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Canada: land of mountains

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JUNE 25, 2015

Lakes, mountains, black bears and an awareness of how small my perspective of the world really is: These are the things I experienced in Canada’s Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. My lack of an international cell phone service plan forced me to pay attention to my surroundings and observe without distraction, and for that I am grateful. Below, I’ll share with you some of the things I saw.

Canada 1When I first arrived with my family in Calgary, Alberta, a cosmopolitan city near Banff, I noticed the lack of people on the roads. My surroundings had definitely changed — the houses and people I’m accustomed to had been replaced by empty fields and a few trees.

Canada 2I also noticed the abundance of wildlife. Above, a lamb makes its way through Jasper National Park.

Canada 3And here, a herd of bighorn sheep licks the ground for minerals.

Canada 4I also discovered Bow Lake, an underrated attraction and by far my favorite lake because of the reflectiveness of the surrounding mountains.

Canada 4I rode up to the glaciers of Columbia Icefield on a special bus with these oversized wheels for traction in the ice. It was just a 15-minute drive up, but the change in scenery  was immense, shifting from somewhat warm weather to freezing temperatures, with glacial ice filling the landscape. Not only is the ice beautiful — its signature blue color is caused by its structure, which creates light scattering — but it’s also a great source of drinking water.

YSU_8406I also drive by the the Athabasca River, which originates from the Columbia Glacier of the Columbia Icefield.

Canada 6At about 1 a.m., I drove to an empty parking lot close by Pyramid Lake, hoping to view the Milky Way. I wasn’t expecting much, as the weather forecast had predicted clouds — not so great news for stargazing. But contradictory to the forecast, the sky was completely clear. The abundance of stars was amazing, especially when compared to the polluted skies of the Bay Area.

Canada 7On my way to Maligne Lake, we spotted a mother bear and a cub crossing the street.

Canada 8I was lucky enough to get pretty close to this bear cub without it noticing me.

Canada 9My family and I drove 450 miles from Jasper to Vancouver and then took a ferry to Vancouver Island, the main island across from the city of Vancouver.

Victoria, BC, CAOn Vancouver Island, I visited Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia and a popular tourist destination.

Butchart GardensJust outside of Victoria, the Butchart Gardens include many different gardens, such as a rose garden, the Sunken Garden and a Japanese garden, and the plants are chosen seasonally. The Sunken Garden, above, was once a rock quarry.

Butchart Rose GardenThe rose garden was home to a variety of vibrant roses, climbing archways and fences.

Butchart GardensA Japanese-style gate leads you to a series of small ponds, a stream and beech trees in the Japanese Garden.

There’s no doubt that this trip was a success, as it allowed me to broaden my perspective of the world — which is always a good idea.

Contact Yinan Su at [email protected].

JUNE 24, 2015