Archives by Tag 'Jasper'

Alberta and British Columbia 18 Nights Itinerary (without a car)

By DD - Last updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2016

calgary to victoria mapFrom April 29th to May 17th 2016, Mama D and I went on a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the British Columbia Sunshine Coast and Vancouver island. It was a lot of fun to plan and so much more to experience! The itinerary was built around the train trip and everything went smoothly, and as planned. We were very happy with all the accommodations chosen; I did a lot of research before hand and in some cases, changed my mind and got a bigger room i.e in Calgary, Banff and Victoria. We did not regret our choice to go bigger as it made an even more memorable trip! Customer service and cleanliness were excellent in all seven accommodations, including the train.

This 18 nights itinerary starts in Calgary, Alberta and ends in Victoria on Vancouver island in British Columbia. If you travel light, you could add a float plane trip from Vancouver to Sechelt or Victoria, or from Sechelt to Victoria. I hope this inspires you to plan a wonderful trip! Please don’t be shy to post any comments or suggestions you might have for us or other travelers.

Calgary, Alberta
3 days and 4 nights in Calgary
Stay at Best Western Plus Downtown Calgary in a 2 bedroom suite (Breakfast included)
Day 1 Travel to Calgary
Day 2 (Saturday) Glenbow Museum with lunch at the Devonian Gardens in Stephen Street Mall
Day 3 (Sunday) Calgary Tower in the morning, lunch at hotel, Lougheed House in the afternoon
Day 4 (Monday) Calgary Zoo, pack a lunch, arrive before opening and book a Behind The Scenes tour

Mama D and DD with the Calgary Tower MascotCalgary Tower and GlenbowLougheed HouseCalgary Zoo MapRock HyraxBehind the Scenes Calgary Zoo



DD Feeding a Carrot to a GiraffeCalgary Zoo Dinausaur and Hoodoos





From the airport, you can take a shuttle to the hotel, a taxi or a luxury Sedan which is what we opted for, for not much more than 2 shuttle tickets. Train is free in downtown Calgary and if you need to travel outside the free zone you can purchase tickets at train stations in automated machines. Safeway and London Drugs are a short walk from the hotel.

On day 1 you could if you wanted to not pack a lunch and eat instead in one of the many fast food restaurants at the food court that is right in the Devonian Gardens, on the 4th floor. On Day 2, you could have lunch in the restaurant of the Calgary Tower that includes the visit or you could opt for the Sunday Brunch at The Fort of Calgary, a few train stations away… apparently it’s one of the best kept secrets in town and it does include the Fort’s admission entry.

Banff, Alberta
3 days and 3 nights in Banff
Brewsters bus from Sandman Hotel in Calgary to Banff Hotel
Stay at Rundlestone Lodge in a family suite (No Breakfast)
Day 5 (Tuesday) Lunch in Hotel Lobby, Whyte Museum
Day 6 (Wednesday) Banff Gondola, lunch on top of Sulphur Mountain, Banff Hot Springs
Day 7 (Thursday) Shopping and laundry (3$ per machine)

Banff Whyte MuseumBanff GondolaBanff View from Sulphur MountainPath to Banff Hot Springs




Day 8 (Friday) Sundog Banff to Jasper Tour (10 hour)
Discounts for CAA-AAA members
An amazing tour across the rockies if you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive. There are many stops along the way to take pictures, for washroom breaks and for lunch. Do the Glacier tour and the sky walk, it’s worth it! Bring a super large bottle or two to fill with absolute pure and fresh glacier water!

Lake LouiseRocky MontainsRocky Montains2Mama D and DD at Columbia Icefiled CenterDD taking Glacier waterGlacier Bus



Columbia Icefield SkywalkAthabasca Falls





The reason why Banff Hot springs is crossed is that we had planned to go but because of the high content of chlorine we decided to opt out and took the bus back to the hotel instead. The Roam Public buses are so convenient. Buy a day pass for $5 right on the bus. We could have visited the Banff Park Museum had we known they had opened earlier in the season than planned because of the nice weather and crowds. There is lots more we could have done but needed a rest so we took it easy.

