We got up around — well, starting with Dave at 7 and finishing with Morgan at about 8:30. Dave had coffee waiting for his stinky princess and we hit the road before breakfast for an early hike to the Paint Pots before the crowds hit. We aren’t used to vacationing during peak season, as we usually travel late in August after most travelers have gone back home to school, sports, etc. So, we are likewise not used to dealing with neighbors in campsites and interlopers on the trails.
It was a short and easy walk, relatively flat. Crossing a rushing river…
to cool, vibrant yellow dirt and mineral-ish looking water
bubbling up from the ground like an oozing volcano.
I found about five flowers I’d never seen before and picked them to I.D. later.
I figured out three of them, but never the other two. Hooded Ladies Tress was my favorite, reminding me of a little troll person:
I picked these flowers on hikes and made them talk to Morgan to try to jolly her out of her various hike-induced funks. As you might imagine, these efforts proved fruitless.
When opened up, they look like this:
We came back for eggs and brats, take 2 — ironic, since Dave refuses to eat eggs at home. Our own, freshly laid eggs from our own chickens. It’s a long, long story that is most easily explained by saying Dave does not like our chickens.
Then — the moment we’d all been waiting for — we packed up with suits and towels, soap and shampoo — and headed for the Banff Hot Springs! And more importantly, a HOT SHOWER!
The town of Banff — an oasis for Morgan’s retail-deprived eyes — beckoned to her longingly as we whizzed through, without pause, to our destination. Only one about-turn (and it wasn’t for Lululemon) when we passed a local farm stand with fresh local fruit and veggies. We bought peaches, plums, cherries, blueberries and corn.
The cherries — OH! So good. And if you remember from years past, also so DEADLY. (aka “fart balls”)
Then, on to the Springs.
They’d upgraded the facilities considerably since our last visit in 1987 and going back to my first visit in 1977. Not gross at all. Nice, even. My first memories of the place were of a giant changing room that had a perpetually wet and slimy floor and fat, naked, hairy European women standing all around — and me trying my darndest to change into a swimsuit without exposing any privates. My how things have changed: beautifully dry floors, lockers, benches and me –walking around like a fat, naked, hairy European woman.
That is to say, the floors were beautifully dry until Morgan and I walked through from the showers dripping our wet hair all over it… And the pool was different too: sparkling clear — not murky — and smelling faintly of chlorine instead of Sulphur. Call me a pool-spoiled snob, but I don’t care. I’d rather smell like Chlorox than a big fart.
Morgan and I took our time showering, shaving (!) and I even dried my hair. Ahh, ahh, and triple-ahh. (I make audible groaning noises when I brush my hair that disturbs Morgan a great deal and today was no exception.)
As expected, Charlie was wild-eyed with impatience when we finally emerged. “What the HECK?” is his most overused phrase, which he repeated over and over while I ignored him as long as I could, finally turning to him with wild-eyes of my own, whistling, “CHILL OUT” through a fake smile (for the onlookers) and gritted teeth (for emphasis and to scare him into submission).
And then, it was off to Banff for lunch and the coveted, much-anticipated SOUVENIR SHOPPING!
We might have done a tad-bit of research on restaurants before selecting an inviting little place with a large deck that had tables available outside. The food was “meh” but the waiter was something out of a Seinfeld episode. None of us caught his name — if indeed he even told us his name or wore a tag — but all of us, independently, thought of him as “Pierre.” Why, I have no idea. He never actually even said enough for us to determine his country of origin. He did, however, have very expressive eyebrows which he used as his primary means of communication. When we received — after a very lengthy wait — our $12 calamari appetizer with 12 squid rings on a plate and nothing else and gobbled it down in less than 45 seconds, Pierre did a double-take; first, shooting his eyebrows up in surprise, then down in confusion.
He hesitated before clearing the plate that just moments before had been set down. Dave uncharacteristically asked “Is that the normal portion size for the calamari or did it seem small to you?”
“Hmmm?” (eyebrows up)
“Was that the normal amount?” (Dave repeats question)
“Sorry?” (eyebrows even higher)
“I’m just saying it seemed like a really small portion for $12” (kids have almost slithered out of chairs on to deck under table in embarrassment)
“You think so?” (eyebrows furrowed)
“Yes, I do.”
“Oh.” (eyebrows up again) and off he went.
