Having convinced my younger sister that road tripping to Banff with me was of far more importance in the grander scheme of life than being there for her first day of community college classes, I gleefully started preparations…planning meals, reserving campsites, plotting out routes…all while luxuriating in the anticipation of the glories awaiting us many miles north.
Driving up to Kamloops, our first stop for the night, we reveled in the ever-changing scenery: rushing, bolder-strewn rivers through mountain peaks, barren hills with a dry and beige beauty of their own, fallen trees scattered like an organized giant’s game of pick-up-sticks…and trains…lots and lots of trains as we continued north. I LOVE trains meandering through mountains and trundling down river-side tracks. It somehow resonates with me like a childhood comfort object, hearkening back to simple times and pleasures.
Kamloops RV park was not exactly what I thought I had booked. No lakeside campsite with vistas of grandeur and even worse, no campfires allowed. Apparently I only THOUGHT I had done a great job preparing for the trip. What to be done with the delicious assortment of meats I had brought? We were nervous that our future arrangements would be similar as Canada is apparently in a high to extreme fire hazard state at the moment. Keeping fingers crossed for upcoming fire pits, we tossed up a delicious organic salad and sumped on Boursin cheese and crackers, rounded out by a good Oregon beer. All good.
Heading further north, British Columbia became ever greener and more breath-taking. We took turns driving so at least one of us could safely gawk in wonder out the windows at the passing scenery. I was delighted that it happened to be my turn in the passenger seat when we curved around a mountain road right by some bighorn sheep tugging on some tufts of grass roadside. There was even a baby one standing on a boulder staring at us as if posing for the perfect tourist shot. I was in love.
So excited to (finally!) see the “Welcome to Banff” sign, we headed straight for Lake Louise Village for information and passes then headed up to get a quick glimpse of Lake Louise before heading another 45 min over to Banff to set up our campsite. Lake Louise is stunning. The whole time we were in the national parks, we never could get over that blue-green cloudy glacier fed lake and river color. It’s almost unreal, so vivid it is; and with the glacier and the mountains and forests behind and surround it: surreal. The lake boardwalk is seemingly always flooded with tourists which is wonderful because the more people that can see something so beautiful, the better. I love that we humans, as a species, love and appreciate beauty.
Camping is enormously fun when you have the right gear. I have been on a mission the last several months to begin collecting good quality pieces of camping and hiking gear and it’s been a blast using it. Sis and I set up our tent in less than 5 minutes: easy-peasy, and began making dinner. I LOVE cooking over a fire. Well, I just love campfires to begin with: I have many great memories of late night sleep-outs and early morning breakfasts with good friends and family. The next three nights, we dined on grilled teriyaki chicken, portobella mushrooms, steak, zucchini, onions, sausages. It was a blast – even when it rained.
We hiked till we were exhausted and drank in the views and scenic vistas like people who had never seen the outdoors before. Banff, we concluded emphatically, is and was everything that it has ever been cracked up to be. Pictures don’t do it justice. If you ever get a chance to go there, do it! It adds a whole new dimension to the definition of beauty.
We got up before dawn our last day and trundled home the southern route through the north of Idaho and eastern WA, arriving home in good time, only to glory in our experience a bit more through storytelling and picture-perusing and then to…sleep (in a BED, for the first time in days:)… and to dream of majestic mountains, big horn sheep, and the magic of the blue-green water.