Blog for April 23, 2017
"Firm as the mountains around us….."
We love the Canadian Rockies and more particularly, the mountains around Banff. The highlight of our week’s activities was to return to our timeshare at Canmore over the weekend and enjoy once again the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Yes, we will attempt to bore you once again with the pictures we took.
For my recent birthday, Kathy surprised me with tickets to the Banff Gondola and we wanted to go enjoy that experience before school ends and the tourists descend. We were a little concerned about the forecast but, as it turns out, the weather cooperated nicely. We packed and were all set to leave directly from work on Friday and make the 75 minute drive to Canmore. The weather was quite overcast on our way but as we approached Canmore the weather began to clear a bit and, though cool, the evening was picture perfect. After checking in we relaxed for a hour or two and then headed to Boston Pizza for dinner. These are pictures taken from the restaurant parking lot.
|This mountain area is known as the Three Sisters peaks. It sits just above the timeshare|
As mentioned, the weather was cool so we decided against going to the pool so we relaxed with a movie (Blindside) and I started reading a book from the timeshare library by an author I like so we had a nice relaxing evening.
Saturday morning we hit the exercise room, had breakfast, grabbed our jackets and gloves (we were warned that we should go prepared to be cold), and headed to Banff, which is about 30 minutes from Canmore. Since we had a scheduled gondola departure time and weren’t sure how to get there, we gave ourselves plenty of time to get lost and still find it in time. As a result we arrived 45 minutes early and so had time to walk around and take some pictures.
|Our approaching gondola|
|Looking downward to where we boarded the gondola|
|The view as we ascended Sulphur Mountain|
|The requisite "selfie"|
The gondola moves pretty fast and in six minutes we were at the top of Sulphur Mountain (so named because some of the water that comes from the mountain side has a sulphur odor, but none was detected by us at any point). Sulphur Mountain is not an extremely high mountain but from the top you have a 360-degree view at the surrounding granite peaks in every direction and the view is stunning. Unfortunately, the pictures do not adequately show the grandeur. With the exception of the Alps, and possibly the Grand Tetons, in my view there are no other mountains that are quite as incredible.
|View to the south from atop Sulphur Mountain. The receiving end of the gondola is on the right. |
See our Facebook page for a video clip of the gondolas.
|The famous Banff Hotel and the Bow Valley|
At the summit is a newly expanded (and very nice) four level viewing complex complete with three restaurants and the inevitable gift shop. As you might expect, the exit from the gondola dumps one directly into the gift shop, and then when you look for the entrance for the return back down the mountain, the only way to the gondola is again through the gift shop. Yes, we did look, but $32.00 for a ball cap and $60-80 for a sweatshirt does not entice us much. Kathy looked for a souvenir granite egg to add to her collection but none was to be had.
If one can’t get enough of the vistas, there is a boardwalk that is something like the Great Wall of China (i.e., goes up and down but mostly up!) to another mountaintop complex. We considered it but quickly changed our minds.
|The boardwalk. You can see the destination off in the distance.|
We took a lot of pictures and tried to stay out of the way of a large group of Japanese tourists who were being shepherded by a rather loud and obnoxious tour director. We ate lunch at one of the restaurants (pricey but nice). By the time we had finished eating, at least some of the Japanese tour group had gone back down the mountain so we were able to enjoy the views a bit more before heading down ourselves. Fortunately the weather was quite pleasant (remember this is April and in Canada!). The wind was light at best and the temperature around 42 degrees so, as it turned out, we were overdressed and had to remove a layer or two.
|One more picture; this one is the the west on the opposite side of Sulphur Mt from the gondola ride.|
If you come to the Banff National Park, we highly recommend the gondola experience. It was wonderful!
Banff has a wonderful Christmas store with the name, The Spirit of Christmas. We had been in once before and found out that the store carries carvings done by a well-known Canadian woodcarver, David Francis. Kathy loves his work. Most of the carvings are unique although he will do some replicas by special order. Anyway, I knew of Kathy’s special interest in them so I told her I would get her an early birthday present if she could find one she truly likes. She did find one and so we are bringing it home, to be wrapped and put away until her September birthday, at least that is the plan. We will see. If you would like to see his art, you can view some pieces online at: snowcottagecarvings.com. He has a worldwide following.
This is the piece that we bought:
While in the Christmas store, we visited with the clerk who helped us and knew from her accent that she is from Australia. She asked where we are from and what we were doing in Canada. We told her how much we loved Canmore and Banff and she told us of a beautiful spot just above Canmore where she had just visited called Grassi Lakes. She told us it was a bit of a hike but well worth it and showed us some pictures she had taken, so we decided that was what we wanted to do that afternoon. With some difficulty we finally found the trailhead and made our way up the trail. Initially the trail was dry but as we got higher we began to encounter some snow and trickling water on the trail from the melting snow. Still it was very passable.
The hike was well worth it. The small lakes were almost luminescent, somewhat like one sees in Yellowstone.
During our hike a breeze had sprung up and the sky was becoming overcast so our pictures didn’t turn out quite as spectacularly as the store clerk’s but still it was beautiful. In her pictures the water was calm and flat and the day more sunlit so the reflection on the water of the mountainside and surrounding trees was amazing such that you could hardly tell where the waterline was. While there we were entertained by a small squirrel; I’m sure he was hoping that we had some food for him which we didn’t.
We were pretty tired by the time we returned so that pretty much finished the day for us; a truly fine day to say the least. And to cap the day off in the mountains, it snowed….
Today we drove back to Banff and went to church services there. By the way, the snow melted very quickly and was gone before we left Banff. We had looked forward to seeing and visiting with the missionary couple serving there in the branch, the Gardiners. Unfortunately they were not there, which we knew beforehand, as they had had to make a quick trip back home to Vancouver due to some family illness. We missed seeing them as they have become very dear to us; nevertheless, we enjoyed visiting the branch and, as always, had such a nice welcome.
So we are back home now and are enjoying thunder and lightning and a rain shower as I write this.
We want to announce that we will be remaining in Canada a bit longer than anticipated. No, we are not immigrating (although doing so would not be difficult in the least as we love it here so much). Our mission end date was to be May 30th; however, we have been asked by President Miles to stay an additional month to help cover the shortage of personnel we currently have in the mission office. Extending for a month will also give us a few days of overlap with the couple coming in June to replace us. Incidentally, they, too, are from Sandy although we haven’t previously met them. We have, however, had a nice visit with them on the telephone and were able to answer some of their questions about what to expect and what to bring. We will look forward to meeting them. From our conversation, we know they are bringing some good Church background and some office related experience that will serve the mission well.
Wow, I am coming to the end of the blog and nothing was said about cars!
Have a wonderful week!