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-   -   Alberta Trip report (https://www.fodors.com/community/canada/alberta-trip-report-627143/)

njs Jun 28th, 2006 12:38 PM

Alberta Trip report
 
First of all,
Thanks to Judy, Bob and others for all the replies for our trip preparations. The advice and directions were perfect. We made some major mistakes in planning though.

Day 1
Landed in Calgary in the afternoon and visited crescent road for a view of skyline and the river. Later drove to downtown and parked in city center parkade.
Got lost and was not able to cross over to 8 ave to get to the Devonian gardens. Took some time and guidance from others to use the plus15 system. Finally got to the TD square. Then we thought we should take the elevator to the 4th floor. So we took the elevator. The elevator had no button for 4th floor. Just 5,6,7,8. So we thought we would go to 5th floor and come down the stairs to the fourth. Crazy decision! Once we got out on the stair case of fifth floor, we could not enter the 4th floor! We had to come down all the way and then take the escalators.
Finally we were able to spend time in devonian gardens. Later we walked to Calgary Tower and went up for a nice view in the rain. Stayed at Holiday Inn.

Day 2.
Started drive towards Banff in the morning 8am. Went straight for the cascade ponds-minnewanka loop and vermillon lakes. Had lunch and then went on the bow valley parkway. Stopped at various points. Amazing views. Late in the evening we stopped at Lake Louise for a view of it in clouds and slight rain. Returned to Canmore for night.
Stayed at Rocky mtn ski lodge.

Day 3
Drove straight to Lake Loiuse and lake Moraine for morning sunny view. From there went to see the Takkakaw falls and Emerald lake. Later we came back to Banff to explore the town and see the Hoodoos and completed the sulphur mountain ride in sunset. Stayed at Rocky mtn ski lodge.

Day 4
Icefields parkway was the best. Peyto lake and the columbus fields ride were amazing. Drank glacier water. Stopped at several intermediate lake viewpoints...herbert/hector/waterfowl/horseshoe, etc and also saw athabasca and tangle falls. Stayed at craystons.

Day 5
Took the Whistler mountain ride early morning and enjoyed the views.
Went to mount edith cavell and did the hike. The views were fabulous. We saw an avalanche there. I guess it was due to the high temperatures. It kept happening again and again several times. It makes a lot of noise too. Then we drove along 93A and stopped for several views along the rivers. Later we drove along the Maligne lake road. Saw Medicine lake and took the evening ride on Maligne lake cruises. After that we hiked the Maligne Canyon. Later drove back to Jasper and saw sunset over couple of lakes within Jasper...Pyramid/patricia.
Stayed at craystons.

Day 6
We drove up to jasper lake and explored the lakes Beavert/edith/annette/jasper. Then we started our drive back. On the way back we stopped at those places which we had not seen on our way up to Jasper like Mistaya Canyon, etc. Stayed at airport hampton inn.

Day 7:
Flew back from Calgary to US.

Should have allotted another day to make it a more comfortable trip. But still it was our best vacation to date. Canadian people were very helpful everywhere we went and the food was nice.

SallyCanuck Jun 28th, 2006 02:28 PM

Thanks for the report!

Judy_in_Calgary Jun 28th, 2006 06:22 PM

Thanks for the trip report, njs.

It seems to me that you made good use of your allotted time. I cannot think of many ways in which you could have used your time more effectively.

I think it would have been more efficient to be based in Lake Louise than in Canmore. On the other hand, accommodation in Lake Louise tends to be less affordable than accommodation in Canmore. So, if that was a consideration, Canmore probably was the right choice for you.

I read your trip report just before shutting down my office computer for the evening and walking across downtown to meet my husband to drive home. It happens that my walk takes me past TD Square. I was so mystified by your dilemma with the elevator that leads to the Devonian Gardens that I popped in to check it.

There are two elevators that lead to the Devonian Gardens, one towards the southwest end of the building and the other towards the northeast end of the building.

I caught the SW elevator to the gardens. Inside the elevator were 4 buttons marked : 1, 2, 3 and P. The one that was marked P had a stainless steel plate screwed into the elevator wall immediately above it, and it said DEVONIAN GARDENS.

I went back down to ground level and checked the NE elevator. It had the same buttons : 1, 2, 3 and P with a metal plate engraved with DEVONIAN GARDENS immediately above the P.

I don't know which elevator you caught. The only thing I can think of is that you may have caught an elevator that led to one of the two office towers that rise out of TD Square, the Dome Tower or the Home Oil Building.

In thinking some more about it, I believe that, although the elevators that lead to the Devonian Gardens are labelled to that effect, the signs would benefit from being more prominent than they are.

