Yes, I am home safe and sound, more about all that later. Firstly though, the question on whether the Icefields Parkway truly is the most scenic drive in North America (as per the statement in The Milepost) requires a response.
In my humble view I wholeheartedly agree!
The Icefields Parkway is 232 km long and passes through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains taking you through Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. It takes you past the Columbia Icefields, which covers a 325 km squared area, making this the largest body of ice in the Rocky Mountains. Its highest point is Mt. Columbia at 3,745m/12,284ft, the average elevation is 3,000m/10,000ft, and the area has an average snowfall of around 7m/23ft every year. The unique part about this icefield is that it drains into the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans! The Columbia Icefields are considered one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle and are incredibly important for the northern hemisphere’s water supply.
The parkway is easily the busiest highway I have driven on my long journey of 6,934km/4,309miles. It almost felt like being back in Calgary rush hour traffic. Despite all this traffic, the parkway is great for wildlife spotting. The elk below caused a small traffic jam, and given that the hard shoulders are not quite wide enough for a car, it meant that the parked vehicles on either side of the road turned the highway into a single lane down the middle. Drivers of tour busses and RV’s had a job trying to get through. And why is it that there is always one individual that insists on getting dangerously close to the animal in question? In this particular case the lady already had a DSLR with a zoom lense, but apparently that was not close enough, she tried to get even closer by approaching the elk under the bushes! Given that elks are the largest of the deer family and this particular animal was easily 2m tall I just don’t understand why people think it is safe to get close. Aside from that though, it was amazing to see this elk so close up.
The remainder of the drive was only interrupted by another small traffic jam caused by a black bear or two at the roadside.
I finally made it home that evening at around 1800hrs and was greeted by summery music in the garage, my husband in a hula skirt, loud hawaiian shirt, large sunglasses holding a confetti gun in front of the welcome home sign he had made. I laughed so hard that I cried – what a great surprise – thank you Warren!
I have now unpacked, told my stories (or most of them at least) and am starting to get back into home life. The car has gone through the car wash, but needs another hand clean to get all the bugs off its grill, not to mention that the inside needs a very good clean (especially to hoover the confetti up!). I plan on one more post on the Alaska trip to wrap the trip up, but then I will have to find new subjects to write about aside from the weekly photo challenge. Perhaps photos and history from our current home location – not sure, so any suggestions would be more than welcome!