Loonies, Toonies and other things Canadian

I’ve really liked our neighbors to the north ever since I meet three handsome Canadians during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale when I was 19 years old.  Despite the fact that one of the young men carried the moniker, Wolfe, they were perfect gentlemen with that wonderful, laissez-faire attitude that many Canadians have. My opinion didn’t change when, years later, I worked for a Canadian start-up that developed a multi-tasking operating system long before Windows.  Many of my co-workers were Canadian and lovely people one and all.

You can’t help but like a nation of people who know how to laugh at themselves. Take the guy running the laundromat in Ft. Macleod on Saturday where John and I stopped to do a bit of laundry. He was explaining how the Canadian coinage worked and his instruction went something like this…

“You’ll need loonies and toonies. Yea, we name our currency loonies and toonies.  Loonies are ones and toonies are two-dollar coins. In the States, you have serious names for your currency. We’re a comic book nation. It’s loonies and toonies in Canada.”

Toonie to the left and loonie to the right.

And then there was the elderly man and his wife who we met at a provincial recreation area camp site during our first night in Canada. They were camped beside us and, as fate would have it, he was retired from the ranger service and knew all about Banff National Forest and the Ice Field Parkway because he had worked there for years. He was a lovable curmudgeon who promised we’d see some incredible country in Banff National Forest and up the Ice Field Parkway – and he was right.

Banff Hot Springs

Banff is a quaint, alpine town with lots of nice shops. It’s also home to a hot springs which we enjoyed Sunday afternoon followed by a great massage.

Lake Louise before the big thaw.

From Banff, we made our way to Lake Louise and camped there overnight. The lake was still frozen but amazingly beautiful in all its icy splendor.

Today, we headed toward Jasper along the Ice Fields Parkway.  Incredible scenery. We also say another grizzly bear along the way. We stopped in at the Ice Centre and took the tour up to the glaciers on the Columbia Ice Field. Well worth the $50/head it costs. Just riding in the big ice mobiles needed to transport you out onto the glacier is an experience!

Going arctic at the Columbia Ice Field.

We made it to Jasper and turned east on highway 16 toward Edmonton. Our last wildlife encounter occurred in Jasper National Forest where we stopped to take a photo of the big horn sheep munching on the side of the road. I was driving, so John got out to snap the photo when here comes a rather large mountain goat sneaking up behind him.  I thought my husband was about to get butted (literally) to kingdom come, but the goat thought better of it and veered away at the last moment — a dis-ass-ter avoided, so to speak.

Big horn sheep in Jasper National Forest

Tomorrow we’re headed to Edmonton for a noon Rotary Club meeting and then on to Saskatoon – where loonies and toonies are the currency du jour.

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