Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Canada Trip Retrospective...Banff National Park, Part One

The drive from Calgary to Banff
What a wonderful trip...all 4,400 miles of it...through Alberta, Canada. I had hoped to blog throughout our travels but the internet connection struggled and I couldn't get the photos posted. So here is a quick retrospective of our amazingly visual trip to the Canadian Rockies.

Let me start with a disclaimer - the pictures don't do the actual scenery justice. The colors and dimensions were more striking than anything my camera could catch. In a place like this I have to remind myself to actually stand and look and absorb the beauty, instead of simply clicking away with the camera.

We drove to Billings, Montana on July 1 and "landed" in Calgary in the evening of July 2. One of my favorite sites once inside Canada were the miles and miles of yellow fields. They were a mystery until a fellow traveler in the small town of Hinton informed me that they were Canola fields. Amazing.

Canola fields
Our first full day on vacation in Calgary was spent at the Heritage Historic Park. It was a leisurely day while we awaited my brother's arrival from California. We fell in love with two foods - maple walnut ice cream and butter tarts which are apparently a treat in Canada. We certainly thought so!

With Peter (brother) in tow we headed out for Banff on July 4 (no fireworks for us this year). For any of you planning a trip, we loved the Banff Tram. What panoramas! It was a photographers paradise. The town of Banff reminded all of us of Vail or towns in Colorado. We felt right at home.

View from atop the mountain...Banff below

The peaks from the top ot the tram

My favorite way to do a road trip vacation is to find a base camp and then explore the region without constantly changing locations. So from our terrific condo in Canmore (15-minutes west of Banff and hundreds of dollars cheaper) we explored Banff, Yoho and Kootaney National Parks. Each had their own surprises.

I loved the crazy squirrels

The top of Sulphur Mountain looking down on the tram station

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Have Issues!

Over the past several weeks, including vacation, I have been reading a book by Nicole Unice - She's Got Issues. I loved the subtitle: seriously good news for stressed out, secretly scared control freaks like us. I'm not one to typically read books about women's issues, but when I had the chance to review this one for Tyndale House Publishers, I couldn't resist.

True confession. I have loved this book. Not every issue has been something I could relate to but there's a lot here to chew on. Her counseling background and pure honesty makes this read feel like you are sitting with a good friend.

Her approach in tackling the various topics is to first write a chapter on the issue (e.g., The Comparison Game) and then the follow up chapter is about some practical solutions (e.g., Quitting the Comparison Game). She addresses control, insecurity, comparison, fear, anger, and unforgiveness. In each core chapter there is a quiz to see where you stand on the issue being discussioned. I really appreciated how she took answers to specific questions and then linked them to more specific issues in order to help the reader better understand what it all might mean. Each chapter concludes with thoughtful questions that are great for journaling or group discussion.

I have more to say on this terrific book...perhaps a blog post on each topic.

(This book was provided to me by Tyndale House for an unbiased review.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Grandeur of the Rockies

Finally, we made it to Banff. Peter, my younger brother arrived from San Francisco at 12:30 a.m. and that pretty much signaled that the vacation had truly begun. We are stunned at the cost of food and pretty much everything else in Canada, but otherwise are absolutely having a lovely time. Calgary was so similar to Denver that when we were driving to Banff it felt like driving to Vail.

The only frustration is that our internet connections are too weak to download photos so those will need to follow at a later date. Trust me when I say that the vistas in Banff are worth many a photo moment.

We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant in Banff, the Maple Leaf. The wild game burger and yam fries were a treat. We then headed up the mountain to the Banff Gondola. It went straight up the mountain. From the top, the 360-degree views were amazing. We hiked the easy wooden trail up to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site. I must have taken 100 pictures.

Once back at the bottom we roamed the Banff Springs Hotel and pretended to belong there. But it was back to the town of Canmore just outside the National Park to our fabulous condo-like suite. This great two bedroom suite might not the the Springs Hotel but we love having the living room and kitchen. No complaints here. It's crazy however that it stays light until just past 10:30 p.m. so we find ourselves having dinner at 9:00 p.m. Very European.

Tomorrow we head to Lake Louise and then further north to the Columbia Icefields.

Going Back in Time

What a joy to sleep in! The sun does not go down until around 10:30 p.m. in Calgary so we are staying up latter and sleeping in longer thanks to black-out curtains at the hotel. We ventured forth into Calgary today visiting Heritage Park for a bit of history. It was fun to stroll and play and enjoy the unexpected sunshine (it was supposed to rain).

A lovely day in Calgary. Tomorrow Banff!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Long Journey to Rest

It was so odd packing the car...with suitcases for a vacation. Normally we'd be loading the 32-foot Taylor rolling hotel (that would be our trailer). But we are trying to sell it, so this vacation would be all suitcases and inexpensive hotels.

We still left Colorado two hours late rolleing out at 3:00 p.m. for Billings, Mt. and arriving at 11:00 p.m. Yuck. But the drive was wonderful primarily because Todd and I enjoyed hours of talking - my favorite part of a road trip.

We rolled out of Billings the next morning headed for Canada. Okay, I love technology but didn't completely think through the implications of really depending on technology for this trip. I was using a GPS app on my Samsung Galaxy tablet. Unfortuately, it only works as long as you have a cell connection. So, we made a bit of a detour through a beautiful area of Montana (passing Snowdown ski resort). From what I could tell we added an hour to our day...oh well, it was beautiful.

Finally crossed into Alberta, Canada in the afternoon. Now we are all Canadian dollars ands kilometers. Which means we are never quitre sure how much money we are spending or how fast we are going.

As a Taylor family unit we are all about the side trips on vacation. I love finding the unusual or memorable off the beaten path stop. Canada did not disappoint. So we found ourselves at the county and town of Vulcan. Enough said!

The countryside in Alberta is covered in these beautiful fields of yellow somethings. We arrived in Calgary around 8:30 p.m. tired and ready to stop driving for a day or so. Today we are off to explore Calgary and await the midnight arrival of my younger brother Peter from California who will join us for the Banff portion of our trip.