The kids immediately erupted into gaggle of “Dad! I can’t believe you said thats!” I was only disappointed not to have been able to pinpoint his accent — if he even had one. Dave fell ill a few hours later, all of us speculating Pierre may have had the last ‘word’ after all. Either that, or it was all just a ploy by Dave to sit out the last hour of shopping at a nice shady table in front of a coffee shop in Banff. Actually, the more I think about it…
Morgan basked in the glow of Banff, honing in on the two most expensive shops at hand: Roots and Lululemon. She finally settled on a Roots zipper top and promptly fell in love. Why I don’t stop trying to foster a good relationship with her by means of meaningful conversation and togetherness, and instead, just buy her love with material goods is a mystery. It would certainly save me a lot of time and make her a lot happier…
Meanwhile I slipped off and made a impulse purchase of my own — a salmon (orange/red) Patagonia zip hoodie. I couldn’t wait to show everyone. But when I did, I only received a collective sigh. Apparently they all think I already have that top. Apparently, everything I own looks the same?
Charlie, of course, was in his customary hand-wringing state of wanting everything but worrying like a little old lady about what everything cost. If only I could melt my two kids together… Sadly for him, because Dave was feigning illness, it was me who marched him into The Rock Shop to force a decision. Remember, I’m the one who hates knick knacks, hates to dust unnecessary items and can’t stand frivolous purchases. So I talked him into buying, not some pretty rocks that will sit around driving me crazy, but pretty rock BOOK ENDS. At least it is USEFUL. He also bought a $5 geode to crack open at the campsite
that ended up being nothing more than a solid rock.
Ohhh the TRAUMA! The disappointment!
Dave, funding it all, bought nothing. And he calls me the martyr?
A stop at Cow’s for ice cream (Morgan is still swooning over memories of her coffee ice cream as I write this hours later) and a book shop for a guidebook to the Canadian Parks. Then some last minute Bubble Tea. Amazing! Our’s was pineapple and soooo good.
On the way home we opted to cash in on the Reluctant Hiker’s shopping afterglow and make a spur-of-the-moment decision to continue on to Lake Louise for a late afternoon and hopefully crowd-free hike. When we pulled in, cars were parked at least a mile away from the main parking lot, but there was a constant stream of people walking to them. The lot was almost empty!
We lured The Reluctant Hiker up the hill to Mirror Lake, just short of Lake Agnes and the Tea House.
Mirror Lake was such a disappointment after such a long way up
that we bait and switched her and decided to go all the way up to the Tea House. The Reluctant Hiker dug her heels into the horse-manured sand and abjectly refused. No amount of cajoling and guilt-tripping worked. She sat her sulky butt down on a rock and wouldn’t budge.
So we left her there.
It was only another 1/2 mile to the top. When we were almost there I had a brilliant idea. I hung my head over the cliff when I judged that she was almost directly below us and yelled at the top of my considerable lungs:
MORGAN… IF YOU COME UP, WE’LL GO OUT FOR DINNER.
With almost no pause at all for consideration I heard a faint “OK!” (I think I’m finally getting the hang of this Mother-ing thing.)
And she appeared at the base of the Tea House less than five minutes later, huffing and puffing.
I kid you not. I think she might have broken a land speed record. I’m going to have to tell her soccer coach this technique for motivating her.
The funny thing was, it only occurred to her right then that perhaps we would have gone out for dinner regardless of her decision to join us. I refused to answer on the basis that it might have incriminated me.
After many excrutiating attempts at a self-timer family photo shot for Christmas cards,
we arrived back at the base of the lake and climbed in the car to find a suitably over-inflated priced venue for dinner, finally settling on a pizza joint inside a lodge, the name of which I can’t remember.
The wait was loooong, but the service and food were good. So I guess we didn’t mind the Lake Louis upcharge. We were so tired that we skipped dessert, even though they looked soooo good: sorbet, panna cotta, cheese cake, etc.
I drove us home and everyone was quickly asleep.
Dave had a mini-Hitleresque outburst upon our arrival at camp. It’s a common one: Morgan, Charlie and I tend to agree that it is OK, on rare occasion (for example, after waking from a 40 minute sleep) to skip brushing teeth before bed. Dave does not agree.
Really? One flippin’ night?
(It’s been a long 15 year argument)
As usual, he “won.” Even though by “winning” it meant that no one else was talking to him. I might not even have said good night to him.