After a night spent hunting (and failing) for the Northern Lights in Banff I made the short drive to Two Jack Lake for sunrise. I was short on sleep and so I expected to make it a quick trip for a few pictures before heading back to the hotel to crash. It was a bit overcast and the ‘light show’ on the peak of Mount Rundle was short lived but at least there was a little color on the tips of the mountain for me. The weather would change quickly though as fog started to creep in.
Sunrise over Two Jack Lake – Banff National Park
About twenty minutes after I took this shot a huge blanket of fog overran the lake and mountain to the point where the mountain was no longer visible and you could barely see 50 feet in front of you. After a long night and a pretty dramatic weather change in the morning I headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
I am in Banff National Park for the weekend before a client meeting next week in Calgary and so when I read that the storm on the sun is expected to produce exceptional northern lights viewing I got excited. A quick google search indicated the best place in Banff to see them was Lake Minnewanka I headed out to see if I could spot them. Unfortunately, they never did come out – the pictures from Maine are phenomenal – but I was able to spend some time taking pictures of the night sky (although for the most part I stayed bundled up in the car since temps dipped into the teens Friday night) above the Cascade Mountain Range.
Lake Minnewanka Northern Lights Fail – Banff National Park
I had to crank the ISO up to 1600 to keep the exposure under 30 seconds (above 30 seconds the movement in the stars was really bad) and I’m pretty happy with the results here for my first real attempt at nighttime photography. I’ve thought about trying to go out and get the Milky Way at times and this just provided greater incentive to do that.
The “Little Matterhorn” is a peak in Rocky Mountain National Park that sits on the bank of Odessa Lake. We took a hike from Bear Lake to Fern Lake (taking the shuttle back to Bear Lake) and stopped for lunch at Odessa Lake. Underneath the mini Matterhorn we had lunch before finishing the hike to Fern Lake. One of the things I’ve learned about Rocky Mountain National Park over the years is that they have some of the best maintained trails of any park that I’ve ever hiked in. Sure, the park itself gets a lot of traffic but if you get out early enough on one of the longer trails you can find quite a bit of solitude. It was a beautiful day but even so we maybe encountered 40/50 people over the eight-mile stretch.
Little Matterhorn – Estes Park, Co
Heading out to Banff for the weekend – hope the weather cooperates!
On the cruise there was a day when we cruised between Glacier Bay National Park and Sitka, Alaska during the afternoon, throughout the night and following morning (arriving in Sitka around 1 PM). On that stretch we experienced a pretty amazing sunset and the scene on what I think was Chicagof Island was spectacular. I have no idea what mountain range this was (unfortunately) but one of the boat’s captains was standing next to me as I photographed the peaks telling me that it was pretty rare that you are able to see them during the afternoon hours. Apparently, they are typically cloud covered (they are partially covered here) and thus cruise boats aren’t able to experience the sight of them because of the time we pass the island.
I got my hotels scheduled in Banff…in the future I need to be more diligent because I thought I had booked them but couldn’t find anything in my emails indicating that I did so it must have slipped my mind. I was shut out of Jasper (no room in any hotels) but was able to find some rooms in Banff (maybe the last one) and Lake Louise/Moraine Lake area. I’m disappointed that I won’t get to make it up to Jasper but I’m planning to spend some time exploring Yoho National Park which I’ve heard good things about.
The infinity pool at the resort that we stayed at in Belize was where we spent a good chunk of the second half of our trip. The first five days were spent in the jungle – hiking, climbing ruins and chasing iguanas – so heading to the resort and visiting the swim bar was a nice change of pace (until we got the bar bill of course – yikes! Apparently frozen drinks go down EASY when it is 95 degrees out!).
Infinity Pool at Belize Resort
I’m heading off to Banff next weekend and it according to weather.com it snowed three inches there last night and they are expected to get a few more inches this week. I am not ready for snow yet so I’m not looking forward to this trip too much. Maybe I’ll get lucky with a little warmer weekend and some epic sunrises over Lake Moraine. I’m playing the travel plans ‘by ear’ as I still haven’t booked a hotel. Originally I was planning on driving to Jasper National Park but that is a few hours further north so I expect the snow will be deeper up north and like I said I’m not quite ready so maybe I’ll just bum around Lake Moraine/Yoho National Park for the majority of the trip.
The past couple of weeks were spent in Seattle and Alaska with my family. Both trips were perfect and they were the first full family vacation we’ve taken together in quite sometime. I am blessed in that I love spending time with my parents, sisters and their significant others – therefore when we all get together it is an absolute joy. A bonus to this trip is that an aunt and uncle were able to join as well. We were together on the cruise ship for over a week and we created a lot of wonderful memories in that time – going through the pictures makes me so happy that we were all able to make it happen. Life sometimes gets in the way but we all made sacrifices to come together.
One of the highlights of the trip was the day that we spent in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Margerie Glacier was the highlight of the national park. At one-mile wide, 350 feet high (only 250 feet jut out of the water I believe) and 21 miles inland it is one of the largest glaciers in Alaska and certainly one of the most accessible for cruise ship which spend time trolling out here in the summer months listening to the ‘white thunder’ (the sound when a large piece of the glacier falls into the bay below it). We witnessed many instances of ‘white thunder’ while we were there but it is good to know that this glacier is actually stable and come the winter it will regain much of the length/depth that it loses in the warmer summer months. There are also glaciers in the park that are in stages of advance so unlike a place like Glacier National Park in Montana where the glaciers are disappearing because of climate change the glaciers in this national park seem to be in pretty good shape for long-term viewing.
Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska
The above photo shows the broad look of Margerie Glacier and it is really hard to transcribe the size and shape of the glacier through a photograph because the cruise ship was relatively far away. Therefore, I took several pictures at varying compositions – the one below shows more of the detail – in order to try and capture the magic visually.
The next few weeks I’m going to be pretty busy with work and travel (Banff/Jasper, New York City and California) but I’ll be trying to get to some more of these photos for the website. It really was a nice trip and we were fortunate to be blessed with above average weather for this time of year.
This statue in the Vatican Museum shows the River God relaxing by the River Arno. The statue has been repaired over the years but was originally crafted around 150 AD (so it’s pretty old!). How do they know that this statue represents the River Arno and not some other river in Italy? They know it because of the presence of the feline/cat in the pottery – maybe you already spotted that little face poking out – that the river God is holding in his hands. I can’t recall exactly why felines/cats were associated with Florence but they were at some point and thus they deducted the presence of that river in the statue.
River God (Arno) at the Vatican Museum
Just getting back into the swing of things at work after being on vacation (Seattle and Alaska) the past ten days. It’s been a rough week so I’m happy that it is a short one in the states (Labor day) and thankful that it is made even shorter by a pre-arranged client ‘meeting’ tomorrow at Wrigley Field to watch the Cubbies take on the Pirates.