Is the Banff Gondola Worth the Price?

For my birthday this year, I got a ride on the Banff Gondola, which included an easy hike along a mountaintop boardwalk with views in all directions. At $51 to $63 per person, the excursion is pretty expensive, but I’d say it was totally worth it.

As long as the valley is not fogged in, the views of the mountains, the Fairmont and the town of Banff are amazing from the top.

I will be posting some of my photos from the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Today (and everyday) you can check the webcam there to see how the view changes with the seasons. As of October 10, the mountains are covered in snow.

Can I walk on this lake?

Gazing at the clarity of the rocks under water and the clarity of the reflection on the lake, I’m not sure what would happen if I stepped into this lake… Would my sneakers get wet as I balanced and slid on those round rocks? Or is the lake surface really reflective glass that would allow me to walk across?

Jasper Park Lodge sits unnoticed on the far side of this mirror lake in Alberta, Canada.

I have to give my husband Charlie all the credit for suggesting that we walk a few miles back from the town of Jasper to the Jasper Park Lodge. We approached the Lodge along the lake and golf course on a perfect September afternoon.

Vibrant Moraine Lake

Even in a steady rain, the vibrant color of Moraine Lake in Alberta Canada is striking. Add some fall color for contrast, and include some fallen tree trunks for foreground elements, and you the viewer are right there with me, walking along the lake’s edge.

Walking along Moraine Lake in the rain, we admired the Canadian Rockies and their glaciers.

Finding Moose in Jasper

Our current trip to the Canadian Rockies has afforded little time to process photos and write blogs, but I wanted to take a hot second in Banff to process and share one of my fun wildlife photos.

We caught this young bull moose foraging along the roadside in Jasper National Park. Had to stay in the vehicle as moose (as well as elk and bear) can be quite dangerous.

Stay tuned for many more photos of the amazing landscape of the Canadian Rockies. I recommend this trip to Lake Louise, Jasper and Banff to everyone I know, especially in the Fall.

Gargoyles, “les guardiens” of the churches of Paris

From the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one can see many other beautiful churches in the skyline. Nearby, also on Ile de la Cite is another Gothic style church with exquisite 13 c. stained glass windows, Sainte Chapelle. It was consecrated in 1248 and was part of the royal family residence until the 14th century. This church was also restored in the 19 century.

This pensive gargoyle on the tower of Notre Dame, seems to watch over Sainte Chapelle in this photograph. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

On a distant hilltop to the north, stands Sacre Coeur Basilica, a magnificent 20th-century Roman Catholic Church decorated with mosaics inside. Sacre Coeur and its quaint neighborhood Montmartre are also must-do destinations for any visit to Paris. I recommend climbing to the tower of Sacre Coeur as well for a fantastic view.

Gargoyle of Notre Dame Cathedral frames the distant view of Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

Brown Pelican in Action

I have often tried to photograph the Brown Pelican in action: taking off, landing, flying, fishing but they are so fast moving that it is difficult to track, focus and release the shutter in time to capture a crisp image. But you know what they say: stick with it, and “luck comes to the well prepared” photographer.

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With my Nikon D800 (with 600mm of glass) mounted on a tripod and focus fixed on this Brown Pelican, I captured this image of his outstretched wings.

I have always loved the Brown Pelican, because their grace belies their large stocky body, and they are quiet birds who frequent the beach. It is fascinating to watch them dive-bomb fish by careening straight down into the ocean to stun the fish and later scoop them up in their large beak, letting the whole fish glide into their ample pouch.

After a brief stop on the sandbar, off the Brown Pelican goes again, revealing another view of those huge wings.

This bird photography adventure took place at the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida.

What do you see in the Hall of Mirrors?

It’s impossible to visit the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles without feeling a sense of awe toward the history that was made here. First of all, it is visually dazzling with 17 floor to ceiling arched mirrors reflecting the light of 17 windows of equal size. The gold leaf and the baroque paintings that decorate the walls and ceiling date to 1678 and the reign of Louis XIV, before the French Revolution.

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A glimpse of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, France, witness to history.

Beyond the architecture and the stunning visual effect of the space, one must reflect on the history made here through the centuries. “Within the hall, the German Empire was declared in 1871 (Deutsche Reichsgründung)[1] and the Treaty of Versailles signed by the victorious powers of World War I in 1919.”  (Source: Wikipedia).