Sunday, December 27, 2009

Banff Over-nighter

I went to Banff on Saturday (boxing day) for an overnight stay at the Douglas Fir resort with Clare and Conor. It was a last minute idea and although I was a bit tentative about going I'm glad that I was able do it. We packed our tobaggons, skates, warm winter clothing and our swimsuits because the hotel has a water slide and a swimming pool. Of course I brought my camera with me.

Last year - after hiking around Grotto Canyon we'd gone into Banff for dinner and I remember stopping at Vermillion lakes to see if there was any photo opportunities and I saw a bunch of people skating on the lake.  The memory stuck and I had this vision that we would go out there and skate on Vermillion lakes. A couple of summers ago we kayaked on the lakes and I was excited to see it in the winter on skates.

No skating here !.. keep trying.

We left Calgary just after 11 o'clock.  I drove the new ring road from our place round to the TransCanada on the other side of the city. It took about 25 minutes to get from here to there. Normally I'd go McKnight to John Laurie and down Stoney to the TransCanada which could take anywhere from 45min to an hour. I think the ring road will work out well for scooting around the city. There are still some traffic lights on the NorthWest side though, and I hit all the red lights. Another thing to consider is that there isn`t anywhere to stop and get coffee when going this way. I'll have to remember to get coffee before leaving the NorthEast.

An hour into the drive we were almost at Lac-Des-Arcs which I thought was pretty good. We do a bit of hiking there at Heart Creek, and to get there in an hour will be cool. As I approached Canmore it was close to lunch time and I was thinking that if we stopped to eat we could be at Vermillion lakes by two, a couple of hours of skating, some nice sunset pics of Mt Rundle before checking in to the hotel by four. Sunset at this time of year is around 4:30pm, but I figured that any light would be gone earlier because of the mountains.

We ate at McDonalds (surprise !) in Canmore and drove from there to Vermillion lakes and found out that the conditions were not right for skating. I took a few pictures of Mt Rundle in the afternoon light before we headed off to our secondary skating target which was at the Banff Springs hotel. There is an area in the back of the hotel where they have skating and sledding along with a pit fire and some benches to sit on.

Clare keeping warm by the fire at the Banff Springs skating rink.

Another shot of Clare near the fire.

Clare had skated a little bit, but soon was spending most of her time over by the fire. I asked her if she wanted to put her boots on, and she did. Later she found that being towed around on her sled was much more fun that sitting on the bench by the fire, and was soon asking both me and Conor for rides.

Clare on the ice on her sled.

Conor and I skated around and passed a puck back and forth as we skated around the rink. We weren't suppose to have our sticks and pucks on the ice but there were a few others doing it so we didn't feel like we were totally breaking the rules.. plus, we were being very careful not to hit the other skaters ;-).

After we were done skating, I noticed that the sun was setting, and there was nice light on Mt Rundle. So I drove back to Vermillion lakes to get some shots in before we checked into the hotel.

I was driving past Banff Station and noticed a couple of people taking pictures, so I stopped the van on the side of the road and joined them, and was able to get this nice shot of the sun set just past the train station. Too bad there wasn't a train there to complete the scene.

Sunset at Banff Station.

We finally headed over to the Douglas Fir to check in around 5:00pm.  Parked the van in the garage and carried all of our crap up to the room. The kids were anxious to go swimming so we got our bathing suits on and off we went. Slid down the water slide and swam in the pool until around 6:30. We went back to the room and got dressed for dinner. When we were checking in, the only thing the kids picked up was that our room pass would let us ride the Banff transit for free, and they thought it'd be fun to take the bus downtown for dinner.

We walked over to the bus stop and noticed that the bus was still 20 minutes away as reported on the cool LED display. So we went back to the hotel, bought some milk and chips for later and dropped them off in the room. Went back to the bus stop and waited for the bus to come. While we were waiting, I took this shot of the kids.

Clare and Conor waiting for the bus

I was taking shots of the kids on the bus, and before I knew it, we were downtown already. We got off, and went to the Candy store. I picked up a bunch of licorice, and the kids got some liquid sugar treats.. We walked over to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner, and after went back to the bus stop to wait for the bus. The bus sign kept re-adjusting for how far away the bus was and we counted down from 4 minutes about 5 times before it finally showed up. It was a quick ride back up the hill and back to the hotel.

In the morning, I made waffles for breakfast. The Playzone play area opened at eight, the pool at nine, and the waterslide at ten - We had to check out by eleven. After eating, he kids went down to the Playzone while I packed up the room. They came back around 9:15 and we got on our bathing suits and we swam in the pool until 10, then moved over to the waterslide until 10:40 at which point we went back to the room. I still had to carry all the stuff to the van, so the kids went back to the Playzone.

Kids at the Playzone, which is accessed through the parkade

After we checked out of the hotel we drove back downtown for coffee ( and a short stop for more candy ! ) and drove down the highway to Lake Louise. I was wanting to do some skating, and maybe take some nice pictures of the lake.

Fog on Frozen Lake Louise - the fog was colder than the air.

Conor found some people that were playing hockey and joined their pickup game. Clare skated around for a bit then started digging tunnels in the snow. We had fun skating and playing in the snow, and Conor had a lot of fun playing hockey.

Conor in net.

I wanted to be back in Banff late afternoon because I really didn't want to be driving on the Lake Louise - Banff highway in the dark. I was ok driving from Banff to Calgary in the dark though, so once we got back to Banff we had dinner before heading home.

Click here to look at all the pics from our overnight getaway.
When I click on the above link to test it, the pics are coming in out of order.. not sure why that is.

Thanks for looking

1 comment:

Karen Tocher said...

These are great photos & a nice little story. Thanks for staying at the Douglas Fir Resort!
Karen Tocher
Douglas Fir Resort