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Long Weekend camping in the City!

Somehow, i still really don’t know how, we were conned/convinced into camping at Lane Cove National Park, on the outskirts of Sydney on a long weekend, during the Festival of Vivid. I know we are crazy idiots, but booked we were and so on Friday afternoon after a late finish at work we did the crazy pre-trip madhouse runaround getting the entire house it seems jammed into the camper, and hitched on up.

We hit the freeway not too long before dusk, and we weren’t too far down the M1 before it started to rain. Two of my least favourite things when towing – dark and raining.

We arrived at the park – Lane Cove River Tourist Park – having made our way without any issues (thanks Google) about 7.30pm. The rest of the crew were already set up and onto their first drinks. The sites (and park actually) were much larger than we expected with lovely concrete pads and well maintained sites, making for an easy drive onto and unhitch situation, which was very welcome.

The two tall lads helped us fiddle around with the awning and get it up nice and quickly in the rain, and we too were also standing around with a drink in our hand.

Saturday morning we woke to the sounds of planes taking off from Sydney Kingsford International Airport, and rain on the roof.

The weather was not playing kindly with us, and when you’re in the city and the weather is awful what does one do? Costco! Yep we headed off for our first visit to Costco.

Having spent the good part of the morning wandering around, we grabbed some lunch goodies and headed back to camp.

We spent the afternoon sky watching trying to determine if our plans to head into the city for Vivid were sound or not. In the end we decided to chance it and headed off for an adventure to the city.

Vivid 2018

North Ryde train station is only about 700m up the road from the park, so we headed off on foot to the station.

Hopefully the sunset as we arrived at the station was a good sign.

With the zappy zaps (Opal Cards) sorted we didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived to take us to Circular Quay via Wynyard.

We headed to Fortune of War, where we had (thankfully) pre-booked a table for dinner.

Dinner at the Fortune of War

We followed the Vivid Light walking trail which led us under the bridge and spectacular views of the Opera House and Luna Park, and then down the path to the water near the bridge.

We then followed the waterfront all the way back to the train station.

Opera House and Circular Quay laser lights.

Due to some construction on the waterfront the pathway leads back up into the beautiful Rocks.

Given it was a long weekend – albeit, wet and cold – we were really surprised at the lack of crowds around for the evening, which made for an easy and pleasant night especially for the kids.

The views back to the Bridge and up towards Circular Quay from the Passenger Terminal.

As the night was getting late, and the little feet a little tired we started to make our way towards the train station, so i was grabbing a few shots along the way.

With a few tired little (and big) people we made the trek back to the park on the trains.

North Ryde Station really is pretty cool!

I made a little video of our Vivid adventure …

Vivid: Festival of Light 2018

Sunday morning the weather still wasn’t really playing nice with us but we did glimpse some blue sky.

With a hearty breakfast in our bellies, and what looked like a clearing sky we tempted fate by bundling all the kids up in their wet weather gear and heading off on a bush walk.

Weir Walk

Our Walk

We kinda let the kids decide (but also pushed for the shorter Weir walk) 🙂

The walk was pretty easy, the first part was a small decline down some stairs and then mostly flatish walk along the river edge – it is a truly stunning part of the city.

You have no idea how close to the city you really are when you walking through the park.

As we made our way back to camp i made a little video of the walk.

Lane Cove Weir Walk

The Park

Whilst it didn’t really rain – a few sprinkles here and there – the weather wasn’t really pleasant enough to do too much, so by sunset we all had the cabin fevers setting in, so we decided to walk the park before settling in for the night.

We were so impressed with the facilities of the park, how clean and tidy everything was and really everything about the park. If you have too (or want too) camp in the city, this is most definitely the place to do it.

A few more pics of our sites.

As we usually do we ate like kings and even had beautiful Costco apple pie ( i even indulged a little on the Gluten feast).

Monday morning saw dry skies after some late night downpours, which meant we were all able to pack up dry which is always a good end to a camping trip.

Thanks to all the crew for an awesome weekend despite the weather! Can’t wait for the next trip.

