The adventure began early this morning with a 2AM alarm! With all the TSA news and some specific news coming out of JAN regarding lines, large groups, and missed flights, we were at the airport 2 hours before flight time (and as Steve will affirm, did have to wait for the Delta counter to open). There was a line at the west TSA checkpoint and at the east checkpoint, we we were ahead of the bus load of teenagers on their way somewhere who appeared at 4:30AM (thank you Bob Gladney for that warning) headed out for some sort of adventure by way of Atlanta. At any rate, we were off on time, made our first connection without problems, and are right now in the air over Billings, Montana, about two hours out from Seattle. We make our final change there and are scheduled to land in Vancouver at approximately 6PM Mississippi time.
So while I have a few minutes, this is what we are up to for the next 10 days. We are joining a Tauck tour of Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies tomorrow. Here is the gist of the itenerary. We have two nights in Vancouver staying near Canada Place (the cruise ship terminal) looking out on the bay. This puts us in an absolutely gorgeous spot and close to Gastown, the historical section of “old Vancouver.” From here we tour the city, spend time at Granville Island and Stanley Park, visit a museum, and take a trip up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Squamish. If you have been to Whistler or remember from the Vancouver Olympics, this is the main route that connected many of the venues and that gets you to ski country in this part of Canada.
From Vancouver, we sail to Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria. Victoria is one of the most (if not the most) British cities in Canada. While there two nights, we will get some chocolate from Roger’s (my absolute favorite), have tea at the Empress Hotel, see Butchart Gardens, and spend time taking in the sights along the waterfront.
We return to the mainland by float plane (Kathy is not happy about that!) and board The Canadian, a historic passenger train recently restored by VIA, the Canadian national railway. While overnighting on the train, we travel through the heart of the Canadian Rockies to Jaspar National Park. While there we go rafting and spend a couple of days drinking in one one of the prettiest places Steve and I have ever been. For example, when here before, we were sitting by the lake in late evening and looked up to see that we were surrounded by elk taking their evening stroll through the grounds of the lodge. Elk get the complete right-of-way. I hope to experience that again and this time have my camera or phone on my person!
We will travel down the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Icefields and take a trip up the glacier before heading to Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The lodge at Lake Louise sits at the edge of a stunning glacial lake surrounded by mountains. We will likely do a good bit of walking there around the lake itself while keeping a close watch out for bears. Who knows – there may still be snow as they have had snow in both Jaspar Park and Banff within the past week!
Our final stop will be Banff. The lodge there is like a baronial castle and sits right at the edge of the little town. The views are spectacular. Not sure what we will do there this time. Last go we walked in town and just hung out at the lodge and took it all in. We will see when we get there.
From there we will taking the red-eye back from Calgary (via Seattle and Atlanta). It will be a busy time and one we have looked forward to for a while. We love western Canada and it has been several years since we were last here so it will be interesting to see the changes.
Psalm 24:1 (NIV) reminds us of this: The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all who live in it. We will experience some of the most spectacular of God’s creation here. We will be strongly reminded that “It is HE who has made us, and we are HIS” as we know from Psalm 100 (NIV). I need that reminder. I also need the reminder that the people we will encounter both in our tour group and in whatever we are doing are HIS, as well. I have prayed that we will be salt and light on this trip as we spend this time with new friends and old in this place.
Pictures tomorrow, Lord willing!
Still Choosing Joy!