I left Vancouver on Wednesday. I repeat this statement like a mantra because I have long since forgotten what day it is.
My travel companion and I left Vancouver on Wednesday and drove approximately 5 hours to Salmon Arm. The next day, we made our way towards Lake Louise, which I had never seen before. Now, on my way to Vancouver for Fringe, we came from Jasper and the road through the Rockies was nice, but ZOMG the road towards Lake Louise and Banff was nothing short of spectacular!
And what's the point of a road trip if you can't make it special? I booked a room at the Fairmont Hotel in Lake Louise and I was super excited at spending the night there, especially since it was right next to the lake. I had booked the smallest and cheapest room they had available, but I didn't care... until I walked in. Now, I've stayed at a few Fairmonts in the past and it's always been a great experience, but this room was just bad. There was some kind of ink stain on the comforter, trash that had probably fallen out of the can when it was emptied but never picked up, hair around the toilet bowl, a grape under the bed and a coffee stain on the table. I called down, received an apology and told someone would be up "right away" so we stood in a corner not wanting to touch anything and waited... and waited... 20 minutes went by and no one showed up. We finally grabbed our things and headed downstairs. Now, I know I had reason to complain but I still felt bad. Fortunately, I was rescued by Super Geoff who immediately jumped into action. He apologized profusely and told me that I had no reason to feel bad because "every room should be perfect every time." He then personally escorted us to a new room. And what a room it was! I almost cried when I walked in because it was so beautiful. Not to mention bigger than most apartments I've stayed in. And the view!
I wasn't in any hurry to leave the next day, but leave we must since the room was booked for someone else that night. We stopped for lunch in Banff and finally checked out the Theatre Centre that I had heard so much about. Then we kept going to Canmore and stopped in an art gallery. Now, I like Banff, but I don't love it. I've been there a few times now and it always feels so busy and commercialized. But Canmore was different. It was everything I had always thought Banff would be: this beautiful small town surrounded by mountains and with an incredibly artsy vibe. I really want to go back there someday. And finally, we ended the day in Calgary where I was hosted by some great new friends, offered a fabulous home-cooked meal and given plenty of wine and board game entertainment.
The next day, I was to drive my companion to Lethbridge, but there was one place I just NEEDED to see first. Ever since I knew I would be heading to Alberta this past summer, there was one place I really wanted to visit: the Dinosaur Museum (aka the Royal Tyrell Museum) in Drumheller. And since seeing Kira Hall's maddeningly gorgeous Paleoncology on tour, that desire has only gotten stronger. Now, we simply didn't have the time to stop on my first drive through the province but I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity again. So my friend indulged me as I unleashed my inner SQUEEEE at the sight of all the dinosaur bones and introduced me to another gorgeous piece of Canadian topography I had no idea existed: the Badlands.
It was like being on another planet! Oh and speaking of other planets, the detour to Drumheller on the way to Lethbridge also let me indulge some more in my inner nerd:
Finally we arrived in Lethbridge and I was disappointed to find out I had just missed the wonderful Julia Mackey and Dirk Van Stralen of Jake's Gift. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, I said goodbye to my friend and carried on my way East. Now finally alone for the first time in a long time, I felt a strong sadness come over me. It hit me that the tour, this amazing adventure that's taken up a whole year of my life, was over. Yes, the logical part of me knows that this is just a chapter coming to an end, but still...
I drove almost seven hours straight all the way to Regina. Maybe it was due to the scenery that barely changed or maybe it was the copious amounts of podcasts I have been listening to but time just flew right by. I was greeted here by an old elementary school friend I hadn't seen in almost twenty (20!) years and grateful for the invite to her beautiful home.
Now I write this as I'm getting ready for bed, wondering if tomorrow I should stop for the night in Winnipeg or keep on driving all the way to Kenora.
I'm hoping to be back in Ottawa by Thursday.
I left Vancouver on Wednesday.