Jasper, Alberta
1 Day and 2 Nights in Jasper
Stay at Columbine House Bed and Breakfast (breakfast included)
Day 9 (Saturday) Sky Tram with free shuttle from Mount Robson Inn Hotel, lunch at launch center, shuttle back downtown, Whislter’s Inn Museum, Jasper Museum where they sell super cute animal puppets!

Jasper SkytramJasper View From Whistler's Mountain2Trail to Whistler's Mountain TopWhistler's Inn Museum




At Columbine House you will be welcomed with open arms by Karen. 2 nights minimum stay with breakfast and snacks included and replenished in your mini fridge daily. There is a microwave but no stove top. Comfortable king size bed and queen size sofa bed with view of the Sky tram! We would have liked to go on a Maligne Tour with Sundog on Saturday morning but they were fully booked. We should have booked ahead… Our original plan was the Maligne tour in the morning and the Skytram in the afternoon but then we wouldn’t have had enough time to see the museum and get the puppets!

Via Rail on The Canadian
Day 10 (Sunday) Via Rail Train from Jasper to Vancouver in Sleeper Cabin for 2
.5 Day and 1 Night

Mama D and DD at Jasper Train StationVia Rail PosterMother's Day on The TrainVancouver Train Station




The sleeper cabin for 2 includes all meals, tea, coffee and snacks. Snacks consist of cookies, muffins, fruits with teas and coffee. The food in the dining car is excellent. We had soup, salad, main course and dessert. The train leaves in the afternoon and we were fortunate that our train was on time and arrived an hour earlier than planned in Vancouver which gave us lots of time to get to our next destination. Ask for cabin F when you make your reservation for extra room.

People from all over the world come to Canada to experience this beautiful train ride through the Alberta and British Columbia rocky mountains.

Sechelt, British Columbia
2.5 days and 3 nights
Stay at Above The Inlet B&B, Leopard Suite (breakfast is extra$)
On day of arrival we went grocery shopping at The Independent for PC points!
Day 12 (Tuesday) walk to Sechelt marsh, Birthday Buffet lunch in our suite, lounge in the sun
Day 13 (Wednesday) Walking and shopping

BC FerriesSuitcases On The FerryOn The BC Ferry To SecheltHeron At Sechelt MarinaSechelt MarshGeese at Sechelt MarshSechelt High School TrailMama D and Mama J on High School Trail








Sechelt inlet is a small town north of Vancouver only accessible by ferry boat. We like to go there to visit family. There are not many things to do but there is a lot of beauty to take in and it’s the perfect place to unwind. The views from the B&B are amazing! There is a nice short hiking trail from the top of Trail Avenue to the high school and there is the Sechelt Marsh near the marina. You could easily spend more time than we did.

The easiest and fastest way to get to the Horseshoe Bay ferry dock is by taxi. Ask where to check your suitcase before heading to the waiting room. This is a 45 minute ferry ride. There is a restaurant on board. Once you get off in Langdale, you can either get a taxi or ride the public transit if you don’t have too much luggage like we do… There is a new shuttle service that wasn’t yet available when we were there. We love staying at Above the Inlet where Patricia and Peter are like family to us. The views are amazing. You could spend one day in Sechelt going to the marina, the marsh, do a little shopping, walk on the ocean front and walk the high school trail. A second day can be spent in Gibsons, using the public transit. We did a bit of shopping in Gibsons on our way back.

Vancouver, British Columbia
.5 day and 1 night
Stay at Residence Inn by Marriott, 2 Queen Suite, (Breakfast included)
There is a Safeway walking distance but we didn’t go because we were having dinner with a friend who lives in Vancouver and came to pick us up. We decided not to stay in Vancouver because we wanted to spend more time in Victoria and Sechelt instead. This was a stepping stone and a little rest before the last leg of our trip.

Victoria, British Columbia
3 days and 4 nights
Stay at Best Western Inner Harbour, 2 bedrooms Penthouse Suite (Breakfast included)
Day 15 (Saturday) Douglas park, Petting zoo, lunch at hotel, laundry ($1.50 per machine)
Day 16 (Sunday) Gorge taxi boat tour, shopping, lunch at hotel, Hollywood movie at IMAX
Day 17 (Monday) private tour in rural Victoria, IMAX movies in the afternoon, Dinner with family.
Day 18 Travel back home.

