Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Peace Bridge

After our trip to Europe last summer I saw a new bridge across the Grand Canal in Venice. I did some research and discovered the architect who designed it also did a similar foot bridge across the Bow River in Calgary.

The architects name is Santiago Calatrava from Spain.

And this is just one photo of the bridge he did in Venice. If you wish to compare the two bridges, go to the blog post I did last year on the bridges of Venice. After seeing this bridge I added the Peace Bridge in Calgary to my Bucket List.  It took us a year to finally fit it into our schedule.

About a year ago during the flood in Calgary you can see how high the water came on the Bow River.  Photo thanks to Courtney Lee.

They closed the bridge.  This photo also shows how effective the lighting is on the bridge. To see some awesome photos of the Calgary flood check this out!

Another great photo of the Peace Bridge at high water... scary times!  Isn't the lighting great!

A man saw me taking photos of the bridge and we visited for a minute.  He knew a lot about the bridge... even the name of the architect.  He was quick to tell me that it cost the City of Calgary 25 million... and that there was a lot of controversy about building  it.

To see more about the details of the controversy check out Peace Bridge on Wickipedia.

This bridge is designed with a bicycle lane in the middle... and pedestrian lanes on each side.

The curved handrail glass looks really cool.

But occasionally like anything glass, some idiot can break it.

Someone carried a rock here and threw it.  I saw the point of impact.  This glass was supplied by a company in Austria... so this does't get fixed by calling up Speedy Glass.

The one unanswered question I have on this bridge is, "How did they make the curved shaped structural members?"  I expect that these are hollow tubes, but they are all welded and fabricated without any obvious seams.  Can anyone tell me how they did it?  And imagine all the fun they must have had getting all the tempered glass the right shape and curve.

The white tubes on each side of centre above provide two continuous bars of light from above.

There is a row of up lights in the concrete pedestrian lane on each side.

At the bottom of the glass handrails there is also some foot level lighting.

You can see a park bench on the walking path along the river to the upper right... this is where Shirley and I had a picnic lunch on Friday before we headed up to CUC.

I look forward to coming back to this bridge again and again.  When ever we go down Memorial Drive I will be hoping to find an open parking spot where I can duck in so we can spend a few minutes crossing the bridge again... and I will be looking for a chance to walk across in the late evening, to see the effect of the bridge lighting.

"Any bridge that is really cool needs to be enjoyed more than once." -Sherwin Goerlitz

I kept doing research on the web and found a good article that said the metal tubular structure was built in Spain and shipped to Calgary in 16 sections.  The glass was supplied by an Austrian company. They built a temporary enclosure on the south side of the river so that they could control the quality of the welding and hired the best welders to complete the total assembly. This bridge was a work of art, and the architect specified that all joints would be invisible with a high quality painted finish. You may wish to check out this article for yourself.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hiking Up Johnston Canyon... Awesome Trail

On our return trip from Alberta and the CUC Homecoming weekend we stopped in Banff and did the Johnston Canyon hike. For years we have just sped past and said, "someday we'll have to hike there." At last we make good on that commitment.

In addition to the two major waterfalls, there are several smaller falls along the trail.

I was surprised to see snow and ice along the canyon walls in several places.

The entire hike follows along the water's edge... and the path built to accommodate the hikers was over the top incredible.

Extensive work was expended to drill into the canyon walls and then install steel cantilever beams...  to which handrails were welded and concrete precast sidewalk sections were installed.

This was one of the smaller waterfalls along the way.

It didn't take long at all and we came to the "Lower Waterfall."

There were placards along the trail... and often they had quotes by Wallace Stegner... which is one of Shirley's favourite writers... so I included several of them just for her.

"I was fascinated by how it sped past and yet was always there; its roar shook both the earth and me." -The Sound of Mountain Water, Wallace Stegner

"By such a river it is impossible to believe that one will ever be tired of old. Every sense applauds it."

"Watch its racing current, its steady renewal of force: it is transient and eternal."

"I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam..."

"It was pure delight to be where the land lifted in peaks and plunged in canyons, and to sniff air thin, spray-cooled, full of prime and spruce smells."

As we got near to the Upper Falls we came upon this newest bridgework... expanded metal deck with much the same kind of construction as the rest.  It was much nicer than the precast concrete slabs... and likely much easier to put in place, considering that it had to be transported  a mile and a half up the trail.

The Upper Falls were truly awesome... a worthwhile reward.

"... the whisper of blown and scattered spray gathering itself and beginning to flow again, secret and irresistible, among the rocks."

"As the roar of the river fades, tune in to the more subtle voices of the forest: the wind in the trees, the twitters overhead and the rustles at your feet."

"Although you have left the creek below, you can still feel its influence. The canyon's cool, damp air fills this forest and shapes the life around you."

This hike is right up there on the list of the Ten Best Hikes This Year for us.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Emerald Lake is about 10 km. further off Hwy 1 on the same road as the Natural Bridge... see post June 5, 2014.

We love this spot and have been here several times before.  We love the beautiful clear emerald water... and the red canoes.  We were a little late in the day, so the last of the canoe rentals were returning to the dock as we arrived.

Two large tour buses unloaded just before we arrived.  This is a very popular spot to visit... and everyone is impressed with the solitude and beauty.

It was a trick to get this photo of my sweetheart with so many other people on this bridge.

They have 24 individual cottages and can accommodate up to 200 guests... and the price keeps getting higher over the years.  My sister Rose told me they stayed here when it was $17 a night... and now it's more than 10 times higher.

What a gorgeous fire pit for the guests to use.

Just past the last cottages on this road the trail around the lake begins.  I didn't take a picture of the couple sitting on the deck of their cottage, each with their smart phones in hand. I turned to Shirley and said isn't it wonderful to come to this secluded place and enjoy the natural beauty of your phone.

We were surprised to still see snow along the trail.  My CUC room mate, Roger Moren, told me he worked here at this park for a year and did a lot of the work to build this trail around the lake some 45 years ago.  All the more reason for us to do this hike.

Across the lake we could see the avalanche path.  Apparently every year this area gets an avalanche.

Shirley liked the parts of the trail where they had set out heavy planks so we didn't have to walk in the mud and wet places.

There was a major stream coming into Emerald Lake, hence a major bridge.

Why do we always have to take pictures of pussy willows? Does anything say spring better than a fuzzy pussy willow?

These yellow blossoms had both Shirley and me laying down on the ground to get in tight for some close-ups.

When ever we met people on the trail we asked them where they were from.  We met people from Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Melbourne, Australia.

When we came around the lake we could see the avalanche path up close.  Interesting how good things come from the avalanche.  This creates a new environment where predators can more easily hunt for their dinner... and different plants grow to provide berries for the animals.

Do you remember when there used to be pictures on our paper bills?  Did you know that the mountain on the Canadian $5 dollar bill was this mountain at Emerald Lake? 

 As we came around on our final leg of the hike I captured Shirley again with this amazing emerald blue-green lake behind.  The hike took us about two hours... but anyone not stopping to take photos could likely do it in 90 minutes.

I would rate this hike around Emerald Lake as one of the Ten Best Hikes we have taken this year.
It is not every day one gets to walk in this magnificent beauty with the one you love most.

 "Not every lake dreams to be an ocean. Blessed are the ones who are happy with whom they are." -Mehmet Murat Ildan