Our last night in Lloydminster (for now) was awesome! My sister Brittany and her fiance Fraser came for a visit, as well as my other sister in law Erin and my niece Natalie. It was so great to have a room full of family again, especially the ones we rarely get to see. We went out on the driveway to watch the Aurora and it was simply amazing. Glowing green and orange this time, it filled up much more of the sky and shone brighter than ever. I can't help but stand there and just stare (mouth open). I can't believe these lucky ducks get to see this on a regular basis. Something I feel I couldn't possibly ever get sick of. If you have ever tried to take a picture of the night sky with your phone you know how impossible it can be. I debated not even posting this picture because it does NOT do it justice, however, some may appreciate it, so here is the best I got. It's grainy, but it's green!
With a playlist of hits from 2000-2010 we hit the open road again and set off for Banff, AB. Singing anything from Vanessa Carelton to Usher we belted out lyrics and danced in our seats. The drive was a lot more scenic this time around. As we began to get further from Saskatchewan and deeper into Alberta the trees and hills and water began to make it's way back in to the scenery.
We made a quick stop at Elk Island Provincial Park to try to see some bison, as they are frequently seen there, but didn't have any luck. Driving through Edmonton we could see the sky was darkening to a deep grey and that we were about to get a nice show in the skies. With sheet and fork lightening we got just that.
It was one of those storms where you see the rain pouring down miles and miles ahead and then at some point you're right in the thick of it. The rain in the distance almost looked like faded vertical lines coming down from the sky, it was actually quite beautiful. What was even better was the double rainbow after the fact. It was by far the most vibrant rainbow I have ever seen. The kind you can see from end to end too. Whenever I see things like this I always whisper to myself to appreciate the moment, I find if only a reminder to do just that, it is a sign to stop and feel honoured you got to catch something so special. A big thank you to the universe. Just like watching the Northern Lights dance the night before.
After passing through the storm in Edmonton, and cruising through Red Deer we came up to Calgary. Houses packed in like sardines as far as the eye could see. We also caught a glimpse of some of the infrastructure from when Calgary hosted the winter olympics which was pretty cool.
Shortly after Calgary it started. There were the mountains. I put on Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire in the car and could not contain myself.
Ever since my time adventuring through Asia I have come to realize that mountains move me more than most things in life. Something about the size, the thought of being on a planet whose surface can change so much from place to place, it all just instantly calms me. An immediate shift in perspective. Starring at something so much bigger than me, considering the life that lives there, the thousands of trees that appear so small in comparison they could be mistaken for grass, it fascinates me. I feel the insignificance of any worry, fear or problem I have ever had. I feel so small. It reminds me that we are all just walking this planet with a mentality that it is in some way ours, and it isn't. This planet allows us to be here. It can nourish us, and just as easily take us down. We don't own this planet at all.
It was hard to hold back the language as the mountains grew in size the closer we got. At this point in the drive the sun was setting and the crescent moon was glowing over the peeks. It was pure magic.
We arrived at the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa and were greeted by my sister Brittany who is the sole reason we made this trip to Banff. Without her, I may have never even thought to come to this town, and I couldn't be happier that her path has led me here. The town doesn't even feel real. It is like the set of a movie or something.
Brittany is the front office manager and was able to hook us up with a two floor suite complete with the largest Jacuzzi tub I have ever seen! The view from our window is that of her favourite mountain; Cascade. So our suite is aptly named The Cascade Suite. It wasn't until morning that I understood why it is her favourite.
When I woke up, I peeled open to curtains and there it was. With the peek hidden, it was so gorgeous, so big. Seemingly close, but definitely far.
After heading out for breakfast I couldn't stop starring. Everywhere you look in this town there are mountains in the background. It runs through the valley and couldn't be more perfectly placed. Apparently though, with the town being in the valley, this is where the elk, wolves and other animals like to come and graze. This means that on a walk around town you are more than likely to see a wild animal. I can't wait! Apparently it is mating season though, so it is important to stay 30 bus lengths back, which from what I can see is the entire length of this quaint town, so maybe just run the other way if/when you see an elk?
Some things I have learned:
- Banff is the highest city in all of Canada.
- Saskatchewan is known as the Land of the Living Skies because nothing obstructs the views of sunsets and sunrises, making for unreal pictures of the Northern Lights.
So far we have explored the streets of the town, played at the park and looked in a few other beautiful hotels and resorts. Tomorrow we head to Lake Louise. From what I have heard it is regarded as the most beautiful place in all of Canada by many people. Hopefully I can snap a pic that will do it any justice to share with all of you.