Join me today for some of the highlights of our trip as we cross the continent – from the western shores to the precipitous crags of the Rockies and onto the broad expanse of the prairies and the cities of Calgary and Winnipeg.
Our Australian perspective might be of interest for those more familiar with these sights.
# During our brief time on Vancouver Island, we were fascinated by a well-reported news event. On an island to the north, a woman was attacked by a cougar whilst she was gardening. It crept up behind her, and grabbed her by the head. Fortunately, her husband was home. He attacked it with a spear and it was later found dead in the nearby forest. The poor women was said to be recovering in hospital with a fractured skull.
Australia has snakes, spiders and sharks but no gardener-eating cougars!
# On the west coast, there are many pods of Orcas. On our ferry back from VI, a pod was sighted off to the side and I rushed to view them but the fog beat me to it. It was a great trip nonetheless – very atmospheric!
# The Rocky Mountaineer was a brilliant experience! We travelled through desert country to the town of Kamloops and then the mountains burst into view with incredible tunnels and bridges made by the CanadIan National Railway and its courageous workers – the Chinese, French voyageurs and Scottish engineers. Bald eagles rode the valley winds and settled on top of pine trees. Salmon struggled up through the river rapids to their spawning grounds and I was hopeful of seeing a bear fishing along the way.
# At Banff, our train’s destination, the fog closed in overnight but later snow dusted the mountain tops. We hired a car and drove up to Lake Louise with its stunning jade lake and glacier nestled between mountains . Home to the grizzly bear, we threw caution to the wind and wandered around the lakeside path. There were so many visitors, I was hopeful that we would make it back in one piece.
Whilst at the hotel, I found a pair of earings, a birthday present worthy of mention – an artist in the Yukon Territories makes jewellery out of ancient mammoth ivory with ammolite, opalised fossils. Pretty amazing by anyone’s standards I think!
# Calgary was our next destination – a smart, fast city with connecting walk-ways between the buildings. In vain, we searched for a mall but it was hidden somewhere within the city buildings. This was fascinating in itself as the weather defines the way shoppers shop in the bitter winter conditions. Eventually, we found a portion of it outside and wandered amidst the flowers and cafes. In the distance, the snow-capped Rockies line the horizon.
# From Calgary, our flight took us over a patchwork of prairie lands – so flat yet so beautifully textured with a myriad of lakes and field patterns, some circular as well as rectangular. At Winnipeg, we were meeting up with some new friends from the St Andrews Association. The city was a pleasant surprise with its tree-lined avenues and our B&B at La Chaumiere du Village, was fabulous. We learnt about the huge lake, the size of the UK, to the north where lucky Winnipeggers have holiday homes. In winter, the lake freezes over and folks enjoy life on the ice, skating or fishing through ice holes. Some drive their trucks across the lake. Any such journeys have to be undertaken with great care lest a wave starts up under the truck and breaks through the ice in front of the vehicle with dire outcomes.
My next blog will take us through The Pegg’s amazing Scottish history.