Rain, Mountains and Yorkville Shopping
22.07.2011 - 23.07.2011
(We have been off the grid for over 48 hours so are a little behind on our blog. This entry was written on the evening of Saturday, July 23rd)
We awakened yesterday morning in Calgary to a cold and rainy day. The change in Calgary weather had us wondering about the forecast in Banff as we were to head there immediately after checking out of our hotel to pitch a tent for the night. Simon looked up the weather forecast and it was predicting cold rain through both the afternoon and evening. Now, there are campers and there are really hard core campers...we fall into the first category so a cold and rainy camp was NOT in the plan. Simon rode to the rescue by calling the VISA rewards number and, using his accumulated points, booked us into a hotel in Banff for that night- phew!
The rain was very heavy as we left Calgary and for the first half hour of the drive the only way we knew we were getting into the mountains was that the van was on a steady climb. When the rain stopped about 30 minutes outside of Banff, the clouds parted and we were astounded at the sight all around us. The Rocky Mountains of Canada are so breathtaking it is almost hard to believe they are real.
We arrived in Banff to a cold, light drizzle and located our hotel. Shortly after checking in we went into downtown Banff which felt more like Yorkville than a small western community; LuLu Lemon, Roots, Starbucks, Lush, North Face and Patagonia to name a few. We found the Safeway and jostled hundreds of fellow shoppers to provision our chilli dinner. It was raining hard by the time we were done so a walk around town was out of the question. We decided instead to return to the cozy comfort of our hot tub, steam room, sauna and swimming pool (thank goodness we weren’t camping!!!) Simon made dinner while I swam with the kids and after a yummy meal we went our separate ways; Simon and Max to the Fitness Centre and the little guys and I into downtown Banff for a wander. We had a great time buying yummy sweets, wandering around and topping it all off with a hot chocolate at Starbucks.
We awakened to a beautiful, clear sky this morning which promptly turned to more rain. Fortunately, by the time we were checking out at 10:30 the weather had decided to cooperate so we headed to the Banff Gondola for a ride up the mountain. We absolutely loved the views and the hiking up at the top and snapped lots of beautiful pictures. On our way out of town we took a swing by the local skate park so the kids could enjoy some vigorous exercise before logging more miles in the van.
As we left Banff we had a loose plan to head for Jasper to camp for the night. However, not far out of Banff the traffic was horribly backed up due to a mudslide on the Trans Canada Highway so we lost a lot of time. We finally made it to Lake Louise by mid afternoon and as we were heading in to check out the village, we noticed a sign for Moraine Lake (as we were leaving Banff earlier, a friend had sent a message to Simon not to miss it so we decided to follow his advice). The winding drive up into Moraine Lake was almost as beautiful as the lake itself and we were once again reminded of the gifts that lie in wait when we veer off both the plan and the beaten path.
Shortly after Lake Louise we stopped at a Banff National Park toll booth to pay a fee to camp in the park for the night. At this point it was almost 4:30pm and we were all feeling tired and ready to set up camp. The man at the National Park booth was very helpful and suggested three campgrounds that were all within 60km. After leaving the booth we entered The Icefields Parkway and had a stunningly beautiful drive to our campground.
We are camping just beside Aries Mountain on the Bow River and it is absolutely, stunningly beautiful! We are also near the Wapta Icefield and it is pretty chilly. We have set up our beds, had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and devoured our yummy banana boats (bananas, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips all wrapped up in tin foil to bake in the fire- delicious!) We were hoping to stay up tonight to see the stars but the kids are tired and we are headed for bed.
Oyasuminasai (Japanese for good night!)