Saturday, March 15, 2014

Visit to Banff....part 1

After spending a few days in Calgary, it was time for a new adventure.  DS had a business meeting for two days in Edmonton (which he assured us was scheduled after we had made our travel plans and that he had nothing to do with this scheduling).  We could have spent the time exploring Calgary on our own but when faced with the option of staying in a hotel with amenities such as beds, TV's, chairs and a hot tub or remaining in the monument to minimalism, really, was there any choice to be made?

Please do not ask us why DS chooses to live this spartan lifestyle.  We honestly do not understand it.  His mantra is "You don't own things...things own you".  Trust me, he was not raised this way.  He has purchased a mattress (finally and only because we were coming to visit) but it rests on the floor.  Living room seating options include a neck machine or one of two patio chairs (which he purchased at our insistence on Saturday).  There is internet access but no TV.  I sometimes think he is European as he purchases his food fresh daily....empty cupboards and refrigerator.  We don't fully understand what he does for a living but he is well paid.  If he could find housing in a cave or a shanty by the ocean and convince someone to pay him as well as his engineering job does, his life and lifestyle would be complete.
Gondola reaction.

So we borrowed DS's truck and headed for Banff.  Our hotel was lovely and after enjoying just sitting on the bed for awhile, we decided to do some exploring.  The first stop was the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain.  DH is wary of heights so some time was spent in deciding on seating arrangements.  I was much more concerned about the strength of the cables that held the car up.  It took 8 minutes to reach the observation platform 7,486 ft above the starting point. 

The views were amazing!  And it was cold!  But shortly after we arrived at the observation platform, the sun came through the clouds, the wind died down and it became surprisingly warm.

That's Banff down there   

The observation platform includes a cafe, a more upscale restaurant and of course, beautiful views.  We had hoped to see some wildlife but apparently the animals were all in hibernation...or they just didn't want to come out to visit.

The observation platform is not the peak of Sulphur Mountain.  The peak can be reached by climbing a boardwalk trail.  As I mentioned, DH is not a fan of heights but I had a plan.  The weather was beautiful and I kept climbing up the boardwalk...DH was following along enjoying the mountain views.  My plan was working superbly until DH caught sight of a movement in the trees near the boardwalk.  It was a white rabbit...the camouflage was amazing!  DH spent a loooonnnnggg time trying to get the perfect photo. 

Can you see the bunny?
Not being as patient as he, (surprised?) I moved further and further along the boardwalk .  When he realized that I had moved on without him, he remembered that he really had no plans to climb the rest of the way.  But I was committed and I trudged on.  The peak of the mountain is 1 meter beyond the observation platform.
The Boardwalk

My Goal
  Along the way I met a hiker who had skipped the gondola ride and taken the hike up from town.  (Was he crazy or what?  Well he was from Quebec so maybe that explains it.)  Well...long story short... as Mr. Perfect would say, "I DID IT!"
Canadian Rocky

My goal achieved, we headed back down the mountain.  The wind had picked up and that gondola was rocking!  But the cable held and we arrived safely back on the ground.  Driving back to Banff we saw a small sign directing us to a waterfall.  Really? A waterfall in this type of climate?  Of course, we detoured to find this "waterfall."  And Canadians do not lie!

Back in Banff, we strolled through the shops and stopped for dinner at the Banff Brewery.  We seldom pass up the opportunity to sample local craft beers and this was no exception.  The beer (and the fish and chips) were tasty but nothing to swoon over.  I guess the excellent craft beers available in North Texas have spoiled us...either that or I was hoping for something as tasty as the raspberry beer that I discovered on Saturday evening.  Now that was a good beer!
Stay tuned for Visit to Banff Part 2 or We Tackle the Mountain


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