Sunday, July 16, 2023
Stats: 0 miles driven, 4 miles walked (felt like MORE), Tunnel Mountain Summit Hike in Banff
Y’all! There are MOUNTAINS surrounding us! Yes, behind all that smoke last week lay beautiful peaks all around. What a delight to catch a better glimpse and see why everyone raves about the Canadian Rockies.
Gregg took one for the team and was out the door around 7:30 to move our car to a free lot before 8am. (The city charges for parking between 8am and 8pm.) He parked down by the train station, a 5-10 minute walk, because they have “free 9-hour parking.” You do the math. We’re hoping the Information Center lady was correct and they don’t mind if you stretch 9 hours to 12 hours as long as you don’t stay overnight. He’ll move closer this evening to make it easier when we check out in the morning.
We’re working with and chuckling over the adventures this hotel has offered so far. Since there is no air conditioning, we left the ceiling fan on, the window open, and sound machine making us think we’re sleeping next to the ocean. I dropped off to sleep as Gregg finished getting ready for bed. He turned off the light, crawled in bed, and the light came back on. He said something to me but I was dead to the world. He turned it off again.
After sleeping a bit, the light came back on. Gregg asked, “did you turn the light on?” I heard him that time and said no. He turned it off and fell back to sleep. Around 12:30, I woke up and the light was on again! I looked at Gregg and he was sound asleep so I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep.
How bizarre! Is another room turning their light on and the remotes have the same frequency? Or is it just one of those mystery light switches somewhere in the world – you’ve experienced them, I’m sure. You flip the switch on and nothing happens. Maybe it turned on a light in the Canadian Rockies. It’s one of life’s mysteries.
The man who made a suprise visit to our room yesterday a few minutes after we checked in, came to make up our room today. At 6pm. I’m guessing they are quite short staffed. I don’t envy him.
There are several coffee shops in town. We walked to Wild Flour (I see what they did there!) and it was a good choice. I skipped the breakfast sandwiches for a yogurt/wild berry compote/homemade granola bowl. Nom nom nom. I’m hoping it makes my tummy happier. I’ve been indulging my tongue with carbonated drinks and greasy food and my stomach has been registering official complaints with acid reflux. OK, I get the message.
St. George’s In the Pine Anglican Episcopal Church is a few blocks away. We joined them for worship this morning and were blessed. Their stained glass windows included deer, hikers, and skiers blended in with the Biblical stories.
Several people highly recommended the Banff Gondola ride. After looking at smoke yesterday, trusting that there WERE mountains ahead of us, we decided to not take the chance. The Park information center said that the gondola company had stopped streaming their webcam around the time that the smoke rolled in. They are still showing July 3 so we took it as a sign that the view wasn’t clear yet.
Instead, we walked to a trailhead and took a breath-taking uphill hike up to the Tunnel Mountain Summit. This turned out to be an excellent decision. The view was breathtaking so it was worth the effort to get up there. Gregg recorded the stats: “The altitude at the top is 5,543 feet above sea level (over a mile high). The hill gains 850 feet in less than 2 miles. Steep switchbacks brought us to the top.”
We met two families from India (cousins) who now live in Canada (several have I.T. backgrounds) and we enjoyed chatting during rest breaks on the two hours it took to get to the top. Our conversations on the walk down made the time fly.
Each couple had a daughter ages 5 and 7. They were adorable, gregarious, and told me about the ant maze they created in the sand, how we shouldn’t feed wild animals because they will become dependent on people, forget how to get their own food, and then starve, and that one’s grandpa died in a motorcycle accident when her daddy was young. When I asked if she had remarried, she stated irrefutably that grandma is “too old to get married.” Children can say the most interesting things when they know we are listening.
Back in Banff, Gregg asked if I wanted to go to the hotel or eat. I didn’t feel hungry. Until he asked. Let’s eat! We had seen a restaurant close by that had cheese fondue. That sounded perfect – and it was sooo good!
A friend kindly reminded me that the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream day in the USA. (How did that not get onto my calendar??) So, you easily guessed it, we went for ice cream afterwards. Chasing milk with milk. Why not? The line at Cows Ice Cream across from our hotel was not as long as last night (not that it mattered to us.) This ice cream is made on Prince Edward Island so it is Canadian Ice Cream. Oh, so delicious and the perfect consistency and temperature. It would make a fabulous milkshake.
We both had PEI Blueberry. Gregg had 2 scoops. I had one scoop and added Cownadian Maple. Both were delicious! They have very creative names, although not necessarily descriptive hints to the flavors.
Back at the hotel to relax. Gregg will catch up on the budget and listen to podcasts while I compose this blog post.
Tomorrow (Monday) we head south of the border, back into the USA.
Thank you, Canada, for your kind hospitality and for sharing your beauty!