Greetings from the wilds of Canada - Another busy, fun-filled month is behind us. Canada was a great place for us to enjoy a little "down time". The only problem was with so much to see, do, and experience, we couldn't get it all in. Here are just a few highlights.
Glacier NP is awesome! Somewhere around 100 glaciers are be found within this Park, hugging the mountains along the short stretch Trans-Canadian highway that bisects the Park.
Revelstoke NP is very different from Glacier. Were Glacier has snow, ice, and fast tumbling waterways, Revelstoke features wildflower dotted meadows, quiet ponds, and breathtaking views.
After all we had seen, enjoyed, and experienced, we were rather curious about what we would find in Banff NP. How would it compare to all that came before? How could be as special?
We pulled into the community of Banff and headed for the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court a fancy name for a huge national park campground (we were in site #710 and there was another row above us!). Our site was a pull-thru (Suzi's favorite type) with full hook-ups next to the bathroom with flush toilets AND hot showers and had a great view of the magnificent Mt. Rundle and surrounding peaks.
The town of Banff is something of a cross between Whitefish, MT, Aspen, CO, and Georgetown in Washington, DC. The town is full young people in shorts, hiking boots, and huge backpacks, bus loads of tourists from around the world, and families cruising around recreational vehicles. There are hiking and biking trails all over the town and an effective public transportation system, a good things since the public parking is limited to two hours. There are 70 year old log cabins, brand new duplex homes, and everything in between. And flowers in boxes, pots, windows, doorways, front yards, and backyards. The best displays were in Cascade Gardens (a must see).
One of our first expeditions in Banff was to the information center (it seems every town in Canada has one) for things to do, see, and explore. There were a number of things to do (from hiking trails to chamber music concerts) but two we want to tell you about are the Downtown Walk Tour, a walk through history, and lunch at the Banff Spring Hotel (a.k.a the Castle).
The Banff Spring Hotel's nickname is well earned you feel like pampered royalty as soon as you enter. Everything is so plush and massive. Every window presented a fantastic view. Every room has tasteful appointments. And lunch, with everything from mountains of fresh fruit, a wide variety of breads, lakes of soup to a yummy Hunter's Stew, delicious desserts, and shiny pots of hot tea, was beyond anything you could image. You just have to experience it yourself.
Than we left the mountains and headed for the Calgary Stampede. We spent a couple of days exploring Calgary before going to the Stampede. The LRT (Light Rail Trail) was used for both and greatly appreciated. Sights we enjoyed in town were the water play park in the Eau Claire Market area, and the Devonian Garden, complete with fish ponds and beautiful gardens, located on the fourth floor of a downtown shopping mall. And we mustn't forget about all the wannabe cowboys and cowgirls in their tight jeans ith dinner plate size belt buckets, and cowboy boots in every color, material, and style. Frankly, they illustrated it takes more than clothes to make a real cowboy. But they were having fun and so did we.
The Calgary Stampede was another world unto itself. Contained within the Stampede Grounds were four enormous permanent building housing thousands of exhibits from a Superdog show to a tupperware booth, wonderful art works to face painting, and everything in between, half a dozen tents with agriculture exhibits including displays of price winning seeds, livestock, and equipment, and another tent was for Flow Riders (a group of daredevil bicyclists). There was an Indian village complete with
teepees, dozens of food booths, and running beside, through, and around it all, the Midway. Along with the various games and loop-d-loop rides were stomach dropping, knee shaking, you-have-to-be-crazy style rides. And, of course, an enormous stadium worthy of all the hoopla. And everywhere people, hundred and thousands people.
Honestly, the rodeo was like most rodeos - only bigger. However, the Chucks (a.k.a. Chuckwagon Races) were something else. So, what is a chuckwagon race? Imagine a cattle drive and there is a stampede. The cook and drovers load up the chuckwagon with its equipment, including the cast-iron stove, and race off to catch the herd. That's what these races try to simulate. Today, the equipment is a weighted plastic tub and long poles, the cook and the drovers are professional competitors, and the race is on a safe oval race track. The races were fast, colorful, and exciting to watch. Glad we did them.
Then we headed for Drumheller, a small, prairie town in the middle of Alberta's Badland. Why? Dinosaurs! Canada's largest discoveries and the Royal Tyrrell Museum are there. This is an awesome museum and well-worth the detour.
As usual, Fred research made our passage back into the States easy. The same can not be said for our refrigerator's contains. The Agriculture Inspectors took all our fresh eggs, and frozen beef, pork, and chicken. (What Suzi can't understand was why he took her Boca burgers but left Fred's sausage patties.) Our fresh produce was saved because Suzi hadn't yet taken time to wash and remove those little sticky labels.
The month ended at a family gathering to witness Jeff Cobb (Fred's cousin) and Marlayna join in marriage. It was a great way to end a great month. August and beyond will see us return to our work with the National Forests, most east of the Mississippi River. We will keep you posted.
Suzi and Fred