Reflections on Canada

Lucy

My favourite things in Canada are totem poles, s’mores, tepees, learning about the First Nation people and bears.
The people in Canada like maple leaves, it is in the middle of the flag and you can make maple syrup. First you take the sap and then make the syrup from it. We had bannock and we also made some. You have to cook it on a fire wrapped on a stick. Then you can have anything you want on it, I had honey on mine. It was very yummy.
Bears are dangerous. We saw the bears when we were in the truck, so we were safe. Brown bears are called grizzlies. We didn’t get to see cougars because they are too sneaky.

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Alisha

Get the Maple Syrup we have had 6 great weeks in Canada. The best bits were seeing bears and wolves. We saw 7 bears. When we saw the wolf Mummy and Daddy thought it was a dog because it was black not grey. I knew it was a wolf though because it had yellow eyes. I checked in my world explorers book and told them but they were not completely sure until they asked the ranger, they should have believed me.
I also enjoyed meeting lots of nice people and seeing Rade at his grandma,s house. Lucy talks with everyone and we are playing well together but she stops me from going to sleep by kicking the bottom of my bed.

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Gilly

Our original plan for many years was to drive from the Europe east and it was only when the Arab Spring happened that we changed our minds and decided to circumnavigate the globe from the other direction. I’m so glad that we did! Starting our journey in a country where we understand the language, that is easy to to travel and yet still has enough natural sites to blow your socks off has been a real blessing.

My personal highlights of Canada have been the National and Provincial Parks. Those around the Great Lakes offered enough perfect vistas that matched how Canada looked in my mind after watching all those BBC nature programmes. However it was the Rockies that I really fell in love with. I’ve always loved mountains but the perfect turquoise lakes milky with glacial flour, surrounded by tall majestic firs on peaks towering over you with just a glimpse of a glacier on top was just awe inspiring . Jasper and Banff were as stunning as we had been told but another gem was Waterton Lake National Park, which adjoins Glacier National Park in the US. As the road was washed out we had to take a detour and approach the mountains from the gently undulating prairies, real cowboy country with ranches everywhere. We saw more bears in the valley we were camping in than we ever expected, seven in total. This was a park we hadn’t even been planning on staying in, we were just looking for somewhere nice to stop in on the way to the US border.

Settling in to our new way of life has been at times very challenging. We all love travelling and wouldn’t change what we are doing for the world and I wouldn’t want to be doing it with anyone else….that said, it has been a period “adjustment”. In our old life in Prague Steve worked away usually 5days a week and the girls were at school everyday. We all had our own lives, friends and activities. Now we are together 24 hours a day and have to work together as a team. It hasn’t always been easy but we are getting used to it and the highlights far, far outweigh the daily niggles that come from living with 3 other headstrong people all with their own agendas. So for those of you who had bets on how long we would keep on going, you might as well give up your money as lost, no one wants to go home.

Steve

After nearly 6 weeks and 8,650kms we have left Canada and entered the US. Canada has been a fantastic start to the trip. It has been pretty easy as the country is well set up for camping and has great National Parks. We have done more driving than planned but then Canada is a huge country. The scenery has been varied and spectacular with my favourites been Cape Breton NP, Lake Superior and the Rockies. The scenery in the Rockies has been something special and Waterton NP was really special at the end. We saw a lot of bears their including me “bumping” into one on foot on the way to the toilet.

The roads have been great and my confidence driving the truck has increased significantly. Whilst things will get tougher further down the trail we are now well prepared and have everything working. We have slept in the truck every night since we left Halifax (37 consecutive nights ) and none of us feel any need or wish to check into a hotel. We are managing in the space and generally getting on well. The kids can still be difficult to get off to sleep but overall have been fantastic. When we are out and they say they want to go home they mean going back to the truck. And when I joke that we could go back to England or Prague they tell me not to be silly. I am really impressed at how easily they have taken to life on the road and it has been great to do things as a family such as hiking, canoeing and fishing. We have done more together in the last 6 weeks than in the last ? years.

