For the last 10 days I have been on vacation. I had originally planned on making a trip back to the east coast to visit family during my time off, but with the insane prices for plane tickets that wasn’t going to happen. Instead my sister Marissa and I decided to plan a road trip to the mountains.
We chose to leave during the middle of the week to avoid the rush from the long weekend. So on Tuesday morning I dressed myself in comfy driving clothes, packed up the Honda Fit, and went to pick up Marissa.
The first thing we had to do was drive 2.5 hours to Cross Iron Mills Mall which is located just outside Calgary city limits. This is actually the largest single level shopping center in Alberta made up of about 1.2 million square feet of space. It’s not that we don’t have the giant West Edmonton Mall near to home, but it’s always nice to go to a different mall and see what they have. One of the special things about this mall is because it is so brand new (Built in 2009) the décor is very nice.
We started by entering through the Bass Pro Shops which was the first time Marissa had done this. If you have never been in a Bass Pro Shop before it is worth going to just look around. When you enter you immediately see hundreds of antlers, stuffed animals as well as anything you could possibly need for your outdoor activities. It’s so cool to look around and see stuffed deer, bears, moose etc.
The rest of the mall has a great selection of outlets and shops. We were able to pick up a few items to take home with us. The next stop was to go into Calgary and pick up my friend Cailin who is an orthoptist like me. We worked together until she recently moved to Calgary for another job. When we got her we decided to go and try Peter’s Drive-in for supper. Peter’s is an institution in Calgary which was first opened in 1964 and is known for their amazing milkshakes made with real ice cream and delicious burgers. Even though it is quite a long wait it was definitely worth it. There are over 30 flavours of milkshake which you can combine in any fashion you want; that means over 4000 combinations available. For my shake I chose banana, coconut and toasted marshmallow, and just so you know it was amazing! If you go just know that the fries are a very large portion so you can probably share. We all loved the food, and left satiated.
After we stuffed ourselves we decided to check out Chinook Center because we wanted to check out some jackets at Aritzia. Living in Edmonton means that a parka is necessary for the sub-zero temperatures. I picked up a Bancroft parka which I am in love with! I can’t wait to wear it (though I don’t want it to be winter yet!!)
One of our warmest parkas ever, this sleek parka has a durable water-repellent coating and super high 665 fill-power of ethically sourced down to help you brave the elements. It’s packed with features such as multimedia pockets and designed with details such as inner and outer storm flaps, wool cuffs, fleece-lined pockets, an extendable hood visor, and a faux fur chin guard, so that it’s as warm as possible. The inside features shoulder straps, so you can carry the parka like a backpack when you take it off.
New Bancroft Parka. Can’t wait to wear this but please Winter give me a few more months before I need it!
After we dropped Cailin off we went to our aunt and uncle’s house to crash for the night. We sat around the table and played Skip Bo before we decided to head to bed and watch Clueless on Netflix. It was great to spend some time with family we don’t get to see as often as we wish.
When we woke up the next day we were ready to hit the road and travel the 130km to the Banff National Park. It is a very beautiful drive with the mountain views. We had beautiful weather and decided once we got into the park that we would drive to Lake Louise first. It’s about a 40 minute outside Banff, and it is absolutely beautiful. If you ever get a chance to go to Lake Louise you need to check it out. I am so happy that it is a relatively short drive from my house. We stopped into the small village and grabbed a bite to eat before we went to the lake and took some photos. We both decided to wear our East Coast Lifestyle shirts, which we had packed independently of each other . This was the first time that Marissa had ever been there, and she thought it was worth the drive. Someday I might stay at the Chateau but at about $600 a night it’s not within my budget at this point.
When we left Lake Louise we decided to drive to Johnston’s Canyon to do a hike. The trail starts right behind the Johnston Canyon Lodge. The path travels close to Johnston’s Creek and you walk over ‘Sturdy’ catwalks which can be kind of scary at times especially with the clearly turbulent waters, and rocky bed leering up from you. You get to the Lower Falls about 1.1 km into your hike. You can stop and get a closer look after climbing through a short rocky tunnel.
