Road Warrior – Part 2

Friday morning, David and I packed the car and headed west to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies in the province of Alberta.

After about 8 hours of driving, we made a brief stop at MacKay’s Ice Cream in Cochrane, just northwest of Calgary. It was highly recommended. MacKay’s has been in business for 60 years and after tasting their homemade ice cream, it is easy to understand why they have been so successful.
We arrived and checked-in to the Banff Park Lodge around 6:30. Then, it was off to explore the town of Banff. It is in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by majestic rocky peaks. Dinner was at the Old Spaghetti Factory…it was OK, but nothing to rave about. It is a chain and a fast-food type restaurant.

Saturday was a full day of sight-seeing. Thankfully, the day was sunny and clear. We went to Canmore, just south of Banff by about 20 minutes, and took a helicopter tour of the area.

We flew over the Three Sisters Peak and over Spray Lake area. It was my first helicopter ride. What a great place to experience a first! David has been in a helicopter many times as that is how he used to go back and forth to the diamond project in northern Ontario.

Back on the ground, we headed to the Banff Gondola and rode to the top of Sulphur Mountain (8, 042 ft) for more amazing views of the city of Banff and surrounding mountains. There is a boardwalk trail from the observation deck to the old weather station which is now a national historic sight. As you can see by this photo, the afternoon was a little cloudy and later in the evening, it did rain.

Next stop, was the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel. This hotel was originally built by the general manager of the Canadian Pacific railroad in 1887. He saw the potential of tourist coming to the beautiful Canadian Rockies, especially with all of the hot springs in the area. It is an amazing hotel in gorgeous surroundings. However, at about $275/night, it is just a tad to expensive for my pockets!!!

Continuing on our sightseeing tour, we hiked down to the Bow Falls and River. The trail was very muddy as the snow had just been melting. The falls were still frozen over, as were most of the lakes in the area. It is a shame, as the pictures show the lakes have the most amazing blue color. Almost a turquoise, like the Caribbean waters. We would love to return to the area and do some hiking and camping during the summer.

We took Tunnel Road to the Hoodoos, which are spires carved by the wind and water. After visiting the Hoodoos, we continued on to Cascade Ponds and Lake Minnewanka. On this road we saw a flock of young, bighorn sheep, which was really neat. They were on the side of the road and very unaffected by the cars and people taking their pictures.
It was around 5:oo when we finished driving around the lake and we both agreed that we had done the Banff area very well. Dinner was in a little pub on Banff Avenue, the main street. When the rain came, it was cold and miserable, so we headed back to the room for the night.
The original plan on Sunday was to get up and drive north to Jasper National Park, spend the night in Jasper and then head back to Saskatoon on Monday. We headed out on Rt 1A and eventually connected on Rt 1. It was another lovely, scenic drive but we realized that we wouldn’t have enough time to really enjoy to area. So, we cut across on Rt 11 east and headed back to Saskatoon.
Our GPS kept pointing us north to pick up the major highway from Edmonton to Saskatoon. However, we opted to stay on the back roads that kept heading east. At one point, we hit a short part of dirt road and figured that is why the GPS kept pointing north!!! It wasn’t a bad ride, long…but the roads were good and we saw many mule deer and antelope.
Easter dinner was at the Chinese restaurant in Kerrobert, just over the Saskatchewan border. It always amazes us how there is always a Chinese restaurant in the most remote of areas. We always wonder how someone of Chinese descent seem to find their way to such small towns in the middle of nowhere!
After driving 1,175 miles in three days, we arrived back at our condo at 10:00 Sunday night. Needless to say, our own bed felt pretty darn good!

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