Calgary and Banff
Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
28Trip End Nov 24, 2006
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So off we skipped to Calgary, where we managed to get ourselves lost trying to find the way to Banff National Park
So after many mountains and lakes later, we made our way up the most beautiful drive in the world, The Icefields Parkway and found our accommodation at Lake Louise Township
We certainly didn't need a bear bell the next day as we hiking around Lake Louise (there was a sign advising that there was a bear in the area). We had Ava, who had recently learned how to sing. Clearly at such a young age she has problems controlling THE VOLUME OF HER VOICE and managed to scare off any marmots, or cougars, or bears (oh my - sorry, it had to be done). We deemed that day, the day of the lakes. As we headed up the Icefields Parkway, we probably saw about 6000 lakes. Each one more beautiful than the next. It really was amazing. This part of the world is incredible. How those lakes get so blue - I don't know. Something to do with sediment or som'n - but I tell ya what... they're pretty incredible. We went up the summer gondola of the Lake Louise Ski resort and took in the views - which were also amazing. Hard to find an average view in the park! As we headed further North on our way to Jasper National Park, we picked up an accommodation brochure - abandoning the trusty wotif.com we started calling places from the book (yep, there's cell service all the way up the road!) and managed to find a reasonable place 60kms out of Jasper
As we headed off the main road and onto a little windy road up to our accommodation at the Miette Hot Springs - we came around a corner to quite a sight... A brown bear with two cubs. Boy did we luck in. We did exactly what we were told not to do. I'm an environmentalist at the best of times, but even I - couldn't bear (haha) the thought of passing by without taking as many photos as humanly possible. They were munching out on some grass on the side of the road, and as luck would have it - strolled slowly across the road in front of us all in a row (mumma, bubba and bubba) right in front of our car, and then came back toward us on the other side of the road as they munched their way down the road. It was like they didn't even know we were there. We had what seemed like 5 minutes (but was probably only 3) completely alone with these incredible animals that could have eaten US for dinner! Man, it was RAD. Meanwhile, Ava is going OFF in the back - screaming her guts out completely OVER being cooped up in the car (as it is once again 10pm - another 12 hour day on the road) But even then our car, the bubba, our snapping cameras..
We arrived at our accommodation and promptly spotted a deer. Being all out of film, and needing to get more out of the boot, I was about to jump out when Amanda spotted a wolf. There was no way in the world that she was going to let me out of the car, and in her best 'mum voice' she bellowed "DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR" - So, like any good daughter - I did as I was told, and the wolf continued stalking the deer. We thought we were going to see a Discovery Channel style 'the hunter vs the hunted' episode. It was all on... the intensity... the pressure. The unsuspecting deer... and just like that, the wolf came from behind the tree, and turned out to be a husky on a lead - being taken for a walk. We were in HYSTERICS all the way to our accommodation!!!!!!!!!!!
Luckily our check in to this hotel was incredibly easy. She gave me a card to fill out - and got me a key right away. Then her husband (they were a cute old Greek couple) asked us how many people we had staying, we told her 3 adults and a baby, and they upgraded us to a suite for the same price
Jasper itself was a very cute town, we had very limited time to check it out unfortunately, but it had a weird vibe of feeling like a little beachside town, but surrounded by these incredible mountains. Really cool.
The following day, we headed up to the Hot Springs. They are naturally some ridiculously hot water around 55C which they cool and pump into not so natural seeming pools of 37 degrees C. so we floated around in them for 30 mins while soaking up the mountain views. A very nice way to start off the day. We headed South to the Athabasca Glacier where we did a tour in an ice Tundra vehicle onto the Glacier. We got a chance to walk around a safe area of the glacier and fill up our water with real water! They told us all sorts of amazing information about some of the mountains, and how the glacier had retreated (or melted) about 1km over around the last 150 years. Not good. The glacier it's was one of the biggest in the world - about 3 times the size of Vancouver (from memory) and one of the mountains feeds 3 oceans via various river systems! 1st not surprisingly is the Pacific, 2nd is the Artic, and the 3rd goes all the way to the Atlantic
After our tour ended we leisurely made our back down the Icefields Parkway and made a few stops at various sights that we missed on the way up. We had afternoon tea at the Banff Springs Hotel - which is an amazing old stone hotel - feels really European. Stone walls inside, dark and cool. But oh so posh! We really fit in well there. Every view in one of their many restaurants, bars and café's had an outstanding view. It was great. Banff town site itself was also very cute. A real nice feel. Would LOVE to go back in winter.. We'll have to see how it all pans out tho! Then eventually we headed back to Calgary for our flight home and walked in the door exhausted at about midnight!
The rest of the week and weekend we did local stuff, went out for dinner and had planned to drive to Seattle for the weekend, but having gone through copious amounts of money and energy we decided to stay local and take it easy in Vancouver. Plus Ava was enjoying being able to move around and not be strapped into a car seat, so we thought we'd give her a chance to learn how to crawl. Which she did, which we happened to catch on video. I would have caught it on mine, but the lovely camera fixers of Vancouver told me in no uncertain terms that it was time to retire the camera and buy a new one
We spent the rest of the time going up to Grouse Mountain on the gondola and seeing fab views of Vancouver, visiting their Grizzly Bear enclosure, going swimming at the beach (believe it or not) - today is raining and about 10 degrees - and generally having a relaxing time.
It's a vacation that had no stress, (other than money!), no pressure and plenty of new jokes were created to be repeated over and over! It was great!
P.S For future reference, bears eat 20 hours a day in summer...