I shared some scenes from our trip to Canada last July.
Today, I am going to share a few more. These are mountain peaks along the
I included two images of something out of the ordinary for
me. I am a closet lover of railroads and trains. Kicking Horse Pass crosses the
Big Hill west of Banff, AB in Canada. It sets on the Continental Divide and on
the Alberta/British Columbia border. When British Columbia joined Canada, a
railroad was built across British Columbia. Crossing the Rocky Mountains presented
a significant obstacle. The best solution at that time was to send the railway
up Big Hill and over Kicking Horse pass. But that meant ascending and
descending 1,070 feet on 4 ½% grade; i.e. for every 100 feet of horizontal distance
the hill rose/fell 4 ½ feet. The doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. Pay
attention to the grade signs on highways when you drive. When in use, there
were many accidents on this hill. The Canadian government eventually contracted
to build the “Spiraling Tunnels”. The Spiraling Tunnels is a set of 2 tunnels
and connecting roadbeds under the mountains to make the ascent and descent more
The images I have included shows a train entering one of the tunnels and later
as the locomotive exits the tunnel while part of its train is still entering.
I’ve been traveling a lot this year. In my travels, I have seen and photographed many interesting birds. I just haven’t made the time to share them. Here are a few of them. Others will follow.
First up is the Gray Jay. It is a corvid like other jays but
is smaller and has a much less raucous voice. In November 2016 the BBC reported
that Canada adopted this bird, also known as the Whiskey Jack, as its national
The other Jay in this collection is Woodhouse’s Jay. Those of us in the west don’t see Blue Jays; they are eastern birds. Mostly, we see the scrub jay. At one time, the Scrub Jay was just called the Western Scrub Jay. But recently, it was split into 3 separate species: the California Scrub Jay which we see here west of the Sierra Nevada mountains; the Island Scrub Jay which is only found in the Santa Cruz Islands, and Woodhouse’s Jay which is seen between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Rocky mountains and from Southeastern Oregon into Mexico.
I found the Horned Lark and the Black-throated Sparrow at
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Ash Meadows is an oasis, a marshland in
the Mojave Desert that is fed from springs that draw from an ancient aquifer.
You’ll find it in Amargosa Valley, NV . It is a great place to visit, in the
The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a common bird in much of the western US. It thrives in marshes among the reeds and cattails.
Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
Canada’s Banff National Park is filled with stunning
mountain peaks capped with glaciers and snow. The steep, rugged mountains are
the source of beautiful, turquoise streams that feed alpine lakes.
turquoise water is interesting. As glaciers move, they polish the underlying
rock, producing very fine particles of dust called rock flour. The rock flour
mixes with the water traveling downstream. The color is a result of light reflecting
around the densely packed dust in the water. On bright days, with the sun
in the right position, the river displays the brilliant turquoise. If the sky
is more cloudy, the water will be a milky off-white. When it reaches the lakes,
the rock flour eventually settles out. But, if the river is filling the lake
quickly, the lakes can be turquoise also.
mountainside on this image from Kootenay National Park is beautifully colored.
But the coloring is deceptive. The rust color is dead conifers. The black is
foliage that was consumed by fire. Many of the conifers died due to pine beetle
Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution!