May long weekend vacation

Friday May 20th we packed our bags and headed to Banff. We stayed at the Douglas Fir Resort, specifically because it has 3 pools and 2 hot tubs, and a play zone. Once we got to Banff, we went on a1 hour carriage ride around the town, the horse’s name was Dan. The kids really enjoyed it!  On Saturday Alice and I went on a 1 hour trail ride in Banff. It was the first time Alice has been on a horse, and I must say she did better than most the folks on the trail. Every time her horse would stop to eat, she would yank on the reins and the horse would obey– this is something most others failed to accomplish. The guide in the middle of the pack said “atta girl!”, and I replied “that’s my girl!”, and he was suprised that she’d never riden before. Alice’s horse was named Clay, mine was Dallas. We enjoyed the scenery around the trail along the Bow river, and I sure liked being back in a saddle!

On Sunday we drove from Banff South on highway 93, the icefield parkway to the Columbia Ice Fields. We boarded a Brewster bus crossing the highway up to the glacier, then boarded the Brewster ice explorer to get up onto the glacier. I haven’t been since 1976, and don’t really have any memory of it. Though I can say that the glacier has receeded significantly since then… We all really enjoyed the 18 degree incline on the moraine based road up to the Athabasca glacier, very cool. The Columbia glacier is actually composed of 8 glaciers, the Athabasca is the one which sports all of the tours. We only spent about 25 min. on the glacier itself, which I suppose was enough as the kids just thought it was a big pile of snow and ice. We did drink some of the glacier water, which was clear blue, ice cold and fantastic!

Once we were done visiting the ice fields we drove on to Jasper, about 1 hour travel. We saw a small black bear on the road, which Alice thought was very awesome as she just finished studying “ours” in school. In Jasper we stayed at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, home to the most wicked outdoor pool any of us have ever been in! It was heated, quite warm, and a beautiful blue color. To swim in luxury and bask in the sun with a mountain view is one of the most wonderful things I have ever done! Our suite was a fair distance from the main lodge, so we would usually try to get a shuttle back and forth; it was usually just a golf cart, which the kids thought was fun. They have a golf course on site, plus lots of horses for trail riding as well (next time I think we’d do the trail ride there instead of Banff). We at at Cavell’s at the Resort, kids under 5 eat free (we claimed Alice was 5)– then the could get anything off the kids menu, including the $19 beef tenderloin entree. Sweet. Though $15 for a cocktail more than makes up for free kids meals. On Monday we went on a 1 hour raft ride down the Athabasca river (which is fed from the Athabasca and Columbia glaciers) with Jasper Rafting Tours. Now, this was supposed to be only a float trip, since Nathaniel is only 3, this is the only ride we could all go on together. However, this was not entirely the case. The guide said the river had risen 4 inches since the day before; lots of melting snow and glacier. So we managed to encounter several sets of class 2 rapids. Fun for me, Alice didn’t like it so much…we didn’t expect to get wet! I got soaked, wearing sweat pants, not so much! But it was fun, and at least the kids got to go in a boat, on a river. Next time I will plan a raft trip for Mommy, the crazy wild rapids kind.

For wildlife, we saw tons of elk, and one calf, some deer, one black bear, loons, harlequin birds, big horn sheep.