Ski jump tower- view from top of zipline!
7.7.08 Olympic Park to Banff
I stayed up late last night researching online for our adventures today. The kids said last summer that such nighttime research produces more fun the following day and we had a zinger today!
First, we traversed Calgary east to west on Canada 1.
That would be the Trans-Canada Highway. The highway that goes 35 miles per hour through a business district complete with lights every 20 feet, none of them timed for progression. Very interesting. Also there were very few side streets, in fact none, which could be used for a detour. Fortunately, Sallie the GPS showed this before I attempted to find detours on my own. So patience prevailed and we were through it. No worries.
Eurobungie flipper Lia
Canada Olympic Park,the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, is just outside of Calgary and was a blast! Jazy went ziplining down the ski jump! http://www.canadaolympicpark.ca/Home/Activities.asp#Ski_Jump_Tower_Elevation I told her that if she was brave enough to do it, Dad would pay for it. J Look at the picture that shows the view from the top! Lia and I paid to ride up later to the observation tower and got to see some other victims, I mean, zippers head down the hill.
That 90-meter jump is something to behold. Jazy thought it was great fun and not as scary as she’d anticipated.
Jazy enjoyed her zipline
Did you know that they no longer use the Calgary facility for 90-meter ski jump for competitions? Since 1988 Olympics, the techniques and equipment have improved so vastly that the run is too short now!
Lia and Charles got to Euro-bungie, which was similar to their Breckenridge experience, and Lia zipped up and down the rock wall 4 times without much apparent effort. Although as a parent, I shiver at the thought, she would be a terrific rock-climber with her strength and agility and Jazy wants to skydive. Perhaps I shouldn’t encourage these activities.
The Olympic Hall of Fame was also entertaining with a movie and a personalized talk (we were the only ones there), and we all took pictures holding the actual Olympic torch, which is kept under a locked glass case until picture time.
Banff township info center
Also, they had the awards podium just outside - kids' fierce negotiations resulted in them each having pictures at every medal level. We also liked slaloming on the interactive ski game machine and testing our hockey stroke speeds.
The actual bobsled from the famous Jamaican team (Disney’s “Cool Runnings” movie) and the "Hidy and Howdy" bear mascot suits were there on display.
Then a bunch of fun kids on a scavenger hunt from the summer camp joined us. They were very intelligent, entertaining, and seemed to be having a terrific time. We could have spent much more time in the Hall of Fame- much to see.
The luge center was scheduled to open today (Monday) for rides, but unfortunately had a problem with ice -Charles was very disappointed that he couldn’t go down it (it’s expected to open Weds).
There are many more fun activities there (mountain biking, rolling down a hill in a giant ball, etc) but I’ll let you enjoy it on their website.
Ciao parked in Banff
Hours later, we finally headed for Banff, out-dashing a vicious thunderstorm that was headed for Calgary. It was a short drive of just over an hour when the Highway 1 came to a stop at the entrance to Banff National Park!
The Ranger advised us to try a park campground with 618 sites! They have 13 campgrounds here! No worries on finding a spot in this lovely, dry campground of Tunnel Mountain.
We decided to drive Ciao into Banff, the township, and risk finding parking - we found a terrific parallel parking site with no parking behind us (important escape route).
Charles’ pizza-by-the-slice place and our sushi restaurant were on that same street, side-by-side! Awesome!
Sushi restaurant on Caribou St. off Banff Ave
The sushi place was special because a Northern Pacific model train chugged around a U-shaped table that seated about 20 people, the chef stood in the middle, and the food rode on the train on little colored plates. Each plate color indicated price. You just pulled the plate you wanted off the train as it came around. They count your plates of each color to calculate your bill.
Lia missed the train for her first choice, but the chef heard her and pulled it for her. She said, “Thank you!” and proceeded to take just one sushi piece off the plate as he held it! Haha! I snagged the entire plate for her - she caught on. (It reminded me of the time Jazy was little and poked her finger into the cheesecake piece on a waitress’ dessert display tray.
) Cool place and a great experience!
Banff township shops
We got to try different sushi, request items from the placemat menu, chat with the chef, and try “green tea ice cream”.
Afterward, we walked the town of Banff, buying postcards with pre-paid international postage and fudge and watching a Grizzlies in Banff movie at the Visitor’s Center (standing-room only). We saw a pay phone and I gave the kids the Canadian calling card with a “Good luck!” I was so surprised and impressed when I heard them talking with Ned! These are the international skills that I want them to learn from this trip.
“No worries” and “quiet” summarize our favorable day’s impressions of Canadians. First, rather than the “no problem” response we frequently hear in the U.S., many Canadians say, “no worries” as a response to “thanks” or an apology. I love it.
Charles is less enamored and has a whole comedy routine on his response that comment. He apparently DOES have some worries.
Banff township church
Also, the Canadians around us are quiet. When you’re on the street, you can hear no other conversations. At the Stampede, hardly anyone talked to the people they were with ��" it was strange for us. There were all these people and yet very little sound.
Tonight, we’re in a campground that obviously has quite a few people around (although these sites are acres compared to our Calgary RV Park- think “squashed”). Anyway, we opened the windows to listen… not a peep even though we’re surrounded by tents with no sound-proofing. Fascinating! I decided not to rev up the generator to use the hairdryer tonight.
Here’s another example: to blend in when travelling and avoid “obnoxious American” behavior, I was talking only as loudly as necessary to the woman in the gift shop regarding postcard mailing options.
We were almost whispering even though the place was completely overrun with people, but no noise- they just are very quiet and don’t talk much. Very difficult for this rambunctious Texan, to be sure! We’ll just spread quiet joy wherever we roam. I must say that it is quite peaceful. J
Lia talks with Dad
Let’s talk about Banff and the Canadian Rockies. Can you say, AMAZING?! These are enormous mountains that ring clear lakes, which are bright turquoise from the glacier particles that suspend in the water. Our elevation is only about 1300 feet and these monster mountains are so tall that they’re difficult to frame in the camera. The weather is cool enough to wear a fleece over our shorts and t-shirts.
The town of Banff, which has grown up as a resort/spa town during the hundred years since the railroad arrived, is delicious.
It is beautiful, quaint, clean, and perfect in every way. It is like Vail, but without the rolling hills, and the buildings here seem limited to 2-stories high. There are pots of blooming flowers everywhere and activities like rafting, horseback riding, etc. This is the type of place in which to honeymoon. It is not very big and yet not overrun with people, but it has plenty of energy, delightful restaurants and shops.
Also, Banff Township is the first (maybe only?) town to be fully incorporated (rather recently) within a national park. Banff is Canada’s first national park, as Yellowstone is for America. There are six national parks (Banff, Jasper, Yoho, etc) in a group that is considered part of ��" drum roll… a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Hooray- check another one off on our scavenger hunt for the best of the best!
We’ve just 10 days before we’re due in Inuvik for Charles’ birthday, with many miles to go.
I wish we had more time here, but we’re headed to Lake Louise tomorrow, then up to Jasper for the night, stopping to see the sights along every part of this beautiful park system. It is lucky for us that sunset is not until 10pm! If only we could arise at 5am sunrise. J
Holding the torch!