Before traveling, I had read so much about the Icefields Parkway. I got advice and remember being told, “It can take the whole day.” My husband wasn’t feeling well, so it didn’t take that time. But I could definitely see spending an entire day on this magnificent drive. I had also seen many lists of places of interest along the way, so I was prepared with that. And yet, I didn’t think I would be interested in making all of those stops. I was wrong!

So, as soon as we got started, we were stopping. The interesting thing is that this lake wasn’t on all the lists I had seen though I do believe I had heard of it before.

Herbert Lake


Yeah. No words are necessary. I was driving and simply said, “Oh my God!” And of course we stopped. The lake was so still, so serene. So unbelievably beautiful. I remember asking my husband, “Why didn’t anyone mention this?” As if he had the answer. It is simply stunning, and I’d love to see it again.

Bow Lake


At first I thought we’d skip Bow Lake. Obviously, that was simply not possible. How could I pass it up? It only required us to stop. There was no hiking involved. It took no effort at all other than walking down to get closer to the water. The funny thing was that my husband wanted to stay in the car initially. I took too long I guess and soon he was right there with me though we were kind of on opposite sides of a rock in the water. When I was happy with the shots I got, we plotted the climb back up. He said, “Give me your hand.” But I knew I couldn’t make that little jump without falling, probably flat on my face into the water. And finally he said, “Just step in it. Aren’t your boots waterproof?” He was right, 😜, but I had forgotten about that fact. And then we were off until…

Peyto Lake


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​Peyto Lake was more of a challenge for us. I had seen pictures and read that it was a short hike. My first thoughts were, “Please define ‘short’.” Well, it would have been short had we been in better shape. I’m not proud of that, but hey, it is what it is. As we climbed, and I do mean climbed, I wondered if we should bother. It was pretty much all uphill and I was tired. So, we asked a couple ladies how close we were and were told 5-10 minutes. That could have easily meant 15-20 for us, but we pushed on as everyone said it would be worth it. And as you saw above, it was so worth it. And what was even better, the  walk back to the car would be downhill. Woohoo!

As mentioned, my husband wasn’t feeling well, so we decided to head back to Lake Louise after stopping briefly at Saskatchewan River Crossing. Also, our bank cards weren’t working when we stopped at the gas station nearby.

We didn’t even scratch the surface with that short drive, but it was still worth it. Driving through the mountains with out of this world scenery was enough to say it was a great drive. I feel blessed that I was able to experience it.

Bright and early on June 29th we left Lake Louise for Johnston Canyon. We wanted to beat the crowds, and we did 😉. When we got there there was only one other car there. And it was c-h-i-l-l-y. I had on several layers to prepare for the cool, brisk air. And then we were off. As I mentioned before, we were there early. And my husband actually found it slightly creepy. I don’t know what he would have thought of my non-hike in Thailand then. That was actually beyond creepy, especially since I’m a chicken and there were monkeys swinging everywhere. But, back to Johnston Canyon.

I had big plans for us when we started. I wanted to make it to the upper falls since I’d read that the extra trek would be worth it. Well, I guess I have to take everyone’s word for it because we did not make it. Perhaps you may have read about us being out of shape and know the deal. We just didn’t have it in us to continue though I wished it had been otherwise.

If anyone is in Banff, I highly recommend a hike through Johnston Canyon. It is an amazing place to see. But I must say, you do need to be in shape. We were tired before we even made it to the lower falls which was only a half-mile hike. That said, a lot is also uphill. Fortunately, there are points to stop and rest as well as take in all that the creator has created.

Look at what you see before even reaching the lower falls.

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Honestly, I would have been happy to stop at that point. Listening to the water rushing through the canyon was relaxing. The palette of pale blues and white dancing around each and every crevass and embracing the rocks is something we should all be so lucky to experience. And when I see the never ending beauty in Banff and other parts of Canada, I often wish Canada was home for me.

And finally we reached the upper falls. ​​


​​As you can tell from the clip, we soon headed back. We tried, with zero success, to continue on but another mile just wasn’t happening.

I am glad that I got to see at least some of Johnston Canyon. And who knows, maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to visit again.

Moraine Lake, Banff: Just wow!


It just gets better and better in Banff NP. It was great that we were right next to Lake Louise because it made it easy to go see Moraine Lake. The only disappointment was that we didn’t get a chance to go again before we left.

In any case, we took the advice of others I got on TripAdvisor which was to get Moraine Lake out of the way early. So, we did. On June 27, we went early to avoid larger crowds and also to find a place to park. The road there is a beauty in of itself, but really all I could say was, “Wow!” 

