Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 3rd - Driving Adventures in the Mountains....

5/3 – Driving adventures in the mountains….

Well, the plan for today was to head back into Banff National Park and take the Icelandic Parkway up to Jasper for a long drive through an animal studded forest, hoping to finally see the ever elusive moose, and maybe even a bear, but it was not to be. As I drove back towards Banff from Lake Louise, there was a bridge to cross. And on top of the bridge was a nesting pair of eagles. Then, as I drove along the Banff Parkway, I saw a wolf in the woods, who quickly moved away when he saw the car coming. I got a picture, but it’s mostly a white blur through the trees! What a great way to start the day, though! Started towards Jasper, and there’s a sign that says to put on your snow chains now. Well, I don’t have snow chains, but it’s also the beginning of May, so I thought maybe it was just left over from winter. No. It had been snowing all morning, but it wasn’t quite cold enough to stick to the ground, but not long after I had gotten past that sign, it started snowing heavily, and there was snow already on the road, so I decided it was time to turn around, and come back sometime in mid summer! J Hopped on the road back towards Vancouver, and got out of the mountains without difficulty. Except for the wind, which was whipping along nicely, first trying to push you off the road one way, and when it realized you weren’t going, switched tactics, and tried to push you off the other way! Eventually cruised on down the road to meet up with 5, and by the time I got there, the sun was starting to come out, the road had been mostly straight and completely clear, and it was 47 outside. I was very happy, and when I turned onto 5, quickly pulled out my sunglasses, stuck the cruise control on 70, and zoned out, listening to stories on the radio. Have you seen the movie “Up”? Well, there’s a part where the little boy and the old man are driving the house along through the sky, and the little boy is prattling on and on about the clouds, and the old man gets tired of listening to him, so he takes his hearing aids out. What he doesn’t realize is they are heading straight into a big storm, and he can’t hear the little boy trying to tell him! Well, that was me, cruising along, enjoying the ride, and then all of a sudden wondering why the cars around me are starting to slow waaaaay down. Take the sunglasses off, and what do you know? It’s no longer sunny, there are massive clouds, with snow coming quite heavily out of them. And it’s 31, which means the black spots on the road may not be rain, they may be ice. Not to mention the slushy snow that is now all over the road as well. And did I mention I have my cruise control set at 70????? And, of course, I can’t just hit the brakes, because if that is ice, I’m going to go skidding across 4 lanes of traffic and off the side of the mountain! (Ok, not really, there is a divider and guard rails and stuff, but you get the picture!) Finally got that under control, and it wasn’t too bad of a drive down into the nice green valley, but going out the other side was horrendous. Snow and ice all over the road, everyone going 25 mph. It was a mess. But, finally made it out safely, and I think that was about the time I posted to Facebook that I was “all mountained out”! Well, after all that insanity, I decided to skip Vancouver and head straight for Seattle, praying that there weren’t any more mountains in between! The border crossing was much easier this way, no hassles getting back into the country…..

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