Rododendrons at Victoria Beacon Hill ParkHarbour Tours VictoriaMama D and The Goats at Beacon Hill Petting ZooPeacock at Beacon Hill Petting ZooBeacon Hill Park Fountainhop on hop off victoria petting zoo




Goldstream Provincial ParkMama D and DD at Kinsol Trestle Bridge




The best accommodation of our trip was in Victoria. There is a wraparound wooden deck with gorgeous views of the harbor and the Washington Mountains. We’ve been to Victoria twice before so we had seen most of the museums and attractions. We love the fact that you can walk to almost all of the major attractions. There is a magical feel not unlike what we feel when we visit Walt Disney World in Orlando and stay in a deluxe villa at Boardwalk although the price is so much better!



Mersey River Chalet Retreat

By DD - Last updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We finally went for our much awaited retreat last week in Nova Scotia at Mersey River Chalets. It always feels like home, without the responsibilities a private chalet would imply; no taxes to pay, no cleaning, and no worries for vandalism or storm damage when we’re gone, it’s all taken care of.

We left at 12:30 and after Truro, instead of going towards Halifax we decided to take a different road this time and took the 289W and then the 236. We found them pretty scenic although they were very winding and hilly which was not the best for somebody with motion sickness like me although the sights made up for it. Among the animals we saw on the many farms were goats, cows, horses, lamas, sheep and a sheep dog. We were happy to get back on the 101 where the views of the Bay of Fundy were spectacular.

DD drinking real cola at Grand-Pre

Lunch at Grand-Pre

I had a lunch prepared in a small cooler and Dami suggested we stopped at a historical site he found using our Garmin GPS: Grand-Pre it was. What a beautiful surprise! We were able to go to a secluded picnic table next to Mr. Leblanc’s house reproduction across the gardens. Everything was perfect except the manure smell from the neighboring farm fields. We both thought the weeping willows near the ponds were very old: Dami guessed 200 and me, 350 years old. They were actually only between 50 and 80 years old. The real old willows at the site are at the back of the church, to the right. They are very small compared to the weeping ones. They are French willows that are said to date back to the 1600’s, before the deportation.

Almost there, we had to stop at the Internet café in Annapolis to check on some business stuff and then to Save on Foods because I had forgotten a few items. Unfortunately they didn’t have any natural soft drinks. Yes, before the artificial stuff, there was actually the natural stuff and cola was made with cola nut. I got some rooibos tea as well because I stopped drinking coffee and tea a couple of weeks ago so rooibos is back on my list. It’s tough not to have my morning coffee but I can do it!

DD unpacking the cats carpets

DD unpacking the cats carpets

We arrived at MRC on Friday evening at 7:00. We unpacked everything right away, I filled the small fridge and we sat down to relax and had some kava while playing our new favorite game, Nab-It, and listening to The Moody Blues, our official MRC music. The cats must have remembered the place because Jasper wasn’t as afraid as he was before and didn’t hide under the blankets for too long. He actually was so excited he kept jumping in Dami’s arms purring every 5 minutes. He looked really happy but hyper because the poor thing wasn’t able to sleep in the car and wasn’t able to rest.

For our 4th visit, we were staying 4 nights at chalet number 7, our new favorite. It is pretty much like the smaller chalets except it has a bigger living room and kitchen area, with awesome views of the boardwalk and lake across the forest, and because it’s at the end of the road, no car passes the chalet. Some people might not like the fact that you can see people on the boardwalk but it didn’t matter to us. The cats loved it and had their cat tree right in the window facing the canoe dock.

Jasper sitting in the cat tree facing the canoe dock, the boardwalk and the enchanted forest

Jasper sitting in the cat tree facing the canoe dock, the boardwalk and the enchanted forest

The resident ducks of Mersey River Chalets

The resident ducks of Mersey River Chalets

SATURDAY: Last time we checked the weather before we left, it wasn’t looking too good. The Weather Network called for cool temperatures and mostly rain for the weekend. We’d been lucky so far because it was now sunny with cloudy breaks since Grand-Pre! We got up at 9 and went to the boardwalk before breakfast to look at the ducks on the river.

