Sun. Sept. 6, 2020:
Jasper to Calgary, AB
I woke up at 6:30am which was before sunrise, yay! I would be able to get some beautiful mountain sunrise photos. By 7am it was still dark outside, that did not bode well for my plans. The sun was supposed to rise at 7:12am, it should not be this dark. The plan was to walk over to Bear Paw Bakery for breakfast and coffee. As soon as I opened our door, I saw why it was dark: it was raining. I ran back inside to change my outfit and leave my DSLR. I grabbed my rain shell from the car and changed into my waterproof hiking shoes. It was actually a pretty nice walk, the ground was wet but it wasn’t raining. They had fair-trade organic coffee which was so good! I couldn’t remember the last time id had a really good cup of coffee, probably the last day at home before vacation. I ordered a raspberry lemon danish and a chocolate croissant. The namesake bear paw looked too big and thick for a pastry roll and it was just unappetizing. It was only later while writing in my notebook that I realized why I had been so unimpressed, I had mixed it up with bear claw and I had been expecting something closer to a crueller than a mutant giant danish.
Last night we had researched Goats & Glaciers lookout to confirm if it was just called that or if there was substance to the name. Apparently, goats really do go there because there are naturally occurring minerals there and they go to lick the rocks. Now I was really hoping we would have luck: how great would that be to see goats licking rocks?! The chocolate croissant was meh, it was not buttery and did not melt in my mouth. The chocolate was rich but only concentrated in some parts so my bites were uneven. We stopped again at the lookout and you could smell the typical barnyard smell. As we approached, we were sure we could see goats. Maybe goats don’t like rain? It was a letdown.
We stopped for another view of the Columbia Ice Field because it was a slightly different angle and the scene was now different, instead of bright blue skies there were low hanging clouds. At the Howse Pass scenic overlook we saw the North Saskatchewan River and had beautiful mountain views with nice clouds- but still no goats.
The driving lulled me to sleep, which wasn’t hard given I had not slept too well (thanks cider, I had gone a little too hard with four tall cans and a regular- oops). I was twitching and my mouth was gaping open. The salted caramel Milky Way was what I needed to wake me up. I was in desperate need of a stop at a “human gas station” (that is how tired I was, that I wrote that in my notebook) aka Starbucks and refuel.
We stopped in the town of Banff. We had to park in a large parking lot that was a 10-minute walk away from the town centre. That was fine by me, there was a Starbucks in town that mobile ordering so it would work out perfectly. We stopped in at a gas station for bathrooms and snacks. I placed my order and we could immediately see why we had to park in that lot instead of in town. All the roads were torn up and being rebuilt, there were times we were walking on dirt.
The Starbucks was crammed full of people, it was like everyone had the same idea. Even with the ordering ahead, I still had to wait. We walked along the two main roads, all the storefronts were done in the style of ski chalets. I couldn’t resist shopping at the Rocky Mountain Soap Co, and at Banff Tea. On our way out of town we stopped at a liquor store (as you do on vacation) and they had a habanero cider but it was $13 for a bottle?! Way too much for something that might be atrocious. Back in the parking lot, the car next to ours also had Ontario plates and they cheered and we had a short conversation about travelling across Canada being just about the only thing one can do for vacation during these crazy times. They somehow had three and a half weeks of vacation!
In Calgary we stopped at a European deli because all of the other Polish stores were closed on Sundays. I didn’t find any sól ziołowa or Polish newspapers (for my dad) but I did find cukier waniliowy which I had run out of a while ago. They also didn’t have a bakery section so my dreams of pączki for lunch were dashed. We drove to Pearce Estate for views of the Calgary skyline and the Bow River but all we could see was the river, which was running alongside the highway at this part. Not very scenic. So far, I was not impressed with Calgary.
We drove closer to downtown and walked around a parkade which was nice because it was closed off to cars. But there was no one around, it was a ghost town (and I think it was pride weekend based on the banners and signs). While walking we placed an order for pickup from Native Tongues for some tacos and a burrito and guac & chips. They appeared on a bunch of best of lists so we had high hopes. It had been way busier in the neighbourhood just out of downtown, we had seen a huge line of at least ten people waiting to get into of all things, a spice store. It was bizarrely hipster. We passed by a David’s Tea and for a brief moment I thought it might still be open (they had recently shut down almost all their stores). It was not. By the end of our walk I felt like I had gotten my fill of Calgary and there was no real need to come back. I was not impressed and I didn’t really like it.
Continuing in the spirit of let-downs. The chicken taco was meh, the pork tasted like beef and the beef was too salty. Whoever assembled the pork burrito should not be allowed to assemble any more. It was the worst burrito assembly I had ever seen. All of the meat and the sauce were in the first half, causing a messy disintegrating soggy mess. The rice, guac and tomatoes were crammed into the little bottom corner of it. It was really awful. Even the tomatillo salsa was too salty. The only good part of the whole meal was the chips & guac, but it wasn’t outstanding by any stretch of the imagination.
We had reached the halfway point in the trip. Meaning it was laundry time. I was really mad. There were only two machines for the whole (airport) hotel. You would think there would be more? One person had abandoned their clothes, the other machine still had some time. I came back. They had not. I came back again, no change. So, I took the clothes out of the more recently abandoned machine and put mine in. When I came back, neither load had been claimed so I put the clothes back in the machine as if nothing ever happened. By the time I had come back for my clothes from the dryer, the first machine had still been forgotten. This person had left their clothes in the washing machine for more than two hours! That is just bad etiquette and so rude. On one of my many trips, I had passed some kids who were crying because their 30-minutes in the pool were up. You had to book a time slot to use the pool. Their desperate parents bribed the kids with the promise of a bubble bath back in the hotel room.
Laundry done, I could finally relax. We were watching a new show called Martha Stewart’s Bakeaway Camp. At first, I was not impressed but by the end I was taking notes of all the baking tips. Between that and Chopped and Wall of Chefs, it really made us appreciate what a good show Top Chef really is. I didn’t realize when I grabbed it that the Old Rosie unfiltered cider was actually from the UK, so much for drinking local. Soon our good run of TV ended, and we didn’t even get TLC or W Network and for some reason Much Music was actually a movie channel?? We ended up being too full for an evening pizza as had originally been the plan.