CONT’D Trans-Canada Dash 5000 km/10 Days

Days 3 & 4
Revelstoke to Banff to Calgary
Day 3
After a cut glass, “china and doily` breakfast experience including the creamiest, fluffiest gooiest blueberry scones imaginable we head out on Highway 1 through`Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park and the spectacular `Rogers Pass“ where the road rises to 4500 feet. This had only just opened up again after a rough and long winter; indeed the visitor centre was still shut and knee-deep in snow (and this is the end of May). Although the roads were clear and open most of the peaks were still “iced“ with snow; and the rock verges on either side glistened with spring melt-water percolating down from the mountains and punctuated by myriad cascading springs and waterfalls. 
 
A word about Black Bears: Do not – I repeat Do NOT. Get out of your car and kneel 2 feet away to photograph a grazing black bear, however  apparently innocent and `cute` it may seem. We almost got a newsworthy video clip of a guy getting attacked by one of these creatures; The idiot was so close that the bear made a move towards him – if he’d have fallen over – we’d have been “ìn the money”. Still always such a delight to actually catch sight of these elusive animals.
Continue along `Kicking Horse“ where the Columbia River (which incidentally we have followed before back from it’s outlet in Portland Oregon and along The Columbia River gorge), starts to broaden out and meander through the wide valley floor, flanked in the distance by the vast `Kootenay“ range to the east.  Stopped at the “Spiral Tunnels” viewpoint – this is where the railroad tunnels through the mountains twist and loop around themselves – If you are lucky you can see a train entering the tunnel on the valley floor for instance and after  a few minutes watch the front of the train emerge out of a tunnel much further up the mountain whilst the back of the same train is still entering the tunnels below – awesome!!
Discovered “Field” a small railroad town near Rogers Pass– what a find – would rather have stayed here than Revelstoke – next time maybe.
So at 5pm with the sky turning a late afternoon deep indigo blue and both the moon and the sun jostling for the best position, we make a quick stop at `the Last Spike“ monument at Craigellachie which is the spot where the last rail spike was driven in during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1885. Then onto Lake  Louise and the magnificent Lefroy glacier. The road to Moraine Lake was closed so we parked up and gingerly made our way to the Lake ,from the public car park via the footpath which  was covered in the worst kind of slippy mushy snow. The boardwalk is clear though with the usual smattering of Japanese tourists.
Stay over at our favourite  Banff Inn, “The Caribou Lodge Hotel ” and go the gym (why??) and hot tub. Very civilised and a little more swanky than bed & breakfast as the hotel has a Keg restaurant in the foyer which means you can actually have a drink on the hotel premises before turning in. The spa was as elegant as ever, decorated in water tones and exuding an atmosphere of calm and relaxation…..
Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa 521 Banff Ave, Box 1070 Banff, Toll Free (Can/USA): 1-800-563-8764 or see www.hotelsone.com for booking info
Stroll into the familiar Banff High Street – the second highest elevated town in Canada which is bookended by Cascade Mountain, Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain and Mount Norquay  – and have various fondue in the Grizzly House.
 
Day 4
Take the Gondola up Sulphur Mountain;  absolutely stupendous views across the Rockies. The board-walk path up to the summit is virtually deserted, we are mostly the only people up there amidst the peaks. Even though we’ve visited in May twice before this is the first time we’ve seen so much snow on either side of the walkway. We didn’t bathe in the hot springs this time but this is a great afternoon excursion if in the area. No bathing suit – no problem you can hire one as I did one year, a blue and white granny costume made of grainy heavyweight material which causes the “cossie” to hang off the body upon leaving each of the various pools – yuk..
 
Leave Banff on the Highway 1 corridor, through Canmore, across an Indian Reserve and a  landscape pockmarked with masses of drumlins left behind by retreating glaciers millions of years ago. Enter the land of “the Chinook” wind, prairie grassland and nodding donkeys (oil pumps) and before we know it we are being marshalled into Calgary by its sprawling suburbs. Then suddenly the downtown core of sparkling high-rise buildings – hallmarks of the huge oil and gas corporations –  are upon us.
Welcome to Calgary. Stay in a B&B in one of the gated roads in the “chic” Kensington area just over the Bow river in downtown Calgary. Wander into town – a real culture shock of glass and steel and follow the light rail transit  (LRT) in the city core to Calgary Tower.  Opened on June 30th 1968, the ‘Tower’ is Calgary’s most famous landmark.  One of the first Towers of its kind, it stands a mere 191  metres ( as opposed to our CN Tower here in Toronto at 553.33m) and is now dwarfed by the likes of the TD Canada Trust Tower. In fact it was difficult to spot the tower from the ground level  and we walked the streets craning our necks with absolutely no idea which direction we should be looking. Of course if there is a Tower, it has to be “gone up” and yep the view was amazing – with The Calgary stampede ground taking centre stage, the Rockies to the west and miles of flat prairie land stretching out east as far as the eye could see. We ferreted out the older downtown area – a couple of pedestrianized streets lined with gracious stone-fronted stores and restaurants spilling out onto the sidewalks. The best find in this respect being Stephen Street. The River Café in Prince’s Island Park was sadly closed for a function which was such a pity as this would have undoubtedly been the best choice for such a fabulous evening. Ate in a tapas bar in Kensington.
 
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