As beautiful as Lake Louise was, I have to say that Moraine is even more beautiful. So much so, I told my husband that if we are fortunate enough to visit Banff again, I’d like to stay there rather than in Lake Louise.

So, let me say a little about the drive there. It’s very close to the Fairmont. Before we got to the turn for Moraine, we saw a moose. Yay! I had been hoping to see a moose since last year when we were in Quebec. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture because there was no safe place to stop. I simply hoped that we’d see another one later on. We didn’t, but I got over it.

The view on the road to Moraine.


If you’re like me, what’s more beautiful than snowcapped mountains? And of course, this shot my husband got doesn’t do it justice.

And the real gem of course is Moraine. As lazy and out of shape as we are, we decided to climb the rock pile to get a better view of the lake. When I say out of shape, I’m not joking. And being able to make it up to the top for the view we got has motivated me to get back into shape.

Is there anything comparable to this?


I think not. The contrasts of the deep  aqua colored water, the green trees, the beige/tan colored rocks and snow on the peaks were out of this world. And again, a photo is nothing next to the real thing. And it was this view that made me hope and pray that this wouldn’t be our last trip to the area.

And yet, there are so many more awe inspiring places to see in Banff NP.

Day 1 in Percé

July 15 was our first official day in this lovely city. We woke up to a fascinating view. And to think, this would be our view for the next few days. Not bad at all. We woke up and immediately checked the time. We wanted to have breakfast, and we also wanted to go to hotel reception as we were advised the previous night. So, we called my parents and left for the reception desk. Thankfully, we met a receptionist who spoke fluent English. This meant I wouldn’t have to fake my way through “speaking” French. And it turned out that the gentleman we spoke with the previous night only asked us to go in the morning to make sure we’d be able to communicate with someone. We asked about breakfast and made our way into the dining area.

We were given a table by a window with a view of Pèrce Rock. Our waitress came over with the menu and I went straight for what I knew.


French toast and scrambled eggs, yum 😋. It was the best French toast I had ever eaten. And because I know what I like, I ordered the same thing for the next two days. My husband and parents caught on and soon all of them were ordering the French toast. The teeny tiny dish of beans was just part of the meal I guess. I asked the waitress if there was any meat in the beans because they looked a lot like pork and beans. She kindly told me, “No, there’s no meat. If you find a little piece of pork, you can just take it out.” Um, that sounds a lot like meat in the dish. And of course, it would be pork since I don’t eat it. But I’m glad I asked.

We finished breakfast, went back to the room, and then sat out on the balcony while we waited for my parents to finish breakfast. Once they returned to their room, we all decided to head into town. It wasn’t really a long walk, but it was downhill which would mean a walk uphill to get back to the hotel. I wasn’t really looking forward to that, and secretly I hoped we’d be able to teleport back to the hotel later on.

The weather was lovely, as you can see in the photos below. But, it wouldn’t stay that way. My parents had returned to the hotel, and we decided to stay in town. We stopped at a little cafe and had fries. My husband had coffee because he’s all about the coffee.

We were sitting outside until it started raining. If it were just a light rain, we could’ve handled it. But it was really coming down. We were forced to go buy an umbrella from the gift shop owned by the cafe owners. But, it wasn’t enough for the walk we had. So, I called my dad and asked him to pick us up. Look at that, I managed to not climb that hill afterall. 😉

 

Note to self: When traveling outside of Saudi Arabia, it might actually rain. So, be prepared! Carry an umbrella or rainjacket or something.

Our First Night in Percé

In my previous post, I mentioned that we arrived late at night. We were extremely tired, but happy to have arrived. My dad, my husband and I all walked into to the reception. My dad ran off to the restroom as I walked in with all the confidence in the world and said, “We’re checking in.” The older man behind the counter asked, in French of course, “You don’t speak a little French?” I was so proud to say, “Non.” He then looked at my husband and asked, “And you?” My husband would be worse than me, but you can’t blame the man for trying. He continued talking to us in French, and I just smiled. What else could I do? I suppose I could’ve used Google translate, but it really didn’t occur to me. Actually I don’t trust Google translate because I’ve seen my students’ writing.

As I said previously, I do remember some things here and there and I was able to understand what he was saying to us. He knew we had two rooms. He asked me about the tall man, my dad. So, he wrote that one person would be in the second room and I told him that they were two, ma mère wa (Arabic for “and”) mon père. My husband said, “So you do speak French!” I laughed at this of course. What, I remembered two words and now I speak French? If that’s all it takes, I speak many languages. We were finally shown our rooms, and he showed us where to park the car. He asked us, “Combien nuit (How many nights)?” And I replied, “Quatre (four).” He told us bon nuit (good night) and we called it a night. Finally!

