Monday, 14 October 2013

Banff and Lake Louise

Banff and Lake Louise

Leaving Calgary, we decided to head to Banff to the Tunnel Mountain RV Village. But first we needed to weigh the truck, both front and rear axles, the trailer axle and tongue weight. So we headed to Okotoks, which we thought would be the least busy of the scales we had found. Weighing the truck and trailer axles were no problem and fairly quick. But there were big rigs waiting to weigh, and we thought getting the tongue weight meant unhitching the trailer, so we kept letting them weigh in. Finally we went to a smaller weigh station on the side of the highway. John worked out that we did not have to actually unhitch, as long as none of the wheels were on the scale, just the jack. It worked, we had the tongue weight. All weights were well within the acceptable limits for the truck, so we were soon on our way. The drive up to Banff was quite different from that of two weeks ago; there was now snow on the mountain tops, and there was no delay due to construction. However, it was no longer “shorts” weather. It was quite cool and blustery at times.
Bike Path beside the highway from Canmore to Banff

Mountains from Car Window

We checked in,
drove around and chose a site where we could see Mount Rundle out the Dining area windows.

Mount Rundle from The Dining Room

Mount Rundle

Two thirds of the RV full-hook-up section was closed as they were repaving and re-grading the sites. RV’s are parked parallel to the road, but off-set, so one looks at the divide between the trailers below and across the road.

The next day, we walked down to Banff, so I could find a warm hat! After we had walked up one side of the main shopping area and down the other, stopping only for a hot latte, we took the Roam bus back to the Campsite- $2 fare, but $1 for Seniors. Banff is a pretty town, but we found it very touristy. There are, however, some lovely restaurants and coffee houses. 
There was a whole little villaga of interesting townhouses

Main Street in Banff one way,...

And looking the other way.

We decided to have take-out Pizza from the Bear Lounge, downstairs from the Bison Restaurant. The food was so good, we went back another day for lunch. 
Saturday we drove up to Lake Louise. We decided to take hwy1A, rather than the main highway.
Castle Mountain, best seen from the 1A hwy
Castle Mountain explained...
The mountains to the south of Castle Mountain

In memory of those from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many of Ukrainian origin who were imprisoned  during WWI at the Castle Mountain Camp

This weekend was the second in the annual trek for Albertans to view the larches. It is so popular that there is a parking lot about 5k away from Lake Louise, and a shuttle bus running to the start of the trail.
This is what they saw- Larches on the sides of the mountains
The village of Lake Louise is quite small, but the Information Center is excellent. We had to figure out how to get to the Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise as we wanted to hike to the Tea House on Lake Agnes.
The Chateau
 Lake Louise is a brilliant turquoise, calm and serene. It was a beautiful, but cool day and there were lots of little red rental canoes on the lake.

Lake Louise -we managed to take a picture between groups of canoes...

We started, what was supposed to be an “easy walk through the forest” on a “moderately-rated” trail. Well, the trail was well-marked, wide and easy to walk. BUT it went UP all the way, non-stop, constant climbing for 3.4km.The view, however, were spectacular.
The trail went up and up
Glimpse of Lake Louise from the trail

The view across the valley

About 2/3 of the way up, I sent John on ahead, because I really did not think I could make it to the top. I was going slower and slower, and my knee and hip hurt more and more. I thought I was fairly fit, but several months of no gym exercise was beginning to tell! However, I continued up at my own pace, getting encouragement from those coming down. About ¾ of the way up I took a break to enjoy the beautiful, tranquil Mirror Lake.  Then I DID get to the top, just in time to enjoy a cup of John’s almost hot tea and the last of his apple crumble beside Lake Agnes. We sat for about half an hour enjoying the view,
Lahe Agnes

and began the trek down. It was a much easier walk, but still hard on the knees!

We couldn’t leave Banff without seeing the Fairmount Banff Springs Hotel. So we drove up. My calves were rather sore, and each time we got out of the car, it took quite a few steps to begin to work out the kinks! The Hotel is beautiful, elegant, opulent, and classic. We wandered the downstairs halls and into the shops. One shop sold women’s apparel -sweaters, jackets, scarves, gloves- all made from musk ox wool. The owner is Peruvian, and bought from the Innuit the wool that the musk ox shed, and sent it to Peru to have it woven. Another shop had every imaginable type of fossil, geodes, and beautiful crystals of all sizes collected from all over the world. We walked behind the hotel, down several flights of steep stairs, along a wooded path to the Bow Falls. There were 3 or 4 busloads of tourists, and quite a few cars. But the wide river and beautiful Falls were worth the walk.
The Bow Falls

The Bow Falls from the top Lookout

The Bow River flowing south

The next leg of our journey is over the Kicking Horse Mountain Pass to Kelowna and into the Okanagan Valley.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Calgary, Nanton, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Calgary and Day Trips

Calgary awaited us – a son daughter-in-law and 2 darling grandchildren. David had just turned 2 and Arianna was 9 months.
We visited for the first week, looking after the children each day while Garry and Karen worked. Arianna was not sure what to make of us at first. But she finally let me pick her up on the second day. However, it was not until the following Wednesday –almost a week- that she would let John hold her. She had never seen a moustache, and wondered who this strange man was! We had ‘talked to them’ on Skype, but it is not the same!  Since both Garry and Karen were off work the week after Karen’s mother died, we decided to go up to Edmonton to have a pleasant, but short visit with John’s Aunt.
John had not been to West Edmonton Mall, so while his Aunt went to a Birthday party, we made the trek to the Mall. It is HUGE, bigger than I remember it from the 80’s! We did get lost a couple of times, as there are several entrances to some of the bigger stores! There really is something for everyone, and for every pocketbook. For a while we watched the crowd of all ages enjoying the wave pool, the young figure skaters practising on the full-sized rink, while we sat and drank lattes, and families enjoying the water show. In between, we wandered in and out of stores, even finding a few bargains.
On the way home we took an alternate route south visiting Camrose and Red Deer.
Church across Mirror Lake in Camrose
 Since we were staying in Calgary longer, we took day trips on the weekends, Our first was South to Nanton, a traditional ranching community, which also has The Lancaster Air Museum. This is a 40,000 ft facility honouring the men and women associated with the bomber command in WWII.  

The Memorial contains the names of all Canadian men and women with the Bomber Command, who were killed from 1939 to 1945

A Lancaster - being restored- engines start and it will be able to taxi when complete

Nose-Art from the Bombers

We continued to head south to the World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Evidence indicates that this site had been used for over 6,000 years. However, there is evidence of Human activity in this region for at least 11,000 years. The Interpretive Centre has become known around the world as a remarkable site for teaching about the Plains Indian Culture.  The story goes that a young brave wanted to watch the buffalo tumbling past. So from under the shelter of a ledge, he watched the great beasts fall. However, he became trapped between the animals and the cliffs. When his people came to do the butchering of the herd, they found him with his skull crushed in, hence the name.
The Interpretive Center on the main level

The Buffalo Jump from the top Viewing Walk

The Explanation

Lookins SE from the top walk -that is the road about the middle of the picture

Looking up at the Buffalo Jump from about half way up, on the trail
Sunday, we decided to go North to Canmore and Banff, and check out the RV Parks at the same time. I will never tire of seeing the mountains rise out of the foothills, as we drive along the Trans Canada Hwy in Alberta. They are so majestic as they tower over the highway.
Approaching the Mountains smaller foothills then...

Approaching Canmore

More to come in the next post as we stay in Banff.