Rocky Mountaineer

Lake Louise, July 26–27, 2010

When I was 15 my aunt Anne Lee took a trip out west. When I saw her slides of Lake Louise, I decided that some day I would visit there. This was long before someone coined the term "bucket list." Forty-eight years later, and almost 40 years after her death, there I was.

When I signed up for the trip, I chose the least expensive hotel option. I told the agent that I wanted to buy an upgrade at Lake Louise, but he said I didn't need to: "Everybody stays at the Château." So at the end of the ice fields tour we were delivered to the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, where we would stay until 1 pm the next day. The terrace beside the hotel leads right up to the lake.

My room was spacious and comfortable, but not the fanciest place I've stayed. It was on the side with a view of the mountains. The bathroom was huge, with a separate shower and whirlpool bath tub, each of which I used during the stay. I didn't get a picture of the main reception lobby area or the lobby and corridor with shops and harpist playing.

I had made for my iPhone a playlist of songs for this trip. It included Kate Smith's rendering of "When the Moon Comes over the Mountain." So I put in my ear buds and started up the song and took this picture.

Before the trip I got a message from an online acquaintance, Howard Allen, whom I knew from the Mac forums on Compuserve, and then when those folded, on Binky Melnik's Snarkish site. Howard lived in Calgary and worked in the oil industry, and when he found out I'd be in the area, he had suggested that perhaps we could get together for dinner at some point and actually meet face to face. As time for the trip neared, he sent me a message that he would be away working in Manitoba at the time I'd be in his area.

During the ice field trip we were not around many cell towers, so I didn't check email that day until after I got settled at the hotel. I had email from Howard saying he would be in Calgary after all and would be able to come over. By the time I got back to him, it was too late for him to drive over, so he said he'd come in the morning and we could have the breakfast/brunch buffet. So I had a lovely dinner by myself at the Walliser Stube room in the hotel. It was probably my most expensive meal on the trip, and worth it. I made an early night of it after that to rise early (for me) in the morning to have time to walk around the lake and take pictures before Howard arrived.

You can't really walk all around the lake. The trail is on just one side. So I walked out the trail and took many pictures. At the other side of the lake the trail splits and becomes ways to hike up the mountains. The tea house is about a four and a half mile climb. I later met a family who had done it, and they said it was worthwhile and the food was good. But I didn't have time even if I'd been inclined to go. And anyway, the clouds had moved and the light had changed, so on the walk back around the lake I would see new views and take different pictures.

The view from across the lake

When I got back from the walk, I sat on a bench near the lake. My aunt Norma had also encouraged me to visit Lake Louise. Norma had traveled a lot with Uncle George, and then after his death with a friend who was ten years her junior. The friend had a medical degree. Her husband practiced, but she hadn't in years. So Norma gave me a lot of advice about where to travel and what to see. I still have a travel agenda that is largely based on her recommendations. For some of the places I don't really know how much I want to see them, but I've never regretted following Norma's travel advice. By this point I was calling Norma almost weekly, and she seemed more excited about my trip than even I was. So as I sat a few feet from the lake, I gave Aunt Norma a call. I probably enjoyed doing that about as much as anything on the trip.

Then I headed back to the room for a shower and then met Howard in the lobby. We had a great visit and an amazing breakfast. He insisted on paying. We talked quite a bit and spent some time exploring the hotel before he had to head back to Calgary, and I needed to get my luggage together to meet the bus that would take us on to Banff.


July 27, Banff->

<- July 26, Ice Fields Tour

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