After our reunion in Montana came to an end, I knew I wanted to do a little exploring while I was off work and across the United States anyhow. I saw Banff was only 4 hours north from our location in Montana, so Philip and I girded our loins, I peeled him away from Montana, and off we went to Canada.
Our chosen route took us through Kootenay Park, Banff Park, and Jasper Park, which are all perched atop each other. We didn’t make it very far before we were stopping every little distance to gape at at yet another lake or river. The mountains were gorgeous as well, but the water was by far my favorite part. Every available gulley or valley seemed to contain a body of water in a different, unnatural shade of blue or green. They looked entirely photoshopped, even while standing there and looking at them through my own two eyes. Incredible.
But let me show you, instead of telling you. I’ve left all these pictures’ colors unadjusted, so you can see what I mean.
This lake was the first one we stopped at. We walked around the edge to the little spring that feeds it, and after a quick glance to make sure nobody would catch us, we hopped the fence for an icy drink of delicious water. It was unbelievably clear and green.
We kept seeing such milky blue water, like this river. According to the all-knowing Google, the color comes from rock flour, which is what is produced when rocks grind together underneath a glacier.
This lake may have been my favorite. Unfortunately, I don’t remember its name, but it was conveniently located right beside the main road, with a wee gravelly beach sloping into the water, perfect for a little wading. Do you know how to wake up if you’re feeling sleepy while driving in Banff Park? Just dunk your face in the ICY water, and bam, you’ll be wide awake. Works like a charm.
Lake Louise is one of the more popular tourist stops, as evidenced by the huge crowds we had to mill through on arrival, but I’d have to say, I can see why it’s so hyped up. We parked in overflow parking and got conveniently shuttled up to the lake, then we ambled along a nice, flat trail on one side of the lake to the other end, where there was a huge, white, and ridiculously slippery mud bar, sloping into the water. I could barely even keep my footing on it, but Philip shuffled all the way to the end of the mud bar and jumped into the achingly-cold glacier water, much to the admiration of the people watching.
We didn’t take time or find a good place to eat a proper meal all day, so finally we dug in the back of the Rogue like a pair of famished raccoons, until we found a stray can of beans which we opened and ate cold beside a handy little nearby lake. We’re fancy and high class like that. And my goodness, that may go down in history as one of the best snacks I’ve ever eaten, not gonna lie. 😀
Further north in Jasper Park, the scenery changed from the green mountains to rockier and more desolate ones, with the occasional glacier sliding down into a valley. We stopped for the sporadic bear sighting, since we are Easterners and not hardy Montanans who are accustomed to such trivialities in their backyards. The little fellow below munched on berries right beside the road with total unconcern for the crowds gawking at him through their vehicle windows.
Finally, late at night, we arrived in the town of Jasper and found ourselves a little (overpriced) hotel to stay in. We were exhausted, but too hungry to fall into bed without eating, so we tromped into town at 9 or 10 at night, and located a darling little diner with the friendliest staff, quaint booths, and wonderful smells emanating from it. Our meager can of beans had long since vanished into thin air, so we each ordered two meals (two, I say!) and waited with growling stomachs. When our plates came out heaped full, we were filled with glee.
Have you ever tried poutine? I’d been looking forward to trying it, and it was far better than I expected. To be sure, a long day in the mountain air with almost nothing to eat may have had something to do with the deliciousness, but I’d fly back to Jasper for another plate of this tomorrow if I could.
We were also directed to try Wunderbars, and although candy bars are not usually my thing, these definitely floated my boat. Check them out if you go to Canada and like peanut butter. Or, you know, cheat and buy them online here if that’s more your speed.
After sleeping like logs in our cushy hotel, touristing with the best of them the next morning in the cute little town, and filling ourselves with Tim Horton’s coffee and pastries, we began the looooooooong drive home. The mountains flattened out, and soon we were driving across hundreds of miles of rolling plains, with gorgeous sunsets and innumerable bugs, of which I’m pretty sure we decimated at least half with our vehicle.
We stopped in Montana, South Dakota, and Illinois with friends, mooching beds and breakfasts off of their kind hearts, and having a lot of fun catching up with people we don’t see often enough. Touring a luxury cabinet shop, eating oodles of fresh veggies from a cousin’s garden, joining in our friends’ gourmet pancake tradition (we got to try the White Russian ones), and getting a glimpse of my old stomping grounds and friends in Illinois- including the house below where I lived for one lovely school term- it was perfect for breaking up the monotonous hours on the road, much better than the bubblegum popping contests we amused ourselves with otherwise.
We finally dragged ourselves back home in the middle of the night after five days on the road, to sleep for a week and then start dreaming about the next adventure.