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’bungles to Brissie – #6 – Kwiambal NP

We left Ezzy’s Crossing and stopped Visitor Centre at Warialda, and the lady there suggested we head to Crank Rock before heading to Kwiambal National Park. I had seen the Cranky Rock pamphlet but given how dry it was we weren’t really expecting to see any water, however the VC lady indicated the water is spring fed so there is usually water there. This changed our minds and off to Cranky Rock we headed.

Cranky Rock

Cranky Rock turn off is About 5km east of Warialda, off the Gwydir Highway, the 3 km sealed road will take you all the way to Cranky Rock where you will find a jumble of giant boulders heaped in the most fantastic positions by a past volcanic upheaval, features include a suspension bridge, a viewing platform and short walking tracks. The facilities include picnic areas, a large shelter with free barbecues, public toilets and a children’s playground. There is a full time caretaker and kiosk on site if want to stay overnight or even longer there is a campground with powered/unpowered sites and hot showers available.

The name Cranky Rock was derived from an old legend which said that an old ‘Cranky Chinaman’ jumped to his death from the highest point of the balancing rocks after being accused of some wrong doing.

Suspension Bridge selfies.

Cranky Rock is definitely worth a quick or a long stop if you’re out that way.

Kwiambal National Park

Kwiambal NP is located about 30 km from the town of Ashford (about 50km north of Inverell). The Severn River and Macintyre River both flow through and finally converge in the park below the MacIntyre falls.

Gorges, caves and waterholes are only a few of the surprises of Kwiambal National Park. The facilities in the park are brilliant. Each of the areas have covered seated areas, toilets and other than the cave there are free BBQs again undercover. The campgrounds have free firewood (when its available) and Lemontree had a small covered basic camp kitchen like area.

This is one of those places you almost don’t want to share its that good, because as soon as you do, y’all are going to want to go there !!!! (And you should it’s brilliant).

Ashford/Limestone Caves

As you first enter the park, you reach the Ashford/Limestone Caves.

From 1916 to 1967, at least 3 of the Ashford Caves were sporadically mined for their phosphate -rich bat droppings (guano) which was used as fertiliser. The current entry to Ashford Main Cave is actually the result of an excavation of 1-2 metres of guano from the cave floor and then tunnelling through the bedrock.

Ashford Main Cave is horizontal in form, allowing easy access for visitors, outside of the summer bat-maternity season. During this period, when thousands of threatened species of bats use the caves as a birthing site, access is limited as disturbance can result in the abandonment and mortality of infant bats.

Ashford Caves occurs on the northern edge of a limestone outcrop, which stretches for 10 kilometres along Limestone Creek.

Once inside the cave you are going to want to have a torch as it gets pretty dark pretty quick! There are a few larger main cavities that you can walk through quite easily however as you go in further the roof level lowers and whilst you could see some had opted for exploring the smaller (ie crawl through) cavities we were happy to stay standing LOL

The walk is really easy, there is a small incline and a few steps when you first leave the parking lot but otherwise its flat and pretty smooth going.

Gnarly old tree hanging on for its life.

Lemontree Flat Campground

From the cave we made our way to Lemontree Flat Campground, the bigger of the two campgrounds in the park. With the camper up, we had a bite to eat under the shade of the trees and had a bit of a chat to Mr Friendly Skippy who I’m quite sure would have happily let me pat him and hand feed him had i been inclined. It was pretty clear this little guy knew we were a source of food, thankfully the others we saw weren’t quite as comfortable with us and stayed their distance.

Poser 😂

Our camp spot

As cute as it is dont feed the animals people, its for their own good and for our own safety in some cases particularly the little ones, even the size of these little guys they could do some serious damage if they were frightened or felt threatened.

Mr Super friendly Skippy

After a bite to eat we decided to go and check out the other campground before heading to the falls.

Kookabitta Campground

Kookabitta is a smaller campground with about maybe 8 sites. There are tables and firepits, drop toilets and an undercover BBQ area. The view of the river is much clearer and its easier to access than at Lemontree.

From Kookabitta we headed to Macintrye Falls where there are few walks and views of the gorge below.

Macintrye Falls

There are two lookouts at the Falls area.

We headed down the track along the Rock Pool Walk which takes you down to the water hole you can see from the first lookout.

The little waterfall was running when we were there, and i can only imagine how spectacular it would be after rain!

