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Mike and Adele Explore the Rockies - 2003

Part 2: Banff

You know you are in Canada when the first thing you see is a real-life Mountie.

Mountie
A real Mountie.  You don't want to get a ticket from these guys, though.  Fines are given "at the officer's discretion"...

Banff is the home of Canada's first National Park.  It gained much fame after the Canadian Pacific railroad established a rail line through the area and built the luxurious Banff Springs Hotel (no, we didn't stay there - I am just a poor webmaster...)

Banff Springs Resort
The Banff Springs Resort.  Very nice.  Too expensive for us.

One of the things that helped establish Banff as a national park is the Banff Hot Springs.  Some guys were hiking in the 1800s and discovered a cave made from a hot sulfur spring.  Since hot baths were hard to come by in the frozen Canadian mountains, they established a bath house.  The Canadian government acquired the land and established a national park and built a pool at the site of the cave.  Called the "Cave and Basin," it was a major attraction throughout the 20th Century as its waters were claimed to possess therapeutic powers.

Basin Baths
The Cave and Basin Baths.

Hot Springs Cave
The Cave.  It's smaller than it looks.  (That will be the last time you will hear that in this story.)

Recently, though, scientists discovered that there is a small snail that only lives in the cave and basin.  As a result, no one can go into the water here any more.  But, even if it wasn't for snail, there is another problem:  it's a SULFUR spring - it smells like rotten eggs!

Stinky sulfur water
What stinks?  Oh, yeah, it's the rotten egg water...

When we first arrived in Banff, it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  Adele was worried that our hotel may not have air conditioning...

View from downtown on sunny day
The view from in front of our hotel on Day One (the warm day).

Luckily, they did, but she should have been more concerned about the heater...

View from downtown on last day with snow
The view from in front of our hotel on the last day.  Note all the snow!

In the center of Banff are the famous Bow Falls.  These are much more impressive than the pictures can convey.

Bow Falls
These falls are huge!

We also took a trip up to the top of Sulphur Mountain in a gondola on the first day of summer.

Banff as viewed from above
Banff from above.

Banff Springs Golf Course
The famous Banff Springs Golf Course.

Top of the Gondola
The top of the gondola ride, taken moments before the blizzard arrived...

Snow on Sulphur Mountain
The snow starts.  This is the weather station atop Sulphur Mountain.

Adele in the snow
Adele loves it when it snows on the first day of summer.  She wanted to vacation some place cool.  Welcome to summer in Banff!

And one of the things we saw in town is the famous "Banff Hoodoos" - these are limestone structures that have eroded away, but they have heavy boulders on them that keep them from eroding completely.  Or something like that.  Ask a geologist...

Banff Hoodoos
The Banff Hoodoos... Who dat who say hoodoo?  Voodoo?  Woohoo!  (Sorry.)

Big rock
I always thought this mountain looked like the "Get a piece of the rock" mountain from the Prudential commercials...

The foothills look like green velvet
Adele loved this mountain and how the foothills looked like green velvet.

Continue on to Part 3: Bow Valley Parkway