Burning Gas-Lake Louise

We left Calgary on a sunny warm morning for Banff National Park. I expected Banff to be similar to the National Parks in the USA. It isn’t, yet it is. The place is huge, and it is beautiful, but Banff is a city within a national park called Banff. The QEW-1(Queen Elizabeth Way), the transnational Canada highway runs right through the park on the way to Vancouver. The city of Banff population is eight thousand souls. The economy is dependent on  tourism in the summer and skiing in winter. The main drag through town has a distinct European look with Swiss style buildings side by side. Shops of all kinds abound and cater to the tourist. Every street has great eating places. We stayed in a small hotel near the central district. It was ninety degrees when we arrived.

Grandma Peggy and I settled into the room, and looked around for the air conditioner switch. We were wilting and needed some cool. I called the desk for help. A nice woman knocked on the door and proceeded to pull a large fan from the closet, and plugged it in. “Banff has about three days like this every year. We don’t have air-conditioning,” she explained as she opened the slider.

Early the next morning I sat on the balcony drinking coffee while watching people going about their business. It was a joy to see kids walking to school with book bags on their backs. I don’t think anyone lives more than a mile from the school, or for that matter from anyplace within the town. A strange quiet envelops Banff. Other than the birds singing, there are few motor noises to pollute the atmosphere of the town.

We left town to see the park, there were no overlooks like there are in the states. We tooled along on the QEW-1 at one hundred km per hour. A curious cyclone fence borders the road along each side of the divided highway. The fences occasionally dipped toward a culvert, or up to an overpass. We learned that animals migrate  from the mountains across the highway to the lakes at lower levels. Every year there is a huge road kill. The government built the fence to direct the animals toward underpasses or overpasses to keep them off the roads, Conservationists like to think that the Canadian government is on the same page as they are, but the simple fact is that when a car or truck hits an eight hundred pound animal on the road, death occurs; both human and animals with an enormous dollar cost to freight and transportation. Between Banff and Lake Louise, our destination there were at least six of these crossings with several more in construction.

Lake Louise is what we came to see. Banff is a cutesy town, but Lake Louise is nature in all its splendor. This glacial lake is at the foot of mountain top glacier feeding it. The water is crystal clear, but has a gray cast to it. It is not as clear as I thought. The color is the result of glacial till. The till is a very fine powder of granite rock ground off the mountain by moving glacial ice. The particles of powder are so fine they become suspended in the water. The result is the beautiful blue-gray color.

Several months before we left on this trip, the Chicago Tribune travel section featured a story on Lake Louise. The leading photograph showed a couple sitting in the Fairmont hotel having lunch while looking out on the view. What a great view, I thought. I never imagined seeing that same view for myself. In fact, we sat one table away from the couple in the Trib photo.

Banff National Park is beautiful, and compares to our own Glacier National Park in Montana. They are adjacent too each other. Banff the town is a fun tourist town worth the visit, but Lake Louise is a “do not miss” scene of splendorific nature.

Shops and Hotels along the main street in Banff, Alberta

Bridge for animals along QEW-1 enroute to Lake Louise

Stream flowing from Lake Louise

Pollination in process

Pink Poppy

 

Glacier feeding Lake Louise

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Trail to the foot of the Glacier

Trail along the lake to the foot of the glacier

The Fairmont Chateau from across the lake

Flower bed in front of the Chateau

Poppies with bees

Pollination in process

Pink Poppy

Reflections of the Fairmont

The Fairmont Chateau, Lake Louise

The Window View From the Chateau

Fairmont Lobby

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