We decided to continue up the additional 1.5km to view the Upper Falls as well. The view was well worth the hike as scary as it is at times. Reading through different sites on the internet I found that people have attempted to get a closer look to the falls climbing over the fences and slipping over the falls claiming several lives in the past. This is scary as there were many children and families on the hike the day that we were there. There is an additional part of the hike which will take you up to the ‘ink pots’ this is an additional 4 km up so we didn’t even think about trying it. The Total hike 5.2 km which was relatively easy and took less than an hour but was definitely worth it.
After an hour of hiking we were ready to go to our hotel and check in. We made the short trip into the Banff village dropped off our bags at our hotel, Ptarmigan Inn, and made the very short walk to the downtown area. We went to supper at Earl’s for wing night and Bellini’s. Marissa actually ran into a friend from PEI at the restaurant.
The moment that we were waiting for since the beginning of the trip was a visit to the Cows Ice Cream store. Since I was born and raised on Prince Edward Island I love me some Cows!! In case you aren’t familiar with Cows Ice Cream it is an ice cream manufacturer based out of Charlottetown PEI. It first opened in in 1983 and has been voted Canada’s best Ice Cream by a Reader’s Digest and World’s best place for ice cream by Tauck World Discovery. There are some great whimsical flavors (my personal faves are gooey mooey and wowie cowie) and fresh waffle cones. While you are in the store have a look around and check out the cute T-shirts that they have all with cow related names.
After we gobbled down our ice creams we did some shopping around the downtown area. There are some very cute stores here. Marissa finally invested in some Lululemon clothes which is something I fully supported her doing (ie I picked up some shorts and a tank while we were there too 🙂 After an evening of shopping we decided to take a dip in the hot tub in the spa area of the hotel. The party animals that we are we were in bed pretty early, but in our defense we had a very busy day.
For the final day of our trip we woke up and went down to have buffet breakfast we were pleasantly surprised at how good the food tasted. Soon we were off to make the drive to the Jasper National Park. When we left the weather was pretty nice, but as we started driving the rain started, the clouds rolled in and the fog enveloped us.
We did the 2.5 hour drive to the Glacier Skywalk which is a new attraction that just opened this summer. It is walkway that leads out to a platform where glass floor is all that separates you from a 918 foot/ 280 metre drop to the rocky mountain floor bed. Let’s just say that it is terrifyingly awesome. You have to park at the interactive center and you get on a bus which drives you to the walkway. You have the option to have a free audio tour but we decided to just look around ourselves. It was a little expensive but worth going at least once. We weren’t exactly properly prepared for the excursion because it was rather cold and I was wearing capris and flip flops. Let’s just say that a glass floor + rain water + flip flops = very slippery adding to the terror. We did get some pretty cool looking pictures but I don’t think I would recommend going on a rainy day. The area does have some great views of mountains and waterfalls though so don’t be too afraid to look around and take it all in.
When we were done paying to be frightened we did the hour drive to Jasper Village. The weather was surprisingly cooperative for the final leg of the journey. It was as if it was two different days. We didn’t have much planned for Jasper so we grabbed a quick bite at subway and sought out fudge and candy. Jasper’s village is much smaller than the one in Banff, but again there are some pretty cute stores where you can find some treasures. They have a cinema which shows two movies at a time and accepts only cash! The views are spectacular though, and some people may prefer the slower pace.
After all that it was time to start the 4 hour trek back to Edmonton. As we were on the way out of the Park we were able to see our first wildlife! It was some sort of large caribou/deer which was chilling on the side of the road eating. There were so many cars/tourists stopped and taking photos and the big guy didn’t seem to even notice. After waiting to see some creatures throughout the entire trip it was a pleasant surprise and a fitting ending to our stay in the mountains.
We had a great trip, and as I said I’m so happy that Alberta has these gems just a short drive from where I live. If you ever get a chance to go and check out the different National Parks that Alberta has to offer you should take it. The Rocky Mountains have got to be one of the most scenic things in our beautiful country!!
Be Healthy, Be Active, Be Happy!