Canada and Alaska: Lake Louise

It’s iconic, it’s incredible, it’s a huge tourist trap. It’s Lake Louise! One of the world’s most recognisable hotels, the Fairmont Lake Louise is a huge, bustling building and we were lucky enough to have a lake-view room.

That’s the view from our room at 6:30am. Of course the views from around the lake are even better. After we got to our room and unpacked, I left Mum to do her own thing and I walked the 2.5km path that follows the right side of the lake to the end.

It was packed with people. As I walked I could hear accents from around the world. I know some people could find it annoying to be somewhere so beautiful but also surrounded by people, but you have to come to terms with being a tourist and being part of the problem and just enjoy it for what it is, and it is stunning.


I later learned that the lake changes colour throughout the year. Obviously it’s frozen in winter – it is used for hockey and skating and sledding etc, then the ice melts around the beginning of June and at that point all the rock flour (glacier sediment) has settled and the water is crystal clear. As the glaciers around the lake start to melt in the warmer weather they bring superfine rock particles that cloud the water and reflect the light, becoming a deep jade (what you see now in August), then the glaciers freeze solid before the lake does, so the water clears in September and then freezes again. So all the lakes we’ve seen are glacier-fed and jade-coloured, but will be clear in a few months. I find that fascinating!

If you walk to the end of Lake Louise you can see six separate glaciers, three of which are visible from the hotel, but one of which is mostly covered in moraine, or landslides. People think of glaciers as pure, ancient water. But the truth is that the water that comes out of them is filthy because they grind the landscape so harshly that they pick up the rock. In Iceland icebergs are often striated with black volcanic gravel that the glaciers churn up.

Anyhow, Lake Louise was quite experience. The hotel is vast and very busy. We had dinner again with Heather and Steve, which was lovely, then an early night because we were leaving early to get to Moraine Lake, another postcard-perfect site.

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Here Comes The Planet 50 – Tanzania 06

On this episode we spend a full day on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. African animals aplenty! (Pretty much all animals in this one, so just watch it if you like wildlife!)

Also, we manage to spot a caracal, which apparently is quite rare! Unfortunately it decided to leave just as we showed up.

Here Comes The Planet 49 – Tanzania 05

In this episode Team Toto soar above the Serengeti in a hot air balloon and drink champagne like the rock stars they wish they were! An unforgettable experience that we shared with many of our travel companions.

Also, I deliver on a promise I made to amp up the excitement of a balloon coming in to land… 😉

Thanks again to Pete and Deb for letting us use some of their footage!

Here Comes The Planet 48 – Tanzania 04

On this episode of Here Comes The Planet we head out to the Serengeti for our first safari, and spot a good number of animals! As exciting as it was, to get there we had to drive many hours over what was by far the worst “road” many of us have ever had the displeasure to experience. Worth it in the end, but only just!

Also, we take a sneak peak at the location of what will be the location of our next safari, the Ngorongoro crater.

Special thanks to our travel companions Pete and Deb for loaning us their footage to use in our video!

New York: The Museum of Natural History

The MoNH is an icon. Alongside the Empire State Building, Central Park and Times Square, it’s something you know about long before coming to New York. We spent a day there and it was a good amount of time. There were four ‘extras’ you could pay for so we bought the deluxe ticket for $38 each. A tip if you’re going with a group – go to the same cashier together when you arrive as they allot you a time for each special exhibit and we had to go back to get Sean’s session times aligned with ours. The staff were very happy to help though and it only took a couple of minutes.

There’s a big gap in the ‘wow’ factor between the new exhibits and the old. A lot of the old stuff is basically huge dioramas that look quite faded, but still have a certain charm for all that. The first hall we walked through was African animals, with taxidermied versions of many animals we’d seen roaming the Serengeti earlier in the year. Sean had just been to the zoo too so he’d seen the animals live as well.

The new and special exhibits are fantastic though. First off we saw the frogs. They were definitely a highlight of the day, partly because the names and signs were kind of amusing…

How unflattering. And it wasn’t even that dumpy. Or at least, no more dumpy than any other frog.

Zombie frog is coming to EAT YOUR BRAINS!

But most because there were poison dart frogs!!! This is very worthy of multiple exclamation marks because poison dart frogs are possibly the most brightly coloured animals in the world, outside the bird and insect kingdoms.

How could something so deadly be so adorable?

 

So many! The yellow ones are the most deadly, poisonous even to touch – although in captivity they do not eat the same food and do not develop toxins.

I’ll take 10 thanks.

I could’ve spent all day looking at the frogs but it was time to move on. Next we went to the planetarium, where we watched a movie about the expansion of the universe and dark matter. I learned about red and blue light but I still don’t get how, no matter where you are in the universe, everything appears to be moving away from you. The movie was voiced by Neil Degrasse-Tyson.

After the planetarium was the live butterfly room. They had some species I hadn’t seen before but it was much smaller than Cairns or Melbourne Zoo, unsurprisingly, as it is not a permanent exhibition. No photos of butterflies because I seem to be unable to take decent photos of the stupid things.

Last of the special exhibitions was whales. It was a large hall with movies playing, skeletons and a lot of Maori history and things from NZ. They showed whales being dissected and a lot of awful stuff about how rubbish in the ocean is killing them. It was pretty depressing but necessary for people to know. Not as depressing as the news, in the frog exhibit, that there is currently a ‘death wave’ of fungal infection that is killing 96% of frogs as it passes through South America and is expected to continue across the world.

 

Apart from the temporary exhibits I quite enjoyed seeing a few dinosaur  skeletons and a giant turtle shell and bones. I had no idea they grew so big!

He looks so happy!

You can’t evolve to the point of having things like this on your head and then be surprised when your species dies out. I wonder how many got caught on trees and just couldn’t disentangle? And you can forget getting through doorways.

If I lived in NYC I’d think about becoming a member here. So much interesting stuff, and the crowds weren’t prohibitive either. I learned quite a lot and definitely left without seeing everything. I haven’t even posted pictures of the minerals section, which was also excellent. So if you’re in the city be sure to check it out!

 

 

 

 

Here Comes The Planet 40 – Iceland 05

In our final Iceland video, we take a Superjeep tour, go hiking over a mountain, sledding down a volcano and touch a glacier. I think we can all agree, Iceland is pretty damn rad.

Also, learn how to say Eyjafallajökull! 😀