Banff to Calgary

From Lake Lousie we headed to Calgary via Banff. If only we’d had more time to check out the surrounding area – but Banff was a great place to pick up a few tasteful souvenirs. Also seemed like the cheapest place that we saw for bear spray, if you’re in the market.

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Banff – smoky, but souvenir heaven

Our drive to Calgary was pretty smoky, and by the time we got through town and dropped off the hire car, it was time for dinner and then bed at the airport motel. And the next morning, on to San Francisco.

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Too much lovin’

In Banff National Park we were amazed at the number of day trippers coming to Lake Louise, and this was echoed on our last morning in the Park. We had heard if we wanted to see Moraine Lake to get up early as it gets very popular and once the car park was full the rangers would close the road. So we headed off at crack of dawn (before, actually), and even at that time of the morning there was a stream of cars in front and behind as we headed to the lake. Once we got there it was crazy – we got one of the few remaining car parks, and the place was completely overrun, people trying to get the best spot for the sunrise. We took a few shots and then hit the road, not bothering to stay for the sun. It’s the travel paradox of too many people wanting the experience means that the experience is not as enjoyable as it could be.

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Lovely, pricey, Lake Louise

Lake Louise is famous – and justifiably so – it is gorgeous. However, it is also totally overrun with tourists, so don’t expect much tranquility along with the wonderful scenery. We were lucky enough to stay there – not in the famous, huge Chateaux, but the rather homey lodge behind it. So we didn’t have to day trip. I’m still staggered by prices for canoeing on the lake – $105 (plus GST) for an hour on the lake, or $95 for 30 minutes! And just about every canoe was out on the first afternoon we arrived. Wow. But wow, what a place.

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View from the lodge

More Waterton

We had three nights in Waterton NP. It’s a gorgeous location and even though we had some smoky days we had a great time going on a guided walk and canoeing on Cameron Lake. Some of the tracks were closed due to a bear having approached people at a camping area. From what we were told it’s usually humans that cause the problem, leaving food out so bears learn humans = food.

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State of the art alarm systems at the lodge
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Smoky view from Prince of Wales Hotel

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Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes is a gorgeous area where the praries and the Rocky Mountains meet. We visited in August 2017 and the air was smoky due to the bushfires, but there were still beautiful views to be had. In mid September, Waterton Lakes NP had its own fire that burnt out 38% of the park. The park is working hard to make areas safe again for wildlife and for visitors.

On our way into the park we checked out the Bison Paddock, where a herd is kept in a large enclosed space. Big enough for them to hide from the road that loops around the paddock. We did get a glimpse. Amazing to think that thousands roamed the Praries.

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Nelson – funky town

Nelson is a known both as a historic location and a bit of a hippy hangout. We liked it. En route we passed through the historic town of Greenwood, where the film Snow Falling on Cedars was filmed. Some of the film set facade is still standing in the main street.

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Barn, Okanagan Valley

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Cool historic main street of Greenwood
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Film set still standing from 1999 – time to move on, Greenwood!
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Nelson
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Nelson museum – the sturgeon canoe
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Market night, Nelson style

Manning Park to Oliver

From Manning Park we headed to Oliver, the ‘wine capital of Canada.’ As we only had one night in Oliver we could only fit in visits to three of the multitude of wineries in the area. These looked very much like Aussie wineries – except that sometimes you can’t go walking in the vineyards due to bear alerts.  Apparently most BC wine is purchased and enjoyed by BCers so no need to find markets elsewhere. We had no idea. We tried Tinhorn Creek, Gehringer Bros and Hester Creek – all excellent.

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Vaseux Lake, Okanagan Valley. Bears had been sighted earlier in the day. 

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A 15 year battle still ongoing to establish a park in Okanagan Valley – preservation v productive farm land
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Okanagan Valley vineyards