Archive for September, 2016

Calgary – 7

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2016 by David Palmer

A good nights sleep for both of us and a beautiful morning to wake up to. Breakfasted and showered we set off for Bow Lake to attempt the glacier.

We stopped once on route to take a photo of a valley and lake nestled below the highway, it was covered in a cauldron of cloud, a few other travellers had stopped too with the same thought in mind. Our destination was only around 35km away so it wasn’t long before we were pulling into the public car park by the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. This is very picturesque wooden hotel on the banks of the lake. It appears to be a popular site for tour buses to pull in and spend 20 minutes taking photos of the lake and mountains.

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Kitted up we set off along the trail that would take us towards the glacier. The waters on the lake were as still as glass, just begging for the camera click, but I resisted as I had taken enough the day before. The trail took us along the shore of the lake occasionally meandering into the tree line to avoid marshy areas. It was a gorgeously hot day and it wasn’t soon before my fleece disappeared into my backpack. We were passed by one rather fit Canadian woman and in turn we passed an elderly asian couple on the lake section of the trail.

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We reached the end of the lake by way of a moraine field,which had a small river twisting and turning through its rocky bed. Here was the beginning of the upward slope, through the trees and among large boulders. Strenuous going but luckily mostly in shade from the tower of a mountain to our left. Up and up we went, sometimes holding onto roots to gain purchase until we eventually met the river again at the top of a narrow but very deep gorge. Fast, thundering water gushed along its bottom.  It was refreshing to be back into the sunshine but we still had short way to go up before the terrain flattened out and we emerged through the tree line above a vast corrie (haven’t a clue what the Canadians call this feature).

We could see a waterfall tumbling over a huge cliff across the other side and the river it fed, winding down into the bowl only to split into several small streams which meandered here and there before joining again into one body at the mouth of the chasm which we were standing.

We followed the trail to the base of the waterfall, meeting again the Canadian girl and a young asian couple on their return journey. We exchanged pleasantries as we passed.

On reaching the waterfall we were disappointed to see that there was no way up from the corrie to the glacier which was now hidden from view above the cliff. We climbed up the waterfall to get a better view and to take photos. Jamie managed to reach the very first cascade, and built his own way marker of a little pile of stones. I doubt there will be many reaching that.

When we met again at the bottom of the falls we decided to traverse the scree slope to our left to see if there was a route that would top the cliff and take us on to the glacier. Scree climbing is a difficult and dangerous activity and this proved true! Progress up the first shallow angled part went easily but as expected grip became harder to attain as the angle increased and size of rocks decreased. Any slip usually ends with a rapid slide into an uncontrolled tumble. At this height, that will be a long way (3000m).

Jamie managed to reach the low crest of the slope up against a buttress that looked from below as it might afford a route up to the ice. Just short of the crest I couldn’t get any more grip, and several times had a mini-slip. I carefully made my way back down the slope. Jamie followed a few minutes later.

On our descent Jamie slipped and his knee buckled. In pain he made his way down the rest of the slope sliding on his bottom. Then miraculously as the ground levelled out he managed to stand and his knee clicked back in.

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We made our way across the corrie to the chasm where the water once again threw itself into the air for the second time. Looking up we saw that our scree climbing was pointless as there was no route up from it, the scree ended in another cliff. As we descended alongside the ravine Jamie’s knee again went, this slowed our progress considerably, but eventually we made it to the lakeside. Again his knee clicked back in. However, part way around the lake on a section of pebbles, his knee gave up and this time refused to right itself.

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Eventually we made it back to the RV. After drinks, I and a hobbling son visited the restaurant in the Lodge and had soup and corn bread. We decided to head back to Banff as any more hiking was now out of the question.

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On returning to Banff we parked the RV (legally) and did a spot of shopping for that nights meal and then checked out what films were on in the cinema. We camped back at the Tunnel Mountain campsite, had showers and listened to the radio. While I wrote this blog, Jamie’s knee must have been feeling better as he chose to go for a walk around the site.

Later in the evening we went into town and watched the Ice Hockey World Cup final in a bar. Canada were taking on Europe, it is the best of three games. We watched a bit of the first game in a bar in Lake Louise last night, Canada won. The game tonight had Europe winning 1:0 until the last 5 minutes when Canada equalised and then in a power play for Europe, the Canadians broke away and scored the winner. The bar erupted and no doubt the celebrations would be going on well into the night. I wonder how many in the UK knew this world cup was going on?

