Married! Our first trips as hubby and wife! It feels amazingly the same.
We arrive at Glacier National Park in early afternoon and with the sunset at 9pm we still have a whole day's worth of daylight! After stops at the visitor centers, Canadian and American, and the general store for some obligatory Pringles we are on our way to explore the park. The Going-To-The-Sun Road is every bit as amazing as one hears. It steadily climbs up to Logan Pass; at each turn the views are more spectacular than the last.
Hoary Marmot Despite the road construction traffic and the goatjam -- there are adorable goats on the side of the road, and we all slow down to take photos -- we we make good time to the top. Again, the views are just magnificent. At the visitor, once we learn all about the Hoary Marmot (hehe), we take a short hike up to the ice fields.
The next day we head to the Many Glacier area, not Glaciers, just Glacier. A boat ride on Swiftcurrent Lake is a great way to take in the sights. Our ride has a 400' hike connecting Swiftcurrent Lake to Lake Josephine. Spectacular views. We decide to forego the boat ride back and hike our way back to Many Glacier Lodge, which is the faux Swiss Chalet hotel. If we ever comeback to Glacier, this is where we will stay.
Dogfood St. Mary Hotel, in contrast, is nothing but an over-grown motel. It appears that at one point it used to be a cute hotel with its exterior massive wood beams but at some point some tasteless owner decided to paint the entire thing, beams and all, this drab yellowish wheat color. Nonetheless, our room is comfortable and has a view of the river. The restaurant, however, delivers THE WORST dinner either one of us has ever EVER had. Assana's cooked-30-minutes-too-long salmon is the least of the problem. We send Dan's meatloaf back 3 times before giving up. The first time it arrives smooched up - as though someone chewed and spat it - very much resembling dogfood. And it has a pink section, and a brown section. Ick. The second time it looks the same, without the pink section. The third time it is the same, but shuffled around the plate. The poor waitress keeps trying to cover up for the crap the kitchen sends out, but ultimately even she can't explain why the meatloaf is not in the shape of a loaf even though, according to her, it looks like a loaf when it comes out of the oven! We avoid the restaurant for the rest of our stay: the following night's dinner is leftover wine and take-out pie from this great little cafe around the corner.
Drive Drive Drive The day connecting the two parts of our trip - Glacier National Park and The Canadian Rockies - is a loooooong day. After a delicious breakfast at the same cafe with the pies we hit the road and drive and drive and drive. The scenery makes up for the long driver. Southern Alberta is nothing but flat fields. The mustard crops are in full bloom and their chartreuse-yellow flowers glow like a highlighter. Calgary is nothing to write home about, but the Icefield Highway, the immaculately-maintained road thru Banff and Jasper National Parks, with its massive mountains and green glacier lakes is quite spectacular.
Not Equal By the time we finally get to Jasper around 5:00pm Assana is exhausted from having driven all day… We are staying at Jasper's best hotel, so we know we are going to have a better hotel experience than St. Mary Lodge… or are we? (No, we are not!).
Well, the bellman tells us that he is too busy to take our luggage up to our room, the front desk doesn't bother telling us about the grounds and where our dinner/spa reservations are, and the following day, when at 3:30pm our room is still not made up, the concierge barks that they have until 4:30 to make our room, and that's how they have always done it. Ironically, the best service we receive is from the gal assisting us in cutting our stay at Jasper short! Lucky for the Fairmont Hotels Chateau Lake Louise totally makes it up to us or we would have permanently divorced The Fairmonts. Clearly not all Fairmonts are created equally.
The Canadian Rockies are pretty postcardy. At every turn you have these massive mountains covered with glacier and ice fields surrounded by gorgeous green valleys and glacier lakes. The green tint that is caused by "glacier dust" is something one must see to believe!
Biscuits & Jam We take a lot short hikes to interesting spots. In Lake Louise we hike up to Little Beehive, a massive rock in the shape of a, well, beehive! The trail appears to be at a forty five degree angle and goes straight up!! At the end we are rewarded with amazing views, and a tea house, complete with fifty kinds of tea, biscuits and jam. Boy, does that hit the spot!
One of our favorites is Maligne Canyon: the river slams and gushes thru this 150' deep, 10' wide canyon. The trail is well maintained and has many hanging bridges from which to watch the rushing water. We highly recommend it.
Another favorite is Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. Out photos don't do it justice. There is so much water, and it shoots out of the falls and creates a massive mist cloud. Must feel very nice on a hot day, but it is cold and kinda' rainy during our visit, and the wind over the glacier-cold falls freezes us to the bone. Brrr.
Bear Banff & Lake Louise area have a hiking minimum group size rule: when hiking thru bear country - which is pretty much the whole area - you must be in groups of 4 or more, and kids don't count. We end up tagging along with a german family up to Consolation Lake. Turn out it isn't much of a consolation after all, but the hike is very serene and beautiful. We see no bears.
Alberta, check. The teensy bit of British Columbia we see while visiting Yoho NP puts British Columbia on our to-go list. Good bye Canada; see you soon!