Head in the Clouds

What’s on the iPod: Somebody That I Used to Know by Walk Off the Earth (originally by Gotye)

Hi. Miss me?

I missed all of you. I just went nearly a week without any Internet connection and while it’s sad not being connected to the world, it’s the most refreshing, freeing feeling. If you haven’t tried it in a while (ever??), do. You’ll be shocked at how much more creative you become.

We arrived last night at a respectable hour — 7:30 pm — without any idea how we’d get home from the airport. Yet neither of us were stressed. We both had this feeling something would work out. Turns out it did. I turned on the phone after we landed and found the text from daughter — she was outside waiting, having not had to work the double shift she was scheduled for. We knew because that’s how the entire trip went. Things just worked out.

After a fantastic week in Vancouver with people we adore and love (and who run the best B&B in the city — I’m not kidding), we headed out of the rain and into the Canadian Rockies. It was love at first sight. The drive there was increasingly gorgeous, and we came upon a small town on one of our stops for gas and food — Hope, BC. He was hoping to see a sign heading out of town that said “Abandoning all Hope”, but alas. It was just “Come again!” We liked the town so much we stayed there on the way back through.

Onward to Jasper, AB, which is a town of 5,000 residents and one that’s inside the national park. In fact, that’s what makes these Rocky Mountain towns so great — they’re inside the parks, so their growth is regulated by the government. Amen. For when we headed outside of the park, we saw just what can happen when people decide they loved vacation enough to live there. But back to Jasper.

Great trails everywhere, from inside of town and outside. Given the exceptional food we had every morning during our stay in Vancouver, we were glad for the hiking. We stayed in a lovely place (photo above) — a cluster of cabins and chalets along a river, again in the park (everything is in a national park). The river was loud with rapids, which was great to fall asleep to every night. The property was well-manicured and thought out to provide maximum relaxation. And relax we did. I was beginning to think I was a slug with all my sleeping in. But we earned it — we hiked every day, and not short hikes, either.

Probably the best hike came when we decided against our will almost to do something touristy. We took tramway to the top of one of the mountains. Only it wasn’t the top. No, you couldn’t get to the summit without climbing on foot. So up through the snow we climbed. It took us an hour or so to get to one of the most incredible views in the Rockies. A 360-degree panorama of Jasper (dwarfed at this point) and the mountain range that it was tucked into. This is just a sample of what we were lucky enough to see.
We saw animals, too. Bears (luckily all from the car), elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, even a porcupine. Plenty of everything as the ground was just waking up and the animals were nursing youngsters. The warnings were everywhere — elk calving (stay away from angry mothers!), bear-aware notices, and areas closed because of heavy grizzly populations and movements. 
There were also plenty of areas closed thanks to heavy snow. In a few cases, that didn’t stop us, but where there were avalanche threats, we stayed away. 
We headed south on the Icefields Parkway, which would have been stunning had it not been for a rainstorm that brought the clouds below the mountains. Still gorgeous, but it was obvious that as we headed south, we also headed up. We ran into a snowstorm that luckily was short-lived, but the temps went from the 50s to the 30s pretty quickly. And that’s how it stayed once we arrived in the Lake Louise area.
We stayed in another terrific place — Storm Mountain. In fact, we stayed at the only place in Storm Mountain. The people there comprise the entire population of 10. Again, cabins, but these were built in the 1920s (most of them). We had a stone fireplace in a one-room cabin. It was heaven. It was by a highway that was frequented by trucks trying desperately to pull huge loads up the mountain, but there was no traffic during sleeping hours, so that was fine.
Fantastic food again. Since they’re 25 minutes to any town, Storm Mountain has its own restaurant. We balked at being stuck eating in one place only (monopoly much?), but the food was so incredible, we came back all three nights. And it was much more reasonably priced than where we stayed in Jasper.
Now the snow was here to stay. We hiked trails that were so deep that one girl had to be pulled out by three people when she sunk to her hips (she was laughing hysterically). One trail at Lake Louise was to the lookout. We started up, thinking a “short” hike. Normally, it would be. However, the snow was easily three feet deep and we had to walk on top of the snow, which had been packed down by many before us trying to do the same thing. However, one false move to either side and you’re at the mercy of your companion to get out!
We found the lookout after a hard climb. The view, like most, was terrific. The lake was still frozen over (probably will be for the next few weeks). We could see the Fairmont hotel, which faces the glacier (yes, we were pretty high up). What we couldn’t see was the bench on the lookout point. Here’s what we saw instead.