 

The Importance of Trip Planning

We left Ile Aux Perroquets on July 14. And after that, we would be going to Perce in the Gaspesie region. I knew we’d have to take a ferry though I didn’t know how long the ferry ride would be. I also didn’t know that I should make a reservation to ensure we’d be able to cross. I assumed it would be like the ferry we took across to Tadoussac. And all I could think about was having to call to make reservations. Would I be able to communicate with the person? How much would this call cost me? I was using my Saudi number. Yikes! Louise, our hostess, suggested I also check the available trips. So I also wondered if we’d miss the ferry and therefore be stuck somewhere with no hotel reservation. I was calmly freaking out. When we got to the mainland and to the office, we asked Jeff to make the reservation for us. He did it. Yes!!! We had a reservation for 6pm which meant we wouldn’t reach Perce until well after dark. But, at least we wouldn’t be stuck somewhere.

I contacted the hotel where we’d be staying to inform them that we’d be arriving very late. The last thing I needed would be to get there and still be stuck because there’s no one there for us to check in. Whew!

We got in line to park the car on the ferry. It was a ginormous boat. Once we got inside, we paid the balance for the reservation and sat comfortably for the two-hour trip across. It began raining so the view from the window wasn’t anything to write home about. My husband got up in search of coffee because he’s a coffee junkie and it’s all that matters in life apparently. While he was searching for coffee, I sat watching “something”. That’s all I can say about it because I didn’t have a clue what I was watching nor did I understand it. 🙂 Good times!

Once we got closer to arriving, apparently announcements were made. We simply took cues from the people around us and followed along. We got up and headed to the car. When we reached the stairs and the elevator, we all debated about which level the car was actually on. While doing so, a man walked by and stopped. He was quite friendly. He was making a feeble attempt to talk to my husband. Oh the joys of not being able to communicate with someone. He was asking him if we’re going to Gaspe. I was able to understand that, but my husband was unable to understand even me at that point. He was focused on the man’s words and focused on telling him that he didn’t understand. I tried to tell him, but to no avail. The man was so enthusiastic as he asked, and I kept trying to tell my husband to say “Perce”. But they kept having the same exchange.

Man: Are you going to Gaspesie? But in French of course.

My husband: I don’t understand. I don’t speak French.

After witnessing this several times, I raised my voice to say, “Perce.”He was seemingly satisfied with that and wished us a pleasant trip. It was a view into what was to come. But, that was fine with me. I rather enjoyed our “adventures” with French.

We finally made it off the ferry and were headed toward Perce. It should have been about a 2-3 hour drive. But that’s for people who know where they’re going and what they’re doing. We got on the road, and we at least knew we were heading in the right direction. Miles and miles of coastline. It was beautiful. We were able to see one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was not feasible to stop, so I took a picture from the window.

I did my best to make sure my dad was paying attention. My best wasn’t good enough. We missed a turn and instead of trying to turn around, he continued along the same road. It was foggy at times and foggy and rainy at times. On top of all of that, it was pitch black out. It felt like we were the only people on the road. Wait, I think we were the only people on that road. It was pretty scary. Being the paranoid person I am, I kept worrying that we’d find ourselves in the water and never to be found again. My mom was most definitely boiling inside, but I tried my best to convince her to just hold it in.

We managed to make it to the hotel around midnight. Maybe it was later. It was probably later. But who cared at that time? We were just happy that we made it there safely despite the scary conditions.

All of this might have been different if only I had planned things a little better. What’s done is done. What else can I say about it?

Live and learn, friends. Live and learn.

 

 

Puffins!!!

Once we got off the speedboat at Puffin Island, my mother rode up the little hill with our hostess while my dad, husband and I walked. Puffins were flying around and I could barely contain myself. We were there because of my obsession with puffins, so I couldn’t wait to get inside and settled a little bit so that I could go out and attempt to take pictures. Once we got inside with all our things, we were more formally introduced to our hostess Louise. She had a lovely accent and very friendly demeanor. She explained the ins and outs of how things would work. First, we were asked to remain on the paths so as to not disturb or possibly harm the puffins’ nesting areas. Also, she would be staying in the house with us. We’d all be sharing a bathroom. Not something I’m too fond of, but it was necessary and I figured I could deal with it for a couple days to see puffins. 😀 The toilet was a composting toilet which I was admittedly afraid of. I have my standards! But again, I was willing to deal with it because I knew I’d be rewarded with the opportunity to observe puffins in real life. And it turns out it wasn’t as scary as expected. Our bedrooms were upstairs, steep stairs. So, we all decided that we didn’t need to take our bags up. We simply took what we needed as we needed.

