After Winter arrived here in March complete with snowfall. I find myself dreaming of a perfect vacation I had with my son last summer. We hiked up to get a great view of Peyto Lake in Banff National Park. I have many things to be grateful for.
Genetic OffSpring and I are planning a getaway to the Rocky Mountains, Banff in particular. It has been years since he has been there. We go regularly to Jasper, but last year we spent only a single day there as a family. Genetic Offspring saw the mountains from a new perspective and has been nattering at me to take him back ever since. So I let him pick where he wanted to go.
The destination: Banff National Park, Canada. 414km from my home. I know, I am lucky. The Rocky mountains are a world class destination and people from all over the world try to get here just once. After being in Europe last fall, my family understands the appeal of the Canadian Rockies to the European visitors. The Rockies are like the Black Forrest on Steriods. Stunning, beautiful, breathtaking and vast. Pictures never do it justice.
The plan is to drive down early morning through Calgary. There is a Lego store in the SAME mall as Tiffany’s and the boy wants to stop. I am good with that! Then we will head to Peter’s Drive in for lunch. Peter’s is famous in Calgary. I have never been but the boy has, twice. He likes their Milkshakes, so a stop is a must! Then it is an hour west to Banff.
The best part of the drive to Banff is seeing the Mountains unfold before you. They are tiny from Hwy 2 south from Edmonton and look almost like clouds in the distance. As a kid I remember getting so excited as they came into view from the hwy. As you approach the National Park, they become massive, and before you realize it, you are surrounded by the most beautiful mountains in the world. Yes I am biased, but yes I have seen mountain ranges in the USA, Australia, Scotland, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and even British Columbia here in Canada. To me there is nothing more rugged, massive nor beautiful as the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I cannot wait to go back!
We plan to hike through Johnston’s Canyon and Sundance Canyon. I will drive him up to Lake Louise so he can see the most beautiful lake in the world. I love everything from the sights to the smells. The air is fresh with the smells of pine and spruce in the air. The meadows will be filled with wildflowers and the berries should be plump and juicy with all the rain we have had. I love the abundance of wildlife in the National Parks. Everything from Mountain Goats, Big Horn Sheep, Elk and Deer will be seen at least once on this trip. And if we are lucky, a Black Bear. If we are luckier, a Grizzly Bear.
The draw back is I have to camp. You must know by now, that I prefer a 5 star hotel to sleeping in a tent. But to get the trip you want, you need to do the trip you can afford. I can afford camping fees and cooking my own food, so that is how we will do it. The boy loves to sleep in the tent, he does it all summer long in the back yard. The olny difference is bears and cougars don’t prowl around my backyard. The year Evil Genius came camping with us he remarked that Australians (which he is) wear boots to protect themselves from snakes and spiders while camping (because those creatures will kill you) in Canada one wraps themselves up in a sleeping bag and calls themselves a bear burritos. Umm…not quite. Although I did find that comparison funny. Bears won’t eat you, they just want your picnic basket, Yogi Bear is a true story. So remember these handy tips:
The Edmonton Tourist’s Tips to Avoid being eaten by Bears
- Never cook your food and eat dinner in your pajamas, then sleep in those same clothes – bears don’t give two figs about you. But you SMELL like take out! Tell me, who doesn’t prefer take out to cooking your own food? Bears are lazy just like you.
- Never store your food in your tent. Your tent is made out of cloth. Bears have never had a manicure, they will rip your tent to shreds in hopes of reaching your cooler. Yes they smell the food right through the cooler!
- Keep your camp site clean. Garbage in the Bear Bins, food in your car or tied by a rope and in the tree. Never leave it out while you go hiking or while you nap.
- Dirty dish water gets disposed of in the camp sink at the wash house. Not in the bush beside your tent. Think of it like licking a spoon…you always want more and they will come looking for it.
- Be prepared to have your car torn apart if a bear comes sniffing around for food. It happened to a friend of ours while they were sleeping in their tent.
- Never tell your children it’s a teddy bear and they should get closer for a picture. It happens all the time and I have seen tourists get kicked, trampled, bit and attacked because some dumb dad wanted a photo op with his child on the back of a WILD ANIMAL.
- Always make noise on a trail, chances are a bear will hear you and smell you before you smell them. They prefer rabbits to people, so likely you will never know how close you came to a bear on the trail.
Now, if you meet a cougar, it was nice knowing you.