Banff-tastic good times

Still catching up with my adventures in Alberta, this post will be on our three day trip to Banff.

After we got home from Edmonton, watched LOST and crashed, we woke up early the next morning to finish our packing and began our (much shorter) drive out to the mountains. As with Edmonton the trip was mostly in one straight line, except this time the mountains grew ever-larger in front of us as we drove west. Even being in Calgary I didn’t appreciate the mountains as much as I did driving close to them and eventually being amongst them. The best part was the weather cooperating and being sunny for our three days there; this of course made mountain gazing and hiking around a lot easier.

Day One: While there we did as much of the touristy things we could but the first day was spent just wandering around town. Though cold it was nice walking along the river at sunset. It also made it great for pictures of the trees/mountains reflecting on the water. For dinner we went to a place called Magpie and Stump for some great Tex Mex food (think Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto).

Day Two: This was our full day in Banff so we wanted to get a lot done. First off we made the drive up to the Gondola ride but were a little early so we hung out and took in the scenery from below. Once it opened we bought our tickets and went up. The ride was a mix of amazing scenery and scarier than any roller coaster. I was happy when we got to the solid ground on top. The path to another observation area was closed off but we got to see quite a bit from where we were. I can’t wait to frame the pictures.

Next up we went to the hot springs, which was nice and relaxing. The scenery made it worth it but we could’ve done the same thing back at our hotel.

In the afternoon we went for a long hike which started out to find the Hoodoos, which are described as strangely shaped rock pillars. We found them but could only view from afar, which was a bit disappointing. We spent much of the rest of the afternoon exploring the mountain and around the forests. I gotta say hiking is the most fun form of exercise out there and if you get the chance, do it!

Day three: We began our day after our 11am check out at the Cave and Basin which was a stinky sulfur-filled adventure. It was cool to see the original hot springs which are now a protected area for an endangered species of snail. We also watched a movie on the founding of the hot springs, which was a bit cheesy but still interesting to know.

After all that we went in search of food and gifts to bring back for family before heading back to Calgary and ending our stay in Banff far too soon. Though it’s a bit of a tourist trap, it’s still a beautiful area and it’s far more exciting than Niagara Falls, that’s for sure.

Have you ever been to Banff? What was your experience like?

It’s worth the drive to Edmonton

Or something like that…

Since I didn’t have the chance to blog much last week, I’ll do a few posts recapping my time in Alberta, this week. Last Tuesday, the girlfriend and I picked up our rental (2009 Pontiac G5) from Discount and (after grabbing a coffee) began our drive north to Edmonton. First off, it took a little time for me to get used to driving a car again, after driving a van for the last few years. After that though, the ride was smooth and the car handled really well.

The drive wasn’t too demanding for handling, since it was for the most part, one straight line. It took us just under three hours with one pit stop along the way and there wasn’t much in the way anything.

At the mall I was at first a little underwhelmed. It seemed like the Eaton Centre; not altogether special. As we kept walking we saw the pirate ship where you can climb aboard for a small price (great for kids). We took a couple pics by it and moved on. After a bit of shopping and lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory we went skating on the indoor rink. I haven’t skated since I was like 14 and the girlfriend hasn’t done so in a while too. It took me quite a while to get used to it again, and by the end my skating was alright (meaning I could go more than 30 seconds without stumbling) but the ice was getting choppy. Though she isn’t skating inclined I was proud with her performance and effort. It was a fun time and it’s unfortunate that I got the skating bug again in spring.

Other than skating we didn’t really take full advantage of what the mall offered, but if I was to go back with a couple children it would make for a great day.

Our drive home got real dark real fast, but we made it back in time to watch LOST. You can tell where our priorities were.

Oh and here’s Charmer by Kings of Leon. The song of choice for our trip:

Calgary Bound

No not permanently of course.

On Saturday I’m heading to Calgary to spend some time with the girlfriend who’s teaching there this year. I haven’t seen her since Christmas holidays and it’ll be a great reunion of sorts. It’ll also be the first time I’ve ever taken a plane so I’m happy to finally get that out of the way (hold the commentary).

For the first few (and last couple) days we have nothing concrete planned and we’re both not familiar with the good food and entertainment spots. If anyone reading this is familiar with the city I’d be more than happy to take a look at your recommendations!

The middle of the week is a bit more planned. On Tuesday we plan on heading up to Edmonton and staying for a night to check out some mall they have and do other touristy things. The next morning, coming back south we’re going to visit Jasper, because allegedly it’s very scenic and beautiful. We just plan on spending a few hours there, because we have to make it to our Banff hotel for check-in on our 3 day, 2 night stay there. I’m letting her do all the planning for the trip so I’m still not 100 per cent what we’ll be doing. All I know is it’ll either involve hiking up the mountain side or taking a gondola ride. Depending on the weather I’m looking forward to either one.

Sometime on Friday we’ll head back to Calgary and again it’s pretty much up in the air so far as planning goes for my last couple days. I’m pretty sure whatever we ending up doing will fly by and it will have felt like my trip was only a couple days.

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