It’s like the Dells meets the Pacific Northwest. Tiny little tourist shops stocked to the gills will all sorts of silliness, surrounded by pine forests, towering mountains and valleys of rushing water. Banff.
Jack’s a huge fan of Banff, so of course we had to visit. I can see why. It’s like his own home town bit of paradise. The area is extremely beautiful. The vibrant colors energize your soul. Pale green grass with a touch of tan peeking through from the dry dirt below gives way into deep green pine trees covering the mountainsides like tightly packed brillo pads. Near the peaks, a special type of pine tree that turns gold in the autumn shimmers as though Midas himself has climbed every one. Jutting above, the grey mountain tops loom as shadows against the bright blue sky.
There’s a particular mountain you can climb, Sulfur Mountain. It reminded me of Table Mountain in Cape Town, the way you can ride a gondola up it and how the top is set aside for tourists regardless of their physical prowess. We didn’t climb this one. I’d have liked to, and I bet we could have if we’d had more time. The path was a little clearer and more subdued than the trek up Table Mountain. Instead, we took the gondola up, gliding high up above the trees. At the top, we hiked around the paths and over to a neighboring peak where we climbed up to an old cosmic ray station that now serves as a sort of mini-museum display. It was pretty neat.
Me and Jack atop Sulfur Mountain
We also explored nature back down in the valley, walking along a rushing river, watching a wedding party take photos on a beach downstream. There were people everywhere, yet somehow the place still felt secluded. I guess tall pine trees will do that.
The day’s adventures also featured browsing many of those trinket-filled stores, picking up a few nifty things here and there, including giant footed, onsie pajamas for me! Yup, for gigantic tall me. Canada certainly does some things right.
In the evening, we toured this huge castle-looking hotel. It was enormous. I felt like a princess walking through the tall, dimly-lit halls, the flame-shaped light bulbs reflecting in mirrors along the corridor.
Windows reached from the floor to high above my head, giving spectacular views of the starry night sky. In the old reception area, a crackling fireplace warmed guests at medival looking tables while the craziest taxidermist moose I’ve ever seen lolled down from an inset in an arched door frame. And there are some things Canada does … strangely.
I’m very glad we got to spend the day exploring the area, both inside and outside.
Standing on one of the lookout areas near the old Cosmic Ray station; the town of Banff down below in the valley
(Of course I wore my hiking boots, why would you even think otherwise?)