Sunday, 2 June 2013

Long weekend road trip ...

The long weekend seems like it was forever ago but it's only now that I'm getting around to sharing photos.  A colleague and I took off on a girls weekend to Jasper, enjoying the sights along the way.  On the Friday night we drove to Lake Louise where we stopped for the night, getting up super early on Saturday morning to watch the sun rise over Lake Louise. 

Thawing Lake Louise (Friday pm)

Same view but early Sat am

Lovely reflections and clear water

Later that morning,  we began the drive up the Icefield Parkway which Lonely Planet named the number one thing to do in Canada.  The views were okay (!) ...

Along the way, we stopped at a number of 'must see' spots, including Peyto Lake where the snow was still very deep ... 

Fence post sticks out of the super deep snow

Peyto Lake

We took the scenic route back to the car park and got stuck in the snow along with these other ladies!

... and Columbia Icefield which is actually more impressive than the photos suggest ...

Athabasca Glacier (forefront) and Columbia Icefield (way at the back)

The frigid waters at the bottom of the glacier

We didn't see as much wildlife as we thought we might have but a highlight was seeing a black bear cub on the side of the road.  Well, it was actually hard to see it from the impressive crowd that had gathered, most of whom were standing only 3-4 metres away from the bear which is incredibly stupid - where there is a baby bear, mamma bear is not far away!  And I know I wouldn't want to be standing that close to a mamma bear with babies to protect!

Moulting elk on the side of the road

Maligne Lake

Looking down into Maligne Canyon

Ice clings to the side of Maligne Canyon

We also did a short hike (most of the trails are still snow covered ... yes, in mid-May!) which wasn't a super challenging hike but the reward at the end was quite satisfying ...

Summit Lake

On the drive home on Monday, we hit some of the other attractions that we missed on the way up ...

Athabasca Falls ... lots and lots of water

Mistaya Canyon

Another beautiful lake!

Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I actually live so close to all of this.  I truly do feel grateful for having these amazing experiences.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Cleaning up after the l o n g winter ...

The spring rains are finally here and it's time to clean up after a long, snowy winter.  The weather here provides a constant source of interest and curiosity as some things are so different.  During the winter, I loved the 'Be an Angel, Shovel Your Neighbour's Walk' signs around the city (I never managed to get a picture though) and at the moment, these signs are making me smile (yes, I am easily amused) ...

Thanks to the gravel that is spread across the streets on snowy days in winter time, the streets are pretty yucky come spring time.  So, the council come around and clean each street once the snow is gone.  As you can see, our street was cleaned on Tuesday and looks super lovely now. Especially with the spring blossoms and green grass finally making an appearance!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Nose Hill on a spring day ...

Heading towards the other side of the park and the beautiful Rockies

Despite being swamped with my uni assignment at the moment, I'm still trying to get out and enjoy the lovely spring weather that Calgary has finally turned on.  Having a dog helps as it's a great excuse to get outside and go for long walks.  Nose Hill continues to be a favourite, especially on clear days when you can see the Rockies in the distance.  

Should I or shouldn't I?

... yes, why not!

Lovely clear day to see the mountains

Hot dog!

Never-ending Rockies

Not so clear looking back to Calgary with a layer of smog engulfing the city

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rocky Mountain Soap Company Women's Run ...

It's Mother's Day here in Canada, so what better way to celebrate (given that I can't see my mum) than by running in the Rocky Mountain Soap Company Women's Run at the Nordic Centre in Canmore?  I'd never run in an all-women's race before and it was a lot of fun.  There was a definite feeling of girl power in the air as we did the 'Healthy Breast Dance' to warm up and then crossed the start line.  The start of the race also held a unique aspect for me - a wildlife safety briefing.  The Nordic Centre is known for its high population of bears and cougars (and I've become increasingly scared of the second animal rather than the first lately) because it is squeezed between the mountain and the town of Canmore, meaning that it is essentially a wildlife 'highway' for animals travelling up and down the Rockies.  So, we were warned not to wear earbuds, try to run with others and given advice on what to do if we see wildlife (back off quietly if it's a bear, scream and shout if it's a cougar).  And then we were off. 

I had registered for the 10km event with the idea that it would motivate me to start serious running training again rather than my standard 1-2 times a week 6-8km jog around the river.  With all the study I'm doing, I've been lucky to maintain my regular exercise routine (the runs plus a few weights sessions and lots of walking) so the extra training didn't happen.  And I paid for it today.  I have never run such a tough race.  The 10km event consisted of two 5km loops of the incredibly hilly (read - all up and down, no flat bits at all!) and elevated course (the Nordic Centre has an elevation of 1400 metres above sea level).  To top that off, today was one of the warmest days we've had this year.  It was about 20 degrees when we were running which may not seem like a terribly hot temperature to run in but after 7 months of snow on the ground and temperatures in the negatives, it was mighty warm!

The race was tough but I was very proud of myself when I finished.  After not training, I set myself a goal of not stopping for the whole race (which was hard given the steep, steep hills) and simply running to enjoy the views of the majestic Rockies.  I achieved those goals but as I got closer to the finish, I got a little competitive and tried to speed up.  I didn't wear my watch (or iPod ... first tech-free race ever) so didn't know my time, but after questioning a girl who finished at about the same time as me, I worked out that I ran the race in about 1 hour and 1 minute.  I was pretty stoked with that!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A flying visit to Vancouver ...

Granville Street on Monday evening

On Tuesday this week, I had a flying visit to Vancouver.  Since Calgary has no Australian Consulate and I needed a new passport, I had to fly to Vancouver to undergo the passport interview.  I was there for less than 24 hours (I flew in on Monday night and was home Tuesday night) but managed to fit in lots of my favourite Vancouver activities during that time.  I enjoyed breakfast at my favourite crepe restaurant, hired a bike and rode around Stanley Park, took a water taxi to Granville Island and enjoyed the amazing food at the public market.  I explored the boutique shops on Granville Island, caught a water taxi to Yaletown and finally, jumped on the Canada Line train to the airport.  It was a perfect day in Vancouver and gave me just the spring lift I needed ... how wonderful it was to see green grass and flowers blooming!  Here are some pics from the day (taken with my new Canon 60D) ... 

Lovely cherry blossoms in bloom

... and more blossoms

... and close up

Flowers ... 

... and green grass!

Watching the sea planes

This always reminds me of Huangshan in China!

Lost Lagoon

Lunch view on Granville Island

Lady Anna