Friday, May 27, 2011

Too good not to share

I'm in Calgary at the airport waiting for a flight to Montreal.

I'm returning from a small, intimate, and very important conference where I was an invited speaker.

The conference venue was the Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff. The resort looks exactly like what you picture when you hear the name.

A collection of log row-cottages with pitched roofs, huge dormers, and field-stone fireplaces, nestled on the flanks of Tunnel Mountain among stands of lodge-pole pines.

I've been here since Wednesday and there hasn't been a single ray of sun. Until this morning it was all heavy overcast skies and drizzling rain.

In any other place in the world, that is a poor recipe for any kind of good time.

This part of Canada features the most stunning scenery I have been privileged to see in my lifetime, so a little bit of rain only adds another shade to nature's perfect palette.

On the drive into Banff on Wednesday in my rented Ford Focus I took a slight detour.

It was impossible for me not to imagine how great it would be to be riding my Vespa here.

Beautiful twisty roads draped on gentle rolling hills that you get to enjoy all by yourself with virtually no traffic as far as the eye can see.
On Thursday, following my presentation, I had a few free hours to decompress and decided to explore a scenic route I had spotted on the Google Maps application on my Iphone called the Minnewanka Loop.  It isn't possible to make a scenic mistake in Banff, and this was certainly no exception.

The road shows incredible promise right from the start, just minutes from Banff village.
A mere 5 kilometers later it's difficult to see Lake Minnewanka without feeling like you have been magically transported to a beautiful but distant and unfamiliar world.
I climb back into the Focus and follow the road.  Just beyond the lake, I come upon these two residents grabbing an afternoon nibble by the side of the road.
They seem friendly, but it's a rented, fully insured car, so those horns aren't nearly as intimidating as they might be if I were on my Vespa, or in our BMW.

Veering  onto a side road that promises to take me to Johnson Lake, I find a spot to park, and a short walk takes me to the spot where the lake empties into a mountain stream.
I return to the lodge completely refreshed.  At dinner I share the photos with some of the delegates.

After dinner, a few of us hang in the lodge's bar until just before midnight taking our time trading tall tales and polishing off a couple of bottles of fine red wine.

This morning, I wake gently and look out the large windows at the end of my room.  Beyond the gallery it looks like a dense fog has envelopped the resort.  Once I find my glasses I am truly blessed to behold a completely unexpected visual delight.
As you might expect, my scooter commute hasn't been intruding on my thoughts all that much since I left the foothills and got to the Rockies.

There is no word for this country other than breathtaking.  If you've never been to Alberta, you owe it to yourself to add it to the list of things that must be experienced.


Steve Williams said...

Definitely Vespa country. Even with the bighorn sheep.

Beautiful landscape. Sort of reminds me of Scotland, or at least what I think the lower highlands might look like.

Snow.... well, it was in the mid 90s here today so some snow might be nice.

I added your blog to my blog list and favorites feed.

Have a great trip.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

David Masse said...

Thanks Steve. I had hoped to be able to rent a scooter in Banff but no such luck.

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