Banff National Park, Canada
We awoke to a screeching train whistle this morning in the middle of nowhere Montana, just to board Kelly (the trusty Jeep) and drive another 1000 miles (12 hours) to our final destination: beautiful Banff National Park. Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, this entire drive through Canada felt vaguely familiar to Colorado. Much of the drive seemed like the space between Colorado Springs and Denver, and I swear that Calgary is a Canadian version of Denver. I'm not sure whom copied whom, but I'm definitely on board with placing a large city right off the front range of the Rockies. This drive was supremely boring for the first 5 hours across Montana, but everything changed when we hit the Canadian border. Because my brother just moved back to Colorado, apparently that makes him an immediate target for border patrol, because we were ordered to get out of the car so they could search the contents of our bags for any illegal substances. The only things that were remotely dangerous were the knives and little isobutane canisters we had for camping/backpacking purposes, but they thankfully didn't care about them. After Kelly got a 15 minute pat down from Canadian TSA, we were back on track to Calgary.
Downtown Calgary is just a massive Minneapolis set in virtually the same location as Denver. The architecture and the fact that Calgary sits along a large river was very reminiscent of my newly adopted hometown, and our previous hometown was at the foot of the Rockies, so it all felt weirdly familiar. We made a pit stop for provisions and bear spray (because apparently grizzly bears are vicious predators or something) and were back on the road to Banff. This time, luckily, we were entranced by some of the most beautiful drive by scenery I've ever witnessed. I was driving this whole time so there aren't any pictures, but I will be sure to get them on the way back. We ended our long drive on Lake Louise, one of the most photographic lakes in Canada. We are staying at the hotel right on the base of the lake because we felt like being a little extra James Bond this trip.
Instead of taking an incessant amount of pictures of the lake tonight (the lighting wasn't the greatest and the lake is still 90% frozen, so I'm waiting to take not cliche pictures, hopefully), we showered off the long drive and sat down to a fantastic dinner. I'm all about finding good food, and thankfully so is my brother. He booked a reservation at a restaurant overlooking the lake where we watched the sunset (at 10 PM???) and the dish we ordered, Käse fondue with truffle shavings and oil, did not disappoint. Who doesn't love melted cheese and bread? Paired with an incredibly bold Malbec (chosen by Derrick of course, anyone who knows me knows my wine taste is much like Michael Scott's, "*sniffs wine glass with a wise look* ...This is a red."), this meal was in need of an Olympic gold. Our waitress was proudly Canadian, and I am extremely happy to report she did say "about" weirdly and used "eh" after any rhetorical question. She was cheery and helpful and we will be following her hiking recommendations tomorrow, so stay tuned. Of course we finished the night off with Tolberone chocolate fondue with fruit and banana bread dippers with fresh whipped cream. We were so full that it was a miracle we even made it back to the room, but we have a ton to go explore tomorrow, so we need some shut eye! Thanks for reading about day two, this is just the beginning, so keep checking in!