#87 Whitewater Rafting

I’ve always wanted to go whitewater rafting. We signed up for a two hour rafting trip on the Kananaskis River with Chinock Rafting (45 minutes west of Calgary). We were not looking for too exciting of a river to raft, rather we wanted a moderately exciting, more relaxed trip. We were told the river was rated between Class 2 (“You may get wet”) and Class 3 (“You will get wet”). With the exception of a few rapids, it seemed closer to a Class 2 river. And we were fine with that.

The staff and guides took care of us well. We prepared for the worst – helmet, life jacket, wet suit and boots (due to the cold mountain water).

It was a very enjoyable experience. We had to paddle through several rapids to keep the raft moving fast enough. But our guide had the toughest job – she had to paddle a lot herself, bark out paddling orders to us, and constantly steer the boat through the river and the rapids.

All in all, they made it easy for us. We enjoyed the river ride and the scenery was awesome.

This river had a couple interesting aspects to it. The water level can be controlled to be consistent. The river could be emptied by damming it up and filled by releasing the retained water. Also, there was a section of the river where kayakers train as in the Olympic event. There were several pairs of poles hanging down ending a few feet above the water. Well, there was no way for us to navigate around these poles. We plowed right through the course, each one of deflecting poles from hitting us. Got whacked a few times. (7/15/18)

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#86 Bus tour over mountains

When we planned our trip to the Canadian Rockies, we heard from others and from tourist information that we could experience the mountains up close by driving over them on the Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, in northern Montana. We learned that the road is narrow, has few guard rails, and steep drop-offs. We got the impression it would be too difficult and risky for us to drive by ourselves and we would not be able to enjoy the views. Although it could still be scary, it would be better for us to take a bus tour where there is a trained professional doing the driving. (Our driver was a college kid who had only been driving the bus that summer, but she was good.) Also we would both be able to enjoy the scenic view the entire time.

We took the Red Bus tour starting at St. Mary, Montana (4551’), traveling up the mountains, stopping in Logan’s Pass (6646’), crossing the continental divide, driving down the mountain to Lake McDonald, and returning to St. Mary, about 50 miles each way. The views were great and riding the bus was well worth it. The bus is basically a large truck that was made into a convertible. You could see much better up the mountains and didn’t have to worry about looking down. It was not as scary of a ride as we were led to believe. [Note: these Red Busses were built in Cleveland, Ohio, by the White Motor Company in the late 1930’s. They were later refurbished by the Ford Motor Company and are still in use.]

As expected, we saw several snow covered mountains, some glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers. We were at such a high altitude that there was snow just off the road. And on one stop we were able to see several mountain goats up close and personal.

All in all a good retirement experience. (7/9/18)

(If you cannot see the photographs below, click on the blog link: https://937experiences.wordpress.com/ )

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(not my picture, but shows the drop off)

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(Not my picture, but shows how we could ‘prairie dog’ in the bus)

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#84 Gondola Ride and #85 Mountain Top Dinner

Just outside Banff, Alberta (4,500 feet), Sulfur Mountain rises 3,500 feet to 8,000 feet. There is an observation building at the summit. There are only two ways to get there and back – hiking or the gondola. Obviously, we chose the gondola. This was the first time I have ever ridden one. The ride to the top was smooth and pleasant. We had great views of the mountains and the valley. As the cars moved up and down the mountain, they were suspended a couple hundred feet above the slope of the mountain, above the tall pine trees.

It was fun riding with Mary Ann as she professes to be afraid of heights. However, it seems that whenever we do one of these experiences, she quickly overcomes her concerns and really enjoys the ride (See https://937experiences.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/51-hot-air-balloon-ride/ or https://937experiences.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/83-zip-line-over-river/ ). As for me, I am glad to be up higher so I can enjoy the view better.

At the summit there is a large building where they have an interpretive center, a theatre, a grill, a gift shop (of course), a restaurant, and a rooftop observation deck. We enjoyed viewing the mountains from the deck as well as hiking along the mountain boardwalk to the peak to get a higher and better view. The views were spectacular.

