Bucket List – Part 2

Fun fact: I’m writing this from my premier perch on the train!!

Yesterday was a full day. It started with an early (ungodly if you ask me) breakfast followed by a tour bus pick up at 8 am. At breakfast our bill comes clipped to a very cool retro postcard; I immediately write a quick hello to my folks and, using a stamp from the front desk, post it in the vintage mail box by the elevators. We depart Calgary with our small group and bus driver Paul. The coach is brand new and well equipped; comfortable seats. As we leave Calgary behind the weather is cloudy and grey. A huge contrast from the perfect sunshine of the last couple of days. It’s about a two hour drive to our destination: Banff.

The highway starts to wind and twist its way through the foothills and into the mountains. I didn’t realize that Banff was actually in a National Park and you need a pass to be there. We pass several areas where cars are pulling off to get their passes and carry on into the park. Our first stop is Lake Minnewanka which translates to lake spirit. It’s the largest (22 km long) and deepest lake in the park. At the lake we are dropped off to use the facilities prior to hopping on the tour boat for a one hour cruise of the lake. Our captain takes us to the turnaround point in the lake and shuts off the engines letting us enjoy the backcountry (no road access) scenery and sensations. Tranquil and quiet.

After the cruise we board the coach and make our way to Banff where we are dropped off to grab lunch on our own. Rudy and I find a local brew pub with a second floor balcony overlooking busy, vibrant Banff Ave. The town is brimming with people, strollers, dogs, bikes, busses and cars. It’s a cacophony of sights and sounds. What I love is the flower pots everywhere bursting with colourful blooms. We savour a beer and a quick snack before rejoining our group at the coach.

The next stop is Bow Falls located directly behind the Banff Springs Hotel. The falls are a mini Niagara with a wicked drop off followed by rapids on the Bow River. We could see the white water rafting vessels just down stream. Rudy shuddered as he remembered the last white water excursion! Back on the bus for our final tour of the day at the Banff gondola up Sulpher Mountain.

The gondola ride was a 10 minute jaw dropping adventure to the peak. At the summit we met a group of “kids” (everyone is a kid now … my guess is late 20’s or early 30’s) from Texas who had hiked up. It took them over 2.5 hours. Our knees hurt at the thought. After a good viewing period in the broiling hot sunshine we boarded gondola for the decent. The views were nothing short of spectacular!!

Back on the bus we have three hotels to stop at so everyone has their overnight stay. We are staying at The Moose. Located in the heart of downtown Banff, it has a log cabin feel with a dining area and a rooftop pool. By the time we arrive and find the check in place for the train, we are ready for a quick bite and wind down. We enjoy a nice bottle of Tom Gore cab sav with our dinner and bring the remaining drops to our suite. It was a long day and we are grateful for the crisp linens and quiet.

Good night Banff. It’s been a slice!

1988 Olympic site
Ribbon of Hwy
Glacier runoff
Elk grazing
Lake Minnewanka
Back country floating
Lunch with a view
Bow Falls
Bow River current
Gondola Ride

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