2018.06.16 What a Banff!

For breakfast in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, this morning, we required a walk across the parking lot from our condo to the Sav-On grocery store.  They did have full size American-style grocery carts, but most people were either carrying or pushing green baskets.  It was pretty fun to pull your groceries around like they were in a wagon.

Canadian grocery cart

This grocery store had a Tim Hortons coffee shop in it, so Mallory got in line immediately when we arrived.  She spent the entire time, about 20 minutes, in line for her breakfast while the rest of us were shopping.  I joined her as she reached the counter.  Mallory was prepared to do a good job ordering, but she couldn’t understand the barista. The barista asked her if she wanted the combo, and Mallory just said, “What?”

The barista knew most everybody in line, and had some nice & friendly morning banter.

Our first stop of the day was at the Nordic Training Facility, which is where the Canadians prepare for some of their winter Olympic sports.  There was also some type of road rally, which involves a lot of people driving expensive cars, dressed up in ridiculous outfits, going on a scavenger hunt across Canada.

Training in Canada

Biathlon Training Grounds

We hopped back on Canada Highway 1 toward Banff.  While on the road, we came upon something akin to a toll booth.  Traffic was queued up in about four lanes, but KK took the lead and drove us through a lane that didn’t stop.  We laughed at all the stopped cars and enjoyed our trip through the Express Lane.

Banff is a town and it is located within the Banff National Park.  The town of Banff got its name from a town of the same name in Scottland. They have cut off any future development to limit its impact on the natural environment and wildlife.  And everything there is priced accordingly!

Our first stop in Banff was the visitor center.  It was quite popular.  We got in a long line to wait and visit with one of the attendants.  We got a super friendly and knowledgeable young lady and she spent a long time with us.  It was a great experience.

Banff Visitor Center

We spent a bit of time wandering through some gift shops before we hit lunch at the Bear Street Tavern. Our group had a variety of pizzas, nachos, and mac-n-cheese dishes.  Our waiter had a significant accent, so Peyton asked where he was from.  Australia! The waiter said “everybody in town is from Australia.  You don’t get the full Canadian experience here.”  We did notice that the hostess had the same accent he did.  When asked how long he is in Canada, he said his visa expires in September, and he doesn’t want to think about what is going to happen next.

The intersections in downtown Banff would alternate between allowing vehicle traffic and then pedestrian traffic in any direction. It was pretty neat.

Family Picture with Sasquatch in downtown Banff

One of the activities that Mallory most looked forward to on our trip was to rent a scooter in Banff and drive around the streets on two wheels.  At lunch, we figured out that Mallory had left her drivers license back at the condo, and you had to have a license to rent a scooter.

So after lunch, Stephanie took Mallory 30 minutes back to the condo to get her DL, and then back to the scooter rental.  In the meantime, the rest of us visited the Banff tram and rode the tram up to the top of a mountain overlooking the town. Well, not all of us rode the tram up.  Miles and Peyton opted to hike up the mountain, and ride the tram down.  The elevation change was about 2300 feet, and they made it to the top in 2 hours.  They did great!

Miles and Peyton before their hike.  They climbed that mountain behind them.

View from the tram.

View of the valley.

Sulphur Mountain.

KK helps Steve not fall off the mountain

KK and PK above Banff

Once we made it to the top and looked around a bit, Erin took the tram down to go meet Mallory for scooter riding.  KK and I walked over to the top of Sulphur Mountain, which was connected by a boardwalk.

View of the Tram Station

As KK and I were about to ride the tram down, we saw Miles and Peyton out the window.  They made it! The staff had already scanned our return ticket, but they graciously let us back out to greet the hikers.

Miles and Peyton, the Victorious Hikers

After leaving the Banff tram, we drove to the train station to meet up with Erin and Mallory, upon their return from their scooter ride.  A passenger train from Vancouver showed up and unloaded about 350 passengers while we were there.  Through conversations with the staff inside the station, we learned that the cheapest price of this train ride was $4,000.  Is that Canadian or US dollars?  Who cares, that’s a lot of money.

Passengers depart the Rocky Mountaineer

Train and train station

These ladies had a great time!  Check out the Banff Scooter Company on your next vacation to Banff.

Erin and Mallory enjoying their scooters

Erin and Mallory riding

On our way out of town, we stopped at the fancy Banff sign to take a group photo.  On the drive into town, there must have been a dozen vehicles pulled over to take pics.  When we stopped, there were two other cars, and nobody ever pulled up behind us.  This means that every person that stopped at the sign all day, had asked the people in line behind them to take their picture.  This process repeated itself until it was time for us to take our picture.  Luckily, Stephanie knows how to use the timer on our camera, so we pulled it off.


After our group photo, we took a picture of only Ellery at the sign.  Imagine Stephanie taking the picture and every single one of the rest of us waving our arms, rooting loudly for Ellery to look over here and smile. We were all laughing hysterically, but not sure we got much of a smile out of Ellery.

Ellery at Banff

The evening consisted of pre-packing our stuff, as we are moving out of the condo tomorrow. So long, Canmore. Until next time.

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