A couple of weeks ago, Corey and I sat down and he reminded me that it's been 14 months since our last vacation and he can't think of a single day where I haven't done at least some work. Yikes!
Luckily, we had already planned a family trip to Alberta. Corey and I had never seen Banff, and we thought that some fresh mountain air and lots of hiking would be the perfect remedy to Toronto's brutal summer heat.
We set off for a week of travel from Calgary to Banff to Jasper to the Icefields and back to Calgary again. With a toddler, we knew we'd need to plan our travel time carefully and we thought any drive more than four hours in a day would likely be pressing our luck.
Rudy turned out to be a trooper and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy our trip. Here are some photos, if you'd like to see.
We loved seeing the stunning turquoise waters of the glacier-fed lakes. We had a few "must see" sights such as Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Spirit Island (pictured above) but we left some flexibility in our schedules. One helpful waiter encouraged us to visit Peyto Lake (below) which was spectacular and was shaped like a wolf's head.
The crowds at the popular lakes get crazy by mid-morning, but Rudy kept us on Toronto time (we were waking up at 5 a.m.!) so we were usually some of the first people to arrive at the lake in the morning. It gave us some quiet time to privately enjoy the sights.
We encountered several bears on our trip and this grizzly was enjoying some berries in a parking lot one morning. He walked right past us and we were lucky enough to observe him for a few minutes from the safety of our car.
Bears weren't the only wildlife we were lucky enough to see. We also saw mountain goats and several elk. It's their rut season so we were able to see the bulls antler wrestling more than once!
A major highlight for us was a visit to the Icefields. We booked a tour that takes you up a mountain and allows you to walk on the Athabaska Glacier. Again, we went early and were on the (nearly empty) first tour of the day. Aside from about ten other people, we had the glacier all to ourselves. We had bought spikes to slide over our shoes before the trip and we dressed really warmly. It was exhilarating to walk on the glacier and fill our waterbottles with clear glacier water. Rudy fell asleep on the ride back down the mountain.
We ended our trip in Calgary and we took advantage of our reciprocal membership at the Science Centre.
I think the highlights of the holiday for me were just being able to focus on Corey and Rudy for a full uninterrupted week. We loved exposing Rudy to our love of wildlife and the outdoors and Rudy loved collecting rocks.
Corey and I keep saying that this was probably our favourite trip ever and we're already brainstorming ideas for next August!