Thursday, August 20, 2015

Canada Rockies by rail

A train trip into the Canadian Rockies has long been on my Bucket List. Mary Lou was rather reluctant as she thought that sitting on a train for two straight days could be difficult. Twice on trips to Alaska we took an observation car ride on the Alaska Railway from Denali to Anchorage and enjoyed it immensely. I finally convinced her that, since we would be staying at hotels each night there would be ample time for us to get some exercise.

This was not a "wildlife tour," though it held the promise of possible sightings of bears, deer, elk, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats. I did not expect that there would be much time for birding. Much of our time would be spent on moving trains and tour buses. 

In the interest of portability and convenience I decided not to pack my big camera rig (Canon EOS 60D 18 MP Digital SLR Camera with 420 MM lens system: Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM telephoto Lens with 1.4X extender). Instead, I carried only my pocket camera, a Canon SX700 HS with 30X optical zoom. This turned out to be a wise choice.

We departed at 6:00 AM from Fort Lauderdale and flew to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, where we connected with the flight to Vancouver. Each leg was about 3 1/2 hours.We gained 3 hours on the clock, arriving at our hotel at about 1:00 PM, so it was a very long day. We took advantage of the daylight by ascending the Vancouver Lookout Tower, where we captured nice views of the city and the harbor.

Vancouver Harbor 20150614

The sun was still bright at about 8:30 PM, providing some interesting REFLECTIONS:

Vancouver reflections 20150614

Vancouver reflections 2-20150614 

We boarded the Rocky Mountaineer train early the next morning, moving through Vancouver's extensive freight yards. Remotely-controlled switching engines scurried about. Flashing red lights warned that no humans were aboard. Reflections from the car's windows and the movement of the train ruined almost all the photos I took the first day. 

As bad as this photo turned out, I liked the sense of motion and the reflections of my camera and the passengers instead of the lake, my intended target, in the background:

Reflections 20150615

Soon we were following the Fraser River, which widened to form several beautiful lakes.

 Curve with reflection 20150615

 Lake HDR 20150615

As the river entered Fraser Canyon the stream narrowed and created Hell's Gate, a tremendous torrent which few boats are able to cross. If the video fails to load in the space below, please click HERE

After a night in Kamloops, we resumed the journey, continuing along the Thompson River.

Now I took photos from the observation deck. Despite the movement of the train, some came out very nicely.

 Lake2 HDR 20150616

Lake HDR 20150616

In contrast with the hundreds of skies and reflective lakes, contacts with "CRITTERS" were few and far between. On our bus trip on the Icefield Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper, we startled a Black Bear that was eating dandelions along the road. I had to shoot through the curved windshield from the opposite side of the vehicle, and this distorted the only image I obtained:

 Black Bear 20150619

A pair of young Bighorn Sheep blocked the highway, allowing me to get a few shots as well as a video:

 Bighorn Sheep in Road 4-20150619

BIRDS presented few photo opportunities. Black-billed Magpies posed on the hotel grounds at Lake Louise:

Black-billed Magpies 20150618

Another Corvid species, Clark's Nutcrackers, were also noisy visitors around the hotel:

Clark's Nutcrackers 20150618

My closest approximation of a MACRO photo during the Canada trip is one that shows colorful river rocks with Victoria Mountain and Glacier in the background, at Lake Louise:

 Lake Louise reflections 2-20150620

This bona fide macro was taken back in Florida, showing a tiny clump of flowers, about 1.5 inches (4 cm) wide, taken from a distance of only about 3 inches (8 cm) with my PowerShot. It turned out looking like a huge bouquet:

Tiny flower MACRO 20150802

My FENCE photos are both from the Columbia Ice Field glacier area. Here is Mary Lou in the wind and rain with the Athabascan Glacier in the background. We subsequently walked up on the glacier.

 Mary Lou at Athabasca Glacier 20150619

I was the only one brave enough to take the Jasper Glacier Skywalk, a glass walkway that looks straight down  almost 1000 feet  into the valley:

 Jasper Glacier Skywalk 4-20150619

Watch this video for a breathtaking view of the Jasper Glacier Skywalk!

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. What a wonderful trip. We've driven through there, and spent time in Banff and Jasper, but never taken the train. We've often thought of doing so. The sight and sound of trains is a big part of our memories though. Hope you enjoyed your visit to Canada.

  2. you had some great views on your tour. :) love the magpies. thanks for linking in when you have time, ken!

  3. A glorious series of images, Kenneth. Thank you for sharing sections of a destination on my bucket list too!

  4. Wow, Ken! Talk about spectacular views! Of course, as a native Floridian, I'm easily impressed, but you sure found some beautiful hills!
    What a wonderful opportunity!

  5. Wow - wonderful photos of an amazing trip!

  6. What a fantatic trip Kenneth and that Skywalk was a fabulous idea and I definitely would have done that. the coloursf the water was amazing and the splendure of the mountains incredible. The reflection in the water and those building werer great. Lovely to see the Bear and Bighorn sheep. Thanks for sharing

  7. I would love to travel across Canada by rail. I ope I can convince my husband. ;)

  8. I"ve always wanted to take a train trip. This would be one to take for sure. Such wonderful scenery. - Great shot of Mary Lou with the Glacier in the background. I've been to Lake Louise, it's gorgeous there. Wow you were very brave to walk on the sky walk. I have a fear of heights now so that would be a "no" for me but what a view.

  9. wonderful images! I am really giving this camera a good look. I have been wanting a smaller camera for a while now. Not sure how to word this...but is there much of a delay in the time you take the picture when it actually 'takes?'

  10. @Rose-- There is no noticeable shutter lag, probably no more than my big DSLR. The spec sheet says shutter lag is only 0.07 seconds, certainly less than in my earliest digital point-and-shoot. There are several good choices of 30X optical zoom compact cameras. One feature I miss is time-lapse as several others have it and I thought this one did too. I am really impressed with the image stabilization and macro performance.

  11. Nice photo and trip..So glad to hear you have fulfilled on of your bucket list

  12. I'm SURE I'd not take the walk with you on glass, looking down. No way Jose. Now the nutcracker is a new one for me. In fact, not even heard of this species. Must to to my guidebook to read more about them.

    Thanks for taking us along on your Rocky Mtn. Train Trip. Dazzling scenery. And thanks for linking up at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

  13. Hello Ken, what an awesome trip! The scenery is just gorgeous. I love the critters and the birds! Great post and collection of photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy new week ahead!

  14. Wonderful shots! I'd love to visit that part of the world someday.

  15. wow...what a beautiful trip...the scenery is tremendous... and all photos are really mesmerizing...Thanks for sharing...

  16. What a wonderful adventure.Great shots with your "pocket" camera, Kenneth!

  17. So many beautiful views and images, which show so many wonderful moments of your trip, dear Kenneth!!!
    Thanks for sharing these very interesting impressions of a land, which I've not seen in real life yet!
    Happy week :)

  18. Gorgeous scenery and wonderful critters! I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to take the skywalk either. I'm not a fan of hights.

  19. What an amazing, wonderful train trip! Wow...your photos are incredible! Such beautiful scenery!


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