Banff Gondola, Geode-Cracking, and Heather and Brent’s Calgary Abode

This post might be long, I am sorry. But there are lots of pictures! So if you don’t like reading you just persevere, you’ll get through it.

After Lake Louise and the Banff Reunion with my lovely friennnnnds, the six of us got up the next morning, checked out of our hotel, and went to breakfast. Since Crystal and Lisa live in Calgary (ie not far from Banff and they are there often), we relied on their recommendation. And they did not lead us astray. We went to Coyotoes Southwestern Grill and here was my breakfast.

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The huevos rancheros. I don’t even really know what that is, but it had a lot of cheese on it and cheese makes me happy so, j’adore. And there were a couple of tostadas (I actually upgraded to an extra tostada on Lisa’s rec), eggs, black beans, salsa, green salsa, sour cream, avocado. Delicious. We had a big day ahead of us and that was a good start.

After breakfast it was GONDOLA TIME!!!

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Lisa and Crystal are seasoned gondola pros and sat this tourist activity out, it was just the four of us. I totally understand, it’s expensive, and if I lived in the area it’s not something I would do every day. But you do have to do it at least once. Have to. Because it’s insane.

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The views are so ridiculous. It doesn’t even feel like real life. Look at where we came from!

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Evan and Kenya both have a fear of heights (Evan was not down with the glass floor at the CN Tower you may remember), but they were both okay on the gondola. The car follows the mountain up, so you don’t feel like you’re up as high as you are. Unless you look back. Which Evan avoided doing.

The gondola takes you to the very top of Sulphur Mountain (you can also hike up and take the gondola down if you like, next time!), and at the top of the mountain you are bombarded with panoramic mountain views. I don’t have a lot of commentary about this. It’s just breathtakingly beautiful. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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(alright so this photo was kind of staged, but at least I’m not doing yoga)

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There are several lookout decks on various levels.

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The feeling of being up there was just incredible. I can’t explain how nice it was. I never wanted to leave. I want to live up there! And actually, maybe I could?

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That is the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station, one of Canada’s nine sites to study cosmic rays. Apparently the most important one, because of its elevation (2383m, you can read about it here if you are interested).

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I have been up the Banff gondola one time before with the Bestie, in the winter a few years ago.

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Same view, just more snow. And when we were there that time only the main observation deck was open because of all the snow, so we couldn’t wander around like our group did this time.

After exploring everywhere we could, we eventually took the gondola back down.

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And as we did we listened to the soundtrack of our vacation, the trololo guy. It was one of my favourite moments of our trip. I took a video of it and put it on my Facebook page, so you can watch it here if you want.

When we got down to the bottom we met back up with Lisa and Crystal. And sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Eric and Kenya.

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I am going to miss them. I am so glad we got to spend as much time with them as we did. Originally Evan and I were going to rent a car and drive to Banff ourselves, so I’m glad it turned out the way it did. I just love my baby brother. He really has grown up into the kindest Master Creature.

After the goodbyes, the four of us toured around Banff a bit longer. That town is just adorable.

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Cool as a MOOSE! (we actually saw a moose, there was a moose with its calf RIGHT behind Eric’s car while we were stopped in town. We were all too excited to get a pic.)

And everyone who lives there seems to be from Ontario. I don’t know what that says about my own province…

There was one thing that Evan stumbled across and really wanted to do. Geode-cracking.

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You buy a little geode, which range in price from $10 to $200 (Evan just got the $10 one)…

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And there is a machine where you can crack it open right there and see what kind of goodness is inside.

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Evan scored. His geode was pretty sweet.

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Lisa and Crystal were very excited about this and immediately got in on the action. This was really funny to me because I distinctly remember Crystal and her love of rocks. In Grade 6 she got a rock tumbler and used to make all these cool things with the rocks she tumbled. I remember waiting for the bus after school, she was standing in front of me and her hair was half up held with the COOLEST turquoise rock clip, that she had made herself in her tumbler. I was so incredibly jealous. I will never forget Crystal and her love of rocks.

She still likes her rocks.

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And Lisa just likes to crack things open.

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In the end, Crystal had the nicest rock, Evan’s was slightly less awesome, and Lisa’s didn’t really look like anything special.

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But the lady who worked there immediately tried to make her feel better about it and was all “Oh but you got the cool smoky one!!!” Pretty sure she was just humouring her. But it’s alright, still cool.

After the geode-cracking we piled into Crystal’s jeep and headed onto the next leg of Evan and Evanoff’s Excellent Adventure: Calgary.

First though, we stopped in Canmore at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company.

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(Canmore is a lot like Banff, but smaller)

I ate my very first elk burger. ELK!

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It was DELICIOUS. And much leaner than beef. My salad wasn’t bad either. It had goat cheese, so I was immediately sold on that. I also ordered a pint of raspberry ale. It was refreshing and delicious. I loved.

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When we finally made it to Calgary, we dropped off Crystal, picked up Lisa’s boyfriend Mackenzie, and all went to Lisa’s sister Heather and her boyfriend Brent’s place for a barbecue. I love Heather! (and Brent too)

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I will never forget our night with her at the Blue Jays game last summer. I’m so happy we got to see her and Brent while we were in Calgary.

She made us the best barbecue fare, which, after my day of eating (who am I kidding, week of eating), I was really excited for. I wanted healthy things. Or moderately healthy at least.

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We just had an excellent, excellent night catching up. The best segue into the Calgary party times that were ahead of us.

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Such a good night with these two:

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And these three:

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(Mackenzie, Brent, Evan)

And times around this fire:

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This was the moment I realized that our vacation was made because of all the cool people we got to hang out with along the way. Just a time and a half.

Evan and Evanoff’s Excellent Calgary Stampede Adventure is up next.

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5 responses to “Banff Gondola, Geode-Cracking, and Heather and Brent’s Calgary Abode

  1. Your pictures are giving me major nostalgia for when I was last in Banff (also did the gondola)… and I even went to Canmore and ate at the Grizzly Paw!

  2. Nancy McCartney

    When Chrissy did her 5-month co-op through Georgian at the Banff Springs Hotel in 1995, Allie and I took Nanny for a visit. It was her first time in an airplane and she did really well. We even took her to the top of Sulphur Mt in the gondola and she loved the view but was a little nervous about that! What a breathtaking view!

  3. Man. It looks like you had an outstanding holiday.

  4. Pingback: Experiences of 2014 | Happy or Hungry