Macintrye Falls Pano

MacIntyre Falls selfie – our selfie game is improving. (Somewhat)

We headed back to camp for a nice relaxing afternoon in the shade – well that was the original plan. When we got back to camp i saw the sign for the Dungeon Walk and we decided that we were already in walking mode we may as well keep going.

The Dungeon Walk

The dungeon walk. Hmm. This is one of those funnier after the fact stories. We had downloaded the NSW National Parks app which allows you to download info for offline use, which is great as there is very limited phone service in the park, however we hit a small fault with this walk. There was little info about the walk and a picture showed the walk sign – 1km walk via the Junction Walk. Now Junction Walk track left the campground not far from our campsite, so i thought perfect, a small little lookout walk to end the afternoon.

We jumped on and off the track to check out/try to find the river and look at the flood debris that was around the area.

The track was very well maintained and has markers along the trail so you know where the path is and was free from debris, but beware of the little cactus that jump out of nowhere onto you – those suckers hurt and are a pain to get rid of, i was pulling teeny tiny thorns out of my leg and fingers for quite sometime.

After a little while, we were like this is a very long 1km walk and we aren’t anywhere near a high point for a lookout. We started to doubt this was actually a 1km walk and started to wonder if in fact the lookout was a detour off the Junction Track which was about 7km round trip, which we weren’t looking for at this time of day.

We opted to walk for another 20 mins and if we didn’t see/find anything we would turn around and head back to camp, before sunset. Right on the 20 minutes mark we started to climb and found a pretty awesome view.

The Severn River has huge granite slabs on its edges, some with scars from being ground down under the pressure of flooding water mixed with gravel.

We also managed a little bit of signal to access – yep you guessed Google Maps – which showed where we were on the track and sure enough the Dungeon Lookout was still a good 1km away. Given we’d come this far already we decided to push on.

The Dungeon lookout is a great spot to view the Severn rushing through a deep river gorge with steep granite walls and cascades. This is a relatively easy walk, but keep an eye on the kids as the track contours along the cliff line at some spots. We even saw a few little billy goats. Interesting (or maybe not), as goats are not natural to the park area, NPS have an action plan to rid the park of the wild goats by tagging and releasing one goat then tracking it down once it joins an established herd, which means they can capture a bigger herd – a silent assassion goat – cant say we’ve heard of this method before!

As we hit the crest leading out to Dungeon Lookout we were met with a few different signs – no wonder we are confused lol.

The view from the lookout is pretty impressive and well worth the walk.

Dungeon Lookout – Severn River

Pothole like rocks

With sunset looming, we decided to just backtrack the way we had come up and head back to camp.

Almost back to camp


We arrived back at camp just before sunset and in time to get the fire stoked up – our first one for this trip, so Tash was a happy camper.

Tash was happy we finally got a fire.

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‘bungles to Brissie – #2 – Grand High Tops.

Some where between Happy Hour and Good Friday drinks at the Pub we agreed to do sunrise on top of the Warrumbungles. Trev managed to suck us in real good on this one!

Grand High Tops

So after getting to bed at about midnight, we awoke to our alarms at the allotted 3am time slot and got ourselves dressed and into the cars.

We headed off up the road for about 30 to 40 mins trying to dodge the roo’s at 10 paces. Unfortunately one didn’t turn quick enough. i saw him coming at the side of the car and was like uh-oh this isn’t going to be good! He turned and as he’s swing around his tail had gone thump, I’ve gone gulp, and picked up the CB – Trev he got me. Trev – you wanna stop. I’m like I can’t hear weird noises but it didn’t sound good. Nah keep going I think we’re okay.

We arrive at the parking lot get out the torches, and thankfully his tail has swiped the side wheel fairing on the truck. It’s still there in one piece but busted – we’ll deal with that when we come back down.

By now it’s 4am and still dark but the full moon is shining so we probably didn’t need our torches but the track alternates from rocky to sandy to paved so the torches helped ensure we didn’t break a limb.

Ahead of us was an approximate 12km round trip taking us to Grand High Tops lookout and a birdseye view (and hopefully picture perfect) of sunrise over the infamous Breadknife of the Warrumbungles.

