Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Banff...I'm lichen this place!

We went on a fantastic hike in Johnston Canyon in Banff where we walked on catwalks (thin concrete slabs mounted along the sides of the canyons walls) through the moss and lichen-filled rocks and trees. Just beautiful!

Grampy and Jimmer on the catwalkWhat is the difference between moss and lichen, you ask (or maybe you didn't!)? Moss and lichen aren't even in the same kingdom! Who knew? Basically, moss is a plant and lichen is a combination of fungus and algae or bacteria.Of course, Joe wanted me to take a good picture of the catwalk structural supports. For the record, here it is. (This is right about where Joe lost his sun glasses!)
We found a oddly shaped tree that we named "Dr. Seuss Tree" since it resembles the bizarre pictures in some of the Dr. Seuss books. This tree had to fight for light by growing in a round-about way, I guess!If the water falls are this spectacular in the fall, I wonder what they're like in the spring with all the melting snow!
I guess we better visit here again in the spring to find out!
In the lower falls tunnel through which we went to feel the cool spray of the falls!

In Banff National Park--Bow Valley and Johnston River

Grammy & Grampy with kids overlooking Bow Valley
Jimmer overlooking Bow Valley with the hoodoos in the background. (If you've been to Bryce Canyon in Utah, don't get too excited about these little hoodoos in Banff. This little cluster is unique and kinda cute, but no comparison to Bryce's gazillion bright red impressive hoodoos!)
We drove into the valley and stopped to let the kids play in the river. I don't know if you can spot it in this picture, but there's an eerie looking shadow in the rocks in the middle/right the shape of a bear! Yikes! Well, our bear encounter didn't happen until a few days after this picture was taken. I'll give you the details on that story later!

Mikey loves going off on his own to play. That's about the only way to have a little peace and quiet with our gang! Clever boy.

After our kids were wet enough we headed out for a hike through Johnston Canyon. We saw some interesting things on our little ride. Here's a gargantuan bird's nest...maybe for an eagle...right on top of a bridge's trusses!
A closer look
We thought this was interesting. Here is a wildife crossing in the making. It's to help the animals have a safe place to cross the highway. There are lots of fences in the areas keeping the large animals off the roadway--protecting tourists and animals alike. It's a nice relief when you're still driving at dusk when all the animals seem to want to jump onto the roadway to say HI!
Here's a completed wildlife crossing

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lakes Louise and Moraine

We headed further north into Banff National Park. The entire ride was full of jaw-dropping beauty. At every turn in the road, there was another magnificent view of the rugged, mostly snow-capped mountains. Although the Colorado Rockies are higher in elevation than most of the Canadian Rockies, they have more foothills that block the full mountain views in many cases. A ride through the Candadian Rockies, however, is an easy ride through the mountains that seemingly go straight up right next to you with breathtaking views of the spikey and rocky tops everywhere you look.

The kids spent lots of time playing on the shore of Lake Louise with the big rocks. We enjoyed a walk along the lake, then we went to Moraine Lake where the kids played on and moved lots of logs.

Lake LouiseOne of the striking features of the lake and stream waters around these glaciers is the beautiful turquoise color. It is created from the rock flour, a very fine substance ground up by the glaciers that stays suspended in the water so that the sun reflects the vibrant color rather than a darker color of the lakes we’re used to seeing. (Water inherently absorbs every color except blue and green, so those are the beautiful colors we end up seeing.) So, the rock flour particles enhance the vibrant color. Amazingly, the tiny rock flour particles are so small, the water is still very clear.

Jimmer and Grampy walking around Lake Louise
Mikey at Lake Louise
Moraine Lake
Jimmer moving logs
After our hike up to see Moraine Lake from above
(Moraine--An accumulation of boulders, stones, or other debris carried and deposited by a glacier.)

Canadian Rockies Trip...

As I write this, I'm realizing that many of our RV traveling days have become a bit of a I'll try to compile a summary of highlights and pictures.

Our first full day in Canada was spent hiking around Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park, which is basically southwest of Banff Nat. Park on the map. (The Canadian Rockies are split between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.)

We dropped rocks from the bridges above the flowing canyon water, Here's where our first math lesson came in.
Leave it to Grampy, a retired mechanical engineer/inventor, to provide the formula. Grampy timed the rocks as they fell into the canyon water. Then he used a chart from his "nerd pack" to calculate and estimate that we were about 198 ft. above the canyon water. I'll spare you the details of all the formulas Grampy keeps in the front pocket of his shirts. Suffice it to say that he has three different formulas of motion to figure out this type of thing. Since there's no velocity involved (because we simply dropped the rocks without force), it's an easy formula to remember. For me, that's the tricky part--remembering! Here's the simplified version of how to figured it out: 16.1 (the gravity part) multiplied by the time (in seconds) squared. Does this make sense? Okay...if it took the rock 3 seconds to get to the water, you'd find the answer by taking 16.1 and multiplying it by 3 squared (9), and it would equal about 145 ft.

