Sunday, September 25, 2022

Banff Part II - Tunnel Mountain, Lake Minnewanka and the Banff Gondola

Back to my report on our trip to Banff:

Tuesday August 22nd, Banff

Daniel is 36 today! My baby….

I’m very glad we don’t have to drive long distances for the next 5 days. We only had to drive 3 and a half hours today, but that was enough. It was mostly prairie except for the last 30 minutes or so, the mountains rise up out of nowhere and then there’s Cranmore and then the National park and here you are.

 We are in Tunnel Mountain RV park, in the park itself. It’s huge but there really aren’t that many people, considering. We got set up and I took the dogs on a short walk. There is almost no connectivity here, no WiFi, hardly any cell service either. We called Dan to wish him a happy birthday and the call was dropped.

So we decided to go into town, get some coffee, find some wifi. We left the dogs in the RV and off we went.

Banff is a busy mountain tourist town, but nice. We figured out where to park and found some coffee. Even in town the connectivity wasn’t great but I was at least able to check my email and figure out where to do laundry tomorrow. And Google routed us back to the campsite in a way that’s much shorter than how we got here.

Now we’re back at the RV for the evening. We’ve got the screen tent up and I’m sitting outside keeping the dogs company for awhile. It’s cooled off enough that we can turn off the aircon, which might make Harper less anxious inside the RV. Maybe.

Tuesday August 23

I ran around the campground this morning. I ran for 40 minutes. The altitude isn’t bothering me, that’s a relief. It’s so big, I only ran around part of it. Just up and down the rows, looking at the different campers.

After my shower it was time to go into town and do laundry. The laundromat was in the basement of a shopping centre. I had to carry the laundry about 2 blocks, plus the soap, etc. It wasn’t too bad. Good thing I’m strong, lol.

When I got there is wasn’t too busy. The attendant gave me 22 Canadian dollars in coins for my 20 dollar US. I needed most of it to get my 2 loads washed and mostly dried. While I was waiting I finished the Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich. What a great book! It’s about the movement in the 1950’s to terminate the Indian Reservation system. Her grandfather was one of the tribal elders that fought against it and she made his story into a novel. It was fascinating. There was a lot of stuff about Indian culture and belief systems in it. In some ways it reminded me of the Magical Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude, except that the spiritual/fantastical portions of the book are presented matter of factly, as if they were not unusual occurrences if you were a traditional Indian. Anyway, I loved it. 

After lunch we decided to drive to Lake Minnawanka, do a little hiking, a little driving. We tried out Heather’s new backpack. She wasn’t thrilled with it, but we hiked almost 2 miles around Lake Johnson and she just can’t walk that much anymore. Harper was full of vim and vigor however! I walked behind Lee so Heather could see me, and so I could see her too and make sure she was ok. Harper kept trying to catch up with Lee. Such a little booger!

Then we drove around the lake loop road. We were tired so just stopped a couple of times to take in the views and then went into town for coffee and a few groceries. Then Heather got to walk a little. 

And We Saw a Moose! Just Strolling Through Town...

Wednesday August 24th

Today we rode the Banff Gondola. There’s not a lot of parking at the gondola so they recommend that you take a shuttle. No problem, I bought tickets for 1:10 pm, and looked up the shuttle schedule. We could catch one at 12:30 in front of a hotel downtown. 

We went into town early, parked at the train station, and walked to a restaurant that Lee had found which sounded like it would be good for brunch. Only problem was there was a 45 minute wait. Oh well. We walked around a bit and decided on another place, right by the shuttle stop. 

After brunch we still had some time to kill so we decided to go buy me some socks. For some reason I only brought 3 pairs. I got some colorful Pink Floyd themed socks. 

We went back to the shuttle stop and waited, and waited. No shuttle. Finally one of the other people that was waiting went into the hotel and asked them what was going on. The girl at the front desk told them the next shuttle didn’t come until 2! This in spite of the schedule on the website and what some of the people waiting had been told at the ticket office when they bought their tickets. Grrrr

Fortunately the Banff Roam mass transit buses also go to the gondola, and we could ride for free if we showed them our gondola tickets. But we were going to miss our boarding time! Would this be a problem? 

As it turns out, no. We got there around 1:20, got in line, and hopped right on a gondola carriage. You can’t board early, but they don’t care if you board late!

It’s a steep breathtaking 8 minute climb to the top of Sulphur Mountain, named after the hot springs at its base. Looking up the mountain gave me vertigo, looking out at the vistas was ok.

At the top there’s a 1k boardwalk that climbs to an old weather station at the peak of the mountain. We were at 7500 feet, so it seemed farther. it was nice up there, cool but not cold, breezy, but not windy. It was a lot more pleasant than Mount Washington!

Going back down didn’t take any time at all. We boarded the carriage and swooped down the steep part of the hill. It was a little bit like the first part of a roller coaster. But then it calmed down and before we knew it we were back at the base of the mountain. And just as we got there a Roam bus pulled up. Lucky!

Once back in town we walked to the train station to get the truck. We were going to stop at the wine shop, but made a wrong turn and ended up way out of our way. There’s a beautiful river that flows through Banff. We drove along that. Then we ended up on Tunnel Mountain Drive, high above Tunnel Mountain Rd, which is the road back to our campsite. So Lee took me back to the campground. Then I took the dogs for a walk, and Lee went back into town for wine.

Btw, Harper has been fine the last few evenings. She is not crazy about Lee using the stove, but we haven’t run the aircon or the fan and she doesn’t care if we run the heater. Crazy dog!

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