Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Icefield / Jasper Weekend: Part 4 (a.k.a. "The End")

Okay, so it has taken me more days to tell the story of our long weekend getaway than there actually were in the weekend, and I'm sure you're all sick and tired of the pictures, but I gotta finish what I started...

Sorry.

On the way back to Calgary from Jasper, we had to go back down along the picturesque Icefields Parkway, and right past the Icefields Centre were the whole thing began. Fortunately, the weather was a bit nicer than it was on our way out, so I got the chance to get a better picture of the Athabasca Glacier.

I drove the whole way, which meant two things: We went just a wee bit over the posted speed limit (insert conspiratorial wink and nudge here), and Chana went camera crazy from the passenger seat. This combination seemed to work just fine, as long as she was taking pictures out the front windshield, but almost every shot she took out her window turned out to be a blur.

Once we were off the parkway and back on the main highway back to the city, I made the decision to slow our trip down a little and take a different route. There's a smaller highway that runs parallel to the main one all the way to Banff, called the Bow Valley Parkway. The speed limit is only 60km/hr instead of the 90km/hr posted limit on Highway 1 (where everybody does at least 110km/hr) and it's a lot more scenic. I hadn't been down that road since a buddy and I used it coming back from a weekend in Radium, BC 17 years ago, and Chana had never been on it, so it seemed like a great idea.

Usually after a line like, "it seemed like a great idea" I end up writing about some tragic or ironic twist... but not this time. In fact, it turned out to be the perfect idea. We saw more wildlife along that one stretch of road than we had seen all weekend! The elk were right along the side of the road, and they weren't shy about having their pictures taken.

Chana got a laugh after I pulled over in front of a couple in a truck who were looking at one of these beautiful creatures (that's not the funny part... wait for it). I grabbed my camera, jumped out of the van, and crossed the road toward the animal so I could get a nice close shot. I didn't see what happened in the truck behind me at the time, but Chana told me all about it afterward (and here comes the funny part). As I was framing my shot, the passenger in the truck pointed toward me, said something to the driver, and the driver slowly got out of his truck and timidly made it about halfway across the road to take a picture too. From what we can tell, the two of them had been weighing the danger of such an action until they saw little old me just strut right out there. The sad thing is, the "timid" guy was at least twice my size!

Okay, here's where I have to say that you shouldn't be as stupid as me... You should respect the power and unpredictability of wild animals, no matter how docile they look. And stay in school... And don't do drugs... But with that said, Wow! Did I ever get some good pictures! In your face, guy who is bigger than me!

Also, at one point, we narrowly missed a close encounter with a bear, but that's for Chana to tell...

I guess that about wraps it up... We stopped in Banff for a bite to eat and then it was straight on home to our kids. It was such an awesome, fun-filled weekend that the following Monday I felt like I needed another weekend right away!

And that, my friends, is the sign of a good time.

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