Ohhh, Canada!September 22, 2010
I recently ventured to the province of Alberta in Canada for a long awaited vacation. We flew into Calgary last Wednesday and made the short drive to Canmore where we are staying in a condo – Worldmark by Wyndham. Really, it is a time share formerly owned by my parents which they graciously offered to let us use. Our accommodations are comfortable, 2 bedrooms, each with a private bath, a living room, dining area and small kitchen. The condo is a short distance from town and hiking trails abound. Canmore has made for the perfect home base from which to explore this incredible area.
Because of the weather, we didn’t realize until we awoke our first morning that Canmore is surrounded by majestic mountains. I was speechless the first time I saw them. Having grown up in Colorado and after spending numerous years in Wyoming exploring the Tetons and Yellowstone, I am no stranger to mountains. But the stunning peaks and expansive wilderness I have experienced in this part of Canada far surpasses the beauty of all others I have had the pleasure of enjoying.
On one of our first adventures we travelled to Banff and Lake Louise. A short distance from Lake Louise is Lake Morraine which is even more beautiful than her famous sister. In Banff, we treated ourselves to Canada’s Best Ice Cream at Cows. If you ever get to Banff, don’t miss a stop at this ice cream parlor! Our tasty treats lived up to the advertising. It was so good, we visited this eatery twice.
During our week in Alberta we explored Banff National Park, the Kananaskis area and have had numerous wildlife sightings including a big Bull Moose, several deer, elk and even a coyote who passed within 3 feet of our car on a lonely dirt road in the Kananaskis. Today we saw a group of young white tail deer frolicking in a meadow covered with snow. They were chasing each other and romping around with tails in the air. Their tails even appeared to be wagging!
We rode the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain and trekked at the top where we feasted our eyes on mountains in every direction. From this vantage point we gazed down on several lakes and the meandering of the Bow River from Banff to Lake Louise. The views were simply magnificent.
There have been some unexpected and surprising observations on this trip. The first, and most noticeable, is that Canadians don’t seem to have the same addiction to cell phones as Americans. During our week in this beautiful country, we have rarely seen a person on a cell phone. Folks walk down the street and have conversations with each other. At local coffee houses, people read or enjoy the company of their companions. It was refreshing to dine without hearing cell phones ring at nearby tables or to shop in the local grocery store without overhearing a fellow shopper’s cell phone conversation. Over the course of one week, we saw only one person using a Blackberry.
Canada is significantly more expensive than the U.S. Gas is $4 dollars a gallon and a single scoop ice cream cone $4.50. Beverages at Starbucks are on the average 75 cents to a dollar higher than my local Starbucks in California. The same with pastries and oatmeal. Food at restaurants, particularly lunch, seemed pretty pricey.
The local people we encountered were extremely friendly, offering suggestions of activities or café’s, the best roads to travel for the best viewing of wildlife or the local majestic peaks.
This has been an amazing vacation filled with incredible scenery, wonderful adventures, great company and stimulating conversations. I definitely plan to come back and enjoy all the activities the weather did not allow us to partake in such as mountain biking, more strenuous hiking, fishing and canoeing.
And of course, another visit to Cows!