Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lake cruising on Minnewanka

On Sunday we continued to make the most of the Brewster tours "free to locals" offer and headed out to Lake Minnewanka for a bit of a cruise. In stark contrast to the previous day's snowy adventures it was warm and sunny with blue skies and sparkling clear water.

 It seems locals days are a hit and the dock by the boat house was packed with people lining up for the next boat. We decided to buy tickets for the following trip and hung out on the shore for a while skipping stones and playing in the sand.  
When the first boat returned and unloaded we realized that half our street were aboard and the beach was suddenly covered with our little neighbourhood gang of kids.

 Once the neighbours had left we headed to the dock and climbed aboard. 

The lake and scenery were beautiful and we had a very informative guide giving us all kinds of cool local and natural history as we cruised. The lake is 500 feet deep at it's deepest point and very, very cold. It's long and thin and storms often whip down the valley making conditions for lone paddlers pretty dangerous.  Apparently the lake was originally known as Devil's Lake and is believed by the native Stoney people to be possessed by an angry spirit but this didn't go down too well with Banff's original tourists so in the early 1900's they changed the name to Minnewanka, meaning Water Spirt to make it a little more appealing :) I was also interested to discover that the lake has been damned three times which has significantly increased it from it's original size. The last damning raised the water level so much that it covered the small lakeside town of Minnewanka Landing and these days you can scuba dive down and see remnants of the old town, you can even have your photo taken on an old porcelain toilet on the lake bottom!

Here's a familiar sight from our Tofino days.... a pair of bald eagles who return every year to nest on the shore line.....

Seb was given the privelege of driving the boat, Captain Dan said he was a natural! I think Grandad will be very proud when he sees the photos :)

 Another interesting fact....the group of Aspen trees you see in the photo above can actually be considered one huge living organism or perhaps at least a couple of very large living organisms. Their root systems are all connected under the ground and each new tree is actually an off-shoot from the roots of the older trees, hence they are all in fact one organism! 

I thoroughly enjoyed our tour and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Banff. I'm also very grateful that we we were given the opportunity to experience some of the wonders of our local area for free! 

Hi-de-ho neighbour!

After our trip up to Sulphur Mountain on Saturday we arrived home to find Bambi on our driveway! It's been quite a week of wildlife encounters for us...Neil came across a grizzly munching on some bushes right behind him while he stopped for a roadside pee on his way back from BC (photographic evidence is on his facebook page, if I remember I'll try and repost it here too.) The night before that I was letting Sully out for a late night piddle and surprised a coyote. We didn't spot each other until we were about two feet away at which point the Coyote froze and just stared up at me for a few seconds until Sully (who had been completely obliviously sniffing the ground) suddenly looked up and made a bolt toward the coyote. The coyote jumped out of his skin and dashed across the road where he stopped and stared at us for a moment before ambling away into the dark. Not Nat Geo worthy encounters I'm sure but cool nonetheless :)

Sulphur Mountain

Last weekend was local tour company Brewster's locals appreciation weekend which meant that as residents of Canmore we got to take advantage of some of their fun tourist tours for free! On Saturday we headed to Banff for a ride on the Sulphur Mountain gondola. It was a rainy day down in the valley which made for a snowy mountain top experience. The kids had never ridden a gondola before and as soon as we pulled up in the parking lot and they saw the little pods dangling from the cable way up high they became super-mega excited and ran like crazy folk shouting and screaming to the ticket desk! We were pretty much straight on the gondola and swinging up the mountain with the screaming and crazed laughing continuing all the way up.

At the top we donned our hats and mitts and climbed to the top of the viewing tower. It wasn't the best day for visibility of the surrounding mountains but who cares, it was free! And we still got a pretty stunning view down into the green, wet valley below.

In the shot below you get pretty good view of the Banff town site with Banff Avenue clearly visible between the trees. 

 The ride back down seemed to be just as exciting for the monkey's as the ride up. It's a pretty steep mountainside and considering the snow we were surprised to see so many tourists making the hike up wearing decidedly un-mountainy attire. One was even lugging a heavy looking plastic grocery bag up the the snowy mountainside!

It was a fun trip and so nice to see familiar places from a totally new perspective.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

About time for some new photos!

Here I go again apologising for not updating my blog! Sorry folks! Seems to be becoming a bit of a habit eh? I blame instagram. It's just too easy to snap a pic on my phone and leave it at that. Knowing that it appears here on the blog right away also means I feel like I'm keeping you all updated and I guess I kind of am but theres no subsitute for some nice big photos taken with a real camera is there now?
I've been trying to spend a bit of time concentrating on enjoying myself lately. After the massive ups and downs of the last couple of years we've ended up in this beautiful place and one moment I feel really great about that then the next moment I'm twisting myself into knots reminiscing about our Tofino life that I wasn't ready to leave. I'm starting to realize that these moments of nostalgia/regret or whatever other negative feeling pops up are getting me nowhere and that while I can allow myself to I feel that way every so often, I mustn't let it get in the way of enjoying the life I have right now. 
So that's what I've been doing. I've been on a mission to concentrate on what is happening in the moment.  Not the past and not the future. It's called mindfulness. It's actually quite fun and rewarding once you really give it a try. The idea is to be fully present for whatever you are doing, if I'm drinking a cup of tea, I concentrate on the process and feeling of drinking a cup of tea rather than letting my thoughts wander off this way and that. If you haven't already given it a go you should try it. Next time your doing something mundane like washing some dishes, concentrate on the act of washing dishes and do it well. Enjoy the feeling of the warm water and the soap suds. The feeling of satisfaction when a few dishes are gleaming and clean, even the scent of your soap :) Then try to apply this to as many things in your day as possible. I promise it works! Anyway, I hope you don't think I'm going completely loopy, just a little step in my journey that has really made a difference to me :) 
Now, here are a few photos from the dog walk Bel, Sully and I took this morning. It was a perfect morning walk. We breathed the cool air in deeply, stopped a few times along the way to listen to the birds and paused by the pond to admire the reflections....until Sully dove in and then we admired the ripples :)

Have a lovely day!