Traveling in Luxury Through the Canadian Rockies: The Athabasca Glacier
It’s not a good start to the day when you’re accused of stealing someone’s breakfast of choice. When mom and I went down to the dining area this morning, we made ourselves a couple of bowls of cereal (Rice Krispies and Frosted Flakes, and this fact does matter) and put them on a table to hold our places while we grabbed something to drink. One would naturally assume that two bowls of uneaten cereal would be sufficient in doing so, but we were quickly proven wrong. Back at the table, we were about four bites into the cereal when a man walked up to us and loudly stated, “That’s my cereal!” I swear that I was so taken aback that a Frosted Flake almost came out of my nose. We tried to question his accusations, only to be repeatedly bashed with his story, “I made this cereal and put it down here and you’re eating my cereal!” It honestly felt like being accused of shoplifting an item that you paid for. I mean, who the heck would just sit down and start eating someone else’s cereal – this is not Goldilocks and the three bears. Do we really look that deranged? We took another bite.
When we finally calmed him down enough to explain that we had made this cereal, he still looked at us like we were crazy and repeated back, “You made this cereal?” We nodded, still a little in shock. Instead of apologizing or acknowledging the conversation any further, the man decided to throw his hands up and make us dwell in the punishment of his presence. He and his wife took a seat right across the table from us (since this was for the tour, everyone was sitting together) and stared for the entire meal. The irony occurred when they poured themselves their cereals of choice – Rice Krispies and Frosted Flakes. What are the odds?! Naturally, the meal was brief – we scarfed down the cereal and went back to the room to hash out the events. Dad, Captain Othersides, asked if it was possible that we started eating their cereal. No, we are a little more sane than that. Either way, the tour was about to take off in half an hour and we were having mixed emotions…we come to this point in every trip that lasts over 5 days, the point where we’re ready to just purchase a plane ticket and return home.
We were a little concerned that our reputations as notorious cereal stealers would cause a stir on our first day of the tour. 10 hours is a long time to be stuck in a bus full of people who fear for their Rice Krispies. Luckily, our accusers had not shared the story with the whole bus, and everyone (besides said accusers) were bright and chipper for the day ahead. We left dreary Calgary, made a quick stop in Banff (I’m so excited to go back there on Thursday), and drove along the Icefields Parkway, all the way to Columbia Icefield, the highlight of a day that was well worth staying for.
We took an Ice Explorer, a giant vehicle specially designed for this kind of travel – there are under 30 Ice Explorers in the world and each costs about a million dollars to make. The massive machine rolled onto the glacier with no hesitation and, within 10 minutes, we were stepping onto the 1,000-foot-deep Athabasca Glacier.
What an incredible experience to have in general, but especially on your birthday! On the way back, the whole Ice Explorer sang happy birthday to me…now that is once in a lifetime.
Everything we experienced today is really best captured in photos. Here are a few for you to enjoy – my writing can’t do the beauty of the Canadian Rockies justice:
On the way to Jasper, we actually saw two black bears just foraging along, which makes up for the lack of whales while whale watching. I even spotted one of them! We’ve been informed that when we see wildlife, we need to yell the animal in the direction. Please note that yelling “BEAR LEFT!” on a tour bus can be mistaken for really bad directions. Also, no one cares to hear my dad yell out, “CHIPMUNK RIGHT!”…but he’s doing it anyway.
We pulled into the town, completely exhausted, and went to our dinner reservation. Trafalgar arranges the reservations in tables of 4 at various time slots. When we signed ourselves up for one table, we assumed that we’d be eating alone. Instead, we were joined by Bill, who is absolutely amazing. Bill is a solo traveler who spends his winters in Arizona and his summers in Oregon. He shared stories of his recent travels to Italy, of an incredible South Pacific adventure where he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife (whom he lost 8 years ago), of a river cruise down the Danube and the Rhine, of moose hunting in Canada and of his three safaris in South Africa, where he was most overwhelmed by the orphanage he visited. The amazing part of all of this? Bill is 96 years old and traveling by himself. What an inspiration!
It made me realize all I want for my birthday: at least 74 more years of magnificent adventures, just like this one.