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Weekend Getaway in Banff, Alberta, Canada

With Kyle’s last days off + birthday weekend and a long weekend for me in Williston, we decided to go somewhere… but where to? We were located in Williston, North Dakota literally the middle of fucking nowhere. There is nothing around us except flat, ugly ass oil and gas towns. Although it would be a LONG 10 hours drive, we decided to go to Alberta, Canada to visit our friend Morgan from Mississippi Training and go sight see beautiful Banff National Park. We started out early morning towards Alberta and our drive was nice. Even though there was not much to see throughout the whole province of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada, Kyle and I had a long heart to heart 10-hour discussion while listening to the EDM playlist on my USB. We finally made it late night to Morgan’s family cabin. It was remarkable! I remember Morgan mentioning building a cabin with his family, but I did not expect it to be this nice! I cannot believe Morgan and his family built this ranch by hand! They had prepared us a nice salmon and steak dinner with wine and beer, such a beautiful home and welcoming family J.  Thank you Buswells! Early next morning we headed out for our 1-hour drive to Banff. Even at the foothills of the mountains, you can see how majestic Banff is. We were all eager to go in and see it from the top! We headed straight to the cable cars (about 36USD to ride up to the top). The view from up here was magnificent. The majestic blue and purple mountains, pasty blue waters from Lake Louise winding through the little ski villages at the bottom, greenery galore… You can really lose track of time and easily spend 2-3 hours just soaking in the beauty of the park. Although it was only October, there was snow and ice already all over the walking path. Make sure to wear right shoes… Of course Kyle, famous for flip flops for no matter what occasion, was slipping and sliding with his damn flip flops walking on the ice… how his toes don’t freeze off, I will never know.

After the cable cars, we headed out to Lake Louise. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the The Farimount Chateau right next to the lake. There is an amazing view of the lake from this restaurant but you definitely pay for it with the prices they charge for lunch. I tried a Bloody Caesar for the first time. It is the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato juice. Very spicy and tasty… the spice and garlic in the drink was perfect to kick my cold’s ass!

After lunch, we kayaked the unbelievably blue waters of the lake (costs about 30USD/hour). Sometimes it’s nice to be traveling with men all the time, because I don’t have to do any work :). I just pretended to paddle, while I took pictures, enjoyed the view, and the ride. Thanks guys! ;-) If you want to kayak, keep in mind that you WILL get wet, no matter how hard you try not to. My butt was completely soaked in the freezing cold, so bring a change of clothes if you do not want to be wet and cold afterwards.

We had a nice dinner at Le Beaujolais, this cute little French Bistro. Also within the pricier range, but was very tasty! We were planning a night out in the town after dinner, but with our hostel (HI-Banff Hostel) about a 30 minute walk entirely downhill from the main village and in freezing cold temperatures, we decided to try out the party in the basement bar at our hostel (can’t even fathom the terrible 30 minute walk uphill drunk). It was surprisingly packed and they had cheap prices for drinks, so we ended up spending the whole night there. We had a grand drunken time making ugly faces, picking noses, and singing karaoke. I even got the courage (liquid courage) to go up and sing a Rihanna song. Kyle was my biggest fan seriously right in the front singing along and screaming for me. I have never seen Kyle so into Rihanna before (and boy is he a fan of Rihanna). Thanks Kyle!

The next morning we had planned a nice drunken horse ride through the park, but since we were all feeling pretty terrible the next day, we had a VERY slow horse ride through the woods. It cost about 55USD for a 1.5-2 hour ride through the woods and across the river, and shortly stopping at a few famous viewpoints in the park. I swear my horse hated me and would purposely steer me into the low branches so that I would smash my face into the pine branches… I would literally have to smash my face into the branch or try to bend backwards like I am playing limbo… but I would still end up smashing my face into the trees. Thanks horse…

Since we didn’t have much time to explore the stunning places we passed by on horse, we decided to drive to a few spots we saw earlier to explore a bit more. We went back to Mirror Lake and took the trail down soaking in the surroundings and taking pictures. The scenery and nature of Banff is so picturesque that it makes it easier for even the amateur photographer (like me) to take stunning photos.

We then went for a relaxing dip in the Sulfur pool before dinner and a night out in town for Kyle’s birthday.  The sulfur pool is not as cool as I thought it would be. I thought it would be similar to Barton Springs in Austin, where the pool is made from the original rocks and surroundings. Nope, it was literally a hot pool like a hot tub at the public pool. You can rent towels, swimsuits, and robes for a small amount (about 5-10USD).

For Kyle’s birthday dinner, we had reservations at The Maple Leaf. We had a nice foncy dinner. Again, it was pricey (about the 40-50USD range), but very delicious. No matter where you go in Banff Village, it will cost you! We started our night at Hoodoo Lounge, an underground bar with a strange mix of people. It wasn’t too crowded (actually empty when we first got there), but the drink prices were decent and there was no cover. The dance floor was where it was at! We busted out the “churn the butter” dance, the ROPERS hand, drop it like it’s hot booty drop, and random crazy dance moves. We ended our night at the Dancing Sasquatch. Cover was about 25 USD. I usually hate paying for cover when I go out, but I thought it was worth it! The place was like an upscale cabin blaring EDM and the crowd was fun and wild. We met chubby Morgan and danced the rest of the night away.

I actually came to Banff as a baby, but to see this place again as an adult was priceless. Words cannot express the splendor of Banff. Although it took us 11-12 hours of driving to get here, it was completely worth it. Just to be able to see the majestic snow capped mountains, the turquoise blue waters of the rivers and lakes, the never-ending reflections of the vast blue sky… simply Wow! And to spend this time with two great friends just made it the cherry on top. I am seriously SO blessed to have a job that allows me to always be surrounded by good friends and good vibes… I am forever grateful. I hope Kyle had a great birthday weekend trip to Banff, because I sure did!

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