July 16 - 19

Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 25, 2011

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Saturday, July 16, 2011

We had a half day in Waterton Lakes before we needed to depart for Banff National Park, since it was going to be about a 5 hour drive. I realized that I should have planned more time here because it is really a nice park with much to do. In our limited time we decided that we would visit an area called Red Rocks, which has some hiking as well as biking.

The drive to Red Rocks was about 30 minutes, and we were excited to see a group of Big Horn Sheep not long after we left.   We had seen the one when we were at Logan Pass in Montana, so we were excited to see this now group.  At Red Rocks, the plan was for me to go on a mountain bike ride with the girls, while Xiu waked the path around the Red Rock area.   We made it about 2 miles on the bike path, when some of the hills and riding conditions got too challenging, so we decided to go back.  I actually took the hardest fall when I was ascending up a steep hill and couldn't get my clip out of the pedal and fell backward down the hill.   The girls were all quite concerned and ran to help me up, but I was fine!  It was still a good experience, and the girls first true mountain biking.

When we got back we also walked around the Red Rocks trail, and we got a close view of a group of mountain goats with several babies.   It was pretty cool!  Emma and I walked down into the canyon and got some nice pictures in the water and against the rocks.   When we came back up we had lunch and prepared for our drive to Banff.

Banff National Park was farther than expected and we wound up driving 250 miles. We finally arrived after about 6 hours of driving, in addition to several stops to stock-up on needed food supplies. Madison was shocked at the increase in prices, and actually didn't want me to buy anything...however I explained that we had little choice but to purchase what we need. We got into our site at about 8pm, and it was very nice. We got information about the park and were ready to start exploring Banff in the morning.

Banff Day 2

I woke up at 6:30 this morning and went on a bike ride before everyone got up. It was a nice, sunny morning...but still chilly! I rode from the campsite down to the town of Banff, and then explored the town. Banff is not what I expected, because the town is extremely commercial - similar to Breckenridge or Vail. There is hotel after hotel, and high end restaurants up and down the town attracting plenty of tourists. This approach is quite different than the US National Parks we have seen, which are not at all commercial.

Once I return to the RV, everyone is awake and getting ready. We decide that today we will spend the day on a lake kayaking and fishing. We depart and head to a spot that looks appealing, however upon arriving it doesn't meet my expectations and I decide to try another location. Xiu is frustrated with this, however I want an area where the girls will have a beach to play on.It takes us about 15 minutes to find another lake, and we were all very happy with the new location. From the lake we have a great view of the mountains, there is a nice small beach for the kids to play

, and there is fishing in the lake...everyone is happy.   It takes almost an hour to get everything unloaded and to get the two kayaks in the water, but we are out on the lake by about 11am.  Katelyn and Emma are initially more interested in playing on the beach, while Madison and Xiu take the first Kayak out. The views of the snow capped mountains from the water was spectacular.  

We spent the entire afternoon on the water or on the beach.  We fished, kayaked , swam, and had a great afternoon.  As we approached evening, we decided to stay and have dinner on the beach.  I prepared the lake trout that we caught, and we grilled them right on the beach and had a feast!  The girls were so excited to eat their fresh catch right on the beach, and it was absolutely delicious!

When we finally packed things up it was 9pm, although it felt earlier because the sun was still out. We drove back to Banff and walked around a bit. I enjoyed a Starbucks coffee, and the girls enjoyed an ice cream. What a nice end to the day! We arrived back at the campground at about 10:45. Everyone took a shower, and the girls were in bed shortly after 11pm. It was a long, fun, and relaxing day!
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Xiu on

It was a good decision to go to a different lake, where there is a beach. Mike is not always right. But in this case, he was right and we had a great day. Unfortunately, I never caught any fish despite my long hours on the lake.

Xiu on

This is a comment for those moms who watch Sarah Jessica Parker in "S" and the City. Banff is Carrie Bradshaw's type of "camping town" if she and her girlfriends ever decide to go on an RV trip across America. I thought Banff was really nice. I wish we had more time to walk the streets and people watch. This park so far has been the most commercial, but also the most diverse. We saw a lot of Asians (Chinese and Japanese, especially). There were also more international tourists here from Europe (I heard a lot of German and Dutch).

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