Thursday, July 19, 2007

On the Bus - Starting Out

This is my loose chronicle of our recent four day tour of the Canadian Rockies taking in Jaspar, Banff, lakes too numerous to mention, lookouts, river gorges, canyons, wetlands, moose and elk. We have been meaning to do this tour for some time and so Andrea's birthday seemed like the perfect occasion. The tour bus was great fun and we met some wonderful people from all over the world - including many Australians and Kiwis. It was a wonderful trip though very exhausting with all the sights to see.

Roger's Pass

The Beautiful Peyote Lake

The View out Over the Valleys

The Andromeda Glacier

In a trip full of highlights this really was one of the best! High up in the Columbia ice-fields one can take a cruise out on to the glacier in a specially built bus. We had about 20 minutes to roam around the glacier and admire the surrounding mountains. It was amazing the see the glaciers spilling over the mountain peaks and slowly seep down the valley.

Mountain Wetlands

In the summer time as the snows melt these vast wetlands are created in the mountain valleys. These wetalnds are a natural haven for birds, moose and elk and we often spotted moose and elk wading through the water grazing on grasses and roots as we passed in the bus.

Moraine Lake

Too Blue!

Moraine Lake with the Peaks

More from Lake Moraine

Mirror Lake and the Beehive

Lookout Peak.

The Big Moose

Just goes to show that Australia is not the only place to favour big dumb gimmicks to attract tourists - this is no "Big Pinapple" but it does claim to be a life size rendering of an adult moose. We saw a couple of moose wading in the wetlands from the bus but I was too far away to confirm the accuracy of this kitchy offering. Still it did inspire another goofy Cameron photograph to emabarrass Andrea with!

Self Portait at Lake Louise

Ok so I know I'm spoiling the view of the glacier but I like this shot.

Lake Louise

High Up in the Rockies - Peyote Lake

Gorge Visit

The Beehive

Another Glacier!

Most of the best pictures I snapped were taken from the bus as it slowly wound its way through the high mountain passes and down into the valley - this picture of a glacial spilling over the mountainside into a mighty waterfall blows my mind! You can also make out the reflection of my hand boucing off the bus windows.

Canyon Walk

Lake Moraine and the Valley of the Ten Peaks

Lake Moraine was one of the real highlights of the whole trip - the lake like most up in the high Rockies is fed by the summer run off from melting glaciers (hence the lovely emerald blue colourings!). Moraine lake is among the most beautiful however for its setting among a ring of 10 peaks that circle the lake like a horse shoe. Happily, one can climb up one of these peaks for the perfect panoramic view of the entire area. A couple of giggly near manic teenage girls from Toronto took this picture and really teenage style effusiveness was the only reasonable response to this kind of landscape.

Andrea at Bow Falls outside Banff

Big Skies!!

Beautiful Lake Agnes

This really was a high-light and quite probably the best wilderness walk I have ever experienced. Lake Agnes lies nestled high above Lake Louise and is formed by the melt-water from a glacier many thousands of years old. Just mind-blowing, the natural beauty of this place.

Rockie Mountain Adventures

So begins a long, long chain of photos documenting most days and certainly all of the main highlights from what really was the trip of a lifetime. I mean the mountains behind the ashram we stayed at in India some years ago were breath-taking enough but no preparation for the splendour of the Canadian Rockies. On some occasions it felt like we were visiting another planet such was the natural beauty on display. Four days of knock-out, jaw-dropping amazement. Enjoy!

This picture by the way includes an awesome aussie we met on the tour bus. Sally works in health promotion at the University of Western Australia and is currently doing some consultancy work for the World Bank on health and well-being indicators for developing economies - inspiring stuff! Sally and Andrea and I had loads to talk about on this walk.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ladies in the Hallway

I received an email from my mum yesterday berating me for failing to update my blog to include photos from our party last Saturday night - gees it's tough when even your mum starts dissing your blog!! So in a belated effort to win back my mother's approval - love you mum ;-) here are some pix from the night. Still I probably only have myself to blame after so foolishly elevating expectations with my ill-conceived napolean dynamite youtube rip. Only the dynamite can dance like that and with a few too many cocktails all around the dancing staying largely "on the inside" as they say. That didn't prevent everyone from having a good time mind you - three kinds of white spirits alone took care of that!

Allison Wonderland

Fortunately some of the most lovely, the most fantastic of local ladies were on site on Saturday night to help maintain the impeccable aesthetic standards Andrea likes to set. As you all know Andrea has a wonderful talent for attracting a whole galaxy of amazing women to her orbit, which as I'm sure you'll appreciate has many benefits even for the most happily married of gentlemen. Andrea snapped this photo of our friend Allison in front of one of Andrea's latest paintings. Allison who designs clothes (if you haven't yet guessed considering the outfit she's modeling) under the name Allison Wonderland couldn't really have picked a more suitable outfit - strangely contrived perhaps!

We more or less filled the flat last Saturday night which is generally speaking my definition of a great night. Andrea and I slaved away earlier in the week preparing all manner of tasty treats (ok so mostly it was Andrea - but I did prepare all the drinks whilst also serving as chief dish washer and first assistant etc). Nothing better than a tasty morsel to go with the vodka martini - I also devoted no little time to burning a whole bunch of mix cds which most of you can expect to begin appearing in the mail over the next couple of weeks. Whilst I did my best to bring the love to the sound-system as I've already mentioned, most of us are now on the wrong side of 30 and so cocktails and dancing don't fit together quite as snugly as they once did. Besides we lost half the ladies to the "smoking and gossiping" room for long stretches which didn't help.

Me and Erin - Making Cocktails in the Kitchen

Only a fridge full of booze can make you this happy! Erin and I spent most of the night last Saturday fixing cocktails in the kitchen as the party whorled around us. Perhaps our deft hands with the shaker and the mixers might explain why the much anticipated dancing failed to really materialise - with a constant stream of vodka, gin, pimms, scotch, beers and wine, methinks our guests were a little too sozzled to be shaking it all about...

My New Favourite Park!

Ok so finally after nearly two years I have discovered a private lookout park to rival the great bike ride destinations so common in Brisbane. I came across the aptly named Choklit park quite by chance as I was riding along 7th avenue yesterday - I literally gasped as I craned my neck to catch the view. Screeching to a halt I parked my bike and rested on the park bench a while taking photographs and drinking water as I caught my breath. As awesome spot to be sure! I know it may not look this way from this photo but summer is now in full swing around these parts - Andrea and I spent Friday night on third beach with our good mate Ezee (Elizabeth Zvonar so you can guess the rest) catching some sun, eating vege burgers and drinking the last of our party left overs. A great night and if the sun holds out today we will be in for a repeat in a couple of hours - too good.