Just for are Grampy's other formulas for motion he has stashed in his front pocket behind his 4-function calculator (Sorry I don't know all the key strokes for the super- and sub-scripts):


I can't even begin to explain all the other scientific and mathematical information he has in that front pocket of his shirts...but he can fix, build, and figure anything out with all that's stored there! He also keeps a record of his daily meter readings in there!

This was a much needed vacation for us all, including Grampy who was recently taken out of retirement by 3M to improve some of their solar films, some of which he invented and had patents which have now run out. Much of Grampy's retirement time has revolved around solar energy, so everything but the stress of office hours is right up his alley anyway. Our kids have also put some of his other (now-retired) invented films to good use by using them for their slippy slide when we visit at Grammy and Grampy's!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NW Vacation: Day 7?

We headed back to Spokane from Chelan and picked up our RV—and Grammy & Grampy (Joe's parents)! We drove about 4 hours to get to our first campground across the border in Canada. FYI—If you plan to travel out of the country, call your credit card company first and inform them of your plans, or else you may end up like we did at the grocery store—on the phone for an hour with our credit card company to clear us for what they considered “suspicious account activity.” It’s all to protect us, you know!

Here are the kids before they went to sleep our first night on the RV.
They also thought it was funny that in Canada, they don’t have $1 bills—they only have coins for the dollar. Also, they call their dollar a “loonie” because it has a loon on one side. So, I guess that’s why they call their $2 coin the “toonie!” Here is a loonie and a toonie!After our credit card incident, we thought we were starting to go a little loonie toonie!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A clue as to where we're headed now...

Hey kids, please find your birth certificates and show them to the border patrol officer!

Again, these are not my pictures. (Thanks internet.) We are actually in places that have no internet service, so this was a pre-scheduled post. Photos later...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A clue as to what we're doing now...

...and where we're headed.

(Disclaimer: These are all photos I've filched off the internet)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NW Vacation: Day 6

Grandpa Terry and Grandma Doogie told us they planted a pine tree in their back yard every time a grandchild was born. (Besides our four, Doogie's son, Luke, has 2 children.) So, we took pictures of the kids next to their trees this morning. They planted 3 Black Hills Spruce trees, and one Colorado Blue Spruce tree for our kids. Here they are with their trees in the WAY back yard--just beyond their fence.

By the way, they do have quite a bit of lively fauna here. That's why they have fenced in their yard. Their cat also appreciates the fence since she was attacked by a coyote a few months ago while she was sitting right outside the fenced area. Amazingly, she attacked the coyote back and got loose. Almost unheard of!

Here's the view of the trees from near their house.

Late last night we heard a pack of coyotes howling. Well, I guess when they're by themselves they howl. I'm not sure how to describe what they sound like when they're in a pack. They kind of howl/bark/talk. I guess you'd have to hear it for yourself. If I hear it again, I'll try to capture it on video.

Monday, September 15, 2008

NW Vacation: Day 5

Today, we went to Grand Coulee Dam, the 2nd largest concrete structure in the world. Until a couple of years ago, this dam was the largest in the world since its completion in 1941. Now, the Three Gorges Dam in China is the largest.For my husband, a bridge builder and concrete expert, this was a fun day! The amount of concrete in this dam could make a sidewalk around the equator--twice! It was built not long after the Hoover Dam. In fact, many of the workers on the Hoover Dam built this structure as well.
We went down into the dam where the huge turbines are located. Here are the kids on the elevator going down.
Okay, more educational info...

The Grand Coulee Dam is a gravity dam, which means that it needs to be a large size and shape so that it will resist overturning. Therefore, it has a VERY large base under water. The Hoover Dam is an arch-gravity dam, which means that it is a combination and directs most of the water weight against the canyon walls and can be thinner than a gravity dam (not as much bulk).

On the way back to Chelan, we stopped at Dry Falls, which (although it is now dry--and has been for thousands of years) is ten times the size of Niagara. Dry Falls is thought to be the greatest known waterfall that ever existed.The geology is very interesting in this part of the country!

Of course, when we returned home around 5:30 PM, the kids got in a few hours of swimming! Jimmer fell asleep on the way home and for the rest of the day...and now is sleeping through the night. Another full day!

NW Vacation: Day 4

Uncle Chris with kids
Grandpa Terry & Grandma Doogie with KathleenEven Uncle Chris's dog, Libby, knows my pain!
After just a few days with our kids having her run around retrieving balls and toys, even SHE ran out of energy part way through the day.