I am almost positive that was the best anniversary ever! I mean, seeing Showboat live was wonderfully romantic, but this was a whole weekend, after all…
Our 20th anniversary approached with my husband being out of province for a time, and so, when his boss asked him to stay away longer, Fern stipulated that I be flown out to join him for the duration. Unbelievably, it was a go! Little did Fern’s boss know that it was soon to be our anniversary… So, maybe I have a bias, or perchance the place is as beautiful as I say…
It was the first time either one of us had been west of Saskatchewan, and we were not disappointed!! Alberta is an amazing province, and it is of no surprise that we accepted a job offer to move there a short two years later!
Although I flew into Edmonton, which is a lovely city, Fern and I quickly left town and drove towards the mountains, destination Banff National Park… Neither one of us will ever forget the first time we spotted the mountains from afar: we came over a rise, and there they loomed, still in the distance, yet huge, nonetheless! Tears streamed down Fern’s face...seeing the mountains was one of his dreams… I was in awe!! God is just truly amazing in His handiwork!!
Though the drive alone towards the magnificent scenery was inspiring, we were treated like tourists by the local wildlife, to boot! We saw elk! More than that, they performed for us - running at each other and banging their antlers. On a separate trip, a Grizzly bear sauntered towards us…a Hoary marmot screamed at us (that is another story for another time)... Banff National Park never ceases to inspire our love of Alberta!!
Fern had found a sweet little inn to stay at, namely Fox Hotel & Suites. We adored the cozy cottage decor, but most of all the cool cave hot pool! If you are looking for a place to stay while in Banff, this place is a gem! (At least it was 10 years ago… I just realized that we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year…) Yep. Upon checking, it still has great ratings!
The first real mountain we ever hiked, was Sulphur Mountain, so it is very dear to us! We have since returned multiple times to get a great workout ;) It’s only just under 2300 meters in height, and the climb itself is considered moderate, but the views are unhindered and simply gorgeous!! Ha! It is no wonder that we are often disappointed when Alltrails rates a hike as moderate, compared to climbing in the Rockies! One of my lovely lady friends recently informed me that she and her son jogged up Sulphur Mountain in only 40 minutes! Generally, it takes my husband and I approximately two or so hours to do this baby! I originally described this hike as doing the step machine for two hours, and upon visiting the same just last August, I still feel that way ;)
On our initial hike up Sulphur Mountain, we fully enjoyed the relaxing eight minute ride down on the gondola. I LOVE evergreens!
Perhaps this love of these trees originates from growing up in Northern Ontario, where winters are long and white, and the greenery of trees touches my spirit. The views up here are postcard picture perfect - regardless of the season! And I am not speaking just off the cuff… we hiked those mountain ranges in every season! The first time up Sulphur Mountain was made in Autumn. In the winter, my husband ignored, aka walked around, the sign that was grounded in the middle of the trail at the trailhead, which read “Danger!...” I do fully enjoy his sense of adventure!
On our latest hike up said mountain, we were shocked at the increase in pricing for the gondola, so in rebellion, we spent the same amount and ate an absolutely delicious dinner at the lovely Sky Bistro, which boasts farm-to-table food.
The meals were fantastic, and of course, the ambiance and view were extraordinary! BUT THEN, we had to hike back down the mountain……..I swear that my knees never felt so broken! I literally just wanted to cry, and I may have whined… My husband was skipping down the mountain, whereas on the way up, I had to keep stopping and waiting for him! What on earth! So, yeah, I suggest saving up for the magnificent gondola ride down :) Thankfully, we met this super sweet young couple that were walking down at the same time, and we had a pleasant and distracting chat!
We have tortured, I mean brought, multiple friends on this same hike, since we so enjoy this mountain.
Even our pregnant daughter conquered Sulphur Mountain! On one such outing with friends, we almost lost one...he thought he was having cardiac arrest and almost turned around at one point.
Hehe...all was okay :) Lest this frighten you, we were once passed by a very elderly woman using a cane, who was escorted by her son - apparently this hike is an annual Mother’s Day tradition for them.
Last August, we left the main trail and conquered the very peak of the mountain. Fern was somewhat hesitant, having lost sight in one eye in the spring, but we did it!! And the effort was SO worth it!
After this rewarding workout, I highly recommend partaking in the hot springs! What a treat! We especially enjoyed the Sulphur Springs in the winter! Firstly, my daughter and I rented the vintage swimsuits :) Yes, they have vintage swimsuits for rent! And secondly, it was snowing! Loved ones beside us, we sat in the glorious hot waters, snow falling around us, evergreens and mountain ranges encircling us...can you picture anything more delightful?? We even started a small snowball fight with complete strangers… la vie est belle!
You simply have to find time to make your way to this ruggedly remarkable place! Perchance it IS as beautiful as I say!