I’m a big fan of the old (is 80/90s old?) comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. When Bill Watterson was still writing, I read every strip and bought every book. One of my favorite strips was a Sunday color version featuring Calvin and Hobbes having a chat. The only problem is that throughout the piece, Hobbes was totally distracted by saying the word ‘smock.’ Smock, smock, smock, smock. That’s what I feel like whenever I hear Banff, and that’s how I was first introduced to this popular Canadian vacation destination, through its unusual name. Banff, Banff, Banff, Banff.
And so, after years of pining about this mysterious spot on the Canadian map, I will finally visit this strange sounding town. Tomorrow we arrive in Calgary, home to the 1988 Winter Olympics, before making the short drive to Banff. Banff, Banff, Banff. We have some things planned, but there are still plenty of open time slots, and I would love to hear your suggestions.
Now, I’m not a skier, not at all. I spent much of my childhood in Northeastern Pennsylvania, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to ski, but it’s just never worked out. The last time I tried shushing down the slopes like a young Jean-Claude Killy, I started off by getting hit in the head by the ski lift and was then quickly whisked away to the first aid hut. I’m still not sure how I managed to get hit in the head, but I had the lump to prove it. I wasn’t done yet though, after suffering through the smirks and arrows of derision from the medical staff, I took my junior Loper self over to the Bunny Slope and promptly fell. And fell, and fell, and fell, until I was rolling downhill, bawling from frustration and pain as toddlers whisked by feeling sorry for the lump of snow pants and mittens I had become. I took that day as a sign from the gods and have never again attempted to throw myself down a mountain wearing two planks of wood.
That’s why I’m looking forward to Banff, there’s plenty to do for non-skiers like me and I’ll be so occupied with other pursuits, the lack of skiing prowess won’t bother me at all. Banff, Banff, Banff.
Our home base for the long weekend will be the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, what appears to be a gorgeous mountain lodge/chalet/apres ski haven. We arrive at an obscene hour, so Friday will be spent sleeping and slowly exploring this great mountain town before our first activity that evening, snow tubing at Mt Norquay. I may not be able to ski, but I can sit fairly well and am really looking forward to this grown-up version of sledding.
Saturday will be spent exploring some of the natural beauty of the Banff/Lake Louise area. Specifically, we plan on trying to ice walk at Johnston Canyon. This is one of the most popular tours run by Discover Banff Tours, and this video shows why. As long as the weather holds, it should be a great way to enjoy the area in a more personal way and see firsthand what makes it so special.
As the owners of two huskies, dog sledding was always at the top of our to-do list and on Sunday we’ll finally get the chance to go mushing for the first time. I cannot wait to meet the dogs and spend time with them as they do what they truly enjoy, pulling. From many walks-gone-bad, I can attest to the almost primal instinct Huskies have to pull and I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the best pups at work.
Also while we’re there, the Winter Adventure Festival is going on, great timing for us. The Festival features the best of outdoor winter activities, allowing visitors to try some of the extreme activities for themselves. While the ice climbing looks nice, I’m not going to miss the Intro to Curling lesson. Game on! Finally, a way I can get into the Olympics.
And that’s what I have planned so far for Banff, Banff, Banff. Would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for other activities and most importantly, where to eat! I’ll update as I can from the great snowy north and hope you’ll follow along on the non-skiing adventure. On Twitter, get real time updates by following the #RealBanff hashtag.