Magi Ate Tatanka…


The title of this week’s blog is because my wife had a bison steak on our Canadian vacation and she’s a huge fan of the Kevin Costner “Dances With Wolves” movie.

She and I took an 8-day trip through the Canadian Rockies to celebrate our anniversary later this year.

We traveled with Bruce and Jeanette, Walt and Joan plus Terri and Jim, the “Hoosier Eight.

Our tour group included a family from Wisconsin plus folks from both costs and several points in between.

Over 8 days our adventure took us via air from Indianapolis to Denver and then to Calgary, Alberta.

Then we rode a bus to stops at Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper where we boarded VIA Rail’s The Canadian for train ride which included an over-nighter before we wound up in Vancouver. There, we boarded a plane back to Denver and eventually home to Indianapolis.

In between we were blown away by some of the most wonderful natural beauty and wildlife and sinfully good food.

We all got white cowboy hats which is pretty much standard wear in the Alberta city.

The Calgary Stampede, which has been going on since 1912 was one of our first stops.

Say what you will about football,  hockey or boxing, these rodeo riders are some tough folks.

My back hurt just watching them try to stay atop bucking broncos and jumping bulls.

It has to be the longest 8 seconds in the world.

The Stampede feels like the Canadian version of the Super Bowl and inn stretches of a week plus and draws thousands to a site very much reminiscent of a big state fair.

Later that evening, my wife and I strolled through downtown Calgary and we found a sidewalk bistro, “The Metropolitan” where I dined on Japanese pork belly BBQ on raman, complete with a soft-boiled egg.

Next, we spent two nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs, the “Castle in the Rockies”.

Talk about plush!

The food was incredible.

Getting there was most of the fun because we were in the Canadian Rockies.

Seeing snow on the mountain tops in July reminded me were weren’t in Indiana anymore.

The city sits more than 4,500 feet above sea level

Banff is actually in the Banff National Park in Alberta, the first municipality to incorporate within a Canadian national park.

Downtown Banff reminded us of Gatlinburg, TN.

We were told to visit Moo’s ice cream shop and we did and it was a good stop.

We also rode a 4 person gondola ride to the top of one of the peaks near our lodging and, at an altitude of close to 8 thousand feet, the view was literally breathtaking.

The fact that my ground-hugging wife suggested the excursion proved she may have been experiencing a little light-headedness due to the altitude and thinner air.

One evening in Bannf, the Hoosier Eight dined together and I ordered boned-in veal parmesian.

What came to the table turned out to be a piece of meat that could have fed our entire party.

I mean I like veal but “Holy Cow!”

Leaving Banff, we headed for Lake Louise and viewed the waters of Lake Moraine.

It was one of the most awesome sights of the trip.

The turquoise-blue waters almost looked fake.

But thanks to suspended glacier silt in the water which blocks out all but the blue light waves, we humans get an amazing visual sight.

Plus we saw the amazing power of a glacier which deposited a rock slide on the edge of the moraine as the ice river receded.

Our next night was spent at the world-famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which was a brilliant blue as well.before

On our way to Jasper, we rode on the Icefields Parkway where we saw several mountain valley glaciers and the Athabasca Falls before we actually walked on the Athabasca Glacier, the largest mass of glacial ice south of the Arctic Circle.

Because of rain the day before, the ice had a cool blue hue to it.

Walking on a glacier is truly cool.

Our next stop was Jasper after another amazing trips past towering snow-topped peaks, writhing waterfalls and wildlife of all kinds, including a a bear strolled along the highway.

I wondered aloud if he might have lost his “bearings”.

In Jasper, we spent the night in more typical lodging before we boarded VIA Rail’s “The Canadian” passenger train to ride the rails to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The train ride was wonderful.

We spent most of our time in the glass observation car and saw more glorious waterfalls and a stretch along a lake near sunset provided us to see more than a dozen Bald eagles, a Golden eagle, lots of Ospreys and mountain goats.

Sleeping accomodations were fun.

I  took the upper bunk which meant I had to navigate the 14 inch wide ladder to my sleeping spot.

Early morning bathroom calls meant twisting my 6’2″ frame to the end of my berth and carefully finding a ladder step.

I figured I’d leave shin tissue on the ladder getting down but I didn’t although my big feet wreaked havoc with the plastic waste basket near the sink.

We arrived in Vancouver the next morning and experienced out first temps in the 70’s.

Vancouver is a bustling city with more bike riders that you can shake a stick at and the harbor is an ant hill of activity.

We saw a statue of “Gassy” Jack Deighton and also viewed a steam-powered clock downtown and road through a large Chinatown district.

Vancouver is quite a cosmopolitan city these days, s lot different from the city incorporated in 1886 when the first transcontinental train arrived.

Thanks to the exchange rate, those American dollars of ours had good purchasing power.

Some other observations I had…

I was intrigued to see 4 “trash cans” in most hotel lobbies; one for trash, one for metal, one for plastics and one for compostable material.

Pretty cool.

I must report that our Canadian friends had no restrooms for our trip.

Not that the “Hoosier 88” had mystical bladder control, mind you.

All the Canadian facilities were referred to as washrooms.

That was just find with me since we did minimal “resting” at stops.

I liked how our travel guide Scott and others referred to the original Canadians as “The first Nation”.

I found that to be an honest and somewhat honoring term.

I also noted that adults are as bad about paying attention as kindergarten students.

Our guide Scott would give us detailed instructions and directions regarding stops and meal plans and as soon as he asked if there were any questions, there’d be a few that would act as though they just got on the bus.

If patience is a virtue, Scott is one of the most virtuous people I’ve ever encountered.

Going through customs in Canada by typing info on a screen at a kiosk was pretty slick, too.

At times I felt like the airplanes were nothing but winged “cattle cars” and those teeny, tiny pretzels they give you look like they were really made for Barbie and Ken.

All in all, though,  it was a wonderful time.

We made new friends, some that we’ll see around town, too.

The natural beauty was over the top and it made us marvel even more about his little, blue orb we call earth.

There are many more awesome places on this plant to see.



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