Leaving the Canadians to their celebration we walked to the cinema and watched the film ‘Sully’ about the American Airways crash into the Hudson river. Worth watching.

We arrived back at the campsite just before midnight.

Calgary – 6

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2016 by David Palmer

We weren’t bothered by bears during the night, but Jamie’s mobile phone went off at 2.20am shortly followed by the wailing of the Trans Canadian ghost train. The RV  then decided to join in with the fun of keeping me awake and set off its carbon monoxide sensor. After checking that the gas was off (the valve is outside of course), and then resetting the alarm, another wailing ghost train rattled by somewhere in the wilderness. I would have settled for bears, they can’t possibly make such noise.

It was nearly 9am before I rose and not happy to learn that Jamie had slept through it all.

After breakfast of coffee and cereal (again), we drove into the village as Jamie wanted a roll for his breakfast. While he was purchasing it I used the WiFi from the cafe to send some pics and check the news.

Soon we were pounding the Trans Canadian Highway towards the Columbia Icefield. Our journey has so far taken us through some wonderful photogenic scenery, but todays route upped the awe factor by another level. Scene after scene slipped by, briefly frozen in memory from recollections of films, nature programmes and magazines. Alan Ladd and  John Wayne among many others rode through here bravely fighting injuns or protecting their claims from varmints.

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In just under two hours we arrived at the Ice Field Centre which is opposite the Athabasca Glacier. After checking out the information boards and small museum we purchased tickets for the Glacier Skywalk. Canadian customer relations is second to none, however when you just want to buy two tickets and get on the bus to the activity the obligatory cheery welcome followed by the getting to know you patter and then the imparting some personal information of themselves to make you feel at home and of course if you have a foreign accent it is always followed by I have been/want to/ know some one who has been there is very wearisome and creates extraordinary length queues. And I was in this one!!!

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Luckily after resisting the temptation to commit Hari-kari among the thronging Japanese milling all around me it was a bonus to find that the bus was there waiting to whisk us away and we didn’t have to queue.

The Sky Walk is not as you would expect over the glacier though I am sure that at one time (blame global warming for that) it does jut over the fearsome chasm that the glacier gauged out  probably not so long ago. Of course the floor is glass and after being reassured by the guide that it could take up to 8 tons of weight, it would not break if stood on. I opted to stay away from a couple of Americans in our group  as I did not want to test his theory. After many photos we returned to the  bus and returned to the centre.

The cafe did a good chicken burger and fries with the minimum of chatter and the maximum of service, the ticket booth staff upstairs could well learn from these people.

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We drove the RV to the car park at the base of the glacier and trekked up the slope to the very edge of the ice field. There was a warning poster there which declared: Do not walk on the ice, there are dangerous crevices here, the ice field rescue staff are extremely efficient and well-trained, hyperthermia acts faster than a rescue team can assemble, the last three people to fall in crevices did not survive. Yep, I got the message. Don’t cross the tape.

We followed the circular route which took us along the front edge of the glacier and back to the car park.
In the year that I was born (1953) the glacier extended all the way to the Field Centre, which must be some half mile away now, between the two points are many little signs indicating the year and showing the  extent of the ice field at that time.

With the glacier now ‘done’ we headed back towards Lake Louise. We stopped several times to take photos of even more picture postcard lakes with a back drop of forest and mountain. After yesterday we are getting better at finding the right spot and angle to take our photos. We had an interesting amble around a closed Silver Horn campsite. A very pretty spot with tables and fire pits dotted around still little ponds that reflected its surroundings, just asking for you to press that shutter once more.

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Arriving at Bow Lake we walked to the shore and looked at the Bow Glacier at the far end. We thought about trekking to it, but as it was late in the day it would certainly be dark on our return. We didn’t have lights and of course there are bears, not forgetting wolves, and of course the $25 000 dollar fine for feeding them. We decided to return tomorrow and attempt to reach it without being eaten.

We checked into the same campsite as the previous night, requesting a pitch nearer the showers. We were given one across the road. I hoped it wouldn’t be too noisy.

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We had our evening meal out of the microwave listening to the radio which was  again discussing Clinton and Trump. We opted to leave Canadian radio mulling over the American elections and drove into town and hoping to play pool in the local bar, but the table was out of commission as it was pushed against the wall making room for more meal tables. We sat and watched a baseball game on the TV and  had a drink. As we were leaving they cleared the tables away and put the pool table in position, but three guys grabbed the table before we could. We drove back to our pitch to find someone in it. We encouraged him to leave, which he did.

