Calgary – 2

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.

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