Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 8 (Aug 6) – Banff and beyond

It took us longer to get to Banff than we expected. Mostly due to CRAZY traffic and a little bit due to small bladders that were overly tested by the previously mentioned traffic – sigh.
But once that was all behind us, things went much better.

Prior to our trip, we did a bit of research and decided to rent a GyPSy guide for our day in Banff. So we needed to get into town and find the rental place. You are wondering what on earth a GyPSy is aren't you? Well, let me tell you, it's super cool. It's a gps unit that functions as your tour guide for whatever journey you are on..... mainly available in Canada and I think Hawaii. Our unit today had tours of Banff town, Lake Louise and Morine Lake, into Yoho Park BC. And up to the Ice Fields..... we didn't make it to everything. Pretty much it tells you your options prior to each turn – Turn left: take the highway to Lake Louise, it's a faster route. Or turn right and take the Bow River road to Lake Louise, it's much more scenic, but takes about twice as long. Once you make your choice, it narrates your trip, with facts about the landscape, tips, stories etc. You can pause it, in case your 5 year old has something REALLY important to say. And you can go back and start the last section over again, in case that 5 year old didn't stop to wait for you to pause it in the first place :) We LOVED it. We could make our choices about route and could turn around at any point. Ok, so you can tell we really liked the GyPSy – did I mention we already reserved one for later in our trip for our drive from Edmonton to Jasper. Ok, moving on.
Our GyPSy Guide
We took the senic drive to Lake Louise. Along the way we stopped at one of the many turn outs our “tour guide” suggested and had a little car picnic for lunch.

We had loaded up at a bakery/deli in Calgary with fresh bread, cheese and sandwich meat, along with the PBJ fixins we had on hand, so we were well stocked for a picnic lunch.

From lunch we finished our scenic drive and went on to battle the crowds for parking at Lake Louise.... man oh man. But we got a really good spot and got out to enjoy the lake a bit. We followed the river path back to the parking lot and returned to our tour.

A few pictures of Lake Louise

Next stop Moraine Lake. We have been told by several people this is actually more beautiful than Lake Louise – hard to believe. It being less known and less developed. Well parking wasn't quite as insane. But I don't know if I can pick which is more beautiful. Both are pretty amazing.

headed toward Moraine Lake
Looking for parking
Moraine Lake

And this was the place that the 5 year old took a tumble and skinned her knee and elbow. So her enthusiasm for exploring was gone.... as she “can't walk or use her arm anymore”. Our next planned stop was to get Ice cream and listening to her say through tears “someone will have to feed me Ice cream, since my arm doesn't work” was almost to much to bear – such a sweety. We enjoyed a scoop in the little Lake Louise town area, and ate it by the river.... not bad at all, til the 5 year old dropped hers in the dirt. Poor girl, its just not her day. But she handled it with grace and her loving parents shared a little with her ;) Gotta love a 5 year old with band aids and a good attitude.

enjoying Ice Cream by the river
Next we set out to see the spiral tunnel. Something we knew nothing about prior to our GyPSy and a postcard we saw at Moraine Lake. (Although our 8 year old train lover had heard of it before). The GyPSy guided us across the province line into BC, where Banff becomes Yoho National Park and right to the lookout for the tunnel. Which is seriously cool. Trains go in the tunnel at a lower elevation and spiral around inside the mountain and come out at a higher elevation to continue upwards crossing over themselves. Does that make any sense? Not sure my pictures will help. But the pass is really steep an this is what they have done it to lessen the grade. And as luck would have it an incredibly long freight train was just entering the lower tunnel when we arrived.
train is entering tunnel in the lower right of the photo and exiting the tunnel in  upper left.
click on the photos to make the bigger... it might help a little :)
Now back to Alberta. Its time to return our GyPSy and have some eats.
Parking in Banff is almost like trying to get parking at one of the lakes, but we drove around a bit and found a lot. After returning our “tour guide”, we had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. The Canadian OSFs are just slightly different, but mainly it felt very familiar. And finally back to Calgary. We pulled into out hotel 12 hours and 10 mins after we left this morning. Hubby, who drove the over 200 miles today said it felt like that long. As a passenger I don't think it did to me :)
Tomorrow I will drive, give the guy a break :)

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