Joined April 2019
  • Day8

    Day 8 - Exploring Banff

    June 22, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    This morning we woke up and participated in an exercise class at the hotel fitness center. Then we took a gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain to enjoy the scenery. We took a lot of photos, and then enjoyed lunch at the summit at the surprisingly excellent Sky Bistro. After we descended the mountain, we headed into the town of Banff for some light walking and shopping. The day ended with a farewell reception with our tour group! We had a presentation by a Royal Canadian Mounted Officer, music by two alumni from the Banff Center for Performing Arts, and a delicious dinner at the 3 Ravens restaurant.Read more

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  • Day7

    Day 7 - Drive to Banff Springs

    June 21, 2019 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    The first day of Summer, and we drove back to Banff in snow! The day before, the Icefield Parkway was closed due to the snow that fell. Fortunately, the snow stopped and the parkway was open again, so our tour could continue as planned. The first part of the trip did experience a little bit of snowfall. We stopped for a tour of the Icefield. We took a very serious bus out onto the actual glacier and got a chance to walk around on it. Unfortunately, the clouds and falling snow obsured the view, so not much in the way of photographs of mountain vistas. However, Lisa did try to hit me with a snowball!

    As we continued on to Banff Springs, the skies began to clear and we got to see much of the scenery that was not visible to us two days prior on our drive to Jasper.

    We arrived at the Fairmont Banff Sprints hotel around 4 PM. (actually at 4:14 PM which won Lisa a prize to be determined later by our tour Director). We saw a little bit of the town of Banff, which is very charming. A picture perfect little mountain town surrounded by scenic mountains. It would be perfect with a dusting of snow and Christmas lights! We had dinner in a Bavarian/Austrian inspired restaurant (Waldhous) and enjoyed exploring the Fairmont hotel. Banff Sprints is definitely the location of the tour we would most likely return to. Lake Louis was beautiful and quiet - if you truly wanted to unplug and just enjoy nature, go hiking, etc... But Banff Springs has the cute little town to stroll through at night. Would be a great place for a winter-themed vacation!
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  • Day6

    Day 6 - Jasper

    June 20, 2019 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 3 °C

    It was a cold and rainy day in Jasper. Clouds and rain obscured the scenery, so no trail hiking or photographing mountains is in the forecast! However, Lisa and I signed up for the whitewater rafting excursion today. We were going to get wet anyway, so who cares about the rain! We headed out in the morning for a 5 mile rafting trip on the Athabasca river. Only about 12 guests on the tour went ahead with the excursion. I think the cold and rain scared a lot of people off. However, those of us who went had a blast (but we did get quite cold in our feet and hands)! After the excursion, we headed back to the hotel to thaw out. At 5 PM we heard a presentation from one of the indigenous people in the area, Cree Indian, who shared some information about his people's culture and about how they are trying to get the Canadian government to allow them to integrate back into the national park lands. He made some compelling points, about how the indigenous people were part of the natural ecosystem that helped keep a balance. And when we tried to eliminate the influence of people in the local ecosystem, this threw off the balance. A real-time example of this is the infestation of pine beetles that are destorying trees in Banff. The Indians used these trees (the Lodgepole Pines) for making their tents. They also created fires to control the growth of the trees. As a result, the trees never got particularly old. The few, older trees that did survive were weeded out by the beetles. Now, the land is protected. As a result, the trees have flourished. They have gotten much taller, and more crowded. They have crowded out a lot of the other flora that would normally be part of the ecosystem. Now the beetles are out of control (their food source is flouriishing) and large portions of the forest are full of dead, dry Lodgepole Pine trees. There is concern that a thunderstorm will result in a really bad forest fire. As usual, Mother Nature will find a way to restore balance despite our influence on the environment.

    After the Cree presentation, we had dinner in the Emerald Lounge, a restaurant in the main lodge of Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. We sat next to a roaring fireplace, which felt great after our day in the cold and rain.
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  • Day5

    Day 5 - Drive to Jasper

    June 19, 2019 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 6 °C

    After breakhast, the tour headed out of Lake Louise to take the Icefield Parkway to Jasper. We first stopped a scenic stop at Bow Lake where we could see the Crow Foot glacier. We then headed to Peyto lake, which was a beautiful, brilliant blue. However, the weather finally cuaght up with us and we got rain and snow for most of the rest of the drive. The parkway is at a fairly high elevation, so much of the scenery along the drive was shrouded in clouds. Oh well, we head back the same route in two days when we return to Banff, so hopefully we get to see everything then!

    We had a nice lunch in Sunwapta. And then we stopped at Athabasca falls just outside of Jasper. This is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies. We'll be rafting on the same river tomorrow - but not this portion!

    We checked into the Jasper Park Lodge, another Fairmost property that is a cabin based resort. The lodge is exactly what you would expect from a big mountain resort. Very cozy with a big fireplace in the middle of the resort lobby. We had a few cocktails with Carolyn and Dennis, and another couple we met from Tallahasse, FL (Heidi and Elliot). Then we had a very nice dinner in the Moose Nook's Chophouse. After dinner, Lisa and I hit the hotel gym to try to work off some of that dinner!
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  • Day4

    Day 4 - Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

    June 18, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    After breakfast, we had a guided tour of Moraine Lake with a very entertaining and enthusiastic naturalist, and Moraine Lake ambassador, Nadine. There are 10 peaks around the lake that provided some beautiful scenery. Also, the lake was a very beautiful, deep and bright blue. She explained that the bright blue colors (or blue-green) of the glacial lakes is the result of rock flour in the water. Rock flour is what happens when rocks on the bottom of glaciers grind over rocks on the ground. They grind the rocks into a very fine powder (hence the name rock "flour"). When the glacial water runs down to the lake, this flour becomes suspended in the water and affects the diffusion/reflection of various light waves. The lake was given its' name due to a large rock pile that forms a sort of dam that helped to create the lake. The rock pile was believed to be the result of rocks being pushed forward by a glacier (when the glacier recedes, this sort of rock pile formation is called a "moraine"). However, geologists determined the rock pile is more likely the result of a landslide. Oh well... the name stuck! I guess "landslide lake" didn't have the same appeal.

