One of the things I love THE MOST about living in this town is sharing it with other people. The excitement, joy and overwhelming awe on people's faces is mirrored in my own. When I collected Donna and Lucy from Calgary airport and brought them to Banff, they were tired from the long haul flight compounded by lengthy airport delays because a summer storm that had kept all planes on the runway for hours. Their excitement was palpable through their fatigue, and as the final leg of their travels began the excitement grew and grew!
Urban sprawl soon gave way to flat prairie, then rolling foothills gradually swelled around us. Before long, jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains were visible on the horizon, sun kissed snowy caps reaching up to the splendid clouds coloured by the sunset. The flight delay meant that it would be virtually dark by the time we arrived in Banff, even with the long summer days. The sun doesn’t set 'til around 10:00pm in the summer! I regaled them with stories of my adventures and explorations of the mountains, and talked about some of the activities they would enjoy through the week. I wished I could take the time off work and experience their adventures with them! I would have to content myself with hearing all about them in the evenings. They checked in to the Bow View Lodge, situated right besides the beautiful Bow River. After nipping across the road for a quick bite at Mel's I left them to settle in to the hotel and let their adventure truly begin.
The first day they were immediately up and off on a 2 day horse back adventure with the Banff Trail Riders, and into their first taste of wilderness! Thankfully with the time difference, the early 8am start wouldn't be too much of a challenge, it was staying up in the evening that would be difficult! But without the hubbub of Banff around them hopefully a good night's rest was attainable. Both avid riders in the UK, I think they really loved their “Western Style” horseback experience. Open campfires, great food, good weather – a perfect start! The rest of the week was packed with some of the best things you can do in the Rockies! Helicopter rides, white water rafting, canoeing, hiking in the alpine meadows, exploring glaciers and glacier – fed lakes, seeing the “must – see” sights of Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks... the list goes on! In their “down” time they explored the local museums and learnt about the history of Banff and it's place as the birthplace of Canada's national parks.
The last couple of days were spent in Banff, experiencing the Canada Day parade, at which Donna was able to fulfil a childhood dream of meeting a Mountie in his red serge (I think that really was the icing on the cake!) All through the week, Lucy kept commenting on how much her cheeks were hurting from smiling so much! Looking at the photos they have, and the wonderful video Donna put together of her experience, I can see why. This is what I love most about Banff and the Canadian Rockies. They inspire so much enjoyment by just being in them, and also through the volume of wild and exhilarating experiences that are available all around. I count myself incredibly lucky to call this place home, and can share its highlights with people when they visit.