Thursday, June 16, 2016

Stage One Status: Complete

Howdy friends!! Isabella here, the one who will hopefully be providing you with entertainment and updates during the next three weeks as we journey to (and around) Italy. We have now completed stage one of our 48-hours-in-transit party, and are currently sitting in the airport waiting for stage 2 to commence. More specifically: Yesterday, we took our first two flights- from Denver to Calgary, via Salt Lake City. Tonight we set out on our second, and considerably more grueling, leg of the journey, from Calgary to Rome, via London. Currently it is 7:40pm. Our flight is scheduled to leave at 10:30pm. And we have been here at the airport since 4:30. What better way to pass the time than to share our escapades of the past twenty-four hours or so with you?

So, you ask. You obviously flew into Calgary last night. And you are flying out tonight. What on earth did you do with all that time?
Answer: Dad and I took the opportunity to make a quick visit to Banff National Park. The rest of the fam, being exhausted from the previous day's ordeal, decided to stay at the hotel, watch TV, go swimming, and chill. But there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to see one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially when who knows when I'll get a chance to again? Plus, now I can actually say I've been to Canada, because I have experienced (if only a small piece) of it. :)
Those of you who know me know that I'm a diehard Colorado fan, but I have to admit that it now has some serious competition. The Canadian Rockies are absolutely stunning. From a geological perspective, I would guess that they are younger than the mountains we have in CO, because they are more dramatic, more rugged, and much steeper. I would describe them as somewhere in between my beloved Colorado Rockies and the Italian Dolomites (stay tuned in a week or so for pics of those!)
Located in Banff National Park is the town of Banff itself, which is strikingly similar to Vail, but less modern and polished. It's a resort town, but retains a feeling of cozy, homey comfort- like it's not trying too hard to be perfect.  I appreciated that a lot.

I find Canada fascinating. Leaving Calgary, a reasonably-sized city of about 1 million that hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, the landscape quickly transforms into gently rolling farmland dotted with forested areas. It bears a strong resemblance to Pennsylvania, except quite a bit cooler, less humid, and considerably less populated. Another significant difference is the mountains rising dramatically in the background. From my experience, these two features seem diametrically opposed (I'm used to them being on opposite sides of the country from each other!), so seeing them in such close proximity was fascinating and really made me feel like I was in a foreign country.
Calgary itself reminds me of a midwestern city- small downtown with a few tall buildings, limited suburbs, kind of industrial, and mostly older and slightly run-down buildings and businesses. It has a very lived-in, well-used feel. It's not new, but that's OK- it doesn't need to be.
As for the Canadian people, they seem incredibly friendly and genuine. The ones we have met are very open and kind. I didn't expect Canadians to have accents, and not all of them do, but you can definitely tell that they're not speaking American English. The closest I can describe would be a distinct Minnesotan way of speaking, with a bit of a British accent mixed in.
The other thing I've noticed about Canada is that it's very ethnically diverse, much more so than where we live in Denver. I have seen lots of Indians (from-India-Indians, not Native American Indians, who are called First Nations here), Sikhs, Muslims, Chinese, and Vietnamese people. And yet at the same time very few Hispanic people (which I guess makes sense, geographically.) I expected this trend towards the coast, but less so in the Canadian interior, yet it persists. I am enjoying it.

Overall, I feel my time in Canada has been much too short. I never really thought of it as being a cool place to visit, but my short 24 hours here have proven me very, very wrong! The fact that it's not an extremely popular tourist destination, like Mexico and Hawaii, combined with the friendly people and cultural diversity, makes it a place that I am now determined to visit again. Until next time, Canada!

Mountain goats shedding their winter coats along the shores of Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. This lake is not as famous as the iconic Lake Louise, but is still very beautiful, with the added benefit of being much closer to the entrance. Will have to save Lake Louise for the next visit. :)

McDonald's poutine, a classic Canadian dish consisting of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. (Cheese curds are the solid parts of the soured milk left after cheesemaking, and pretty much taste like very chewy cheese.) It's pretty good but SUPER high in calories. And also kind of gross if you think about it too much.

Selfies to pass the time during our 4 hours layover in Salt Lake City

The skyline of Calgary, approaching from the west (on the way back from Banff)

Johnson Lake in Banff NP. A smaller, lovely lake with a 3km loop trail around it that my dad and I hiked. It was great to have a chance to be outside and stretch our legs in anticipation of a very long flight tonight.

Another snapchat from Salt Lake. Not sure why the computer didn't put the pictures in order. GROAN.

An outflow of Johnson Lake. The water was impressively clear and clean. Canada's doing a good job with their national parks.

View from the highway of Calgary Olympic Park, where the 1988 Winter Olympics were held.

The rocky beach of Lake Minnewanka. No swimming... the water was COLD!

Mt. Rundle, one of the most famous mountains in the park. This massif is absolutely enormous and breathtakingly beautiful.

Another view of Mt. Rundle from Lake Minnewanka. Climbing most of these mountains would require a lot of mountaineering skill and technical ice and rock climbing... much harder than Colorado's 14ers.

Obviously we saw a lot of this Mt. Rundle. No complains. The snowy bands that go along with the mountain's rocky striations are gorgeous.

The waters of Lake Minnewanka were a beautiful and impressive shade of turquoise. It reminded me of Chasm Lake in RMNP, except much larger and at a much lower altitude.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Great photos. Look forward to reading about your trip in Italy. I await photos of the Dolomites.

“Tell him to seek the stars and he will kill himself with climbing.”
― Charles Bukowski, The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966