We listened to a bit of radio before settling down for the night to dream of bears and wolves.

Calgary – 5

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2016 by David Palmer

We woke today to find Elk grazing the grass outside our RV. I went out to photograph them and they seemed completely uninterested, seen it all before I guess.

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Rather annoyingly we found that we had picked up a parking ticket from the previous day (it was attached to the windscreen). First task was to drive into Banff and pay the $55. Despite being wished a great day by the  clerk in County Hall I scowled at her pointing out that she wasn’t contributing to my ‘Great Day’.

We drove to Lake Louise. The Trans Canadian Highway is such an easy road to navigate and has such superb views every inch of its meandering route. It follows the course of the racing River Bow which winds its way along the very centre of a valley scooped out millennia ago by a long since disappeared glacier. Rich green forests stretch from river bank up to the heady heights of mountains  before giving way to bare rock that even the hardiest plant couldn’t sustain a foothold. To finish off, God put a blob of vanilla ice cream on the very top. To make it look right. As I was videoing our journey through the front windscreen (no tickets in view) God decided to show off and produced a little shower, drawing a beautiful arc of rainbow across our  path to add a little ‘awe’ to the scene.

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Arriving at the Lakeside we could see why this is a ‘must-see’ location in Canada. Beautiful. After quite a few photographs we decided to hike to Lake Agnes. This was a steep upwards trail that passed by Mirror Lake before reaching our destination. The trail gave great views down onto Lake Louise at frequent spots through the trees, so many photos were taken. It was hard work and despite the shade of the trees and chilliness of the altitude, much sweat was lost.

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Arrival at the Lake was by way of a small waterfall that itself added to our photos down onto the intense blue lake and accompanying hotel. We only stopped briefly as this was not the top. The ‘Large Beehive’ was our new destination and this is the trail we followed. Our previous path was well trodden and in good condition, this new one was not. Steeper and much more windy, but I noticed the altitude was having an effect as breathing became more laboured. We were at 8000ft.

As would have been expected there were great views all around and not blotted by other hikers, we met only half a dozen on this section. Jamie had me video him doing his Facebook press-ups on a rocky outcrop over a precipice that gave no margin for error. I didn’t feel comfortable about this but said nothing. He survived.

Returning to Lake Agnes we stopped  at the popular little Tea room located on the banks of the little lake. It started to spit with rain as we took our seats inside and ordered hot chocolate. We had a long chat with the waitress, who we learned had spent 4 years in London and now lived in small cabin near the Tea room with the other staff, without electricity or any modern conveniences for much of the year.

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As we descended the mountain there was a crash of thunder and it began to lightly snow. It didn’t amount to much and by the time we reached our RV the sun was back out, smiling and glinting off the glacier on the distant shore of the lake.

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We drove to the RV campsite near the little village of Lake Louise and checked in. After finding our pitch, (the furthest one of all!) We made our way into the village for lunch. Canadian fish and chips was had in a small pleasant cafe which had the now necessary WiFi. We posted our location on Facebook.

After a look around the shops we purchased some provisions from the nearby store. We were running out of milk and coffee. During a walk along the river bank and through the grounds of a hotel we discussed what our plans were next when we were stopped by the track of the noisy Trans Canada Railway. We decided to travel to the Columbia Icefield tomorrow and visit Moraine Lake today. We returned to the RV.

Our drive to the lake was along a narrow road that kept your eyes glued to the road rather than looking up at the impressive mountain scenery. We reached our destination after around half and hour and immediately started snapping photos of this enchanting place and the  location (like Lake Louise) of many iconic photos.

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We climbed the rocky outcrop at the mouth of the lake to get even better shots. Thinking that you couldn’t take a poor photo of this magic scene, we were later to learn that this was true but that you could take a much better one. Perched around the outcrop were several very obvious professional photographers with their gear set up but not attempting to take any shots. We stayed with them and waited to see what it was that they were after, after all, perfection was right in front of their eyes, why were they not shooting? Over the next hour it slowly dawned on me that they were not waiting for the sun to dip down over the peaks, as first thought, but they were waiting for the lake water to become still so that the mountains and forest would be reflected in the lake. After around a couple of hours waiting, the magic moment arrived and yes you can improve on perfection. I guess these conditions rarely occur and today they did, and we were there. We both agreed in the RV on the way back that the last two hours was the best experience we have had so far. Quite surprising.

