To finish off…

I ended today’s tour with a visit and ride on the Jasper Tramway, for a great view over Jasper (even with the clouds)

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They finally as short 30 minute stroll around Pyramid Island, near Pyramid Lake.

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A five hour drive into British Columbia in the morning, so won’t be a late one tonight.

Another cracking day.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 4

GyPSy Guide

I know I keep mentioning this GyPSy Guide that is helping me find my way around Canada in my previous posts, but what exactly is it?

First things first, I don’t have a ‘traveller’ in the passenger seat who keeps offering to Tarmac my drive, or look after my ‘dag’. – Not that sort of Gypsy at all… The clue is in the way GyPSy is written, emphasising GPS.

So, GyPSy is just another name for a TomTom? Absolutely not, in fact, there is no way of entering a destination into it, so it isn’t designed to find hotels for you, for example.

So what is it for then?!

Rent this small device (about the size of a mobile phone) and plug it in to the car stereo (I am using the AUX connection, but it also comes with am FM Transmitter in case your car doesn’t have one).

The GyPSy then automatically plays commentary as you arrive at points along your day’s travel route.

For example, it tells you about the beautiful scenery, interesting stories of past explorers, gives advice on where to watch for wildlife and tells quirky tales about Canada.

All the information is presented by professional local tour guides in Canada, and really is a very entertaining and informative way to tour around.

Although I said it doesn’t replace a traditional ‘enter the postcode’ Satnav, it works perfectly along side it.

As well as commentary on local communities and attractions, the guide also gives basic direction instructions at major intersections, shows photo viewpoints on it’s screen and (best of all in my opinion) suggest short side trips to places you simply wouldn’t have found on your own.

When ever we have done a touring style holiday before (California, Yosemite or Florida for example), my excellent tour guide has always been Clare with a Lonely Planet book…. as she isn’t here with me in Canada, I needed a substitute: The GyPSy guide has hit the spot.

In summary, the unit is a totally unintrusive, informative, fun way to learn about Canada as you tour around, at your own pace.

It is not banging on then whole time either, if fact sometimes it goes quiet for 10 minutes or so (and tells you it is going to to let you enjoy the scenery), before making you jump a bit as it starts chatting again (but you get used to that!)

I was dubious of the benefit before I booked the unit, but in hindsight it has
proved itself to be invaluable to me – I have seen and photographed so many locations that I simply wouldn’t have known about without it.

Excellent product – Highly recommended… Even if you are not travelling alone – I can imagine it prompting discussion in the car when travelling as group.

You can find out more at

Now, I have to go as me and my guide are off to Sun Peaks British Columbia, via… Who knows?!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 4

Banff to Jasper

Today was a real ‘road trip’ day – although Banff to Jasper is only 240km, I managed to take all day to do it.

The ‘problem’ with The Rockies is that there is simply no boring roads or views – There is always something to see, photograph or do around each bend.

The excellent ‘GyPSy Guide’ makes it even more difficult as it ensures you don’t miss anything either (I promise a full post on this cool bit of kit soon!)

I decided to travel on the Bow Valley road, rather than HW1, via Lake Louise on the first leg of the trip, before moving on to HW93 (The Icefield Parkway).

I had photographed Lake Louise on Friday as part of that day’s tour, so decided to look at Morataine Lake instead – I am glad I did, I think it is even more gorgeous than Lake Louise:

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The trek up the rocks to get to this view was a little tricky (especially with all my camera gear, and in thin air at 7000ft above sea level), but I think it was worth the effort.

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A few more lakes, mountain passes and waterfalls later, I finally arrived at the Columbia Icefield Experience.

The Icefield feeds the Athabasca Glacier, a huge piece of ice 4 miles long covering more than 3 square miles.

The Glacier is impressive enough to see from a distance, even better is to actually go onto it – at more than 1000ft deep (!) I thought it would be pretty safe, but was sure the Chevy Malibu wouldn’t be up to the task…. But I did find something that would be:

The Ice Explorer

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It was obviously very cold and windy out on the glacier, but an experience I simply won’t forget – It really was like being on a different planet.

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Brilliant experience.

And just when you think Canada couldn’t get any better, I arrive at Athabasca Falls – The water from the melting Glacier bursting through Quartz to produce a huge roaring falls (this is just the top!)

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– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 4

Discovering Grizzly Bears

Today’s tour is managed by Discover Banff Tours: specifically by the excellent guide Hugh Johnson (is THAT for real?!) and his bus ‘Tom’- each bus has a name!

Seeing as Banff National park is 6640 sq. km (approx. 2500 sq. miles!), and only has around 60 Grizzly Bears – Needle in a haystack springs to mind, but we will see how we get on!

First leg is off on the Trans-Canada HW to Lake Louise for a quick 20 minute stop:

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All photos in this post will be taken with the iPhone4. Taking plenty with the D300 and G11, but the current lack of laptop makes posting difficult on the go!

So off west now to Golden, BC, stopping at Takakkaw Falls on the way – The second highest falls in Canada:

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And now the 90 minute drive to the Kicking Horse Resort, to look at the Bear refuge (and have some lunch).

Kicking Horse is the home of extreme sport in BC. A ski resort in the winter months which is then transformed into a mental Mountain Bike run during the off season – Basically people take their bikes up to the top via the cable car, and then hurtle down the ski-runs on them.

To make it more ‘interesting’ ramps and jumps are thrown in for good measure!

Lunch is at the top of the mountain too, via the Cable Car and then Ski Chair lift, at Canada’s highest restaurant (7,700 ft).

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Now to listen to the experts and search for Bears

Success! Just seen two Grizzlies in the wild – huge animals, even at this distance. Images from D300 later.

Super day with 4 Germans (none of whom mentioned the World Cup!) 2 Spaniards and a family of Australians.

Off to Jasper tomorrow, via the Columbia Icefields

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 4

And then it died

So, I checked into my Hotel in Banff, eagerly looking forward to seeing today’s photos on the Macbook Pro.

I turned it on, heard the welcome ‘chime’ and then… Nothing. A blank black screen – no illuminated Apple logo, nothing.

I tried again, and again…

Removed the battery – nothing.

I am so glad I didn’t delete the images from my CF Cards… Always best to keep copies.

I do have the iPad and camera connection kit, so I can back images up to that, but don’t think I have enough space to store all of the RAW images I am taking.

It also makes Blogging a little more difficult, but still totally ‘do-able’ using Blogpost on the iPad… If a lot slower than composing with Mars Edit on the Macbook Pro.

The biggest issue is that I bought the Macbook Pro with me for iChat: Video calling the girls.

Looks like a voice only Skype solution will have to do – Makes being away from them that bit tougher though.

I will take the poorly Macbook Pro to Apple when I get to Vancouver, but that isn’t until mid next week; And I am not sure there is much they can do anyway.

Updates may be a little more sporadic than planned!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Being Adventerous

So time for dinner in Banff; The choice is huge, with most cultures and tastes catered for.

I decided to go Japanese at the Suginoya Restaurant on Banff Avenue…

Clare is not a huge Sushi fan, so not a choice we usually make at home.

I think I have ordered, the question is, what have I ordered?!

The menus were all in Japanese, so order was done by pointing at pictures… They looked pretty, just hope they taste good too!

The Sapporo is cold and tasty, so so far so good.

This photo of Suginoya Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Wish me luck!

Main course looks great – More luck than judgement on my part I think.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 4