Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Oh Canada!

Originally the plan was for me to hang out in Canada before Ben started the job as I would be starting my new position after Labor Day and was unsure of my time-off availability, but the job started with very little notice giving us no time to hang out before. I was disappointed and had given up on going up there...but the job delayed and my new boss is very cool and so it worked out that I was able to fly to Calgary after he finished the job.

I raced to the airport leaving Dee's defense lunch a little early on Friday afternoon, and in good United fashion the flight was delayed an hour. Luckily I had a long connection in SFO, so I made it to Calgary ontime though tired.
On Saturday we took advantage of having a former local (Ben's boss Scott) pick out one of the best restaurants in Calgary and enjoyed dim sum for lunch. Then we started the long and very beautiful drive to Jasper, where the wildlife have no problem hanging out in the center divide.The next day we took the tram up Whister's Mountain to have lunch at 7500 ft and enjoy the views. The drive back down to Banff started out normal enough until someone slightly under the influence decided to drive off the road and down a small cliff. He wasn't hurt but he couldn't climb up to the side of the road and we didn't have cell service, so we drove until we came to a lodge with a pay phone and called 911. Canada's 911 system is a little odd as I had to talk to 3 different people and repeat the story all 3 times. I was on the phone for 15 minutes and they still had no clue where the victim was, so we waited 20 minutes for the Fire Department's Search and Rescue guy to make it to the lodge so we could lead him. I had been napping and he drove up flashing his lights and was very frantic. I was saying how he should follow us but he just yells "Lady get in. I can drive faster then him!". Ben agrees so I run over to his vehicle and hop in and he takes off going about 180 km/hr through this curvy road. He starts rattling off all these questions to me about the victim and I'm clutching the seat for my life. Well it turns out that my 15 minute explanation to the 911 dispatchers that the guy was fine but in shock didn't make it to Search and Rescue so they thought some guy was lying at a bottom of a large cliff dying. So they put the helicopter team on hold that had been assembled until Fire guy could reach the scene. We get to the scene and Ben shows up a few seconds later (he did a good job keeping up) and we wait and watch as the fire truck with a whole team in full gear, paramedics, national park services, and the royal canadian mounted police show up. Ben gave the statement, actually a very detailed novel, about what we saw and did and then finally (at dusk) we were able to leave and get to our hotel in Banff. Our hotel was AMAZING! Ben had booked a room at the Fairmont Banff Springs and they upgraded us for free to a full suite! I was convinced that our good karma for helping the guy in the ditch paid off. We had such a wonderful stay that we are planning on coming back for a ski trip over President's Day weekend.

On Monday we drove back into Jasper National Park and visited the Athabasca Glacier. I was a little worried as they kept stressing to not go near the blue cones as you could fall into a crevase and die of hypothermia and when we got to the location blue cones were everywhere. I braved the cold in only my sweatshirt and capris (I do think I could live where it snows) and wasn't bothered. On the way back to Calgary we stopped for dinner in Banff, and I decided that I should try a local dish and so ordered bacon wrapped elk. It was very good and I also enjoyed Ben's bison to his surprise, guess I can handle the "gamey" flavor.

Such a great trip! I especially loved the picture-perfect blue lakes. I can't wait to go back! More pictures can be found here.


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