Have you awaken from a dream of pristine waters and un-ending stream of river that rest on a panoramic mountain rage of snow capped mountains? Captivating waterfalls and rolling hills of wild flowers and dramatic skies? Lakes that stretch for miles across vistas and evergreen that foil dramatic and ominous skies. I woke up to that dream and lived it for a few days- only to dream about it again and again, to this day. Let me relive those moments in photographs and share with you an absolute story of a beauty called Canada.
In 2016 my family and I decided to travel and explore the Canadian Rockies in Alberta Canada. We were traveling with Joel, our 1 1/2 year old, and was 8 weeks pregnant with India. This was his third long flight then and was more fluent in how the world works from his eye level. He was in the mission to conquer it, one step at a time. Literally speaking.
After looking through incredible photographs online and deep research for days end, we made the decision to book this trip. It was an incredibly easy choice since I have a soft spot for mountains. Little did we know that this trip was not only going to be a front row seat of majestic mountains, wildlife experiences, dream-like rivers and lakes that I’ve never ever seen before- but a reconnection and a beautiful bond of friendship.
The start of this journey was a bit of an irony to what was about to unfold. Getting off the plane and into a more relaxed airport terminal left a tension that was building up in my shoulders during the flight. My right eyebrow twitching translated into the flickering florescent light as we made our way down the rather quite airport terminal.
Just hours before, as the airline taxied off the runway, my son decided to play pedal boats and pretend bicycle ride on the seat in front of him. Kicking repeatedly while he was restraint in his seat. Distinctly I was making out a figure of a middle aged man sitting on that seat. A business man with his facial expressions of a long days work. Unfortunately he had to be on this compacted and enclosed cabin- with a child pounding on his seat. He’s glanced several times back while I tried to restrain my son. The airline rumbled loose metals with it as we took off in the late afternoon sun. I gestured a friendly smile. He’s responded with a flat affect and an almost surrender look in his eyes.
The minutes gained control of the hour and slowly my son dozed off to sleep. It wasn’t quite the travel we expected. It’s left a distaste and wrong impression on me to travel with children that early. Doubting if traveling was too soon for a child his age.
As we landed on the tarmac in a late July evening the sun was still out peeking through the mountains and into the distant blue hours. Seeing my friends for the first time since college brought a sense of home. Their stature remained humble not reserving a generous gesture of welcome and smile. The tension from the flight left and the atmosphere lightened up. We headed to our hotel late in the evening and the conversation continued on for hours deep in the summer’s spellbind.
Banff National Park
Our journey began the next day. Bright and early in the morning with our Tim Hortons coffee. A cooler summer day with blankets of fog dispersed around the hill side. Our first stop, a nice easy tour at the Columbian Icefield Skywalk in Banff National Park to slowly absorb the Canadian Rockies from the high vantage point. The visit there helped scale the magnitude of its towering snow capped mountains before getting on the glacier field in the next tour. Its mighty chiseled peaks resembled a Bob Ross painting against magenta sky and soft subtle dramatic clouds. A bird’s eye view of the sweeping Sunwapta valley below can be seen from the glass floor skywalk above.
On the tour to the Athabasca glacier the all terrain vehicle crawls down steep slopes of compacted ice. It toured us around the white and bluish blanket of field for a quite a picturesque experience. Standing on the massive sheet of glacier field was a once in a lifetime experience. The swift breeze of cool radiant air complimented the sunny blue sky above. The glacier recedes a few inches back each year. Enjoy a fresh stream of glacier water to drink and don’t forget to bring out your camera for an incredible view and a memory to keep for a lifetime.
Joycee drinking fresh glacier water
It’s difficult to relay a beautiful place through photographs. Let alone find a parallel word to describe its subtle grandeur that tower around you and the sweeping valley below. It doesn’t need the perfect sunny weather or an afternoon sun to bring out its best. It simply need you to be there with your own eyes to see and observe. Its ample to note that the very first few hours drive into the icefields parkway winding along the continental divide bring a surreal and breathtaking view. From its turquoise river waters running alongside to its bold mountain rages. It speaks for itself and its own place in time- carved aesthetically by forces of fire and ice many year ago. The remnant of it can be traced in its panorama and enchanting beauty as uninterrupted miles of continued vista stretch along the scenic highway.
If you think this drive is divine, wait until you take an exit off the highway into the heart of the forest and explore its majestic lakes. The small hike to get to Moraine lake was incredible. As you wind down to the foot of the lake it opens up to a grand view behind tall evergreen disguise. I sat on a boulder and steadied myself to a complete halt as I found myself mesmerized and in a complete awe of the magnificent sight laid in front of me.
I revered that moment. Drowning all distractions around. Imagining myself completely humble down by those strong and towering forces of nature but in a complete content state. I imagined how it was like to be able to talk to a mighty God in that splendid and divine place. That must have been the small corridor to a heaven I’ve grown up to know but never really put to words or even begin to draw a parallel in my mind. The piece of the spiritual puzzle I longed to have a peak into. The very essence and small portion of the enigma somehow revealed in that very short moment in time- an altar before me. A gratitude I continue to hold.