    After returning from Moraine Lake, we had the afternoon to ourselves. Lisa and I decided we wanted some exercise, so we went for a hike heading for the tea house at Agnes Lake. This is about 2.2 miles away from the hotel, and increases elevation of about 1,200 feet. It took us about 45-50 minutes to get up to the tea house. This was an interesting place... No electricity. It was built originally in 1901 as a rest stop for hikers. It closed for a period, and then was bought, rebuilt, and reopened around 1960. The proprietors kids now run the tea house and call it home for the summer months. They have to hike supplies up to the establishment almost daily (they also have to hike their garbage down the mountain). The original owner's children actually had to hike up/down the mountain each day to catch the bus to school in Lake Louise. That was something that really struck us as we felt pretty wore out from the hike.

    After the hike, we sat in the Adirondack chairs behind the resort that overlook Lake Louise and took a brief afternoon nap. Then we had a wonderful dinner in the Fairview Bar and Grill with Carolyn and Dennis, as well as another couple, Joe and Lane, from Westchester, PA.
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  • Day3

    Day 3 - Banff National Park/Lake Louise

    June 17, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    After breakfast, we headed out for Banff. Mountains graced the entire drive. Along the way, we stopped for a helecopter ride around the three sisters mountain formation outside the small town of Canmore. Then we headed into Banff. We stopped for lunch at the Post Hotel, a very Swiss-feeling mountain lodge. We also stopped to see some vistas in Yoho, just over the British Columbia line. Then we headed to our hotel for the next two nights, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The hotel is stunning and the surround landscape is jaw-dropping. The back of the hotel has a beautifully landscaped garden, and then the lake which is bordered on all sides by snow-capped mountains and the Victoria glacier formation. Looking forward to the next two nights and this little slice of heaven. Lisa and I went out for an evening stroll after dinner and discovered the mosquitos here are large and plentiful... will have to remember that for our hikes tomorrow!Read more

  • Day2

    Day 2 - Arrival in Kananaskis

    June 16, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Had breakfast in Calgary and headed for the Rockies. Our first stop is in Kananaskis Country. It was about a 90 minute ride from Calgary. We checked into our hotel, the Crosswaters Resort in Kananaskis Village. The resort is incredibly cozy. Would love to see this place in the winter with snow. A lot of the restaurants have fireplaces, or outdoor seating with firepits and heat lamps. It was a beautiful day, so we headed out for a hike around the resort. Lots of great views of the mountains. Tonight we have a western-style reception at Boundary Ranch.Read more

  • Day1

    Arrive in Calgary

    June 15, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Lisa and I had an afternoon Delta flight from MYR to ATL, then caught a WestJet flight to Calgary. We arrived in the Calgary airport around 8 PM local time (PST). The airport was very new and nice. The customs process was much faster here than what we have previously seen in Mexico and Aruba.

    The Tauck agent met us outside of baggage claim and drove us to the Westin in downtown Calgary. Overall, very impressed with Calgary. It looks like a very clean and modern city. The driver said that it has a population of 1,250,000. The top industry in Calgary is energy (oil companies). The second biggest industry is cattle/beef. There is a big rodeo in Calgary every July that is one of the biggest in North America.

    We got to the hotel around 9 PM. Due to the northern latitude sunset wasn't until around 10:15 PM. We ate dinner at a really nice restaurant called Joey Eau Claire's. We both had BBQ Salmon Budda Bowls. Delicious and healthy! Time to sleep.
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  • Day7

    Thursday, April 18th in Playa

    April 18, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    More beach/pool time today.... we are on vacation after all. The day started as usual, breakfast and workout. We got to the pool around noon. So kind of a late start.

    Around 3 PM we headed to Fogon for lunch. This was on the same road as our hotel, but inland about 5 blocks (between 25th and 30th). I had read good things about Fogon's authentic tacos. It lived up to the hype. We tried the tacos al carbon, chorizo, and arrachera. Definitely a place to come back to. We especially like the arrachera and chorizo tacos. Their margaritas were huge, and good. The salsas that they provided were extremly HOT! A great lunch spot (or dinner).

    Then we got cleaned up and headed out to see the Cirque du Soleil show "Joya". We had cocktails at a bar/restaurant just outside of the theatre. Lisa had another Mexcal based cocktail (similar to a margarita) that was delicious. The show was spectacular - in line with the other Cirque du Soleil shows we've seen.
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  • Day6

    Wednesday, April 17th in Playa

    April 17, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Today, back to relaxation mode. We actually needed to recover a little bit from the excursion the previous day. Of course, we hit the gym after breakfast. But other than that, more lounging, reading, napping by the pool. For dinner, we went to a very good restaurant, La Perla Pixan and Mezcal Store. They had a very good Mezcal Margarita (Mezcalita). This restaurant would be on our list of places to return to for our next trip to Playa!Read more

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