Warrumbungle National Park is Australia’s only Dark Sky Park, making it the perfect spot for stargazing, amateur astronomy and Astro photography, except when its a full moon! In January 2013 about 80% of the national park was destroyed by fire, so it was good to see the regeneration that has occurred over the past 5 years.

We made pretty good time for the first 4 odd kms and took a breather at the table and chairs.

I promise the others are there!

From here it was pretty much stairs and straight up for about 2km or a bit less, which took us a bit longer then the entire first section.

As we got closer to the top the moonlight was shining on one of the rock formations and we couldn’t resist a few quick photos.



We made it to top just as first light was breaking and it was a pretty sweet feeling I have to say.

First light breaking

We cranked out some shots for an hour or so before the girls started the climb back down.

Thanks for the photo Nelly !

Have you even climbed if you don’t get one of these?

Top group shot by another photographer who joined us just after daylight – Adam Resch

Trev and I still had a few more shots to get in the bag before we headed down.

Daylight is starting to sweep across the landscape

Always look behind. Just to the right but out of picture is Tooraweenah

Daylight on the Breadknife

Sunlight hits the western mountains

The sun hasn’t quite risen high enough to hit the breadknife

Boom, sunlight on the breadknife

It was quite fresh at first light particularly with sweaty wet shirts – haha yep too much information – but as the sun rose it was really pleasant up on top of the world or at least that what it seemed like.

The Long Way Down

We started the descent, and oh boy I have to say I wasn’t any way near as buggered coming up as thought (it was bloody tough but didn’t kill me) but geeez, how hard is coming down on the body.

I grabbed a few shots on the phone as we made our way down.

Trev and I seem to have shadows following us.

Legs meet stairs

And some more

Nature’s lego

The same rock formation we took before  daylight with the moonlight hitting it

The goat track for non jelly legs

More stairs but the view!

We hit the stairs and my legs were like jelly. The girls were waiting for us mid stairs and and once we hit the flat it was like a bunch of drunken sailors, our legs didn’t know what was going on.

Oh hey girls

Yep still more down there too

Just keep looking at the view

tash striding out on the stairwalk

Where the stairs meet the pavement

The view to the top

See i told you they were there!

Back down at river level

So so dry here

The start of the walk – didn’t even know these were here when went past them this morning

As we walked out groups were walking in and it was a pretty cool feeling knowing we were done and they were, well barely even getting started.

Roo Damage

We got back to the cars and I was able to survey the damage a little better and was quite relieved. It could have been a whole lot worse. I managed to remove the fairing without issue, however now poor Charlie had the spare tyre and missing fairing so he wasn’t looking too flash at all.

The damage

There i fixed it!

The other camp crew were meeting up with us in the park so we had time to chill out.

Visitor Centre

From the hike car park we headed to visitor centre where we showed the kids – big and little – where we had walked.

The gorgeous visitor centre

Siding Springs Observatory

We left the park and headed to Siding Springs Observatory to check out the telescopes.









Lunch in Coonabarrabran

Once we had all geeked out enough at the telescopes we headed into Coona (Coonabarrabran) to try to get our tyre fixed but being Easter Saturday everything was shut so we opted for lunch at the Pub instead.

With bellies full – well my roast barely touched the sides after kranking out 23,000 steps before 10.30am – we headed for camp via the Emu farm.


Time to Feast (Again)

Roast feast was on the menu back at camp for dinner as well, so for those that didn’t nanna nap the afternoon away preparations for the feast began,and my oh my what a feast it was. Linda excelled at both the shopping list for us all and the coordination of dinner. Safe to say none of us were hungry nor was it a late night 😂

Barely able to coherently talk and shower I was in bed and out to it by about 11.00pm.

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Canada ’17 – Jasper Lakes and Canyons

As we were making our back into Jasper this morning, we were caught in a traffic jam, which as we moved slowly along, became clear it was actually an animal jam.

Animals causing the traffic to slow down

We figured we were already in the traffic jam, so we may as well pullover and grab a few photos.

Today we were all about water.

Our first stop (well technically second after the little guys above), was Medicine Lake.


Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is part of the Maligne Valley watershed which is mainly glacial fed.  It is a geologic anomaly in the sense that it is not actually a lake but rather an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River) backs up and suddenly disappears underground. During the summer months during intensified meltwater runoff the lake (which during the winter months is a meandering frozen river) fills to levels which fluctuate over time and with the runoff events.

