When we first decided to change our lives and wander off on this little trip we both wrote a list of places and countries that we’d like to visit. Completely independently Canada was the number one choice on both of our lists. There was no specific reason behind that and we had no real firsthand information to go on but Canada seriously interested the pair of us.
Perhaps it was the mountains, the lakes, the unbelievable scale of everything, or maybe we both just wanted to see a bear. Who knows? We had uninformed pictures in our minds of what we imagined Canada to be like and the title photo of this post depicts that perfectly. Beautifully wild.
Backtracking down the Parkway
If you’ve kept up with the recent posts, shame on you if you haven’t, you will know that we travelled North up the Icefields Parkway to spend a week around Jasper and Hinton. There is only one road so at the end of that week we just had to drive the worlds greatest road once again. In the other direction of course! Jo decided she wanted to experience the drive so we switched places and set off early Wednesday morning. Unbelievably sunny weather matched with unbelievably childish excitement set the scene for perhaps an even better journey.
All of the locals recommend that you should drive both directions on the Parkway as the scenery is so utterly different. Seriously? Surely just the same but the other way around? They’re dead right though, it was like a completely different experience. I won’t bore you with a description of the mountains and the rivers and how jaw-droppingly incredible everything was (just read the first Icefields Parkway post for that), I’ll just drop a few photos tell the story.
Leaving the Icefield Parkway was almost heartbreaking as we would have been happy for it to go on forever. But our new accommodation was booked in a little town called Canmore in the Bow Valley just south of Banff. We’d booked an Airbnb in Canmore with plans to travel into Banff on a regular basis on the local bus but it didn’t quite turn out that way.
We were staying with a family in this amazing house right in the centre of Canmore. It wasn’t quite as simple as that though. Niels and Chrissie were our hosts, with two little boys called Arnold and Solomon. However Chrissie and the boys were away visiting family for a few days and there were a couple of other guests so the first few days were almost like staying in a hostel. Aimee and Dave, ‘Might-be’ William, the blonde girl, drunken Tragically Hip fans, and Aimee Two were just a selection of the people we met.
The lake that can’t be mentioned
The car had to be returned up to Banff next day so we sneakilly snuck in a sneaky little trip to a lake we hadn’t seen before the drop off. Not such a bright morning but still glorious scenery and a relaxing wander round another beautiful setting. Unfortunately decency prevents me from telling you what the lake is called, but it was stunning. Oh, almost forgot, on the early drive down a deserted mountain road we had a wolf run out in front of the car! So sudden and so quick that I had no time to brake but it flashed right in front of us and disappeared into the trees. Signs everywhere at the lake warned of wolves in the area. There was very nearly one less!
Now please look away if you are of a nervous disposition or prone to offence as I’ll quickly mention the name of the place. Lake Minnewanka. Ok? Done now so no sniggering. Whatever it was called it was fantastic and as we wandered and took in the views we looked back on one of the greatest road trips we’d ever had. Epic. Awesome. Pretty damn good.
Grizzly Paw Brewery
Local breweries seem to be a big deal in both Alberta and British Columbia and there are so many regional and local beers to choose from that it’s a bit of a nightmare sometimes. When we found a leaflet for a tour of Canmore’s local microbrewery called the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company we just couldn’t resist. It’s been in Canmore since 1996 but the cool new premises that we visited was only completed a couple of years ago.
The Grizzly Paw guys brew a whole range of beers including Rutting Elk Red, Powder Hound Pils, Grumpy Bear Honeywheat, and our favourite Beavertail Raspberry Ale. We probably had around 10 small glasses of beer on the tour, for research purposes of course, but liked it so much that we marched into town and visited the Grizzly Paw Bar for another beer later on.
I mentioned earlier that our plan had been to just use Canmore as a base to get back into Banff but we soon discovered that it was a less touristy much nicer town so kicked that idea into touch. More about Canmore next time but we will never ever forget our two incredibly epic drives along the Icefields Parkway.
18.8 – 22.8.2016