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Before

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After

Back at the campsite, after a little walk to the river and back we closed up for the night. The evening meal was bean and chilli burritos, microwaved and scoffed in double-quick time and washed down with Sprite and coffee. Jamie played Patience with our cards while I wrote this bl0g, both of us listening to Canadian radio which was discussing the recent Clinton v Trump debate.

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After a shower Jamie fell asleep which prompted me to have a shower and do like-wise. We were warned by the camp staff that bears have been around this week and that it is likely they will be through the site during the night. We shall see what the morning brings.

Calgary – 4

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2016 by David Palmer

We had a sleep in this morning. I had to be woken around 9.30am. Then the fun started.

After coffee, Jamie had what was left of the sausage and I had cereal for breakfast. While he used the RV for his shower I ventured out into a surprisingly warm day under clear blue skies to have my shower in the camp block. On my return to the RV I discovered that after scrubbing himself clean, Jamie had decided to empty the sewage tank, which is done by connecting a large hose to the outlet valve on the side of the RV, running it to the drain on our pitch and then first opening  the valve for the toilet and then the one from the shower and sink to flush the pipe. Sounds easy. Except that if you don’t check that both valves are closed and holding back the contents of their tanks, when you open the main outlet valve it isn’t going to go well for anyone standing in front of it!

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I found a distraught Jamie bemoaning his sorry state and noticed a large pool of unpleasant liquid  beneath our vehicle. To cheer him up I agreed accidents happen and why didn’t the RV Centre ensure the valves were shut in the first place? I reassured him that as I had always used the camps facilities the contents of those tanks were only returning to Papa, so he wasn’t likely to catch anything new. He wasn’t impressed.

With Jamie and RV cleaned up we left our pitch with the large brown pool we had created refusing to soak into the ground and headed into town. Worryingly there is a $25 000 dollar fine within the park confines for feeding the wildlife.

We first checked the cinema to see what time it opened so that we could recover Jamie’s coat, it was 6pm. Next was a visit to the gas station to fill up the RV. We chickened out when the pump clicked up $150. To our relief the tank was showing full. We don’t want to have to do that too often!

Today we had decided to hike around Mount Norquay, it is the mountain that they use for skiing in Banff and therefore has  trails all over it. Driving up the windy but spectacular road to the Ski-lift Station which was roughly three-quarters the way up its southern flank, we used the car park of the still operating lifts. It was hot.We selected a trail that headed off into the tree line and followed its shady meanderings. All of the  trails were long distance so we had decided to follow ours for an hour and then return.

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It was a gorgeous day, towering mountains and stunning views could be glimpsed every time that the forest chose to show-off what it was hiding. Crossing one Alpine meadow affording a fine view of a line of majestic mountains marching away into the distance I videod Jamie doing his 22 press-up challenge for Facebook. At the end of the hour we had reached a very pretty wooden bridge spanning one of the tributaries to the River Bow. We took some photos and set then off back. We could see that large deer used the track from the evidence of hoof prints in the mud, though bears and wolves thankfully preferred other routes.

Back at the lift station we sat awhile in the sun and had large tubs of ice cream to cool ourselves under what was now a quite fierce sun.

After a drive back down the mountain to Banff we had lunch in an Irish pub. Jamie opted for a burger and I chose Guinness and beef pie. Next was a stop at the supermarket for provisions and then a visit to the inappropriately named Dollar store for a pack of cards. We have yet to find anything that costs a dollar here.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking to the Bow River falls which also gave a good view of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel across on the other bank. We spent some time climbing the cliff along the river then headed back into town. The cinema was open and Jamie picked up his errant coat.

We drove back to the RV site, checked in for the third time and located our pitch for the night. We played cards and ate an evening meal of microwaved Chinese fare bought earlier in the day.

We aim to set off for Lake Louise  early in the morning.

Calgary – 3

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2016 by David Palmer

Considering the altitude we are at it wasn’t surprising that the night was rather chilly. Jamie didn’t sleep well, though he kept this to himself until around 6am when he put on the furnace to heat up the RV and relocated his sleeping position onto floor next to the heating vent.

I was first woken at 4.45am by the sound of a distant train blaring its warning siren for what I guess was its entry into the tunnel (wherever that is). Sound travels far in the mountains! I soon got used to the Canadian railways timetable in this region: 5.45, 6.45, 7.45 etc.

