From travel

It’s freezing out, time to escape

With it being so cold this January, we couldn’t help but plan out a summer getaway.

We have two trips planned for this summer.  One is our long delayed micro adventure to Grey Owl’s Cabin.  We are doing that on May Long Weekend for Mark’s 15th birthday.

The second is a summer vacation to Calgary at the end of July.  Jordon was born in Edmonton but still considers Calgary his hometown despite only living there for less than a decade as a kid.  I think it is a combination of childhood experiences and memories combined with his one way bromance with Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  Oh yeah, the Rocky Mountains.

When we started to think about a trip this summer, I realized that we have a lot of AirMiles accumulated.  AirMiles are the only reason why we continue to be treated poorly by the Bank of Montreal (which took a year to fix Jordon’s debit card so it would not randomly lock him out of his account).  We are using the AirMiles to pay for our hotel which makes for a really cheap trip.  

I just booked our hotel rooms at the Best Western Plus Calgary Centre Inn on Macleod Trail.  We have stayed there before and liked it.  It’s not the Delta Bessborough or anything but it’s new, clean and is in easy walking distance of a C-Train station, is just down from Chinook Centre and has a pool, hot tub, and pool for small children.  It is the definition of a family hotel which is great for us as we are a family.

The plan is to take off in the early morning of a Friday and let the kids sleep in the back of the car.  We will take the leisurely drive to Drumheller and take some photographs of their rather scenic downtown and give the kids some time to stretch their legs.   Hopefully be in Calgary by early afternoon and book into our hotel.  As soon as we get settled in, we will grab our cameras and head downtown on the LRT and explore downtown Calgary, find the Peace Bridge, check out The Bow, and wander around downtown Calgary.  If I know us, we will be right back down there to do some night photography.

The Peace Bridge in Calgary an HDR photo

Mark Cooper in downtown Calgary

The next morning the plan is to get up early and take the scenic route to Banff and then head straight to Johnston’s Canyon Trail and walk the trail along the seven waterfalls.  Knowing us, we will have cameras in tow and I am really looking forward to doing this again and with the boys.  It’s about a two hour hike which will leave us lots of time to explore Banff later on in the day.

Lower fall johnston Canyon

On the way back to Banff, we will grab lunch at a wonderful picnic spot at the start of the Sawback Trail.  It has some quiet picnic tables, a babbling brook, and amazing scenery.  The first time Jordon took me there, a large herd of elk surrounded our car and licked all of the salt off it.  It was covered in Elk saliva, even under the door handles.  Gross.  I hope that doesn’t happen again.  If it does, I’ll get the boys to open my door.

The brook in Sawback and water running off the canyon walls of Johnston’s Canyon have a rich history with Jordon.  He has drank both of them and gotten really sick from Giardia as a kid.  Hopefully he has learned something since then but it’s Jordon so expect him to be hospitalized in Calgary.

After Johnston’s Canyon, we are off to Cave and Basin National Historical Site which in all of my trips to Banff, I have never been to.  The last time we were in Banff it was being renovated and updated.  It’s now open, improved, and dirt cheap to explore.  Jordon loves it and can’t wait to take the boys and myself into the cave and see the glowing water.  It should be amazing.  Since we are there on a Saturday, we may stay late and return there for a lantern tour of the caves.

If we have time, it will be up the Banff Gondola again.  I have been up a few times in winter but never in the summer.  It will be a long day but there is always time for the Bow Falls in Banff.  July weather will mean a little more green than in this photo Jordon took in 2010.

Bow Falls in Banff

To end the day, we will head to the Upper Banff Hot Springs for a hot soak in the pool before heading back to Calgary.

After soaking in the hot tub that night, the next morning should find us at Heritage Park.  I have never been but it looks amazing and a lot of fun.  Jordon won’t tell me why but he says to bring some extra small change along when we go.

Finally on our last day there we will take in the Calgary Zoo.  I’m not worried about Jordon in Banff, downtown Calgary, or even in Drumheller but he has this fear of birds.  Calgary Zoo has a bird house.  Jordon kind of freaked out the last time he was there.  We’ll have our cameras out this time.

As always we will connect with some friends, family, and MEC and since it is right next door, The Camera Store.

I can’t wait.

Atlas Coal Mine

Ford Canada was cool enough to let us review a 2014 Ford Escape for a week.  Driving it around Saskatoon was cool enough but what better thing to do with a Ford Escape than take a road trip.  We decided to go to Drumheller and see the Atlas Coal Mine.  Below is the only remaining coal tipple in Canada.

 

The coal tipple at The Atlas Coal Mine

Before taking the tour of the facility, we walked around and found this 80 year old wooden truss bridge near the mine site.  As you can see, the bridge is rotting, condemned, dangerous, and actually has rattlesnakes living in it.  Of course we wandered across and took some photos.  None of us fell through or were bit.  There is always next time.Jordon Cooper taking a photo on the wooden truss bridge near East Coulee and Atlas Coal Mine

Back in the Atlas Coal Mine, I wandered in on this photo shoot.  I snapped a couple of photos myself.

A model shoot at the Atlas Coal Mine

This is called the walk from hell.  Each day the miners had to walk up 191 steep stairs in all kinds of weather conditions.  It is also where Jordon tore his left quad.  This group was able to climb down, our group had to walk up the steps.

The Walk from Hell at the Atlas Coal Mine

This is our guide.  Like all of the staff at the Atlas Coal Mine, she was funny, engaging, and knew her stuff.

Our guide at the Atlas Coal Mine

The photos were taken with my Olympus PEN camera but I had the amazing 45mm f1.8 lens on it.  This tiny prime lens was amazing in low light and inside the many buildings that make up the Atlas Coal Mine site.  If you are looking for a great travel camera, this is it.   Thanks to Don’s Photo in Saskatoon for letting me try out such an amazing lens for a day.

In case you are looking for more Atlas Coal Mine photos, my photoset is here.

Off to Winnipeg

Air Canada Jazz CRJ200 refueling

I got onto one of these today (an Air Canada Jazz CRJ-200) and flew to Winnipeg where I will be taking some training for Safeway as a part of their transition to being owned by Sobey’s.  The plane isn’t that large but the flight isn’t that long.

The last time I flew into Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, I was on a flight from Toronto with my family that was part our journey north from Georgetown, Guyana in 1975.  Of course that airport is long gone (although Bryan Scott has some great photos of it).

The only bad part of the trip is that while we are in a nice hotel near the airport, I won’t have time to get down to The Forks for some Dahl Puri.  That’s on my list for next time.