08/29/05 to 09/04/05
We had intended to leave Calgary on the 29th, but our mail hadn't arrived.  So, for
the last several days we've been going every morning at 9:30 to the Balzac Diner,
General Store, Saddle Shop, Gas Station, Post Office (seriously, all in one
building, it has to be, since there are only about 8 buildings in Balzac!) and buying
a paper, having a cup of coffee, and waiting for them to sort the mail.  After we
read about the terrors wrought by Katrina, and the standard articles on gas prices,
we get to the Canadian news which tells of the bear maulings at Banff (two in the
last week), and the gunfights in downtown Calgary (at least two in the last week, it
has been hard to keep count.)  (And Handlebar thought handguns weren't allowed
in Canada.)  Then we would take the paper home and work all afternoon on the
two crossword puzzles.  What a way to waste four days.  We did get off our lazy
butts one afternoon and went thrift store, antique store, junk store shopping in
downtown Calgary.  Fun little section of town called Inglewood.   
So, on Sept. 2nd, our mail still had not arrived, but since it was a holiday weekend,
and they don't get mail on Saturdays anyway, we would have sat around for 3
more days for nothing, so we headed to Banff, and figured we'd just have to do the
80 miles back some day next week, if our mail ever shows up.
So, Friday we finally left Calgary and arrived in Banff National Park for the holiday
weekend, which of course meant all the full hook-up sites were full, so we
decided we were seasoned campers and could rough it in a no hook-up site.  
We will at least save a little money this way, since we had to buy a yearly
Canadian National Parks pass ($92.11 US, good until Sept. 2006, willing to sell
make offer!)  Of course, we arrived, got set up, and had just a few hours for me to
drag Richard into all the tourist shops downtown before it started pouring.
On our way back to the campsite we stopped quickly and took a picture of the
hoodoos.  (Just the tall skinny rock formations, near the bottom of the picture,
right above my hand.  Indians thought they were spirts or sentinels or something.)
On Saturday, Sept. 3rd, we shivered in bed until 10:00, when we decided it wasn't
going to get any warmer in the RV.  I got out my cooking thermometer to check the
temp, that's right, 51 degrees!!  We bundled up and headed out on the motorcycle
(gas is too expensive to go anywhere in the truck, even if it is cold.)  We decided
we would hike Johnston Canyon.  The path takes you along the river, past several
waterfalls, two are larger than the others and are the "upper" and "lower" falls.  The
path is 2.7 km one way, elevation gain of 120 meters, so it was a good easy hike to
reintroduce us into being active, since we've sat on our butts for two weeks.  So off
we went, and found that all the other holiday weekenders had also decided to hike
this trail.  Most of them only went up to the lower falls though, so the crowds thinned
out for the second half of the hike.  About 10 minutes into the hike, I took off my rain
coat, then at the lower falls, I took off my sweatshirt.  Just before we reached the
upper falls, I took off my flannel shirt.  Don't worry, I wasn't cold, my two longsleeved
long-john type shirts and my t-shirt and my two pairs of pants were keeping me
relatively warm.  Even thought it was crowded and cold, it was absolutely gorgeous,
too beautiful to capture in the pictures.
When we got to the upper falls, we still had some energy, so we headed farther
up the trail.  We got to a clearing with a fantastic view of the surrounding
mountains (and the rain clouds that haunt us.)  
On the way home, we stopped and took a picture of the Bow River.  The river is
colored by "rock flour" which is basically rock, ground into powder by the glaciers,
then deposited in the water.  This rock flour reflects light differently, which is why
the river has such an amazing turquoise color.  
On Sunday, 9-4, the A.M. temp. in the RV was only 50 degrees, it seems to be
going in the wrong direction.  The park we're staying in has cleared out every
morning.  People pull in around 5:00 PM, but no one is here the next morning when
we finally get out from under the warm covers.  I assume they're too cold and head
for the full hook-up sites.  Some of the poor campers are actually camping in a
TENT!!  I'm all for tent camping, but not when it rains every afternoon, and only gets
up to 50 degrees by 10:00 AM, I don't know how they do it.  So, Sunday, still frozen
from sleeping up here in the Canadian Tundra, we decided the only thing we could
do was go to the Banff Hot Springs.  Too much money for entry fees, but we were
cold, so we paid them anyway.  The water was 104 degrees, and even though the
pool was outside, we quickly got warmed up.  We stayed for several hours until we
were thawed all the way through.  The warmth didn't last long though.  Even through
all those layers of clothes, the motorcycle ride sucked all the heat out of us.  
It doesn't seem right to be in a place that is so beautiful, and not be able to fully
enjoy it for the cold.   These Canadians are a lot tougher than I am.

Well, that must have done it.  I wrote that sentence, and the weather decided I had
had enough, and let the sun come out.  We suspected it was a trick, but fell for it
anyway.  We headed out on a hike.  Saw beautiful mountains, with those familiar
looking rain clouds hanging over them.  
Richard says this would be a beautiful place to visit in the summer, if they
ever had one.
This morning as we were leaving, we drove past the lake and there were
actually people getting ready to go scuba diving.  We won't even go out in
our boats because they aren't exactly dry, these people were going scuba
diving.  Again, these Canadians are a lot tougher than I am.
You might notice that at the Balzac Gas Station, Saddle Shop, Tourist
Info Place, Post Office, Diner, gas is going for $1.129, and you
probably think that's awfully cheap.  However, that is Canadian money,
which means it's $0.954.  Oh, now you're really jealous right, well it's
US $0.954 per LITER, not per gallon, and since there are 3.7854 liters
in a gallon, we're paying $3.61 per gallon up here!!  Not so jealous now
are you?