Calgary to Banff
We had an easy three hour flight from LAX to Calgary and immediately picked up our rental car, but our morning included one little misadventure. We had just purchased a brand new Garmin GPS, and it worked GREAT on the trip, but somehow, we got onto the first highway going in the WRONG direction. The day was overcast so we had no sense of direction from the sun, and of course, the area was completely unfamiliar to us, so "Mrs. Garmin," as we came to call her, kept telling us to take all these turns that we didn't recognize from our written Google maps directions. (It was a mistake to rely on both!). After driving much too far, we finally decided just to trust Mrs. G, and she turned us around in the right direction and then guided us back through Calgary and on to Banff without a hitch. Unfortunately, it added about an hour to our trip, but once we got into the glorious mountains, we didn't care.
Monday, July 5
Hiking Sulphur Mountain - Banff
The weather, at least, was great for hiking...partly cloudy, but nice and cool. In spite of the chill, the hike warmed me up so much that I was shedding clothes along the way. First, the hat came off. Later, the polar fleece pullover came off. And finally, I zipped off the leggings on my convertible hiking pants, turning them into shorts.
The Bow Valley Parkway and the Icefields Parkway
Today was the gorgeous drive from Banff to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway...reputed to be one of the top ten drives in the world...and I have no doubt that that is true!!! Wow wow wow...spectacular from one end to the other.
We ate breakfast in our room...instant oatmeal made with hot water in the coffee maker. (We figured, since we are splurging on hotels this trip, we could be frugal with the food.) Then we packed up, checked out, and were on our way. We took the detour off of Highway 1 along the slower and more scenic Route 1A, the "old road" between Banff and Lake Louise. It wound its way through the tall pines and aspens.
Wednesday, July 7
Jasper National Park
Today was a relatively quiet day. We were quite worn out by our vigorous activities of the last two days. (My poor little legs were really sore.) But we started the day with a very easy stroll around Lake Beauvert, the pretty lake in front of our hotel. The trail map said it was a little over two miles, but after the 9 mile hike up Sulphur Mountain two days ago, and the two hikes yesterday to the Johnston Canyon waterfalls and over the rocky debris of the receding glacier, the two miles on nice FLAT land through a quiet green forest seemed like a walk in the park! The views were beautiful from every angle. I love digital photography...I can just snap away when every new view seems better than the last...and then keep the good ones.
We had planned to do a little more hiking and walk around the town browsing the shops, but we were honestly just so exhausted that we came home and took a long nap. So it was a rather uneventful, but pleasant day...and did include views of several elk resting on the banks of a little island in the middle of the Athabasca River on the way back to the Lodge.
Our room was quite warm so we went up to the big Lodge lounge for the evening to read and relax. A very pleasant end to the day!
Thursday, July 8
Lake Annette and Miette Hot Springs
Today was another very nice, relaxed day...but still filled with beautiful scenery and a great little adventure. We slept in VERY late. We really had been wearing ourselves out with lots of hiking, so the good sleep was wonderful and very restorative.
We spent a couple of hours enjoying the springs, then returned to our very warm room. My only complaint about the Jasper Park Lodge was that we had no air conditioning and timed our visit to correspond with these very warm days. But that also meant gorgeous blue skies and beautiful views, and the evenings cooled down quickly as soon as the sun went down.
Friday, July 9
Jasper to Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway
Another incredible day! We packed up in the morning and said good-bye to the Jasper Park Lodge. Actually, our departure was kind of a comedy of errors. Rob went up to get our car, planning to drive it right up to our cabin to pick up me and our bags. I carefully carried out all of our suitcases and set them on the lawn in front of our cabin. Well, just before Rob arrived, THREE different Fairmont vehicles...a housekeeping truck, a groundskeeper, and a big cement mixer decided to drive down our highway at the same time! (There is some construction going on around the pool.) The big truck couldn't get around the tight curve and had to back up while everyone else waited for him. Then, just as the trucks were finally moving, the sprinklers came on and I had to frantically drag all of our suitcases back up on the porch! Just as I finished, Rob came along...riding in one of the little Fairmont golf carts with a very nice young man who helped us gather our bags and delivered us to the front desk to check out. (Rob had given up trying to get the car to me.)
Saturday, July 10
Lake Louise - Hiking to Lake Agnes and the Little Beehive
We left Lake Louise early and returned to spend one more day in Banff to see a few of the sights we had missed. Along Highway 1, we saw some of the special bridges that were built to provide a safe route for the animals to cross the road.
Happily, the morning was sunny and clear so we finally got to see Banff in the bright sunlight that had been missing during our first two days here.
Once again, Mrs. Garmin guided us flawlessly to our destination, the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, where we were greeted by bellmen decked out in western regalia in honor of the famous Calgary Stampede, which was in full swing. Happily, we had missed the freak storm that had swept through Calgary two hours before our arrival, bringing with it golf ball sized hailstones that had dented cars and smashed windows, and a funnel cloud!
We settled in and walked out in the rain for a little dinner and then returned for early bedtime.
Tuesday, July 13
Calgary to Home Again
Why is the return of the rental car invariably the most difficult drive of the entire trip?! We had foolishly decided to go by the easy sounding directions from the hotel staff and did not plug in Mrs. Garmin, but the roads were somewhat more confusing than we had expected and we had a few minutes when we were not sure if we were on the right highway. Happily, a sign finally indicated that the airport was up ahead but Rob still had to contend with the VERY heavy rain that made visibility almost zero. Then just outside the airport, we had to top off the gas in our rental car, and the only gas station in sight had only one out of four pumps working!
It was another great trip...and, as always, it is nice to be home!