Canadian kaleidoscope… the journey begins

Travelling, and experiencing different parts of the world, is very valuable to me, more so than a beautiful house or a flashy car. There’s nothing like the excitement of being on the open road, or on a hike somewhere, not knowing what we’ll see around the next corner… I love sharing that with you, so let me give you a taste by giving you some stories and images from Marina and my travels through parts of Canada, 3 years ago.

We had decided to start our trip in Calgary, Alberta, and spent the first day or so there, in the company of friends from the days when we all lived in South Africa. Good to catch up on news, and very nice of them to accommodate us and show us to all the nearby interesting places!

Driving out of Calgary itself, through the open prairie towards Okotoks, we visited Big Rock, more formally named the Okotoks Erratic. This enormous slab of quartzite rock was originally part of the Rocky Mountains near Jasper, some 300km to the northwest. During the last ice age, between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago, it was transported by glaciers and left in its current isolated position on the prairie. This linked website provides a very clear description of this process, but also of the Blackfoot version of how it got there (and why it’s broken in two).

The rock came from the Rocky mountains in the far distance, but we came from ever further away

By the way, I now read on the website that one is not supposed to climb the rock, one should just admire it from the ground, but that was not clear at the time. It was broken before we got there, I promise.

Having survived our first “climb” of many to come, we all descended into a nearby pub-diner for a very nice lunch, accompanied (in my case) by a Grasshopper kristallweizen from the Big Rock Brewery.

Great lunch in great company!

Our time with the Bakkers and the Kiewiets in Calgary was too short, but we were on a schedule to continue our journey northwards and westwards. Having collected our rental car, we said our goodbyes and departed towards the Rocky Mountains. After an easy afternoon drive on the Trans-Canada Highway, we left the prairie and were into the valley of the Bow River, reaching Canmore during late afternoon. It’s a pretty town, straddling the highway and the river. Our room, in the rather grandly-named Windtower Lodge and Suites, a somewhat alpine-themed establishment, was quite small, certainly a lot less luxurious than the accommodation we’d enjoyed with our friends in Calgary! We therefore spent the late afternoon walking through the town and admiring the views from the banks of the Bow River.

Reflections in the Bow River

The next day saw us driving into Bow Valley Provincial Park, and hiking into the Grotto Canyon. Marina is at her happiest when she can clamber over rocks, so we did a lot of that, admiring waterfalls, some geology and even some rock art. Whenever I’m in a canyon like that, mostly dry but filled with boulders, I wonder what it must sound like in springtime, when there may be a large volume of water roaring through the narrows, bouncing and dragging boulders along the bottom. Must be quite a racket.

The place is full of these inuksuks (“stone men that point the way”, in an Inuit language) but most probably all erected by palefaces on day hikes
“Are you still coming, or…?”
“…. yes dear, just admiring the en echelon veins in the rock, dear!”
Caught up with her for the obligatory selfie
Back in Canmore, time for an Original Organic Lager. Yes, I know that Mill Street Brewery is in Ontario and not in Alberta, but at least this is a Canadian beer, well earned after the day’s exertions.

Stay tuned for my next post, full of grand Rocky Mountain vistas, some wildlife and unexpected events!

7 thoughts on “Canadian kaleidoscope… the journey begins

  1. Thanks Ron, Always fun and interesting to read. Getting the travel itch in the middle of COVID -19 is not easy on the soul! But this too shall pass, as they say.


    1. Haha, yes, I do remember that trip, quite fondly. Even if the whole deal with the battles between Tad and Michel was a bit surreal. My Canadain posts will eventually take us closer to Whistler – well, to Vancouver and to Bowen Island, where my friend and erstwhile colleague Craig Pearman lives, now.


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