ll have to cross over a couple of small snowfields as you proceed towards the overlook.  It was very smoky when we arrived at the overlook that day so we did not get a very clear view of the lake.

clements-mountain

We enjoyed this hike, but the over 250 steps sure made it a challenge.

We found a variety of items at Many Glacier with huckleberry in them; huckleberry beer; licorice and tea to name a few.  We would spend nights on the deck outside enjoying these treats.

This is a view of the sunset we saw from the deck.

Some of our crew saw a lot of wild life.  I don’t have pictures to show here, but their pictures were awesome as they saw elk, deer, bears, and big horn sheep.  I personally only saw a couple of bears and that was from the comfort of the car:)

Part of our group left Glacier National Park midway through the week and traveled to Banff National Park in Canada.  Join me next week as I take you on that part of our trip.

 

Hawaii – Kauai

We docked in Kauai on a beautiful sunny day and this stop was an over night one.  We all went our separate ways the first day.  My sister and my niece decided to have mimosas on the beach and have fun in the water.  I must say that the mimosas sure looked yummy.

Part of the group went out to see Waimea Canyon Lookout and the Kauai Island Brewery.  They had some great pictures that they took at Waimea and of course, they really enjoyed lunching at the Kauai Island Brewery.

I love to take pictures so I found Kauai Photo tours and booked a tour for me and my husband.  It was a fun trip with a very knowledgeable photographer that took us to quite a few beaches.

After our photo tour; the rest of the group picked us up and we went to the beach that was known for their sunsets.

It was fun to take the pictures, but the police showed up and made us all leave. We went back to the ship after that and just enjoyed relaxing.  The next day, we had arranged to take a plane ride with the Wings Over Kauai.  I was not excited to go as I hate heights, but I really think this was a highlight for me.  Below are some of the pictures that we took of us in the van leaving for the tour and pictures from the plane.

After the plane ride and some shopping in the area, we all headed back to the ship where part of our group decided to do the rum tasting.

The rest of us feasted on the chocolate covered strawberries that the ship gave to one of our group.

We all enjoyed our Hawaiian adventure but the trip kind of kicked our butts:)  Those two can sleep anywhere:)

Aloha until our next vacation!

Hawaii – Kona

The sunny Kona District stretches almost two-thirds of the entire West side of the island of Hawaii.   Kona was the first capital of Hawaii.  There are lots of historical landmarks within walking distance of the pier.

It was a beautiful sunny day when we arrived at Kona so some of our group went snorkeling.   They found Fair Winds Cruises to take them and they all had a great time.

The rest of the group decided to just explore the city a bit and shop.  We had a very relaxing lunch and proceeded to go shopping.  A friend of one of our  cousin’s lived in Kona and operated a bead shop so we all went there and found some interesting beads.  We also stopped by a flower market that had lots of colorful flowers.

Both groups then met up at the Kona Brewing Company for some beer.  Kona Brewing Company is a brewery in Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. Since October 1, 2010, it has been owned by Craft Brew Alliance. Kona’s year-round beers include Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Fire Rock Pale Ale

Please join me next week as our next Port of Call will be Kauai.