Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Trip to Canana... It Rhymes with Banana (Just Kidding)

This summer has been full of trips and travel... we have had family reunions, weddings, and graduations.  This summer my mother turned 55 (she's a speed limit!) and I finished my Master's degree (in Mathematics Education) so to celebrate we decided to take a trip to Banff, Alberta, Canada.  It was fabulous.  We drove from the best state in the US, Washington State, up through the Idaho panhandle into British Columbia and over through the mountains to Alberta.  The drive alone, roughly 8 hours, was totally worth it.  The Canadian Rockies are breathtaking all by themselves.
We arrived in Banff at dinnertime although the sun was still high in the sky. (I LOVE SUMMER IN THE NORTHERN LATTITUDES!)  We checked in to our hotel which was the cutest little cottage resort where all the rooms do not have AC but they do have fireplaces.  They even had scheduled (free) activities every day planned for you if you were so inclined... we weren't this time around.  The resort was manned by young international people (I don't know if they were students) who were there for 2 month tours (?) and so you never knew if you would get a Kiwi, Aussie, or Irishman when you went to inquire at the front desk which we did daily since they were in control of the only ice machine on the property.  The town of Banff was also manned by the same diverse international young people and it was divine to hear so many wonderful accents everywhere you turned.  It was like we went to Europe but for a whole lot less money.  I am not going to bore you with all the sordid details about our trip but here are a few things you should know about Banff (and then some photos) because you should plan a trip there IMMEDIATELY:
  1. The water is DIVINE... it must be straight from a glacier and laced with some wonderful, happy minerals because mom and I were giddy whenever drinking simply the water for which we consumed GALLONS, many of which were straight from the tap in our bathroom sink.
  2. Despite it being 80F or so outside the Upper Hot Springs were relaxing and wonderful in their 104F wondefulness... despite the Aussie at the shop in town telling us we would "boil."
  3. Evelyn's Coffee House is the best thing going.  Drink lots of it... and bring it home with you.  Yeah... it's that good and I am a coffee snob.
  4. Lake Louise is beautiful but the size is so very underwhelming.
  5. Fairmont Hotel is very much a required stop... and if you plan it right there is a good wine tasting there (or so we are told).  We didn't get to experience it because we got there at 6:05PM (tricky sun being so high so late) when it was over at 6PM.
  6. Take any Gondola rides to the top of mountains because they are a trip and make you feel like you are in the Swiss Alps.
  7. The food is good no matter where you go or what you order... and if you are adventurous Canadian cuisine prides itself on wild game and you find Bison and Caribou on most menus... Oh also, Candian Bacon is called "Back Bacon" in Canada... not just Bacon which is called Crisp Bacon.  Yeah and it is way better that that pressed round meat we put on pizza.
  8. BUY THE MAPLE __________... you will regret you didn't.  We got maple chocolate cookies and when we got home mom wished she had brought home more because they are that good.
  9. Have your camera ready to photograph wild life at any time.  We saw Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, and one really freaky huge Raven conducting traffic in town.
  10. You will need lots of mosquito/bug spray (and it is expensive to buy on a whim so bring it with you).  The mosquitos were REALLY bad but not as bad as a the black flies... their bites really hurt and drew blood whereas the mosquitos were just annoying.
Now for some pictures.  Enjoy!  Make sure to leave me a comment to tell me your thoughts... I haven't blogged for a while and want to hear how much y'all missed me.
Mom kept forgetting that Canada had $1 and $2 (shown here) coins... and would give big tips.

The source of the hot springs was a lot more sulphur-y stinky than the pool itself.)

Here's the freaky big Raven conducting traffic.

Rundle Mountains

Our tour guide, The Beav

The Fairmont, aka "The Castle"

This is a permanent Croquet court here.

We loved all of the signs... they were so cartoony... this one says you can scuba in the lake.

In the Gondola

View from the Gondola deck.

The only Mountie mom got to see.

Me at dinner at 7500 feet.

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