After dressing I made us both warming coffees then while Jamie took a shower in the RV. I took a walk to the toilet block, at that time in the morning the earlier queue of bears desperate for a pee had disappeared and I had the place to myself.

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Returning to the RV we had a breakfast of cereal with cinnamon, it was ok.

We could have caught the local bus from the camp site into town, it is free on the journey into Banff but $2 for the return journey, now that is cheap! We drove and parked in the same spot as the previous night. The town was on the quieter side of bustling. As it was the end of their season there were many sale signs displayed in shop windows. We took advantage and bought a pair of gloves each and I couldn’t resist a  rather nice jacket with hood.

From the town bridge we headed off along the trail to the Caves and Bowl. The track took us along the banks of the River Bow and as in the park in Calgary we saw many of their black squirrel country cousins leaping from tree to tree, undeterred by our presence. Arriving at our destination we paid the entrance fee of $3.95 and entered. The museum/heritage centre celebrates the very first white settlers in Banff and the indigenous Stoney Tribe. The cave/grotto was used by the Indians as a place of worship. They entered from a very small opening in the roof by way of a rawhide ladder. This was later discovered by trappers who built a shack above it recognising its future potential. The cave has a hot spring pouring out from a hole in the wall and forms a small pond. Many years later, below the cave, which had now been opened up by way of an access tunnel, a thermal swimming pool was built as a tourist attraction for the area. This has since been removed and a museum built in its place.

 

After the delights of the cave and museum we climbed part way up the mountain along wooden walk ways and platforms, visiting a series of thermal pools on the way.

Returning to the RV we set off up Sulphur Mountain to the Gondola station. After paying for our ticket ($67) we queued along with the many other nationalities waiting for our ride up the mountain. We were fortunate that we had one to ourselves on the journey upwards. Arriving at the top we took photos of the rather stunning mountainscape. We then trod the boardwalk to the very top of the mountain and the location of a past weather station hut, but now the site of a cosmic ray collector. We vied with other tourists for our photos of the scenery, many of which seemed Japanese. They do have a way of ignoring all around them when they have camera in hand, they are such a polite nation at most other times.

We queued again to return to ground zero and again nearly had a Gondola to ourselves, but we were hurriedly joined by an American couple. The wife in her hurry to get in, sat on me and then apologised at length.

Our next stop was at the thermal swimming pool halfway up the mountain. With trunks and towels in hand we made our way to the entrance, eager to sample the 40 degree sulphurous temperature. However, we could see the pool from the top and it looked a very sorry affair, packed with bodies lounging in the water and looking just like any tired small town Lido, all tiles and no character. We decided not to bother.

Instead, we had lunch of chicken wings and fries at the ‘English Pub’ and then drove to Vermillion Lakes on the other side of Banff and again took photos from one of the view points. Very peaceful. On our return to Banff we came across a traffic jam, as we slowly made our way to its focus we discovered that the source was an Elk calmly munching grass at the side of the road. As everyone was leaving their vehicles to capture photos of the animal, we did also. You could tell who the locals were as they remained in theirs cars hooting to frighten it away, but they were in the minority and the Elk seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention and refused to budge. A star in the making, possibly a relative of Elkie Brooks?

Parking again in town, we visited the supermarket and purchased sausage and mushrooms. We can’t fathom how they price their food items here, there is always two prices displayed and neither seem to apply, but it is always dearer than both, and no you don’t add the two together, it’s even dearer than that. Perhaps the lesson is always eat out and then you know what you are paying. Coming across a ‘Dollar Store’ Jamie bought a hot-water bottle ($4) to ensure his comfort during the night, it is a shame they aren’t edible.

We called in to see what films the local cinema was showing and were pleased to discover that the 10pm showing of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ was going to be half price. ‘Dory’, ‘Such’ and ‘Bridget Jones’ didn’t take our fancy.

After ‘hooking-up’ back at the campsite, Jamie made a very tasty dish incorporating all the ingredients we had previously purchased. With stomachs full we sat listening to the radio until it was time to drive back into town.

We drove into town at around 9.30pm and joined the 3 other people in Banff keen to watch a western at such a late showing. They had a bar at the rear of the auditorium so we purchased a couple of peach ciders and settled in our seats to watch. Not a bad film, plenty of grit but like the original requiring you to stretch your imagination as to what is possible. I guess it makes up for the endless news of murders and shootings by their neighbours to the south we seemed to observe every time we switched the TV on in Calgary!