Much like a bathtub that is filled too fast for it to drain, it becomes laden with water until it can slowly drain as the tap flow is reduced. The underground system is extensive and during the 1970s researchers used a biodegradable dye to determine the underground river’s extent. The dye showed up in many of the lakes and rivers in the area to the point where it became clear that the underground system was one of the most extensive in the world.

The imposing Colin Range flanking the side of Medicine Lake.

Maligne Lake

It is famed for the colour of its water, the surrounding peaks and the three glaciers visible from the lake and Spirit Island. Maligne Lake is fed and drained by the Maligne River, which enters the lake on its south side, near Mount Unwin and drains the lake to the north.











Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is the largest lake in Jasper National Park. The valley in which the lake lies was carved and excavated by valley glaciers, and the lake has been dammed at its northern end by an end moraine deposited by the last glacier, which flowed down the valley towards the Athabasca River. The glacial deposits and landforms forming the end moraine are excellent examples of glacial deposition.

We walked the Moose Lake Loop.

The Moose Lake loop trail stays mainly in Jasper’s woods, and there are so many pines in the area.

and with summer in full swing there were even some pretty flowers in bloom.

many of the dying and dead trees were covered in this.

The path is well maintained and is easy to follow and meanders through the forest and emerges at Moose Lake, unfortunately no Moose for us today.

Moose Lake
Moose Lake

We followed the path and veered off onto the path taking us to the shoreline of Maligne Lake.

We wandered up to the point.

Maligne Lake

We wandered our way back along the shoreline to the car.

Canoe’s for hire at Maligne Lake.
Lots of walking trails and activities to choose from at the Lake.

Looking back up the lake from the bridge.

Looking downstream from the bridge.

We left the lake behind and were hoping to find a nice little shady picnic area by the river for lunch. We found this little river bend but unfortunately there wasn’t any shade or facilities.

We eventually found a little carpark area at one of the trail heads to stop for a quick bite to eat before making our way to Maligne Canyon. The scenery on the drive was again spectacular.

Six bridges have built across Maligne Canyon allowing hikers of all abilities to explore this incredible area.

Maligne Canyon – which bridge will you take?

We started at the top of the canyon and walked down and back to fourth bridge, but opted to drive to fifth and sixth to save a little time (and our legs!)

The canyon is constantly being eroded by the churning and swirling of the water. The effect of this has made the width 2 metres (6.6 ft) across at some points and a depth of 50 metres (160 ft).

In some sections the water gently flows over, in other areas it pounds and smashes it way over and through the rocks.

Taken in the same location, these two pics below show the ‘normal’ flow of water versus the use of a filter on the camera lens to ‘slow’ the water down and obtain that silky water effect.

The water pools, then drops, pools then drops.

After we managed to make our way back up from fourth bridge, we jumped in the car and headed for fifth bridge.

The view from fifth bridge.

Sixth Bridge.

From Sixth bridge we decided to head out to Edith Lake.

From Edith Lake we headed further around to Lake Annette. The light was looking quite amazing by the time we arrived.

Lake Annette
We wandered the shoreline for a little while passing the quick sand pits – we figured we would take their word for it and avoided the area as signed posted!

The afternoon sun and light was just gorgeous so we took the opportunity to take a leisurely walk around the lake.

We had had quite a few big days back to back, and we were hitting the road again tomorrow so we opted to start to head for home before sunset.

As we were driving past the river area, that we pass on each trip in and out of Jasper, the road was lined with cars and we were trying to figure out what was happening, and then we realised, everyone was enjoying a later afternoon ice bath in the river. We (well I) couldn’t resist joining them, Tash well she was much less enthused with the idea!

Selfie in the middle of the Athabasca River.
Frozen feet after walking in the glacier fed Athabasca River (and the start of some serious tan lines!)

The weather was starting to turn so we left the river behind and headed off home.

The storm looked quite menacing but we managed to make it back to Hinton before the weather hit, so we decided to try and see if we could spot the local wildlife before it got too dark. Beaverlake Boardwalk was only about 2 minutes from home.

Beaverlake Boardwalk
Mr Beaver! he finally made an appearance almost on dark so i just managed to capture him.

