Sunday, July 17, 2005

Back in civilization

Actually, I've been back for a couple of days. What a great week!

I started out Sunday driving out to Jasper. Spent the first night in the Snaring River campground. Woke up to clouds and rain and the sinking feeling that my vacation would be spent in my tent and car. Had a couple leaks in the tent but nothing serious. So I packed up and headed in to Jasper. Slight miscalculation. Nothing in Jasper is open until 9, and I got there at 8. I needed a towel so I wandered around until I found one open store. Luckily they had towels so it wasn't long before I was on my way again.

It was pouring down rain so my planned hikes for the day were off. Not that I'm against hiking in the rain, but the rain kept other hikers away meaning I'd be hiking empty trails and I just didn't want to put myself in that situation. I'd decided at the start that if I went hiking, the trails would be well travelled. So, I drove all the way to Lake Louise on Monday. The rain backed off long enough for me to get my tent set up. I decided I'd spend the remaining 2 nights of my camping trip in the Lake Louise campground. It's a great little village and if you stay away from the Chateau, it's not all that busy. And it would allow me to hike either up the Icefields parkway, or down towards Banff. Oh, and it had showers. Not that that influenced my decision...much.

So, I hit the shower and went for a drive. Yep, Chateau parking lot was packed, same with Moraine Lake. So, I figured I'd get up bright and early and go see them the next morning before the tour busses arrived from Banff. By this time it was time to head into town for food. It was still raining and I hadn't set up a tarp so cooking was pretty much out of the question. Ok, I was just being lazy :) I went in to town and went to the Mountain Restaurant. Nice place. About what you'd expect in a mountain town for prices though. I had a great meal and a glass of wine and was early enough to sit at the window and watch it raining.

Met a couple from Florida. They were travelling through the US and Canada seeing all of the national parks. Come to think of it, that isn't a bad idea. Unfortunately, how much can a person REALLY see in the three weeks vacation I get. I chatted with them a bit while they waited for food and I waited for my bill. Back at the tent I unloaded my sleeping bag and moved stuff into the tent before going for a walk along the bow river loop. I figured I'd take my chances when it cleared up. Lake Louise is home to several Grizzlies this year so all of the trails have warnings on them, and I did take them seriously. So off I went whistling "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" hoping a little Python would scare away any bears ahead of me. Made it back to my tent bear free and headed over to the Amphitheatre for the evening presentation. It was geared for kids, but I had nothing better to do. Learned about glaciers though :)

The next morning, I didn't quite make "bright and early" I finally dragged myself out of bed at 9am or so. Disappointed, I figured I'd still try heading up to the two lakes. They really are quite beautiful. The lot at the Chateau wasn't too full so I pulled in and threw a box of granola bars into my backpack along with my camera since I'd skipped breakfast. I took the obligatory picture of the lake - even got a decent reflection in the lake. Then headed out along the lakeshore trail hoping to get away from some of the tourists. And yes, I know, I was a tourist too.

I found a signpost; teahouse - 5.5 km. Didn't sound so terribly far and I did want to go hiking. What better place to do it. A teahouse at the end of the trail for a nice little break. So I continued on. and on. and on. Along the way, another couple and I kept passing each other. He was from Boston and I'm so disappointed I can't remember where she from from. Eastern US at the very least. His accent gave him away. Anyway, when I got to the teahouse at the top, there they were so I joined them for some tea, scones and a nice break before heading down the mountain. 5 hours and some incredible views later and I'm back at my car. I guzzled some orange juice and water and headed back to my campsite for a well deserved shower.

I know, how out of shape am I that an 11 km walk kicked my butt like that. Well. You're right. In my defence - next time I'm buying better hikers and taking sunscreen. Part of the problem was blisters on my feet.

After I showered and made myself a smokie and some KD, I cleaned up and headed in to Banff to watch my cousin play at the Banff Springs. He's a Jazz pianist. Banff has changed sooooo much, I'm a lot disappointed. It's just not the same as it used to be. I think I'll stick with Lake Louise and Jasper. I wandered around Bow Falls for awhile and then headed up to the hotel. I found where Andrew was playing and had another hour to wait so I wandered through the hotel grounds and shops. Spending more time outside than in. Needed fresh air after seeing the prices of stuff in the shops.

Then up to the lounge to watch. I had tea and spring rolls while I enjoyed the music. Then, exhausted, I crawled back into my car and hit the highway back to Lake Louise. My night of music wasn't over yet. The guy in the next site got his guitar out and was singing. If I'd had any big plans for the next day, I might've been cranky, but he was good. Listened to him for a bit until I fell asleep.

Wednesday I woke up to rain again. Seemed any time I needed to take my tent down, it was determined to rain. So, bright and early, I figured I'd get the tent packed up and then go for a shower to warm up. I did, and when I walked out of the shower I just shook my head when I saw the skies clearing up. Just my luck, but it was too late to stay in bed so I got back into my car and headed toward Banff and Calgary. I stopped in Banff figuring I'd get something to eat and a souvenier or two. I managed to get a T-shirt for me and one for Cameron before I got so sick of other people and the commercialism in Baff that I had to leave. It's truly amazing how much one little mountain town can change in 10 years.

So I decided I'd have a nice lunch in Canmore. But not knowing the town or where to look for a reasonably priced restaurant, I finally gave up and went to Dairy Queen. Hey, a blizzard sounded good. I never got one, but it sounded good.

I was early getting to Calgary considering Ryan and I hadn't planned on getting sushi until he was done work and all. It was about 12:30 when I got there so I had time to kill. I went to Chinook figuring it was as good as any other place to kill time. And an afternoon mid-week would be the best time to go. It was. The mall wasn't a zoo. I got to the theatre about 10 minutes after Batman Begins had started though, which sucked. Bought the CD at Music World though and headed back to my car. Still had time to kill and I needed to be in the North end when Ryan got off work so I drove up there looking for a London Drugs to develop my pictures at. Finally gave up and went to the Panorama Hills Superstore. Then over to Michael's to kill time until they were developed.

45 minutes later I left the craft store to a monsoon. :) Well, ok, maybe not quite. But it was one heck of a thunderstorm. I ran to my car and still ended up soaking wet.

Ok, I'll stop boring you with my trip. The rest is easy - sushi... sushi....stampede... haircut...home.

Home to my new furniture that looks great in my living room. Even if it IS red. Now I need to figure out a paint color for the walls.

Oh, and my trip out west was so great that I'm doing it again. Except, now that I think about it, the National Parks trip sounds like a good idea. Might have to finish off the mountain parks with my next trip. I may not get them all in one trip, but I WILL get them all.


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