We drove into Canmore our last day and did some great hiking there. By now we had acclimated well and were feeling more fit (I actually lost weight this vacation!). So we took a trail that sent us up the mountain, but then we decided to see what was through the mountain pass, so we added about an hour each way to that hike, and we came back to our cabin spent, but happy.

Home called. We were forced by work and family to head back to Seattle for our flight home. We drove through Glacier National Park, which wore scars cut by several avalanches — trees and heavy snow everywhere. It was beautiful. We were to stay in a motor inn in Revelstoke, but we were feeling like we could drive some more (only three hours), so we canceled our reservation and kept going. We ended up back in Hope at a lovely B&B run by a woman who’d moved to Canada from South Africa decades prior. She had a nice home that was impeccably renovated and furnished. She gave us more suggestions for walks, which we took and were not disappointed. But we were tired. So we headed to Seattle without much delay.

There we went to the Boeing plant to see their gallery. Neat little display, but lacking on anything really to write home about. So off to our B&B, where we’d stayed last year.

Trouble was our innkeeper had fallen a few weeks prior and had nearly died from bleeding on the brain. She said it was lucky she fell walking into the hospital to visit someone, but from what her friends said, she was lucky to be alive at all. She had completely forgotten about us showing up (understandable), but wouldn’t hear of us going anywhere else. We were reluctant to stay, but her friends assured us she wasn’t going to wait on us at all — they did. We kept it low-maintenance and did what we could for ourselves, and we gave her bear hugs as we left. She remembered my mother-in-law and remembered us even though we’d stayed just one night. She’s the type of person who gathers people in like lost sheep, and judging from the number of people who’d come to see her (some from Santa Barbara by car), it was obvious her charm.

Home now and to work right away. I gained clients while I was away, and I have deadlines. So I must put toothpicks on the eyelids and get something done today as I try to get back into the correct time zone.

Glad to be back among you all.

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  • Devon Ellington June 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    What a fabulous trip! Yes, we missed you, and are glad to have you back, but love the trip stories and photos.

  • Lori June 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Missed you too, Devon! It was such a great time we didn't want to return!

  • Paula June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Yep – you and my sister must have crossed paths in the Canadian Rockies. Seems like May is a great time to go there. My kind of weather, too!

    I'm glad you had a great, relaxing vacation, Lori, but am also glad you're back.

  • Wade Finnegan June 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Welcome back Lori. That sounds like an awesome trip that you'll remember forever. We missed you immensely. Writers worth week(s) was great and I want to thank you again for the opportunity to post. I love your pictures, please keep sharing and telling stories of your adventures.

  • Cathy Miller June 4, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Miss you? Is that a rhetorical question? 🙂

    I love Canada and these stories and pictures are great! I used to go to Vancouver quite a bit. This has made me want to take another trip.

    Welcome back, Lori!

  • Lori June 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Paula, I'm glad to be back. Yes, I think your sister and I were in the same place at the same time. Did she stay in Banff or elsewhere?

    Wade, grateful to be back amongst my chums. 🙂 Thanks for lightening the load for me with your excellent post last week.

    I thought of you six times or better, Cathy. We were sooooo close to Idaho. Definitely still too far away, but closer than at this moment, for sure! Missed you, too. 🙂

  • Anne Wayman June 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Heck yes I missed you… and unhooking – great idea. Love the pix to0.


  • Paula June 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    She was in Banff a few days (but not at THE Banff), she also mentioned Radium Springs and Kimberly. I'll have to check her travelogue.

  • Lori June 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Paula, we were on the road to Radium Springs — 93. It was 115 km to our west. Not exactly neighbors. 🙂

    We never went to THE Banff, either. That was on purpose. We'd heard stories of the touristy nature and avoided it.

    Anne, missed you, too. 🙂

  • Anonymous June 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I finished a massive project Friday at 130am, well Saturday morning, and pretty much haven't fired up the computer til now- Tuesday at 2p. You know what though? That's all it took for me to get excited about my work again!!

    Gorgeous trip. And I love that song. It will always remind me of my trip to Virginia Beach at the beginning of May.

  • Lori June 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Sometimes even a short break is a good one, Anon. And I love Va. Beach. Nice vaca!