The Jacksons invade Canada

Posted on August 20, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Tired of the relentless heat and humidity that seemed to be never ending, Mark and Sylvia Jackson set their sights on Canada.  On July 12, 2011 they boarded a small plane in Shreveport.  After a 2 hour lay over in Houston, a 4 hour plane ride, and waiting forever in customs, they could finally say that they made it.  I was at the airport with the boys eagerly waiting.  There was even a live band there to welcome them as they entered the “meeting area”.  I was so excited that they were finally there.  It’s hard to believe that it had been a year since I had seen them.

When we stepped through the airport door, they couldn’t believe it – the dreaded wall of heat didn’t smack them in the face.  It wasn’t there at all.

After a day of rest (and a lot of grocery shopping) we headed to the train station.  I was taking Mom and Dad to Kensington for lunch at Sam’s and then we were going to walk around downtown.  I know that was just what my dad traveled 2400 miles to do, but it was Stampede time and the western decor was around every corner – like they don’t get enough of that back in Texas.

We did make it out to the mountains and hit some of the more popular spots.  Dad’s excitement as we started getting into the majestic peaks was infectious. Even Zachary was hollering out “Ook, ook at that mountain!!”  Banff was our first stop where we strolled the streets and went out to see the Banff Springs Hotel.  I think Mom could have spent the entire day in Banff looking at all that was offered.  Lake Moraine was the next stop.  It was as beautiful as I remembered, but the water was higher.  There would be no walking along the shore.  Jackson and Zachary led us up the trail to the top to get a view of the lake from a higher perspective.  Mom and Dad didn’t quite make it all the way up to the top – they pooped out with about 40 ft to go.  The view they had was still amazing.  Lake Moraine is a gorgeous  shade of blue that embodies peace and serenity.  Not too far away is Lake Louise, which exhibits more of a green color.  The reason for the different colors?  Different glaciers feed the lakes and it’s the glacier sediment that gives the water its color.  Lake Louise is beautiful regardless the season, but my favorite time is on a calm, sunny day.  The mountains that surround the lake are reflected in water.  The image is nothing short of magical.

Mom and Dad also got introduced to the sport of Rugby.  They were able to watch Jackson’s last game of the season along with the semi-finals and championship game.  Having Sarah and Andy stop by helped with explaining some of what was going on.  As I learned last year, you can’t compare it to American football.  The Saracens played hard and came out on top.  Jackson was so excited to have MawMaw and ManMan there to watch his team win.

Mom and I took a beginner’s sewing class and made reversible tote bags.  We had so much fun creating something new and just hanging out together.  It has been a long time since I’ve been able to just be with my mom.  I wasn’t sure if she would enjoy it – she has sewed before, but she got to visiting with the ladies there and whipped out her cute tote bag in no time.

Brandon was kind enough to stay and watch Zachary so the rest of us could go up the Icefield’s Parkway to the Columbia Icefields.  It was quite a trek and I was thankful that Zachary wasn’t there.  He would have loved the glacier, but the 4 hour drive up there would have been torturous on all of us.  Once you get off of the Trans-Canada Highway, the big fences to keep wildlife off the road are gone.  The Icefield’s Parkway is a two lane road that twists and turns its way through the national park.  The first sign of wildlife we saw was a black bear along the side of the road searching for dandelions.  As we made the drive farther north there was more and more breathtaking scenery around every turn.  We pulled off the road to stand in awe of the view.  Dad saw a group of three mountain sheep.  There were two adults and a baby.  They had traffic backed up in both directions.  We watched them for awhile and was amazed when the baby took off up the mountain with the ease of someone crossing their backyard.

We stopped off at Mistaya Canyon.  It was a 10 minute jaunt down on old logging road that “even a grandma could make”.  There were no railings or fences – just a lot of signs warning “Fall Hazard – Please stay back from edge”.  Watching the water cut through the rock was amazing.  It was so beautiful, but if you did fall in, you’d be gone, and gone in a hurry.

We arrived at Athabasca Glacier.  You could see how much it has melted over the years.  It was hard to wrap your mind just how much ice was there (and how much more had been there in the past).  The glacier comprised 2% of the whole Columbia Icefield, which was also hard to imagine.  I guess a helicopter tour would be needed to get a full appreciation of what was there.  We loaded up on a bus and went over to the glacier to get on our tundra bus.  Zachary definitely would have loved the tires on these buses.  Our driver, Sami, was awesome.  He was a retired accountant from Japan that comes over for a few months every year to drive the buses.  It was insane, but Mom and Dad had to wear their jackets – in JULY!!  We all drank glacial water while on the glacier – it had to be the absolute best water I’ve ever had.  Our driver pointed out one mountain peak.  This was the tallest point in North America and had a triple continental divide.  Waters from this peak flowed to the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, or the Pacific Ocean. Dad was so impressed with the glacier that he bought a hat at the gift shop – if you know my dad, you know that says quite a bit.  On the way back to Calgary we got to see a second black bear.

The next few days we spent hanging out close to home.  The trip to the icefields was amazing, but a very long day.  We took the boys to Arbour Lake (the lake by our house) so they could play on the beach and in the water.  Jackson took his MawMaw out in the paddle boat.  They puttered around the lake and even under the fountain.  Mom was in for a surprise!  The water in Canada is not the temperature of warm bathwater like it is in Texas.  We also went to Bowness Park that lies along the Bow river.  It was so peaceful to hang out by the river and lagoon – the fact that the river was a color other than brown was an added bonus.

There was one more trip to the  mountains, this time with Brandon and Zachary accompanying us.  We went to Johnston Canyon to go hiking. It was crowded, but still beautiful.  At Johnston Canyon you can hike 0.5 miles to the lower falls, 1 mile to the upper falls, or go even further to the inkpots.  The inkpots are pools of water coming from underground springs.  The algae in the pools help to give them amazing colors.  We only made it to the lower falls, but it was well worth the trip.  We were able to add elk and big horn sheep to our list of spotted wildlife.

One of my dad’s favorite places was out on our deck.  You can see Canadian Olympic Park, downtown, and the mountains from our deck.  Dad spent so much time relaxing in the deck chair and soaking up the sunshine and cooler weather.  Mom would join him and marvel at the thought that she needed a blanket in the mornings to sit out there and drink her coffee.

I believe that my parents had a great trip and enjoyed seeing some of what Canada has to offer.  I know that we loved having them here.  The grandkids were spoiled (of course).  Jackson scored an Xbox 360 and Zachary found a train table in the living room.  It was so nice to be able to get morning hugs from my daddy if only for a couple of weeks.

We love and miss you MawMaw and ManMan!  Keep going to the gym so you can do even more hiking when you come back!

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