Day Eight of Sixteen
Kilometers Traveled: 611

Our Canadian friends that we made the night before (Jamie and Kelsey) made us a massive feast in the morning without asking for anything in return, the Canadian hospitality is real. Thankfully Larry (the RV campsite manger from our last post) was in a much better mood this morning when he came to say hello, and I was as well after looking at the beautiful campsite that we basically stumbled upon. After speaking with a few of the locals in the campsite and Larry, we found out that taking the more southern route back to Montana would be too steep for the bus or could be closed due to fires in the area. This meant that we got the opportunity to head north up through Yoho and Banff National parks in British Columbia, Jared, Nathan and myself were giddy.

Wood Lake, Kelowna BC

While driving up to Banff we got an incredible amount of “drive by” support from Canadians, people were waving, giving thumbs up, and even leaving comments on this very blog! Everyone in Canada seemed to be so nice and supportive when we talked to them about the trip. On the 97 and the Trans-Canada Highway we saw some incredible scenery. Signs for all sorts of fun activities start popping up – we noticed one for 49 dollar helicopter rides that caught our eye. We stopped at 3 Valley Lake to check it out, it turns out that 49 dollars in a helicopter doesn’t buy you very much air time; 6 minutes to be exact. We abandoned the helicopter tour idea and sat down for a moment at this odd little resort to absorb just how scenic the area is.

We stopped at every possible scenic turnout opportunity and boy did it pay off – I have not experienced a prettier drive anywhere. The buses panoramic glass made the views even more enjoyable. This is before we officially were even in Yoho or Banff. We kept joking in the bus “Gee, I wish we actually went somewhere pretty”

Most of the Trans Canada highway is followed by train tracks, and before they dug expansive tunnels in the mountains, the trains took routes closer to the road. Here we stumbled upon a bridge that was built in the early 1900s for train traffic, then updated with steel instead of stone later on in the bridges life. The color of the water meant that we were danger close to glaciers – it was icy opal blue.

 

The Welcome to Alberta sign means that we have crossed half of the national park (Yoho) and are now entering Banff. Jared managed to find a nice IPA at the visitor center and Nathan and myself hunted down a magnet to add to our growing collection.

We were racing against the sun setting as we wanted to get to Lake Louise before it was totally dark and freezing, I guess we really cant help it being freezing – it is a glacial lake after all. We ran down to the lake viewing area, and to our amazement there was some light left outside! We snap some pictures and take a second to enjoy this breathtaking view. On the walk back to the bus Jared pretends to be a nature photographer snapping photos of a blue jay and scaring it away in the process. (no photos were actually captured of the elusive jay)

Because we were in Banff so long taking in all of the pretty sights, it got pretty late – so late that we didnt want to even attempt to try and find a campground that would take us in after what happened last time in Kelowna. We navigate to a Walmart supercenter on the outskirts of Calgary thats near the freeway to setup camp for the night, Nathan needed to take a wizz so he wandered over to the 24/7 Denny’s nearby. No more than 20 seconds later Nathan comes running back to the bus saying that you can see the northern lights right now. Jared and myself pop up off the sofas and look outside. Sure enough, one natures great wonders visible from the parking lot of a Walmart in Calgary. Canada, you a majestic beast.

Northern Lights Photo taken from a Walmart parking lot. yea.