The Icefields Parkway heading up to Jasper National Park
Lake Louise and its majestic vista point from below
We continued on the journey to see lake Louise from different vista points. This is another must see place in Alberta. The friendly stroller hike and botanical garden can be appreciated as the lake open up a welcome of swift breeze and a grand panorama. I wanted to stay dwarfed by those colossal scenes of picturesque blue and green waters against stunning mountain peaks and receding blanket of glacier landscape. Spotlight of dramatic light peaked through clouds giving a surreal scene and colorful dimension of different hue.
Jasper National Park
On the road to Jasper on the Miette road we were greeted by a herd of Caribou feeding on grass and beautiful wild flowers from the mid summer bloom. We rolled down the car windows and caught a face to face encounter with these gentle grass feeders. My son was fixated on them and his eyes grew ever rounder by the minute. We made a quick stop and enjoyed the scenery as the afternoon sun glistened a golden glow. Having my son on this trip made the ride even more magical and fun. We rolled out our best impersonation of these animals for Joel as we made our drive deeper into the beautiful Jasper National Park. We enjoyed each other’s company as we lifted our guards down and brought out the child in us.
a local enjoying an afternoon of kayak along the Athabasca River
A female Elk approaching our vehicle as we rolled down the window to take a quick photo
We continued on the journey and saw a few more wildlife along the way. Many of them crossing the streets and owning the place. We didn’t mind it at all. In fact most of the cars pulled over on the side of the road and enjoyed the daylight into the evening hour as the first hint of flickering star illuminated the blue horizon. These animals graze the valley and occasionally cross the streets. I believed we invited a few more out that night as we howled our way into the shadows of the full moon.
sighting of a grizzly bear along the Icefield Parkway to Jasper National Park
Along the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park is a a picturesque vista and a hike down the Athabasca falls. It is a must stop for any nature lover traveling this road. An easy walk to a serene view of the water fall and a seranade of its thundering sound along the beautiful Canyon. Few meters walk and you are right at the heart of the raging waters.
The moon guided us as we journeyed further north. If we were to get lost on that drive I would have probably forgotten about time and played along the enigma of the night as I welcomed a tranquil disposition. About a peaceful sleeping child, a bond of friendship deep in a conversation and an incredible content the engulfing mountains pressed down on us. What a moment it was to breathe and live.
Our family of four (India in mama’s tummy at 8 weeks) | Maligne Cruise to spirit Island
Joel playing in the fields of dandelions along the path to Miette hot springs
The next few days made for a relaxing time exploring Jasper National Park. Coming around to a corner street in a quaint town of Jasper we drove slowly into a road of dandelions and permeated hills of buffalo berries. In a ruffling bush a mama bear and its cub basking the last hour of the day enjoying a sweet diet of vegetable and open fields of berries. We tried no to invade their space and worked our way around a safe distance and watch the magic of the moment unfold. The tree branches had no match to a much stronger bear claws as it spindled and pulled away itself to a harvest of a sweet treat.
After a nice morning dip in the Miette hot springs we decided to spend the remaining time in one of the parks close by to enjoy the day- a picnic turned swimming into a steady river stream of cold glacier water. I took off my overall with just a boxer shorts on and jumped in the turqouise icy water. My friend Mark soon followed me in my madness and we let out a clinched and broken laughter. A backdrop of the Rockies and rolling evergreen forest made for a special friendship bond and laughters that echoed through.
My generous friends made this trip even more special by giving us a painting of the Roche Miette mountains. This wonderful painting has a special place in the living room as it hang there to remind me of friendship and a beautiful place in time.
On our final journey and our way back to Calgary we stopped by and explored few places like Bow falls. We hiked a beautiful path and encountered mountain goats along the way. A gondola ride to the peak summed up the beautiful valleys and the many lakes and rivers of Alberta. We also made a day trip to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, a northeastern town in Calgary. The terrain changes from rolling valley and hills of green to a dry terrain of soft clay rocks with steep slopes and ravines. The Tyrrell Museum contains a large collection of dinosaur fossils and a giant model of the T-rex. It was a perfect time for my family to explore the Museum with Joel as he was integrating his play with the fascinations for dinosaurs.
Royal Tyrell Museum-Drumheller | below: Joel looking through an enclosed fossil display
As I conclude this recollection of our journey to beautiful Alberta and the bold Canadian Rokies, I feel more humbled each time the mountains call me and my family. Don’t let anything get in the way of you traveling. For the past few years now we have traveled with the children in different continents and I would never trade any of those days for anything in this world. I have had the most wonderful memories with them and have found the child in me that loves to wonder around lost in time. It is the magic of the place that open up a wonderful surprise and discovery of each other only through the perspective of a child’s curious mind and play.
Consider your next travel to Banff and Jasper National park in Alberta Canada. Wake up to live those dreams. Travel with the children and find that inspiration as the mountains call you. I continue to live in gratitude because of the generous beauty the world continue to show and the incredible bond of friendship made along the way. Be blessed and be inspired. Live your dreams. Stay humbled and find a different perspective in places you set foot on. There will always be a special place in my heart for Alberta.
Like a dear old friend.
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