Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Baby Squirrel on the Birch Tree

This is a new baby squirrel to this world!

Slowly coming down the birch tree

A nice stretch in the hot afternoon sun

Drinking water from the bird bath

That satisfied but curious look

Monday, 7 August 2017

Making more memories: Family Road Trip to the Canadian Rockies

To celebrate Canada 150 and my birthday, we did a family road trip across Canada, 
from Mississauga to Vancouver,
 to experience nature, wildlife and culture in this beautiful country!

This time, we parked the Audi's and drove a Jeep 

Although we've done two previous road trips to Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Canadian Rockies, and several trips to the USA in past years in the Audi A3 and A4, we were doubtful Audi was reliable enough to handle this drive based on our past experience.

In my experience, Audi's are better suited for city driving, not for long road trips.

Thanks to the folks who rented us a Jeep, we got a 2017 Grand Cherokee, Limited with a 3.6L V6 engine, all wheel drive and an 8 speed gearbox

Love the large wheels, big shocks and high profile tires

The seating height was a considerations for us. 
As a driver you get a better view of the highway from a higher seating position.
A view of the Jeep from the Audi A3. 

Also, way more space for our luggage. 
Remember, two weeks on the road!

Our route map from Mississauga to Vancouver and back, all through Canada only. 
No walls or borders to cross 

Ontario is so large, you can drive for a whole day and keep seeing Lake Superior all day long. 
Love the rugged landscape, but having seen all the places on this route before, we didn't stop to do any sightseeing

There are many ways to travel, and everyone is going somewhere

We wanted to get out of the busy city life and reach the mountains as soon as we could with only daytime driving, so we covered about 3,500 kilometres in the first 3 days.

Somewhere on the Trans-Canada Highway 1 in the peaceful Canadian prairies 

Saskatchewan is known as the bread basket of Canada. 
When you are driving long distances in the prairies, one game to play with the family, 
is try counting the number of cars on some of the freight trains. 
They are really long and colorful.
We counted 75 cars on one train!

Lunch time

A glimpse of the Rocky Mountains while driving into Canmore, Alberta

Welcome to Canmore!

Patrinos Steak House is nice restaurant in Canmore where you can sit outside and eat while you are surrounded by mountains and summer sunshine

We got some tips from our friendly waitress on places to see. 

Best part is, on our way back 10 days later we went back to Patrinos again, 
and met the same waitress!

Read my review of Patrinos Steakhouse on TripAdvisor

Evening walk by the Bow River

Four Elk relaxing

We discovered an off-road trail - essentially grizzly bear and mountain goat country, so we decided to drive bear country in a Jeep!

Shaky photo of mountain goats

Do we look like a Jeep family yet?

I realize now, that you don't need a road to do a road trip when you drive a Jeep!

Kananaskis Country, Alberta

On the Bow Valley Parkway

This time we are going hiking to see if we can find any grizzly bears!

Johnston Canyon

No bear encounters on the hike. Back at the car and a short drive down the road and we saw this black bear within 6 feet of us!

A view of Banff from the slopes of Mount Norquay

The spirit of adventure runs high on two wheels

This is where the Yoho River and the Kicking Horse River meet

Meadows in the Sky

Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Revelstoke, British Columbia

Taking an ice cream break at D Dutchmen Dairy

We are now 5,100 kilometres away from home in a place called Vancouver

Love the beaches and mountains, and I understand it rarely snows here in winter

 Vancouver is an expensive city

Whichever direction you look at it

There are lots of really nice restaurants of every imaginable cuisine on some of these street.

If you love Malaysian food, the Banana Leaf on Denman is a great place.
See my review on TripAdvisor

English Bay beach at sunset

A Grey Heron fishing by the beach

No driving today. Catching a not too big ferry to Victoria. 
I think some of the Marine Atlantic ferries to Newfoundland are larger and more luxurious

If you love flowers and gardens, The Butchart Gardens is a place you must visit in Victoria

I took so many photos here, I'll share them in a separate post

Downtown Victoria, BC

Back on the beach at English Bay, I managed to get space for one person to stand as a few hundred thousand people started assembling to view the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks event.

One of the Vancouver Police officers who helped us get back to our hotel, told me that it's the largest event in Vancouver. 
And it took place just outside our hotel on the beach!

It was a fascinating display of fireworks, like I've never seen before anywhere else. 

Took so many photos, here are a few really colorful ones

You can download (not for free) some of these images here

Back on the road past the Gold Rush Trail driving towards Kamloops ...

That's smoke from a forest fire

Thank you to all the folks in Canada and from abroad helping to fight the BC forest fires. 
You are heroes!

Lots of helicopters fighting fires

Some cool workhorses these are eh!

We did the River safari instead of the Jeep safari and ended up seeing a bear with two cubs!

And another bear!

Here's a photo the safari folks took of us!

Listening to some really cool live Jazz by Anita Eccleston as the sun set in Kamloops

Driving from Valemount to Canmore
(This is how I like celebrating my birthday, far away from city folks, close to nature and GOD)

The view of Mount Robson from this highway is something that will be etched on my mind forever

At 12,972 feet, Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies

Another brief off-road encounter. 
Nobody on this trail except a parked Toyota 4Runner.

Should I buy a Jeep or a 4Runner?

Which is more off-road capable?

Medicine Lake in the morning, Jasper National Park. 
Lots of smoke from wildfires

My birthday lunch, somewhere off the road near Maligne Lake

Sitting by a remote stream with my family, taking in the fresh mountain air, 
listening to the water flow, 
and grateful to God for everything, including the moment!

One of my favourite places on the planet.
The awesome Athabasca Glacier in the Canadian Rockies

No photograph, video or movie can deliver the experience of actually being here in person!

Since we last saw it 7 years ago, the glacier has receded, believe me!

Driving back home through Bison country! 

And one last farewell from a lone antelope in the prairies!
This is actually not an antelope, but a Pronghorn

We did 10,000 kilometres across 4 time zones in Canada 
From East to West, we live in a beautiful country.
And for the sake of our planet and our future generations, we need to preserve it

Well, that's how we celebrated Canada 150 and my 51st birthday, with a family road trip in God's own country!

Stuff I liked most about the Jeep was:

1) Sitting at a higher level with a good view of the highway
2) The 8 speed transmission - because of which I was getting almost the same mileage as the Audi 
3) The ground clearance. I didn't have to worry about scraping a bumper or rocks touching the under-body
4) High profile tires. I didn't have to worry about scraping the rims
5) Most of all, I could fill ordinary petrol at any gas station, unlike in the case of the Audi, where we would have to use 91 octane or higher. On remote stretches of highway, it is sometimes very difficult to find gas stations like Shell with 91+ octane.

Here is what a road warrior looks like after driving 10,000 kilometres 
from Mississauga to Vancouver, and back

Grateful to God and to Jeep!