A Visual Journey Through the Rocky Mountains, Part 2

Last we spoke, I left you snuggled around a campfire with the wine glasses clinking. After a night laughing with family, we set off for my favorite adventure: Lake Louise. I can’t believe it’s taken me 24 years to get here but I already can’t wait to go back next summer – this time to hike to the teahouses. I don’t think there’s any better motivation for a sweaty hike than ending it with an unbelievable view and a nice cup of tea. This time we settled for a leisurely stroll around the lake while I went crazy on the photos.

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Lake Louise (2)

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Lake Louise

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I think I did an ok job of getting a photo at every possible angle, except for from above, don’t you think? We had the most crystal clear, sunshine filled day – I couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon! But the adventure doesn’t stop there.

Just down the road from Lake Louise is yet another gorgeous stop-off point. Moraine Lake, though it doesn’t have the same turquoise waters as Lake Louise, sparkles brilliantly in the sun. Better yet, if you’re just itching to get up close and personal with the shimmering water, you can rent out a canoe for a paddle around the lake!

Moraine Lake (2)

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Moraine Lake

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The rest of our time was spent in good company, fits of laughter and warming up on the cool summer evenings by a campfire.

Have you visited the Rockies? What did you think?

For a more detailed itinerary, click here!

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Sunday Snapshot: Moraine Lake

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“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir

And so we did. Break clear away, I mean. Spending a week in the mountains. We took the car from Jasper to Banff, making stops at some of the world’s most beautiful lakes along the way. This one here, Moraine Lake, boasts sparkling blue water surrounded by Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and canoe rentals to go take a paddle if you just can’t help but get closer.

Sunday Snapshot: Lake Annette, Alberta

Lake Annette

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a sunday snapshot up on the blog and since I’ve been busy with final exams and summer is just around the corner (or so I’d like to believe), now is as good a time as any. This photo was taken at Lake Annette in Jasper National Park, AB in the summer of 2013.  With crystal clear water and the mountains in the background, the lake makes an excellent day trip if you’re in the area.

A Home Away From Home

When all of the commitments and repetition of ordinary life get just too much to bear, there has always been a place that I can go to escape. Imagine yourself in a yellow car, the blazing heat of summer beaming into the sunroof (you decided a sunroof was better than air-con, and quickly realized that was a mistake) as you drive past miles of prairie land. As you get nearer your destination, the radio signal cuts out and you end the drive with nothing but the soothing silence of nature.

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This is my “Home Away From Home”, a place that I grew up as a child and continue to return to as an adult. With nothing but a trailer and a shack on an allotted piece of land, I am back to the basics. There is no electricity here, no running water, and the outhouse is as old as I am. With no WiFi and finicky cell reception, I am finally able to disconnect from everyone and everything that is going on in the city. To someone else, it might look like little more than a disheveled shelter surrounded by trees. But with my eyes, it’s a piece of my family and a part of my history. Built by my father with his bare hands, my home away from home grew up from nothing and was transformed by the people who stayed here and the memories that run through my mind as I bring myself back here year after year.

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Over there is the spot where a huge swing set once rested between the trees. It’s where I sat and watched with disbelief when two full-grown bears walked into the property just feet away from me before coming to my senses and rushing inside. It’s where I first felt strong and “grown-up” when I was allowed to help cut down a tree that had grown too tall and too old. It’s where I fell, dozens of times, leading to stitches on one occasion and right off a roof in another. It’s where I took my dog on long walks through the forest. It’s where a big garage-looking shelter once stood, a spot where laughter-filled parties took place around a campfire on those cold or rainy nights. It’s where I made lasting friendships with people I otherwise would never have had the privilege to meet.

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The swing set and the garage-shelter are gone now. There are fewer trees, as some have come down with old age. But it is still my home away from home. This is still the place that I return whenever I need to recharge and escape the monotony of city life.  As an adult I now have the courage to come out here all on my own even when I know there won’t be a soul around to help me if I need it. As much fun as I have coming here with friends, where we spend our days in the lake water or quadding through the forest, I have enjoyed my time up there alone as well. It holds a different meaning when I am there on my own, when I practice yoga on the beach, or spend the entire day reading a book in the sun and then by the fire when the night’s grown dark.

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North Buck Lake in Alberta, Canada is my home away from home. It’s a safe, comforting, place that is filled with fun, laughter, and memories that are both strong and hazy. At the end of my time spent here, as my car pulls into the city, I am the happiest and most refreshed than I have ever felt.

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This post was written at the request of DogVacay.com as a part of their “Home Away From Home” project, where they turn to people to find out their home away from home and what that means to them. DogVacay works to find an insured dog sitter for your pet while you are away. They pride themselves on finding local, safe, happy, and comfortable environments for your furry friend.

Made of a Tropical Sea

Nestled in one of Alberta’s most famous national parks, Jasper is a charming town with spectacular mountain views. Popular with the tourists at any time of the year, Jasper National Park has nearly any activity that you could imagine. From hiking, rock climbing, or horseback riding to lounging by one of the blue-green lakes, the opportunities are endless. In the town itself, the streets are lined with bars, restaurants, candy stores, souvenir shops, and sports shops where you can book your active excursions with professional guides.

My family has always loved camping. We grew up going to the same place every summer for our vacation – our own lake lot at North Buck Lake in Alberta. Now, even when we go away from our hometown we often choose camping over hotels. This time around, we opted for Wapiti Campground. Family-friendly, the option of bringing an RV or a tent, and located just off the bank of the rushing Athabasca River, Wapiti is a great choice for campers coming to explore all that Jasper has to offer.

Athabasca River views beside Wapiti Campground

the boys couldn't resist climbing down to the water.

Athabasca River

For only $25.00 a night you can have your very own un-serviced campsite equipped with a picnic table and fire pit. For those wanting the luxury that electricity provides you can pay $35.00 a night. Of course there is a 24-hour accessible shower/washroom building that has electricity for those who need showers, mirrors, plug-ins, etc. I’m not going to lie; I did my hair and makeup more days than not.

After our first evening spent bonding with family from England and Australia that we hadn’t seen in a few years, we made our way to one of the nearby lakes. Lake Annette is a lesser known lake destination for those visiting Jasper. Though Lake Annette is smaller than other popular choices such as Moraine Lake, you will find it a lot less crowded here and will have a very good chance at finding a spot on the narrow sandy beach to lounge in the sun. If you come here on a warm, summer day you will find people BBQ-ing, tossing Frisbees, suntanning and, of course, making the most of the crystal clear water.

Lake Annette, Jasper

It didn’t take long before I spotted the walking trail that loops entirely around Lake Annette. This looped trail is completely paved and fairly flat the entire way around, making it accessible even to those in wheelchairs. As we strolled around the lake, wading in the water at one point to cool off, we were awarded with incredible mountain views at every angle.

Stunning views.

According to the insightful bits of information scattered throughout the trail:
“Made of a Tropical Sea: The landscape around you had its beginnings as the bottom of a
warm, shallow sea, about 600 million years ago. Sediments were carried to this
sea where they were deposited layer by layer. Eventually these sediments
were compressed and uplifted, folded and fractured, to form the Rocky Mountains.”

Don’t you just want to jump right in?

Pyramid Mountain

Pyramid Mountain

I can’t get enough of the water in these photos and, if you can believe it, it’s even more beautiful in person. Haven’t been to Jasper yet? I suggest you pack your bags and go on a spontaneous trip right now. More of a winter person? In just a few months, Jasper will once again be a haven for winter sports. To read more about my time in Jasper, click here.