Thursday, July 23, 2009

Virtual Vacation - Banff Edition

So, since our family isn't going on a vacation this summer (we decided that there were a few more responsible things to do with our cash this year such as buy a new refrigerator that matched our kitchen and pay realtor commissions - ha!) I thought it might be fun to do kind of a "virtual vacation" and share a couple of pictures from some of our past vacations. I'll try to post these on Thursdays and if you want to share one of your favorite vacations you can leave a comment on this post with a link to your own blog post. FUN!
We live in Texas - which I've heard referred to as the oven of the U.S. and my favorite summer vacation of all time was 3 years ago when we headed to the Canadian Rockies and escaped the inferno for a little over a week.
WARNING - I tried to limit myself to 10 pictures, but found that virtually impossible since I took over 700 (I know, I'm crazy). Please bear with me on the bazillion pictures.
WARNING #2 - At the time of this trip, gaucho pants were very popular. I love me some gauchos and in an attempt to pack light I think I brought about 3 pairs and wore them with everything. Be warned that you're about to see a whole lot of gaucho-ness.
We flew into Calgary and one of our first stops was the Calgary Zoo (which was awesome) and I think on the second day of our trip I discovered The Pita Pit... it was kind of like a Subway concept (you got to "build" your own), but with GIANT pitas! YUM! In the collage below you can see me holding my new best friend - and yes, I ate the entire thing. In fact, if I saw a Pita Pit in between meals I would often make Dave stop and I'd get and eat a pita just because I knew I wouldn't be able to eat them once we returned to Texas:

The pictures below are from Canada Olympic Park, also in Calgary. I'll start with the picture at the top left and work clockwise: this is Dave doing a luge (sp???). It was super funny to watch and he'll probably ask me to take this off when he sees it up here :) The next picture is looking down from the top of the ski jump. To get up here we had to ride a ski lift and we couldn't figure out how to get the bar down. I seriously had a panic attack when we got to the top and cried because I didn't want to ride it back down. The bottom right pic is Dave standing on the medal platform and the bottom left picture is me with Heidi and Howdy, the 1988 Winter Olympic mascots. My family lived in Calgary during those games and we went to several of the events and I got a Heidi doll that was my favorite stuffed animal all growing up.
After Calgary, we drove to Banff and stayed at this AWESOME place called Johnston Canyon. We stayed in this cute little cabin that reminded me bunches of my grandparents cottage that we used to visit in the summer. There were some great hiking trails and we got to see some wildlife and gorgeous scenery:
More views from our hike along Johnston Canyon:
One of the funniest things that happened on the trip, was when we were staying in Johnston Canyon we tried to use our Visa card at dinner one night and the credit company had shut off our account because the card was being used out of the U.S. (we forgot to call and tell them that we were travelling). Dave was on hold with them for over an hour and the restaurant was closing and the waitress (who was the last person there) said that she wanted to get home but she didn't want us to have to hang up since we'd been on hold for so long and so she told us to just finish up the call, go through the kitchen when we were done to let ourselves out the back door and to please come back the next day to pay! The picture on the bottom right is Dave on hold :)
The next day we took a tram up to the top of this mountain in Banff and it was the most incredible thing I have ever seen:
After the tram we headed down to this one lake/waterfall (I can't remember the name) and took pictures with a real Canadian Mountie... he asked us where we were from and when we told him Texas he told us that he had gone to Fire School at Texas A&M! Aggies are everywhere!
Top left picture - If you ever get a chance to go to Canada, you HAVE to try the chocolate/vanilla swirl cone at McDonald's. I haven't found a single McDonald's in TX that has them and I miss them dearly.
Bottom Left - The Fairmont Banff
Right pictures - a boat tour that we took in Banff
If watching the Bachelorette this season hasn't prompted you to book your trip to the Canadian Rockies, these pictures will:

At Lake Louise:
Somewhere between Banff and Edmonton we took a tour of a glacier:
Dave and I have never had much success with trail rides (we've been on a couple before this one that didn't turn out so well), but we decided that our luck had probably turned (how many bad trail rides can you really have) and set out on a tour that was supposed to take about 3 hours. It started out great, but then a cold front and rain storm moved in and the 3 hour tour turned into almost 6! At one point (we were on this trail literally on the side of a mountain) our guide told us that if it continued to rain the horses would instinctively just stop and we might have to "make camp" and stay there for the night (since vehicles couldn't reach the spot). Eventually the rain stopped and we were able to continue the ride, but I don't think I've ever been that wet or cold before! Please note the bottom 2 pictures below - before and after our ride:
After Banff we drove to Edmonton where we visited West Edmonton mall and did some other various sight seeing and then drove back to Calgary. Our last night of the trip we were supposed to stay in this cute little bed and breakfast but locating it turned into what I think is the biggest fight Dave and I have had in our 10-year relationship. I cursed, we stopped the car and switched driver/navigator positions about 9 times, Dave cursed, someone ripped the map out of shear frustration and we ended up on private farmland about an hour and a half away from where we were actually supposed to be. When we did get to the bed and breakfast the owner showed us to our "room" which was this cabin in the woods that you could only get to by this super steep and rocky path. We couldn't even get our suitcases down there - we had to take our clothes, toiletries, etc. out and put them in grocery bags and carry them down: My absolute favorite restaurant ever in Canada is Swiss Chalet and I had to take Dave to experience it for himself, the picture on the bottom left is of him smelling the special sauce (note to all of my Canadian relatives: Dave committed a cardinal Swiss Chalet sin by ordering mashed potatoes instead of the fries. I tried.). I also picked up as many boxes of Shreddies (my favorite cereal) as I could fit in my suitcase and before we took off to fly back to Texas we picked up a box of TimBits (Tim Horton's donut holes for all you non-Canadian readers) to bring back for my parents and Mark, but we ate them all on the plane. Ooops!

If you made it through this post, thanks for sticking with it and I hope that you feel cooler just looking at the pictures :) Don't forget to post pictures of one of your vacations and leave a link in the comments section. I'm counting on living vicariously through ya'll!


  1. Check out our virtual vacation...(great idea Andrea)


  2. Banff was one of my absolute favorite vacations too!!!! Your pictures are amazing! As a graduation present my grandma took me on the Rocky Mountaineer Train ride...breathtaking. Next time I want to go with my hubby and drive it. I enjoyed your photos...thanks!! :)


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