With the travel writing here over the past few weeks and recent flooding in the Calgary, Alberta area the following anecdote from a trip to Canmore, Alberta few years ago surfaced, enjoy:
August 2009 Alfred and I climb aboard a twin-propeller jet plane and head north to Canada to the explore Canmore/Banff, Alberta area with weather forecasts of sunny skies and temperatures around 72 degrees. Our week long vacation is set into motion as soon as we arrive at the WorldMark Resort Canmore for right outside the doorstep the majestic Canadian Rockies thrust skyward! WOW!
After checking in and stocking up on supplies for the week from a local grocer we unpack, watch Canadian television, and roll few games of 10,000 a dice game.
Next day, exhausted from the previous days travel it is not until late afternoon that we retain enough energy to step out and venture into Canmore under the sunny skies and predicted temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Stopping in various gift shops, dollar stores, and something called Art in the Park which is a sliver of a tree lined grassy area near the Canmore United Church where locals express themselves by selling their work. It is here, while in conversation with an artist, that we are told of a half head sculpture of grey stone about six feet high that represents Ceann Mór (Scottish Gaelic) which means Big Head in reference to one’s elevated stature or height and gives the city its name.
A few photographs beside and on top of for posterity and then, instead of going back to the resort and cook we decide to hit a local eatery, Patrinos, one not on most tourists itinerary a place known for its fifty cent pool (Canadian money) tasty beer, and delicious pizza . Two hours later back in the resort the night is capped off with more Canadian television and dice games.
Banff, Canada’s first national park, is 10 minutes north and is our destination over the next two days of vacation hiking through Central Park on the emerald green Bow River, dining in local restaurants, and buying souvenirs including First Nation ceremonial masks for our collection. Riding the gondola up 7484’ Sulphur Mountain is spectacular however; the best of the mountain is the one mile Banff Skywalk
where views of the Rockies and the pristine Bow Valley take your breath away. At the end of the walk is a weather station once checked daily by an individual who hiked up the mountain and today it is automated with the outside wooden structure covered in graffiti of people who have taken this hike, we do not. At the conclusion of the our stay a few games of dice are rolled over lunch in the enclosed observation deck then back down the mountain to the historic Banff Upper Hot Springs where our tired bodies relax in the 100 plus degree spring water, aaaahhhh.
A one-hour drive north from the resort, along the Canadian Rockies on Trans-Canadian Highway 1, to Lake Louise was a last minute add-on to the tour but we are glad to have taken the time to visit. It is assumed that this is just another mountain lake but were we pleasantly disappointed as our jaws drop in awe when, just a short walk from the parking lot of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, two miles of shimmering emerald water nestled amongst the Rockies and the Victoria Glacier stretch out before us.
Immediately my photographer mind takes over and starts snapping pictures of the vista and I force myself to stop and take in this beauty with the naked eye. Soon, a light rain forces us into the chateau where gourmet pizza, pool, and local beer enhance the experience as does a stroll about the chateau’s interior amongst multi-cultural tourists bestowing a touch of Alpine living! On the way home diner was at the Rose and Crown restaurant in Banff and, adding to the European sensation, a group of German tourists robustly speaking their native tongue.
Our vacation ended where in began, in Canmore checking out some of the many footpaths throughout town along the Bow River and on the day of departure one last early morning stroll east of town along Benchlands Terrace overlooking Canmore where Alfred and I stood, dressed warm to beat back the early morning chill. Forming a backdrop to a city once known for coal production but now an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise Mount Lawrence Grassi and Ha Ling Peaks of the Canadian Rockies seem to scrape the bottom of clouds moving in as if a curtain drop at the end of a play. Warming sunlight momentarily appears through holes in cumulous clouds as if punctured by the mountain peaks; Al snaps a final picture of me drinking this in and capping a week of adventure and discovery.