I just wanted to follow up upon return from a snap through BC and Alberta. I had posted some questions about my itinerary and took some flack for the long travel days I had scheduled, and I wanted to report on how it turned out. Trip began in Seattle where I spent a night before heading to Vancouver. On the way up, we caught a tulip festival in Mount Vernon that was an absolute explosion of color. We were two nights in Vancouver and fortunately did manage to catch a family of 5 orca on the whale watch we went on. Ironically, we left on the tour just South of Vancouver, but the orca were actually off the coast of Washington 2.5 hours South of where we departed from. This was ironic as I've attempted to see orca off of Washington State before.
From Vancouver, we were headed to the Banff/Lake Louise area, but needed to make some stops along the way to break up the journey. We headed South from Vancouver through the Abbotsford area and stopped for a couple of wine tastings. We were suprised to see the appearance of a lot of the white wines as many poured out as clear as water, no yellow whatsoever. Tasty Chardonnays. We tried to get to Hell's Pass, however, by the time we got there it had closed for the day. That night, we ended in Kamloops which made no impression on me whatsoever. Simply an overnight town. I didn't find anything particularly special about it after a cruise through the downtown area. I know it is tournament city and it is probably more vibrant moreso in the summer or fall, but in any event it didn't warm me. From there, we worked toward Revelstoke. Mind you, these certainly were long drives, but they were scenic so they were tolerable. Revelstoke is a sleepy little town that is the last bastion of humanity before heading East toward Banff. It was cute enough, but man the train traffic was pesty. All night was nothing but the rattle of passing trains and the occasional burst of a horn. Passage through the mountains was fairly unremarkble although it was snowing. I must say all of the roads I saw in Canada were in excellent condition. Presumably, your rather steep taxes help support this.
Banff was a show stopper. Such a pretty community surrounded by mountains in every direction. We had several nice dinners there, as well. One of of our days, we drove the Icefield Highway as far as the visitor's center and back to Banff. It was sunny in the morning and overcast in the afternoon, so it gave us two perspectives on the scenery, which was nice. Majesty. Stunning. Everyone who hyped the necessity to make a portion of that drive was correct. I can't imagine that there is anything further past the visitor's center that isn't approximated to the South, but I could be wrong on that. The blue glacial ice stood out better in overcast conditions than it did in the sun due to decreased glare. The experience at points was somewhat akin to seeing the grand canyon, it is so expansive even after traveling a mile or so you are still seeing a lot of the same real estate. That said, when you make a turn in the road and take in the new valleys and streams it is new emotion all over again.
We did a day trip to Calgary because so many of the parks were closed in late April. Calgary has it's charm in sort of a grungy way. There was a comic con in town, so the people watch was pretty lively. We had a nice Italian meal at a restaurant near the convention center and also stopped for flight tastings at a couple of micro breweries in town. One was Wild Rose, which is also the city of my birth in Wisconsin and the other was Minhas, which had an extensive variety of different beer types they brew. All were quite nice at both places.
Sad to leave Banff, we were headed back to the US via BC. We got recommendations to stay in Fernie and were excited that we were staying there on a Saturday night as I expected there'd be something going on in town. Nope. Quiet as could be. Locals explaned mid winter is more active and during shoulder season not much transpires. From there, we returned to the US via Idaho.
As is always my reaction upon returning from Canada, I reaffirm my affection for Canadians. I'm sure there are Canadians that are jerks, but I have yet to meet one after probably 8 previous visits from East to West. I am pretty well traveled and I always come away impressed with your helpful nature and generosity. Thanks again for being kind hosts.
The expense there was a surprise, however. That was one thing I didn't recall from previous visits, however, my last one was probably about 2002 prior to this one. Man, even a simple, fast food sandwich is going to run you $7-$8 Canadian. That was surprising.
Again, road quality was excellent. Far beyond my expectations from someone who has been dodging potholes and running over bumps all winter and early spring.
I appreciate everyone's feedback...just wanted to check back in to let you know how it went.