I am starting to relax but am probably still a bit impatient. We have 4 distinct personalities on the trip which need to fit together and fit into the rhythm of traveling, so we have our moments, but we are really glad we are doing something we have planned for years. And if anyone is asking, no I am not missing work!

More of the magnificent Rockies

We have spent the last few days exploring the magnificent Canadian Rockies. All the Canadians we have met have said how fantastic they were and they are not wrong. We left our campsite near Jasper to drive the Icefields Parkway. Whilst the weather was not the best the views were still fantastic. We stopped at the Athabasca glacier for a closer look and also for the girls to do some schooling with a view.

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After entering Banff National Park we camped at Lake Louise. We were lucky enough to see some wildlife along the way to camp.
The next morning we wereup early to drive to Lake Moraine to beat the crowds and were rewarded with some magnificent views.

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We then went to Lake Louise itself.

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Yet more fantastic views. We decided to trek up to Agnes Lake to a tea house they had up there. This was a 4km trek gaining 400m in altitude. To our surprise the girls flew up the mountainside chatting all the way. Perhaps it was the promise of scones for lunch at the top that propelled them along the way. As Alisha said “Grandpa would definitely walk up here for tea and scones”.

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The next day we drove to Banff for lunch along the quiet back way and were rewarded with the below sighting.

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Was it a wolf (they frequent the area) or a dog? We discussed this all the way into Banff. In the end we went into the Parks information centre and showed them the photo. They said it was definitely a wolf and how lucky we had been to see one.

We drove out of Banff to Peter Loughbrough Provincial Park along a very dusty gravel road to camp in a quiet spot for the night.

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From there we headed to Waterton Lakes National Park. After been disappointed to not see any bears in Jasper or Banff National Parks we were delighted to see 3 grizzly bears on our drive to the campsite!

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There was also bear droppings just near where we camped so clearly a lot around. The next morning we also sighted a Black Bear.

As we finish our time in Canada, the Rockies have been stunning and have been a great way to finish 6 weeks in Canada.

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From Edmonton to the beautiful Rockies

We were touched to hear from the truck’s “Daddy” Michael Bocklet while we were on the road. He has been making trucks like ours for 30 years and retired at Christmas. He is now travelling through Canada and Alaska with his wife Henny, handing the reins of his company over to Gabriel his son who we have been working with. They arrived in Halifax 2 months before us but have a different route, so we caught up with them in Edmonton. After our truck being such an unusual sight in Canada with lots of photos and questions about being asked, it was strange to see a very similar one in the campsite. We had a great evening of food, comparing routes, travels and “slowly relaxing” into retirement stories (both Michael and Steve were on the email to work that afternoon). We waved goodbye to them the follow morning to see the “sites” of Edmonton.

20130826-181032.jpg In front of Michael and Henny Bocklet’s truck

The girls and I had a interesting time at the Science Museum in Edmonton, while Steve stocked up for the mountains. We then decided on a different cultural experience compared with the last 5 weeks. We headed off to what was once the biggest mall in the world for a movie and supper.

After all the flat of the last week we were ready for some mountains, so we headed west for the Rockies. We could see them for miles away and were thrilled to see a flock of big horn sheep and a male elk with massive antlers in the first few kilometres.

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Camping that night was beside a milky blue glacial river. We spent our time in Jasper hiking beside azure lakes, deep canyons, powerful waterfalls, milky rivers and Steve and Alisha trying for more fish. I spent my time simultaneously keeping my eyes out for bears (with excitement in the truck and trepidation when on foot) and the stunning mountain views.
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While the girls and I were homeschooling in Lake Maligne’s car park Steve saw two graceful mule deer whilst on foot.

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At the town of Jasper, Lucy was thrilled to spot a massive totem pole and learn of the story behind it. The national parks in Canada have great booklets for children explaining the wildlife and culture of the region, which the girls have been thoroughly enjoying. That night we made bannock, a bread much like trudilnik (for all you Czechs) cooked on a stick over a fire. They had learnt about it the previous evening at the fireside talk about bears.

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