So there’s this place, and it kind of has my heart. This place and I became friends back in 2012 and ever since we’ve had a yearly reunion, just to check in on each other. We don’t even need to speak to know what the other is thinking. In fact, it’s one of the few places where I’m content to not do anything — just sit in its lap and let its ancient songs lull me away. This place that has my heart is the Canadian Rockies, and those mountains have been calling my name.
The Rockies have actually been luring me in for a while now, but I was trying to dodge them, ignoring their temptations. I wanted to see what new friends I could make, like maybe Ireland or Texas, or perhaps revisit my old friend New Orleans. However, once a place gets a hold of my heart, it becomes incredibly hard for me to avoid reminiscing about the good times we’ve had — just ask New York and Vancouver. Actually, I’m going to start referring to these three places as my trifecta of “travel booty calls”, seeing how they call me up whenever they want some action. And it would seem that the Rockies have been feeling particularly lonely lately, because they’ve been trying very hard to get my attention. They were even a bit sly about it…
About four months ago I made a new friend. His name is Gary, and he came along at a time when I was at my most vulnerable. His companionship and the laughs we share make me forget everything that has happened to me in the past year. We were playing with the idea of going somewhere (honestly, when am I not thinking about going somewhere?!), so when I found out his favourite band — the Dropkick Murphys — was playing in Calgary on his birthday, that was it; that was all I needed to decide that it was time for me to once again head west. The Rockies won, and I started planning what I hope will be a very memorable trip for Gary’s first time in Alberta.
Our time away from work is limited, yet I’ve somehow managed to cram in as much as possible for our mini vacation. We’ll be staying in Calgary for four nights, bunking down with my childhood friend Ana and her husband Damir. During our time in Cowtown we’ll be having some birthday celebrations, going to the concert (it’s going to be my first time seeing the Dropkicks and I’m beyond stoked), taking a tour of the Big Rock Brewery, meeting up with some of Gary’s family, and taking a day trip out to the Canadian Badlands — a first for me! Ana even suggested we go for a float down the Bow River if the weather is nice (note to self: look into purchasing a waterproof camera).
Gary and I will then head out of Calgary to start a journey along the Trans Canada Highway that will see us visit three incredible parks — Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Jasper National Park, and finally Banff National Park.
I wish we had the time to further explore British Columbia, but because we don’t I’ll try my best to impress him with this “gem” of a lake in Yoho:
I’ve seen lakes reflect their surroundings in the past, but never before have I experienced it like I have at Emerald Lake. It’s absolutely stunning. I’ll probably have to pick Gary’s jaw up off the ground, so once I get him back together we’ll be backtracking on the Trans Canada, then heading north to Jasper National Park.
“Hey Gare, want to see a glacier?”
“Sure. Never seen one before.”
“Awesome. I know a place I can take you.”
Cue: Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield.
To end the day we’ll be returning to Banff National Park, visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the way to our home for the night — the town of Banff.
This will be my fourth visit to Banff. We have one night and the majority of one day here, so I’m trying to take a different approach this time around by doing things I haven’t yet done. I wanted to show Gary around the town that I love so much, but also allow myself to experience different aspects of it for the first time so I can see it with fresh eyes.
For example, I normally bunk at the Samesun Backpacker’s Hostel whenever I’m in town (I’m a bit biased when it comes to these guys), but I didn’t think it would be appropriate for this particular trip. So instead we’ll be staying at the Banff Boutique Inn. It’s tucked into the trees, away from the hustle and bustle of the main strip of Banff Avenue, but it’s still within walking distance from all the action of downtown. The grounds and rooms look gorgeous and I can’t wait to stay there! But, I have to say that I will still visit Samesun’s Beaver Lounge so I can let Gary try an Agwa Bomb (it’s become a bit of a tradition for me).
Another new Banff experience will be going for a cruise on Lake Minnewanka. Put me on a boat, I’m a happy girl. Put me on a boat on a glacial lake, and I’ll probably squeal with delight like a toddler who’s getting into a pool for the first time. I’ll let you know how this goes…
I’m also considering taking Gary to the Banff Upper Hot Springs as I’ve always wanted to go but never had the chance to during my previous visits. Maybe we’ll go for a nice, evening dip. Oh, by the way, there’s a new Canadiana pub called Toque that opened up on Banff Avenue. I’m bringing a plaid shirt with me just in case we go here for dinner 😉
Now, there are a few things that I’ve already experienced in Banff that I will gladly repeat doing, like taking the gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, or dropping in for a bite to eat at Wild Bill’s Saloon, or grabbing a cup of coffee to-go and sitting on a bench to people watch while all the tourists walk Banff Avenue. So, these things will also be done (for Gary’s sake, of course), plus some mandatory souvenir shopping at the multitude of shops along the strip. I’m just thankful that I’m getting the chance to revisit this happy place of mine, and with good company to boot.
I’m also thankful for some awesome companies that have helped me pull this whole trip together, so I’d like to take a moment to show some gratitude for the following businesses. Keep an eye out for future posts dedicated to these guys:
Now all I have to do is bide my time until we leave! I actually just looked at a calendar and realized I started planning this trip exactly one month ago today, and as of tomorrow there’s only one month left until we depart. If the next four weeks pass as quickly as the last month has, then in no time we’ll be on that plane heading west.
Better get your plaid ready, Gary — we’ll be in cowboy country soon enough.