After driving back to the RV site Jamie discovered that he had left his coat in the cinema. We would have to resolve that issue in the morning, as it was gone 1am it was too late to return and see if the cinema was still open. Jamie filled his bottle and we snuggled into our sleeping bags, easing into sleep by the distant wailings of ghost trains.

Calgary – 2

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2016 by David Palmer

After a good nights sleep we woke around 8am to a nice sunny day. After a coffee in our room we both went for a swim in the hotel pool. Jamie had been challenged on Facebook do 22 press-ups over 22 days, as a consequence I had to video him doing them.

Returning to our room we packed and then went for breakfast at a ‘Good Earth’ restaurant. One thing noticeable was how quiet the city  centre appeared.

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After checking out of the hotel we had them store our luggage while we went for a last look around the city. Again, there seemed few people about. I wonder what they do on a Saturday afternoon, obviously not go shopping.

Returning to the Sandman we collected our luggage and got a taxi across town to the RV Centre. Being half an hour early we watched the orientation video then completed the necessary paperwork before checking the vehicle over before we accepted it.

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When the SatNav on my mobile was set up Jamie drove us out of the city. Pretty easy-going until we hit a traffic jam due to road works just out of the city limits. As we drove through the foothills the scenery became increasingly ‘Canadian’, the trees were acquiring their autumn colours and great sweeping carpets of grassy plains whizzed by on either side. And directly in front was the promise of coming adventures as white-topped mountains grew increasingly larger.

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Passing through one town I glimpsed a view of an American Football stadium with many spectators relaxing in their seats bathed in sunshine, waiting for the game to begin and many late comers strolling along the road dressed in their team colours clutching pots of popcorn and plastic tumblers of coke. How American!

As the traffic thinned out we managed to make good time as the road rarely deviated from the straight. I had noticed that we were having a little difficulty in staying within the lane and Jamie seemed to be constantly working the steering wheel. Luckily, we encountered few bends but it also seemed that any crosswind seemed to have an effect on our direction of travel. I suspect that the fault is with the RV design itself.

As we entered the mountains via the Bow River the scenery became very big! Many of the spectacular photos I have been recently looking at on the web concerning our trip flowed by in one endless slide show.

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At the entrance to Banff National Park we stopped in a row of other RV’s to buy our park pass. $67 the lighter, though I guess we are good for a full year now. Unfortunately, the rather pretty french park employee short-changed Jamie and he ended up another $10 lighter! He took it well.

We found the Tunnel Road campsite just outside Banff and parked up. Annoyingly there was no shop on site to provision the RV so I drove us into town. I have to agree that this vehicle is a pig to drive, wallows and wanders with the contours of the road. Having successfully parked the beast we set off to explore the town.

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Banff, despite being its off-season was very busy, with nationalities of all kind milling along its pavements. One thing you notice pretty quickly  about this country is the over-cautious attitude of its drivers. Even so much as look at the road and the traffic stops. However, equally impressive are its pedestrians who steadfastly refuse to cross a road until the little green man starts flashing. I thought the Japanese took this practise to extremes but frankly, with the delay in the change of sequence of lights you could easily play a game of chess! Even tourists become infected and blithely stand for decades waiting to march the 30 metres or so across the concrete highway. However, two didn’t.

We dallied awhile in Eddies Burger Bar and drank water (true) and I had an excellent burger and fries and Jamie downed an equally excellent hotdog and fries. We watched a Russia v Canada ice hockey game on TV’s above the bar while scoffing these North American delicacies. I think there is a theme developing here.

Stomachs very full we set off in search of a supermarket. Banff is principally a tourist destination and therefore its centre is full of gift shops, climbing gear outlets, bars and restaurants. Eventually we find a supermarket called Inga (how novel). With milk, coffee, sugar, pasta, cheese, lemonade and biscuits bought and all placed in tariff free plastic bags we set off back to the RV.

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Banff is certainly a pretty town but more so for the backdrop of heady snow topped mountains of rock on every view. Stark gray rock sandwiched between clinging lush evergreen forests and a sparkling powdery cap. It was late in the afternoon and there was a chill beginning in the air. It was time to return to camp.

On return, we discovered we had company in our parking bay so  I took the opportunity to enlist some help as to why our water hose wouldn’t connect to our RV. Annoyingly it was confirmed that it had the wrong connector. Instead of male and female couplings we have two females and as we all know that only works in exceptional circumstances. After a friendly chat and a swapping of information with our new German friends we retired to the sanctuary of our metal tin on wheels.

