Monday, July 31, 2017

Idaho to Alaska - stop 3


IMG 4698

Talk about amazing scenery! Banff is gorgeous! Driving from Waterton to Banff was pretty easy. We made a short stop 30 mins from Waterton at a Unesco World Heritage Site of Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. This was interesting to learn about. This site was used by Native Americans to strategically plan together to lure the large herd of Buffalo to a stampede and direct them towards the cliff to run them off. This required great planning, preparation, and perfect conditions to achieve. This site was used thousands of years ago, and multiple times for this purpose. They found several feet deep of leftover bones. It was very interesting to learn about. On site they have a great museum and you can walk the cliff edge to view the beautiful landscape.

Just south of Calgary we stopped at Walmart and the Real Canadian Superstore for a quick food restock, and of course to pick out some true Canadian snacks. A trip to Canada requires a few Mr. Big candy bars for me!

After we left the Calgary area you could see the mountains in the distance and they just went on forever! From North to South as far as the eye could see, and not just one row of peaks. Row after row of peaks. It was a sight to behold. It's an easy drive from Calgary, which is why the Banff area of lodging, and camping is so huge! There is a massive highway to travels through the area. Our campsite alone had about 1000 spots. We sadly had to say goodbye to the Miller family back in Cardston after the Temple, but the Despain family was still hanging in there with us! While we checked into our campsite, they headed to their little house they rented a few miles down the road in town.

The next morning we got an early start and headed up to a popular spot in the area. It's about an hour drive to the Lake Louise area, and up to Moraine lake. Once upon a time this beautiful Lake was printed on the back of the $20 Canadian Bill. We climbed the pile of rocks near the parking area for the best view. The hike is called the Rockpile. At this end of the lake, 10 beautiful peaks can be seen. And the water is a perfect blue. It was beautiful. Which explains all the people there! Even at 8:30am there were already hundreds of people there, and finding parking was a problem. I don't know how much the 150 years of Canada celebration this summer is affecting park visitors, but it was crowded! National Park entrance is free all across Canada this year. But the beauty in Banff is definitely worth paying an entrance fee to see. The entire area is spectacular. So many lakes and mountains to see!

IMG 4709

IMG 4740

IMG 4741

IMG 4760

IMG 4778

IMG 4803

IMG 4814

IMG 4822

After a short hike around Moraine lake's shoreline, we headed off to nearby Yoho National Park to Emerald Lake. The 40 minute drive follows the gorgeous mint green Kicking Horse River thru it's rock basin. How spectacular it must look in the spring as it carries all the snow melt away. Limestone washes into the river to create it's beautiful color. After admiring Emerald lake from it's shoreline we did a short hike to a nearby waterfall.

IMG 4828

IMG 4831

IMG 4840

IMG 4866

IMG 4873

On the way down from Emerald Lake is the Natural Bridge, a gorgeous waterfall and interesting rock formation in the middle of the rushing river. Just spectacular!

IMG 4884

IMG 4897

IMG 4901

IMG 4915

We then headed back to the Lake Louise area to stop for a Linner at the Station Restaurant, which was practically empty. The kids enjoyed playing their piano while we waited for food to be served.
After Linner we split up from the Despains, who needed a few hours to relax. Since we were right there, we went up to Lake Louise. I have been interested in viewing the Fairmont lodges in the area, and at Lake Louise it's just okay. It does have the perfect view of the Lake. On our way back to the Campground we stopped at the visitor center and the kids turned in their Canadian parks explorer packet and pick up their park dog tag. The Canadian park system has a program similar to the US National Parks to keep kids interested in learning about the park and it's environment. The kids are enjoying collecting their dog tag at each park, and the Banff NP has several areas to get them from. So many things to do in the area, we didn't get to do them all.

IMG 4929

That evening we picked put the Despains and headed all together in the van to Johnston Canyon. It was a quiet drive down the old Banff highway, a small 2 lane road. Since it was after 7pm the parking lot was mostly empty, but there was still plenty of day left to explore and hike the 1.5 miles each way. This is a must see canyon. The well built trail follows the river upstream thru a water carved canyon, to view multiple waterfalls. We love walking through narrow canyons along the water. I am tempted to come back in the winter to view this trail in the snow, as they keep it open all year. I bet it's spectacular! It awesome to see how water carves thru rock over thousands of years.

IMG 4971

IMG 4982

IMG 4992

In the morning before church, David woke up early to take Savannah and Calvin on a mountain bike trail that started near the campground. We thought it would only take an hour to bike the 4.9 km trail and back, but it took close to 1.5 hours, which meant we were late to church, which started at 10am and the Banff branch. Parking was difficult in the area, but David kindly dropped us off as he circled the area looking for a place to park our large van. We were late, but Calvin noticed had we been on time he would have had the opportunity to help with passing the sacrament. Since Despains were on time, both Keaton and Sawyer passed together.

Despains made a delicious lunch for all of us, and then we headed out to a nearby ski resort, Mount Norquay to ride the chairlift up a mountain. This was a first for all our kids, to ride 2 by 2 in a chairlift. I could tell riding up the mountain this way made Savannah nervous. David rode with Matthew who he said was also a little scared. I rode with Alex who was as happy as could be with the ride. At the top we watched mountain sheep eat. The view was impeded with smoke blowing over the mountains from nearby fires in SW British Columbia.

