They’re not for the weak, cowardly or chickens. You gotta love heights and I mean truly love heights and also corners. You have to love a lot of corners, corners that are on crazy high mountains. That is the way it is driving through the mountains. The scenery is fantastic, if you’re brave enough to take your eyes off the road and look out the window, and then look down or up. Yes, there are runaway lanes for trucks who lose their brakes and can’t stop going down these hills but the runaway lanes look just as scary to me. We did see one truck with its brakes on fire. Then, if that wasn’t enough, there are tunnels, and if you forget to take off your sunglasses as you drive into these tunnels, you’re blinded and can drive right into the wall.
It is very reassuring to read the signs along the highways. They either say, “Entering Avalanche area” or “End of Avalanche area” or “Landslide area. No stopping” or “End of Landslide area”. Sheesh. And then when you stop at one of the many rest areas (thank God for those), the signs remind you not to hike on the trails unless you are in a group of four and have bear repellent. Really? There’s repellent for grizzly bears? I don’t want to be the one to find out if it works.
Absolutely amazing, is the first sight of the mountains, as you leave Calgary and head toward Banff National Park. You feel so very tiny, the closer that you get to them. And soft, you feel soft and squishy compared to that hard rock that’s been there for eons.
So with your ears popping and everyone yelling at each other in the car, you reach the most beautiful little town tucked into the slopes. The town of Banff is my new favourite place. It will be the place in my head that I will go to when I need a two-minute vacation. We spent a night in a resort and went up the gondola to the restaurant at the top and then walked a hundred stairs to the top of the peak where we could look out at scary mountains all around. I bought a t-shirt that says “Made it to the Top”. Yep, I’m proud of myself. I couldn’t look out the gondola window on the way up but I did do it! At Hell’s Gate where you take a small gondola down a mountain and over the Fraser River, I just watched and waited while my family enjoyed that ride.
Our raft trip down a river at Banff was a big highlight for me. It was peaceful and quiet and serene. No it wasn’t white water rafting, I think it was level one or two. But so worth it.
After driving through a day of prairies, driving in the mountains was a complete and drastic change. What a wonderful country we live in!