With Mr Beaver spotted it was time to head home for a feed, pack a good nights sleep.


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Canada ’17 – River to Mountain

After our late dash to Jasper last night due to our sunset stop at Rearguard Falls, we arrived at our AirBnB accommodation in Hinton, about an hour outside of Jasper quite late (pretty close to midnight actually). With summer in full swing, the accommodation is Jasper is either booked out or out of price range, so this little AirBnB seemed like a good second option. It was a 1 bedroom, basement apartment and we were pretty happy with it when we arrived. It had plenty of space and was clean and comfortable.

After a few big days, we had a lazy start to the day with a bit of a sleep in and we headed to the Visitor Centre in Hinton for some current maps and to check out if there was anything new we should visit since our last time here in Jasper (way back in 2006).

Given it was dark on our way out, we obviously didn’t get a good look at the drive from Jasper to Hinton, so we were keen to hit the road this morning, our destination today Athabasca Falls.

We weren’t too far into our drive out of Hinton before we started to follow the Athabasca River and those glorious milky glacial waters, so when there was a pullover, we had to stop.

Oh my word, road trips take on a whole new meaning over here!

Just you know, the view out the front window!

We stop at the Mount Hardisty, Mount Edith Cavell and Athabasca Pass lookout. The pullout gives some really good views of the mountain peaks, and there are little wooden plaques pointing to each of the mountains.

Rodger just chillin at the lookout.

More stunning road trip views.

We finally arrive at our intended destination – the majestic Athabasca Falls.

Unlike many of the other falls, these start off quite unassuming.

Stunning views of Athabasca River and Mt. Kerkeslin.

As you make your way along the path, the falls start to take shape, however, at this point first time visitors still can’t see the full falls, but can start to hear them.

… and then around a small bend in the path they start to open up

The walk is all paved and there a few bridges crossing the river giving spectacular views back to the falls and of the mighty canyons it has gauged its way through over the centuries.


Looking downstream

You can also walk around to the other side of the falls.

Looking back across the falls.


Almost at the bottom

We walked all the way down to river level

After spending probably way too much time at the falls, we headed back towards town. We made a few stops along the way.

We were jumping back and forth about what to do next – do we go up the summit again or head out to Pyramid Lake where we hadn’t been. Even though we had done it before, with the weather and skies being so clear we decided to hit the Jasper Sky Tram.

Who can resist bears!

Alright! Going Up!

It’s always a little difficult in most gondala’s/trams etc to get a really shot as the glass is usually quite thick, scratched and throws serious glare and shadows, but i wasn’t going to miss this view.

Looking back down to the base station.

Looking over the township of Jasper

Looking up the valley

Boy did we make the right decision. The view was spectactular and the skies were even clearer than we thought, so much so that Mt Robson was visible, which we are told is extremely rare – score!

Mt Robson in all her glory.

So its 6 o’clock at night, what do you do? You decided to summit the mountain! Yep we figured we were there, the weather was perfect let’s do it.

We’re going up there, over there to the right

and when we get over there, keep going.

Its possible we are idiots! But up we go …

Look at that view.

Pretty sure even this dude was throwing some shade our way for walking up here.

Still climbing

These chairs are synonymous with Parks Canada, so finding them up here was pretty cool.


We took a side trail

Looking back – you just see the top of the Sky Tram summit station to the left in front of the rocks.

The views are certainly worth the hike.

Whoo Hoo we made it! Whistler’s Peak conquered.


We didn’t do too bad, making the summit in about an hour with quite a few stops along the way, but it was 7.30pm and we were getting pretty hungry so we humped back to the Sky Tram station to get us back to the bottom of the mountain.

This little guy was keeping watch on everyone as we made our way back down.

I love the patterns that nature makes all on its own.

The light on the way back down the Sky Tram was stunning.

We eventually made it back to the bottom of the mountain by about 8pm, so considering i think we did alright.

We headed back into town and smashed some chinese, and i mean smashed because we were starving and watching this sunset unfold, whilst the Rocky Mountaineer prepared to leave – i mean come on! I’m supposed to be on holidays here!

There she goes – Rocky Mountaineer leaving Jasper on sunset.

and on that note, it was time for us to head for the hills and get home for a somewhat early night.