I am a creature of habit, and I’ve come to accept this. I’ve realized that this is especially true when I’m revisiting one of my favourite destinations. I normally have a list of three to five things that I’d like to see or do, all of which I’ve probably already seen or done on a previous trip. I like to go back and repeat myself because 1. I know where to go; and 2. I really enjoyed myself the first (or second, or third) time.
A prime example of a location that evokes this behaviour would be Alberta. Oh, Alberta and those freaking Canadian Rockies. I’ve now been to Alberta four times, and each and every time I’ve visited Banff and Lake Louise. I simply cannot help myself; I must go to enjoy a moment of peace in these happy places of mine. Even if I’m in British Columbia, but anywhere near the Alberta border and within a reasonable amount of driving distance, I will cross over the Great Divide just to pay homage to these places. I guess you can call it habit, but at this point I’m willing to call it an obsession.
This time around was no different. “You want to go to Calgary? We MUST go to Banff, too!!” …which thus began a laser-focussed planning session on what I wanted to show Gary while we were in the Rockies. If Calgary was laid back and chill, then our time in Banff National Park was like a triathlon.
There were the obvious choices for attractions to see, like the aforementioned Lake Louise and town of Banff, but I wanted to stir it up a little and try to do things that neither of us have done before. After seeing Lake Louise from its shoreline, we took the Lake Louise Ski Resort gondola and was shown a new view of the beautiful, turquoise lake (FYI: even from a far-off distance it still manages to take your breath away). We then drove up Highway 93 to get to the Columbia Icefield, where we took one of Brewster Travel’s massive snow coaches up on to the Athabasca Glacier (I’ve been to the glacier before, but only stood at its base; this time around I actually walked ON IT). On our way back to Banff I showed Gary Panther Fall’s, a waterfall that you have to hike half a kilometre to reach, which I navigated my way to based on memories from a trip taken two years prior (in winter, might I add – the forest is harder to see through when there’s no snow cover). That night we stayed at a boutique inn, surrounded by trees, away from Banff Ave, and we ate at a new restaurant. And that was just day one.
On our final day in Alberta, we ended our trip with the perfect pièce de résistance — a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola. Again, this was something that I’ve already done in the past, but now I was sharing it with someone who was experiencing it for the very first time. Seeing his reactions to these places that I hold so dear gave me further insight into their importance. With every little “wow” and “well, that’s impressive” that I heard, I knew that he was enjoying them as much as I do.
In order to better share the time we had at each attraction, I’m going to be dedicating individual posts to Lake Louise and its ski resort, Brewster’s Glacier Adventure and Banff Gondola, and our accommodation in Banff at the Banff Boutique Inn. In the meantime, I thought I’d get Gary to sum up the sights we saw and the things we did throughout the entire trip. I wanted to get his impressions as a newbie to the region. So, here goes:
Calgary = courteous
Big Rock Brewery = interesting
The Dropkick Murphy’s Concert = fucking rad
The gun range = amazingly fun
The Canadian Rockies = breath-taking
Lake Louise = colour-overload
The Athabasca Glacier = majestic
Panther Falls = worth the hike
Banff = touristy, but in a nice way
The Banff Gondola = memorable
I’d have to say I agree with all of those descriptions.
This has been yet another Alberta trip for the books. I will never tire of visiting those glorious Rockies, and now that I’ve shared them with someone who’s never experienced their beauty before, and saw how much of an impression they made on him, their hold on my heart strings has gotten even tighter.
Until next time Alberta, stay gorgeous.