The owners of TD Square will be receiving a letter from me. They will join the City of Calgary that has received two letters from me, one suggesting that there be a sign post pointing to Banff as motorists leave the airport complex and another suggesting that trains be labelled not only according to their destination station but also as to whether they are travelling south, northwest or northeast.

It is devoutly to be hoped that the owners of TD Square will be more receptive to my suggestion than the City of Calgary was. I have not heard back from the City regarding the sign post pointing to Banff. As to the matter of the destination label on trains, an employee of the Transportation Department told me that maps were posted at the train stations, and prospective passengers should study the maps to figure out which train they need to catch. Gag me with a spoon! :[email protected]

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Cruiseryyc Jun 29th, 2006 04:51 AM

Judy there's an old saying "you can't fight City Hall" !! :)

njs Jun 29th, 2006 05:03 AM

The problem with the elevator needs more explanation... After we got out of the 5th floor into the staircase to get to the 4th floor, we found that the 4th floor door would not open. Fine, so we went back to the 5th floor to take the elevator back down. But the 5th floor door would not open either. It only opens from inside. So we were trapped in the stairwell. Being pregnant and all, it was not easy to come down from the 5th floor by staircase. I just wanted others to know about this so that they would not make the same mistake.

njs Jun 29th, 2006 08:59 AM

After seeing our stunning pictures, there are atleast 5-6 colleagues planning a trip to the rockies... I am going to refer all of them to Judy & fodors

:-)

For us, it will be tough to get another destination that will be atleast as attractive as rockies... Not sure where. Maybe NewZealand. Too far($$$$). :-(

saltymuffin Jun 29th, 2006 11:31 AM

njs,

You say you "made some major mistakes in planning". What do you mean by this? It sounds like it all went really well! Of course another day is always nice, but I don't see any "major mistakes".

Judy,

I applaud you on your pro-active work on contacting city hall!

I would love it if the stupid trains said Northeast, northwest or south. As someone who doesn't take the train daily, it would be a real help. With the construction of new stations, you always have to check and make sure you are getting on the right train - and you don't want to be doing that when a train is about to leave.

My comment for the city is the relatively poor signage at 7th ave. It isn't 100% clear that this road is not open to traffic. There are generally just signs indicating to go straight, but no "no turns" signs. If you don't know the city, it isn't hard to get confused and turn onto this street and find yourself trapped in front of a train.

visormom Jun 29th, 2006 11:48 AM

NJS~~~I enjoyed every morsel of your trip report. I am taking the same trip in mid July, so I am printing your comments and storing in the travel bag. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten the followers....I can't wait....especially as I sweat through a hot Texas summer...ugh!!!

njs Jun 30th, 2006 06:21 AM

Mistakes:
1. I should have spent more time planning for calgary downtown plus 15 system and parking. Though I took the parking lot directions we got lost trying to fing the TD square after parking and in the end it became very tiring after the elevator trap.

2. Timing: Being 5 months pregnant I was getting tired easily and would find it very difficult to get up early and stay late. The key in the rockies is that you need to be at the lakes either around sunset or come during the sunrise. That is the time you will see perfect mirror images of amazing sceneries and mountains will also be colored different. Not that we did not get decent reflections at 9 am. But we could only be at one place at 9 am. Once it is 10 am, almost all lakes lose their reflectiveness and it does not return until 8:30-9 pm(1 hour before/after sunrise/sunset). So what do you do during the day? If I knew this fact before I left, I would have planned better. This fact about reflectiveness is true about 90% of the lakes. Some lakes are so well sheltered by mountains that there is no wind and anytime is good time for photography. Canyons and some other places look better when it is overcast. In general the pictures that we captured early in the morning and late in the evening are just amazing. Others are ok. Not great.


3. Hikes: Some hikes are quick and easy and flat. Some are very steep. Easy one way and very tiring the other way. And it can easily take upto 2 hours at one place. So if I had found out more info about each of them it would have been helpful. Sunwapta/athabasca/maligne/mistaya/Paintpots/edithcavell and so on)

4. Dont underestimate the drive time. There is some construction going on on transcanada Hwy & also in Calgary which delays everything. In the end we did not get to spend much time at a few spots because "oh its 6 pm already, and we still need to do this, that and that". So instead of being a relaxing trip, on several occasions it was just scrambling from one place to other. We should have skipped some attractions. But we did not know what to skip, without first being there. And what can I say about animal sightings and cars. Traffic would just stop on Hwys. So you need to factor in all delays ...food, animals, construction, hiking, weather, etc.

There was no problem with restrooms and food ever, though. On one day in Jasper, we even packed lunch and had it at the picnic area at "2 river meeting point".

emmap Aug 16th, 2006 07:05 AM

njs can you say what you thought of Crayston's as we will be staying there for a few days in September.
Thanks
Emma


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