IMG 5010

IMG 5018

IMG 5044

Before dinner we drove by the Fairmont Banff Springs. It's a spectacular castle looking lodge built by the Railroad President back in the late 1800s. It is beautiful and maybe someday I can stay there. We took a rest at the campsite while David took a few of the kids for an easy mountain bike ride on the trail outside the campground. Matthew loved it until he got thirsty at the end.

The Despains cooked us dinner again today and we explored near their little house after. All in all, it was a great day. In the morning we head up to Jasper, along the renowned Icefield Parkway.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Idaho to Alaska - stop 2

Waterton National Park, Canada and the Cardston Temple

All 3 families shared a house a few minutes outside of Watertown National Park. The house was large with plenty of room for all of us! We arrived late, ate dinner, and slept good. The next day we headed into the park to explore. There's a nice village with homes and shopping, and a historic lodge on top of a bluff overlooking the large lake! Absolutely beautiful!

IMG 4366

We started on a short shoreline hike, and made it to a peninsula, where the kids ran to the water to throw rocks, when the adults noticed a small black bear off to the side, eating something along the shoreline. We watched for a few minutes, before heading back down the trail, the way we came.

IMG 4390

IMG 4416

Savannah practiced her driving skills by chauffeuring us around the park. After lunch at a quiet picnic spot near a pretty little lake, we headed out for an afternoon hike up Red Rock Canyon.
It was absolutely crowded, but the scenery was spectacular! We changed into swim gear and water shoes and headed upstream in the canyon. We had to make our way thru the crowds of people, but the further upstream we went, the less crowded in became, until it was pretty much just us. The canyon walls are stunning, but the fun thing is the natural rock slides and pools that have formed over thousands of years of water running through here. The kids had a fabulous time sliding and hiking to the next slide. Even though the water was glacier cold, they had a great time trying each slide and hiking thru the water. We had to rock hop, shimmy across fallen trees, and wade in knee deep water at times. A great hike!

IMG 4424

IMG 4426

IMG 4428

IMG 4447

IMG 4457

IMG 4458

IMG 4477

IMG 4479

IMG 4484

IMG 4489

IMG 4501

IMG 4512

IMG 4525

IMG 4529

IMG 4545

IMG 4558

IMG 4561

IMG 4567

IMG 4599

IMG 4630

We headed back to the house for dinner and down time. Later that evening we headed back to the park to drive the south road through the park. The road followed the river and the scenery was beautiful. We had all the kids in the van with us and they requested a Hank Smith talk while we drove. It was a great evening! The road ended at a beautiful lake surrounded by snow capped mountains. On the drive back we found another bear eating berries along side the road. Two bears at close viewing range in one day was awesome. We topped the day off with ice cream in the park village. It was a great visit to Waterton.

IMG 4641

In the morning we all packed up ready to head on. But before we left for Banff we had an important stop to make at the Cardston Alberta Temple. This has been something I have wanted to do for many years! My Great Grandfather, Gerrit DeReus was the first of his family to cross the ocean from the Netherlands. His family sent him to work hard, save money to send back so his parents and siblings could all make the same journey and go to Salt Lake. My dad, in his wisdom, printed off the history of my great great grandparents for us to read and learn how they joined the church and why they came to Utah. It was my Great Great Grandfather, Teunis, 50th birthday. His children saved their money to buy him a gold pocket watch. As his birthday approached, his son Gerritt noticed the price of 1 ticket to the America's was the same cost as the pocket watch. The children decided it would be a good idea to spend the money on a ticket instead, but sought their fathers advice first. Their father agreed, a ticket to the America's was a good choice. He stated "what good is a pocket watch, when you can be with the Saints in Salt Lake, and become a forever family" There was no Temple near them at the time. So they decided together that Gerrit, my great Grandfather would be the first to go. They needed a sponsor to allow them to go, and since the missionaries in the area were from Canada, he received a sponsor to go to Canada. He rode the train across Canada and arrived in Cardston, a Mormon community, were the Temple was underway. He acquired a job at the Temple as a carpenter, which is the job he had in the Netherlands. Who knows maybe we touched some of the same wood inside the temple. It was here in Cardston that he became friends with the man that would later introduce him to his wife, the man's sister. Gerritt earned enough money, along with what they saved in the Netherlands, to bring his siblings and parents over to Salt Lake just a few years later. We all enjoyed reading the story of my great great grandparents and their love and faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

IMG 4642

IMG 4674

At the Temple we left Isabel and the younger kids in the trailer watching a movie, while the adults, and 12+ year old kids went to the Baptistry to do work for our ancestors. I had spent some time researching my dutch roots and came up with a few DeReus names that still needed work, and several cousins from my dutch side that needed work. We did almost 30 names, all I could find and verify. The baptistry was beautiful and we were told each of the oxen were uniquely hand carved from stone. It was a special experience to be in this Temple helping to make forever families!

IMG 4687