Friday, May 20, 2011

Icefields Parkway

We got an early start this morning.  It was near freezing overnight and not much better this morning, so we were ready to get to someplace warmer.

This morning was the first time we have used the Protect-a-Tow.  It was very easy to attach.  In fact, I did it while Gene was getting the Break Buddy attached.

About 35 miles into our trip, we made our first stop at the Icefield Centre.  The Centre has displays and interpretative panels which explain how glaciers are formed and their progression over time.

Across the street is the Athabasca Glacier which is just one tiny arm extending down from the 241 square mile Columbia Icefield.  The ice in the Icefield is 30 stories deep.  Meltwater from the Columbia Icefield flows in three directions--west to the Pacific Ocean, north to the Arctic Ocean, and east to Hudson Bay.

There is, of course, a gift shop, as well as a small restaurant and even a hotel at the Centre.  For those adventurous types, for a fee, you can take a ride onto the glacier in a snocoach then get out and walk around.  We kept our feet firmly on the dry pavement.

At Sunwapta Pass we left Banff National Park and entered Jasper National Park.  We didn’t make any other stops in Jasper other than at a pull-out for our lunch break.  We’ll be back to this park on our trip home.

Just before we got to the town of Jasper, we turned east onto Highway 16 toward Hinton, our destination for tonight.  We are at the local Walmart, but will move to the KOA down the street tomorrow.

We need some time to get the hot water heater fixed and discover where the shower is leaking, and we both need some internet time.  KOA is the full-service campground we need, but they also have the price to go with those services.  At almost $50 per night we didn’t want to waste even one minute of that time.  Since we had a long drive today and also needed to do some grocery shopping we decided to stay at Walmart tonight.  We’ll go over to KOA in the morning at the stroke of 11 o’clock--the earliest check-in time.

We were anxious to get out of the cold and we found our warmer temperatures as soon as we came down out of the high mountains.  Even though it’s cloudy here in Hinton, temperatures are in the low 70s and we have our windows open for the fresh air.

So, that’s where we are as of today and will move on up to Grande Prairie on Sunday.  Monday we’ll be at Dawson Creek and the start of the Alaska Highway.

CRITTER COUNT:  We saw 3 deer and 3 elk which are so common here I don’t even take pictures.  Our special treat today was a large black bear grazing right by the road and 4 mountain goats way up on the mountainside.  Leaving Jasper we saw 4 big horn sheep.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for tagging along.

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