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15 - 17 August 2015 Canada - Alberta - Calgary

Friday 14th August

Overnight it had rained but it didn’t take long for the sun to come out this morning. The temperatures have been in the high 20’s ever since we have been here. This has been one of the nicest private campgrounds that we have stayed, with its quiet, large well-kept grassy sites,

river trail and good off leash dog area. However, they are full this weekend and it is time to move on. We packed up camp and set off through town to Highway 22 (The Cowboy Trail) south towards Calgary. The landscape is rolling foothills with views of the high Rockies to the west and down the highway, prairie like grassland with farms growing crops and grass for hay. It is also horse and cattle ranch country with a scattering of nodding donkey type oil pump jacks operating in the cattle fields. We passed through three small towns on the way and stopped off at Cochrane to see if we could get into the campground they have at the side of the Bow River but no luck, they were full. We moved on to Calgary West Campground just outside the city next to Canada Olympic Park where the 1988 winter Olympics took place. As we approached the campground we could see the ski jump high on the hill.

We booked in and got a nice camp site on a hill overlooking the suburbs of Calgary. We managed to get a local tv channel on and caught up on the news. Locally, there are two forest fires, believed to have been started by lightning, that are raging near a town called Oliver in the Okanagan Valley. The pictures showed the fires looking quite widespread and still burning. The forecast here is for rain and temperatures tomorrow of 13 degrees, as opposed to the temperature yesterday of 34 degrees!

Saturday 15th August

Thunder, lightning and heavy rain all night, heavy rain all morning. Our favourite shop Pro Bass Outdoor World has a branch about twenty miles away so of course we couldn’t resist paying a visit. As usual a great experience. When we arrived there was a wedding party having a photo session inside the entrance where there is a hunting lodge set up, complete with furniture and grand stone fireplace. As well as the usual north American wild animal tableaux’s in the shop, there was also a light aircraft hanging from the ceiling complete with floats looking like it was about to land on one of Canada’s lakes.

Sunday 16th August

Sunny morning as we made our way into Calgary for a look around. On the approach the skyscrapers of down town spring up out of flat prairie land. The city is famous for The Calgary Stampede which is held in July. Calgary Tower in the central Downtown area acts as a focal point as it can be seen from anywhere.

The town has a modern, smart but relaxed feeling with lots of Skywalks across roadways linking buildings, presumably so that it isn’t necessary to go outside when it snows?

Monday 17th August

Blue skies and sunshine as we headed west again (in our car) to the Rockies and Lake Louise in Banff National Park. As we made our way along Canada Highway 1there was a wide band of cloud just hovering across the mountains below summit level.

It has been twenty years since our last visit to Lake Louise for snow skiing in April 1995. We said then that we would like to see it during the summer and at last here we are. After we entered the Park we noticed that the forest areas along the road had wire fencing and there was a series of bridges across the highway that had grass and tree lined walkways. We discovered that this was to facilitate safe crossings for the wildlife. In the Visitor Centre at Lake Louise Tony saw pictures of bears crossing over one of these walkways. On arrival in Lake Louise village the weather was cloudy and quite chilly, we stayed for coffee before heading to Bow River Parkway for the 14 km journey out to Baker Creek where we stayed in 1995. The resort is positioned right at the side of the Bow River and the accommodation is in log cabins, each with a small balcony.

It still looks as lovely as we remembered but without the foot or so of snow. The French Bistro is also still there where we met a couple from Leamington Spa.

We also recall driving back from Lake Louise one evening through a blizzard and could not see more than a couple of feet ahead. Next to the Gondala station at the bottom of the ski runs which also operates in summer. We remember coming down those hills after a day’s skiing feeling tired but exhilarated and ready to get the ski boots off.

Our next visit was to Lake Louise and Fairmont Chateau, the hotel on the shores of the lake. The first hotel was built by Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1890’s to entice wealthy travellers to ride the train and travel west. We recall having a meal at the hotel and for afters, Toblerone chocolate fondue with strawberries and grapes for dipping. The lake was frozen over last time we were here but it has emerald blue/green water and is in one of the most beautiful settings we have seen with Mount Victoria as the backdrop. Luckily the sun had come out which made it even better.

Because of its popularity it was very crowded around the lake so we didn’t stay long.

Our last stop was Lake Louise Railway Station which was built in the early 1900’s and is now a restaurant which was another place we remember from our last visit. It is in a very pretty spot near the river and has a nice station garden and some vintage rail garages.

Now we had finished the ‘all our yesterdays’ visit we headed back east towards Calgary along Highway 1, stopping off at Banff on the way. This is a nice resort town with a mixture of alpine and stone cottage style buildings. The main streets were busy but it was very pleasant to wander along in the sunshine past all the shops and restaurants. We sat outside on the back patio of one of the restaurants for lunch. The Bow River runs through the town and there is a low stone bridge crossing near the museum which is a nice stone built building that would not look out of place in the highlands of Scotland, very pretty.

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