After our breakfast we went for a 2 hour canoe ride on the river side up to the cascades. We parked our canoe and went for a hike, this time further than we went last time, up to the lake on the other side of the rocks.

DD at the end of the river

DD at the end of the river

The mosquitoes were pretty hungry and we were like a walking free blood buffet! Still, it was warm enough in the canoe, the sun was shining and therewas a little breeze. We saw many arrow heads just like the ones we have in our pond and yellow water lilies about to bloom.

Rocks between the river and lake

Rocks between the river and lake

In the afternoon after our lunch we went to Kejimkujik Park and cycled our favorite 10km bike trail along the river and did a few short hikes. This time, we bought a family year pass for all Canadian Parks; we thought it would be good to be able to visit “Fort Anne” Monday in Annapolis Royal and “Port Royal” habitations.

Ferns as seen from a chipmunk's view

Ferns as seen from a chipmunk’s view

SUNDAY: We got up at 9:00 again and at 10:00 we were ready to leave. We went for another canoe ride on the lake this time. It was so beautiful, peaceful and quiet. We were very fortunate to have the sun with us. We did a tour of the lake and then went up to the river to the cascades where we parked our canoe and walked in the thick fern forest.

We didn’t go very far on this side because there wasn’t much of a trail there and there were lots of mosquitoes and we were a free blood buffet again. On this ride we saw a fishing bird that looked like a small brown beige version of a heron.

After lunch we went back to Kejimkujik Park. We didn’t use our bike because it was raining too much and was only 12 degrees.  We did two short hikes. That night, walking back from the boardwalk, we saw bats flying back and forth in front of our chalet’s windows: humming birds in daylight and bats at night!

Dami in front of the Annapolis Garden Shop

Dami in front of the Annapolis Garden Shop

MONDAY:  Another cold and humid day so it was perfect to visit the historic sites and the Gardens. We first stopped at Annapolis Historic Gardens and finally we were able to see flowers! It is such a beautiful place! The rhododendrons were all in blooms and we had never seen such a big colorful collection before. It must be awesome to be able to go every month of the blooming season. Maybe it’ll be possible one day if we move there!

Dami dressed up at Fort Anne

Dami dressed up at Fort Anne

Our second stop was at Fort Anne.

DD dressed up at Fort Anne

DD dressed up at Fort Anne

We visited the Museum and walked around the Fort. We had our lunch in the car; we forward the front seats, recline the passenger to make a table and sit in the back, all warm and cozy! We had some soup and sandwich and went to the German Bakery for dessert but were very disappointed and we both agreed next time we will go back to the Cozy Internet Café!

DD and Wayne Melanson at Port Royal

DD and Wayne Melanson at Port Royal

Our next stop was Port Royal Historic site. Now that was a very special moment. There was something in the air. When we spoke to one interpreter, Wayne Melanson, originally from Baie Sainte-Marie, he said I was most probably a descendant of the Annapolis Acadians, I felt very emotional. He said all the Doucet in North America are descendants of Germain Doucet, who worked for the King of France. The interpreter was as well a descendant from Germain Doucet’s grand daughter who married Charles Melanson. I had some hopes what he said was true but I had to dig deeper and find for myself if it was so. Not knowing who my father is this was very important to me. Dami took some pictures of me and Wayne in front of the well and it was a magical moment.

Back at the Chalet, we played a game of Monopoly and just when we both thought I would go bankrupt, the tide turned and I won with a huge advance!

Old French Willows of Grand-Pre

Old French Willows of Grand-Pre

TUESDAY: It was already time to go back and for the first time the cats didn’t want to leave and we had to chase them and force them in the cage! The only stop we made was at Grand-Pre. We went back to look at the old French willows and visited the church with the paintings and the list of all the Acadian names. Dami got me a mug for a souvenir and we headed back to the car where the cats were anxiously waiting for us.

It was another successful vacation at Mersey River Chalets. We love that place so much but we both feel there is still so much more to explore in Nova Scotia. We were thinking of maybe exploring Cape Breton next time. We might have found a couple of places that have cabins that accept pets along the way. I can’t wait to discover what the future holds for us!