Since we were basically settled in, I wasted no time and I went out. The weather was perfect. I heard that it had been miserable the day before. So we lucked out. I was shutter happy. “Shutter happy” is an adjective used to describe an individual who, when in the midst of a photo opportunity, can’t control the urge to push the shutter release button. I was like a kid in the toy store, grabbing every chance I could to snap. And, it probably comes as no surprise, but I was not always so successful. My heart raced from the excitement. Who gets that excited about such things? Well, I guess I do. They are magnificent little creatures, and I enjoyed seeing them more than they enjoyed seeing me.

I also got a few pictures of guillemots that were also hanging out on the cliffs with the puffins. But let’s face it, they weren’t my real interest though I appreciated the added bonus.

Later my husband came looking for me. As if I could go anywhere. We were on a teeny tiny island in the middle of the water. And, I had no intentions of swimming for it. He walked with me as I continued to chase puffins with my camera, and then it started raining. We stayed out as long as we could without melting and then went inside. Louise was preparing dinner, so we all sat at the table looking out the window. Even in the rain, it was a beautiful scene. The rain didn’t last long, so I went out again.

Because we were caught up in the scenery, the weather, and the birds, we opted to wait a little while for dinner. The sun was setting and it was absolutely breathtaking. It’s not that I’ve never seen a sunset, but this was one I was able to truly revel in. There were no loud noises, except the sounds of the water and seabirds. There were no street lights. No cars going by. Nothing getting in the way of the view.

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Eventually, we would have to go inside. And soon we were surrounded by darkness. Dinner was ready, and we sat down to a lovely table setting. We started with fish soup. Yuck! I am not a fish person. When Louise wasn’t looking, I swapped my husband’s empty bowl with mine. She saw me. Oops! We were then served grilled chicken bruschetta and vegetables which included broccoli, my favorite. 🙂 For dessert, we had strawberry mousse and there was something else chocolate, but I didn’t eat it.

Puffin Island really agreed with me so far!

 

The Road to Ile aux Perroquets

The way to Ile aux Perroquets (Puffin Island) was about 7 hours from Tadoussac, give or take. The route didn’t disappoint. Seriously, if it hadn’t been for the fact that it was 7 hours, it would have been wonderful.

We traveled along QC 138, the whale route. It truly deserves the name because there’s a good chance you will see whales as you travel along the coast. On more than one occasion we spotted whales on the ride. And multiple times, I wished my dad would stop. Obviously, he didn’t. I’d ask, “Can we stop here?” But it seemed he didn’t hear me. He SEEMED to not hear me. I have my doubts, though, lol. I guess I shouldn’t be upset that he didn’t stop because we had some time to go, and he probably just wanted to get there. He was the one driving. The rest of us were just riding.

Anyway, I can still honestly say that we saw whales while in a moving car. Whales. Plural. Not just one. We also saw lots of beauty in general which is an understatement when trying to describe the scenery in Quebec. There were many photo-worthy views, but I’ll have to settle for the images I saved in my mind. My dad didn’t stop, remember?

He didn’t stop for photos, but we did stop in Sept Iles (Seven Islands) to make a phone call. We had to call the office for the place we were going to get directions to Longue-Pointe-de-Mignan which is where we’d park the car. And then we would be taking a speedboat to the island.

We reached the office and tried to speak to the young lady who had given us directions. She apologized for not speaking English well to which I responded, “Your English is better than my French.” That made her laugh. It was about 2pm at the time. She told us where we could park the car and also informed us that the boat would be there around 3pm.

And so we waited. It felt like we were waiting at the edge of the earth with only the site of stunning blue waters and skies staring back at you, calling you.

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Adventure awaits!

 

Off to a Puffin Getaway

The speedboat arrived, and all we could think about was the headache we would have moving our bags across some sand to get to the floating boat ramp. Fortunately, we got some help from the company. I looked at the boat and then my mom. Once again, I suspected she might be cursing me, disowning me. This wasn’t like the large boat we were on for our whale watching trip. And then, she had the option to be inside away from the elements. It would be cold on the water, and my mom is always cold.

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The ride was supposed to be 10 minutes. But who’s counting when you have views like this? We watched as the place we left got smaller and smaller.

It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. In a way we were. My first thought was that it would be nice to get away from it all. Away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. A time to get back to nature.

Along the way, the only sounds we heard were from the boat’s motor, splashing water, and the various songs of seabirds, seals. We saw seals, and we also saw puffins flying by. Puffins! What’s not to love about puffins? I couldn’t wait to land on the island that I convinced my parents and husband to go to. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look at these birds that I came to love in the past couple of years. It would be my second chance to see them with the first time being in England. But when I was there it was the end of their nesting season. This time we would be right in the middle of it.

Up next, puffins!

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