Tuesday, 11 January 2011

On the road

We said our fond farewells to John and Jasmine after breakfast, and Rachel drove us into Invermere for a last look around while she attended an appointment. It was bitterly cold, minus twenty three at the lowest. We took refuge in the bookshop and Blue Dog Cafe for refreshment and warmth. Then Rachel drove us up the valley to Radium to catch the coach. As we were an hour early, she took as on a walk along the bank of an iced over stream, Sinclair Creek, which flows down from the National Park (which starts just outside of Radium) and across the plain into the Columbia River. This river has been restored as a breeding habitat for salmon, although salmon hereabouts can no longer go to see since the famous Grand Coulee Dam was built further south in the USA of the 1930s. We got really cold, but it was well worthwhile to see what the small local community had made of this little project.

When we got back to the Esso station to pick up the bus, we discovered the Greyhound Coach schedule had been altered, and the bus had left two hours earlier. We'd received no notice via our internet booking, and discovered that although the staff had been given long term notice of the change, the date of change had been sprung on them. The agent was marvellous. He rang Greyhound in Calgary and arranged for a taxi to take us to Banff to pick up an evening coach from there into Calgary. We were amazed when it showed up, and the driver turned out to be the husband of teacher Maxine in Jasmine's pre-school group. Small world. This misfortune turned out to be quite a privilege. A comfortable car ride through the park, driven by a retired lumberjack who knows and loves his environment.

We were in Banff nearly two hours before the coach. We were dropped off at the charming railway station, which also serves as a Greyhound pick up point. We were able to visit the town centre and have coffee and cheesecake plus a browse of a few of the shops, before doing battle with the chill to return to the (fortunately well heated) station to await the arrival of the bus. It arrived just as the darkness descended, so we saw no more of the National Park, as we rode quietly into Calgary. The hotel room turned out to be a one bedroomed apartment with kitchen diner and two TVs, plus andn internet connection. Pretty good for seventy quid. The downtown location is surrounded by glass tower blocks, parking lots covered in snow and artificial light. Such a shocking contrast to the lovely  Windermere Valley, lit more by moonlight than street lamps. Such a contrast that all I wanted to do at the end of a long day was put my head on the pillow and hide in sleep. Nevertheless, we struggled out in the cold to a spaghetti house a couple of desolate blocks away to eat a proper supper before turning in for the night.

No comments:

Post a Comment