Going to the Canadian Rocky Mountains during the wintertime has always been a bucket list item of mine. And when I heard that all parks would have free admissions for 2017 because of Canada’s 150th anniversary and combined with a free schedule, I figured I might as well go now!
One of the main things I’ve noticed about Canada so far is just how NICE everyone is here. Javier and I met a nice guy named Scott at Euphoria Cafe today, which was our first stop upon leaving the rental car facility at Calgary International Airport. At this point it was 1pm and since we had been awake for 10 hours at this point without a solid meal, we were in definite need of a quick lunch and some much-needed coffee. Scott recommended his favorite drink, which was the Hawaiian Islander and it was the perfect little pick-me-up I needed that would get me through the 2-hour drive from Calgary to the Rocky Mountains!! It was sweet but overly sweet. My kind of coffee. I decided to get a warmed up turkey Cesar wrap for lunch since I figured it would be easy to eat in the car. Javier got the Turkey Cesar Panini and it was exactly what we both needed! We also decided to treat ourselves to a chocolate chip cookie and a homemade banana chocolate chip bread and they were both heavenly.
Euphoria gives cute little sleeves on their coffee cups and I thought the quote listed on mine set the tone and mood of our adventure. Rocky Mountains, here we come!
During this (winter) time of year, I learned that Canada has limited hours of daylight. Over the weekend, the sun typically rose around 8:30-8:45am and it set at 5pm. Since it was 2pm by the time we left Calgary, Javier and I decided it would be smart to drive straight to our first park of the trip to maximize time, which was Kootenay National Park! This whole time I was under the impression the name was pronounced as Koo-Te-Nay, but I learned from our Airbnb host that it is actually pronounced as Koo-Te-Knee.
Since we didn’t have time to go to our Airbnb to change into hiking clothes, we were wearing the clothes we traveled in (aka: jeans) and just changed into some hiking boots for the snow. We also layered up and added gloves, hats, jackets, and scarves to brave the cold weather. Our original goal was to see Vermilion River, which looked absolutely beautiful in pictures. Once we stepped out of the car and began our walk, the wind cut right through us and it was simultaneously the longest and most beautiful 30 minute walk of our lives. After walking through a bunch of trees, we came to a part of the trail where it stopped being paved because of all the snow that covered the area and we got to an area where it looked a bit sketchy and just dropped off to the river itself so we decided not to go any further. On the bright side, we got to see Vermilion River! On the downside, it wasn’t at the photo spot we initially wanted. But better safe than sorry.
Once we were back in town, Javier and I had dinner at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. which had, hands down, the best homemade chicken noodle soup and house macaroni and cheese with bacon. It was so good that Javier and I came back the next night and had dinner there and ordered the same exact thing!
After full bellies and a full day of travel, we were more than ready to go back to our Airbnb to relax and catch up on some sleep because we had a full day of exploring through Banff on our agenda the following day!