09/06/05 to 09/07/05
So, you remember how I've said that our campground in Banff was basically
empty?  Well, they decided to close "for the season."  This shouldn't surprise any
of you since we've already commented on the short (or non-existent) length of
their summer season.  This meant our last night was the 5th, and we had to be
out by noon on the 6th.  Sure, there are other campgrounds in Banff, but to
register for just one night, back in, and get all set up just wasn't worth it.  So, on
Tuesday, 9-6, I drove the RV to a park-n-ride parking lot (intended for people
taking the Banff public bus) and Richard followed me on the bike.  Then we
jumped on the bike and headed back to Balzac after having called to confirm that
our long awaited mail had finally arrived.  I got all bundled up, layers upon layers
of clothing, plus a bandanna across my face and my goggles on.  Fortunately,
this was the first sunny day in at least a week, and so we had an easy time of it.  
After our hour and a half ride, with mail in hand, we called our friends we had met
in Panama, Roberta and Jacob.  We had cussed them several times while we
were sitting there in Calgary with nothing to do but crosswords, waiting on our
mail.  We had given them our website on a bus in Costa Rica, and told them to
email us.  Since they had agreed, we hadn't taken the time to get their emails,
and since we didn't know their last names, we didn't know how to get in touch
with them so they could entertain us.  
Well, all too coincidentally, the day AFTER we left Calgary, I got an email from
them.  The first one since Panama, lamenting how we had just been there, and if
they had only checked the website earlier, etc.  Well, Richard says surely they
were just waiting until we announced we had left Calgary--you know, when it was
safe--to email us, so we promptly informed them of our pending return for our
mail.  They took the news rather well.  Lucky for them our RV was in Park-n-Ride,
and we wanted to get it up to Lake Louise and into a campsite before dark, or
we would have bothered them all evening.  As it was, we got to spend about an
hour reminiscing about Panama and catching up.  Of course, just like all the other
Canadians we know (SHANNON!) they seem to love this cold frozen tundra, and
talked us into several other places to visit.  They claim the places they're sending
us are warm though, we'll see.
Then we raced back to Banff, loaded the motorcycle, drove North to Lake Louise,
and pulled into our campsite right before dark.  The campground is nice, but the
scenery around us is amazing.  Here we are in the campground with the
snow-topped mountains all around us.
On Wednesday, 9-7, we bundled up again for the long ride North on beautiful
highway 93.  We wanted to get to the Columbian Icefields, and maybe as far as
Jasper.  We saw gorgeous scenery along the way, and Richard insisted on taking
my picture with me wearing my "riding the motorcycle in the frigid cold Canadian
tundra" attire.  Cute huh?  Believe me, I'm smiling.  Cracking up really at the
silliness of taking my picture when you can't even see me.  (I'm warm though!)
Remember how in Glacier National Park, we saw a mountain with snow on it, and
supposedly it was a Glacier, but it looked like snow to me?  Well the Columbian
Icefields are set up so you can walk out on the Glacier.  Cause we haven't been cold
enough, right?  Let's go walk on ice!  So, we climbed a steep path through rocks
that years before had been covered by the receding glacier.  Some of the rocks
were huge, and totally smooth and flat on top, worn down by the glacier.  All along
the path were signs warning you to stay between the marking cones, because there
are hidden crevices under the snow that you can fall into, never to be recovered.  
Here is one that was not so hidden.  You can see down inside past the snow looking
top, that it really is all ice, and the typical glacier turquoise color is there.    
So, what are warning signs for anyway?  I'm sure you can tell from this picture
who they don't apply to.  After begging and pleading, I simply gave up and told
him I would yell at him if he fell into a crevice and died, and off he went with the
camera to get a view from higher up while I waited behind the yellow line like a
good little girl.  
He went out of sight just long enough to make me nervous, then returned and we
both headed down together.  At the edge where the glacier meets the rock, there
were spots where you could see under for several feet.  Still the blue color, and
drips as the glacier melts.  When you got close to the crevices on top, you could
hear the water running underneath.  
So, here's where we were.  You can tell the enormity of the thing by looking right in
the middle at the two black dots.  Those are big-wheeled tour buses that go up
and onto the glacier, much higher up than you're allowed to walk.  ($31.50 per
person!)  We were only able to walk up about 1/6th of the Glacier (well, Richard
probably went 1/4th of the way up) and the buses were entering about 1/2 way up.  
Then we decided to turn back since we wanted to take more pictures of the
scenery we had passed on the way up, before dark, and we also didn't want to
be on the road after dark since big animals tend to stand in the road and create
a hazard for people on a motorcycle.  
So with sore butts and wind-burned faces (yes, even through the bandanna) we
finally got home shortly before dark.  Tomorrow we will check out Lake Louise
and then head out, towards Glacier National Park (the Canadian one) and then
south to the Okanagan Valley.