As the sun was setting we enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the restaurant next to windows facing the sunset. We had a great panoramic view of the mountains. To top off this experience we enjoyed a bottle of champagne – made in British Columbia, Canada!

All in all, these were very good retirement experiences. (7/11/18)

(If you cannot see these photographs, click on the blog link: https://937experiences.wordpress.com/ )

View from the gondola of the base of the gondola on our way up the mountain:

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View from the highest peak of the observation building:

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View from the highest peak of the setting sun:

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#83 Zip Line Over River

After our first zip line experience (https://937experiences.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/25-zip-line/ ), we have been looking forward to a longer and more exciting zip line.

While in Banff, Alberta, Canada, we drove across the Canadian Rockies into British Columbia to experience a long zip line. This was a much longer ride (500 meters vs. 120 meters), higher – 40 meters up, and it crossed over a river.

When we got there, we got all strapped in and helmeted. Then we had a few warm up runs on smaller zip lines to get us used to the equipment. These zip lines had a spring-like stopping feature that slowed you down quickly and smoothly. After all, it was a long zip line and we would be going pretty fast.

The final run, the long one, was exhilarating. It’s a great feeling to soar through the air over the land and over the river. I would definitely do this again. Perhaps a longer one! (7/12/18)

(If you cannot see this photograph, click on the blog link: https://937experiences.wordpress.com/ )

In the center of this photograph you can barely see our destination:

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Here is the scenic overlook:

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#82 “Sir, do you want a ride?”

Here is a retirement experience that shows I look old enough to have retired. We were in the Toronto airport dragging our carry-on luggage to our departure gate. I had a backpack and a rolling suitcase. Mary Ann had her rolling suitcase. We had plenty of time. We were not rushed and did not look rushed. Then… All of a sudden one of those airport vehicles that transport old people and handicapped people from one gate to another approached Mary Ann and me from behind. The lady driving the vehicle stopped and tooted the horn. I turned around and she looked at me directly and said, “Sir, do you want a ride?” I was stunned and speechless. I had never considered riding in one. After all, it is primarily for old people and those with special needs. All I could muster was “No, thanks.” As she drove by all I could hear was Mary Ann laughing uncontrollably. Yeah, I was a bit embarrassed, but I had to admit, it sure was funny!

Kind of funny that I get called ‘Sir’ a lot more than in the past. I guess I have it coming as I have always respectably called older people “Sir”. (7/17/18)

(No pic with this experience, but if you are getting this in an email, you can click on the following link to view the entire blog: https://937experiences.wordpress.com/ )

#81 Strange Drinks – Canadian soda

#81 Strange Drinks – Canadian soda

While at the 514 Poutine in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, they offered a soda I had never heard of before: Spruce Beer. Always willing to try something strange (almost always, that is. I have limits.), I had to order it. The cashier said I would either love it or hate it. Comforting. (This was a soda. I understand you can also get a Spruce Beer that is alcoholic)

I was surprised that it tasted good. It was the first time I have ever drank a pine tree! It tasted like pine-flavored ginger ale. It was kind of like taking a ginger ale and soaking a pine cone and pine needles in it. I would order it again, given the chance. (7/15/18)

Spruce beer is a beverage flavored with the buds, needles, or essence of spruce trees. For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spruce_beer

(If you cannot see this photograph, click on the blog link: https://937experiences.wordpress.com/ )

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#80 Strange Foods – Canadian food

While driving in Alberta, Canada, we stopped in Canmore to eat at a dive restaurant, the “514 Poutine”. They specialized in a special Canadian food – the Poutine. I had never heard of it before. After looking at how it was made, I just couldn’t resist ordering one. A Poutine consists of French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds and some meat topping. I had the smoked brisket beef. Just my kind of food. Greasy. Meat and potatoes. Gravy. Cheese. I really liked it. Given the chance to eat it again, I would definitely go for it. (7/15/18)

The Poutine (pronounced ‘pu – tin’) originated in Quebec, Canada. For more info, click on the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poutine

For other strange foods see: #32 https://937experiences.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/32-strange-foods-ice-cream/

(If you cannot see this photograph, click on the blog link: https://937experiences.wordpress.com/ )

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