With warm cup of coffee comforting our insides we decided to explore our surroundings. The dusk was well in progress as we descended the slope through the tree-line to the Bow River. The bold red illuminated sign flashing over the highway as we entered the park came to mind: “Beware of wolves”. They would eat the juicy one first, wouldn’t they?

We didn’t make it to river level before we wisely returned to sit exhausted on two very comfortable seats placed conveniently on a flattened area so as to afford tremendous views along the valley and the line of mountains marching off into the distance. Jamie suggested that we were short of breath because of the altitude, I knew better, but it was a nice try.

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Back in the comfort of our ridiculously large abode, which easily sleeps 6 people, has a fully fitted kitchen, shower and toilet plus dining area, we sank another comforting coffee then nibbled some biscuits (yuk). We looked through some of the resorts brochures, decided not to head on up to Lake Louise as planned but stay for another day, then Jamie listened to the radio while I wrote this blog.

After brief sorte outside by Jamie to look at the stars, taunt the wolves and chill his bones he unwrapped his sleeping bag and went to bed. Sometime later I followed to my own little nest, wondering if I would be disturbed by bears looking for pic-a-nic baskets.

Calgary – 1

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2016 by David Palmer

It was a 5.30am start for us both. Refreshed with a shower and coffee we checked out, made our may to Crawley train station (conveniently attached to the hotel) and boarded the relatively empty London commuter service to the airport just a 10 minute ride away.

We negotiated security, passport control and check-in in double-quick time and were soon sat keeping and eye on the departures screen, munching through bought sandwiches and logging into the airport WiFi.

The flight wasn’t full and left on time.

Travelling west long haul makes for a long day. Air Transat seats aren’t the most capacious (well not in economy class) and the in-flight entertainment isn’t the most technologically advanced but Jamie seemed to find enough to keep him occupied. I watched the Angry Birds Movie and found it very amusing. I slept a lot and Jamie managed a few winks. The food was pretty basic, just a choice rolls (though the choice had been depleted by the time they got to our class) and a small packet of biscuits. I did however enjoy my roll with an acceptable glass of red wine. Being at the end of the queue does have some advantages, as we were in the last few rows of seats the cabin crew found they had grub left over and Jamie and I supplemented our meagre fayre with two trays of delicious sushi. I learnt not to put fresh wasabi onto anything you are going to eat ……………. it was painful!!!! Towards the end of the flight, pizza and more drinks were distributed.

We landed early, but to no advantage as we had to wait while another aircraft vacated our arrival gate. Being processed through Canadian immigration was quick and easy. I particularly envied the neat outfits that the myriad of senior citizen volunteers were wearing. White stetsons, red cowboy jackets and white trousers, very dapper.

Both sets of luggage appeared on the carousel…. phew! We quickly found the transport desk and bought tickets for the downtown bus that would take us to our hotel. After a half an hour wait we boarded the bus and travelled 20 minutes to the Sandman Hotel.

Checking in completed I rang the RV company to confirm our arrival but annoyingly it kept defaulting to answer phone. I left a message.

We had coffee in our room then went for a walk along the Bow River bank and onto King Edward’s Island, very pretty. On our route back we were joined by two helicopters which chose to land on the bank next to us. Jamie managed to be way laid by two elderly chinese ladies who wished him to take photos, I could see he was not amused as they kept finding different poses for him to photo.

Returning to the hotel the RV company confirmed a 1pm meet for the next day. Jamie spent an hour in the hotel pool and I read through the local tourist information leaflets (just like Sue!) On his return we took a walk downtown to the Calgary Tower and did a spot of elevated sight-seeing. There was a glass floor and Jamie overcame his fear of heights and manged to uncomfortably stand on it and look down.

Returning to earth we wandered along the main shopping and restaurant area of the city before finding a place to grab a couple of burgers, fries and root beer. We both found it fascinating to watch the locals go about their business early on a Friday night. The contrast was quite stark to back home where a glad-rag, binge drinking evening would be the order of the night and these Canadians were quietly snacking and going home.

Back at the hotel we sat a whole in the bar watching a baseball match on the TV’s behind the bar. I spent an amusing hour explaining the rules of this adult rounders game to Jamie, pointing out the posturing and other nuances of the game.

Drinks finished and game ended we watched TV for a while in our room then slept.