Sigh. After three weeks in Florida I'm usually ready to come home. I'm not saying I wouldn't stay longer given the opportunity, but I don't mind leaving quite so much. This time I really didn't want to leave. I've fallen in love with this part of Canada. It's going to be quite a wrench not waking up to clean fresh air and a mountain view. Still, our flight wasn't until 9.30pm so we'd got time for a few more adventures before we headed to Calgary for the flight home.
I packed in record time. After all the moves this holiday, I've got really, really good at it. This time, everything had to fit into the three cases and two pieces of hand luggage, and the cases had to come in at under 23kg. Not a problem with my small suitcase as you'd have to fill it with lead to get that much weight in it but the other two cases could take 30kg quite easily so you do have to be careful. The knack is to put as much heavy stuff as possible into the small one and really cram it. Then split the rest between the two large cases. We've got some small scales to check them with and both large cases weighed 21.9kg. That's close but the scales are pretty accurate so I was pretty confident we'd be ok. The hand luggage was fine. BA have an interesting policy, not that I'm complaining, and they allow you 23kg as long as you can lift it into the overhead locker unaided. There's a size restriction but both our bags are well within that. We didn't have the kitchen sink with us but it meant we could have the cameras and laptop in there without worrying about the weight.
So, all packed and the cases stashed away in the boot so they were out of sight and we'd the whole day ahead of us. Time to go and enjoy ourselves. While we were on the cruise on Lake Minnewanka, the guide had told us about the various national parks. We'd already seen some of Jasper and Banff national parks. We'd driven through Wells Gray provincial park and Mount Robson provincial park. We didn't have time to get to Kootenay national park but we could just get to a corner of Yoho national park. And, from what the guide had told us, it sounded like it would be worth it. Yoho is a First Nations word and means Wow. So, with all this amazing landscape, when the First Nations people saw that particular area, they were so blown away that they named it Wow. We had to see that for ourselves.
It so happens that just inside Yoho is Emerald Lake, which was on my original list of places that I'd wanted to see. So, we headed there first. We'd calculated distances and times allowing a large safety margin for getting to Calgary on time, as we were now heading in the opposite direction. If all went exactly to plan, we'd get to the airport four hours early. If it didn't, we had a four hour safety margin. And if it went horribly wrong and we missed the flight, well darn it. We'd just have to stay *snigger*
I liked Emerald Lake. I'd have liked it better if a wedding party hadn't taken over the cafe so that there wasn't anywhere to get lunch, but the lake itself was beautiful. And the gift shop had got a jug of coffee going, and it was excellent coffee. I'm always happy when I can get coffee.
Our next stop was Natural Bridge. This is a natural rock formation just down from Emerald Lake. It was raining slightly so I was feeling a bit smug about not having packed my raincoat away. I was nice and dry underneath it, while Stephen was getting a bit soggy in just his hoodie. I snapped a photo of him standing under a sign pointing towards Mt Stephen. Well, you'd have to really, wouldn't you? Then we walked onto the man-made bridge and admired the slightly damp but very lovely view of Natural bridge.
Then we drove down to Takkakaw Falls. It was quite a long walk from the car park to the base of the falls and this was after quite a hairy drive up to there. It was one of those switchback type of roads so I had to keep my eyes straight ahead and not look down. I think this was the only time that I've been nervous on the roads as otherwise they've been wide and smooth and not at all scary. This road was still smooth and fairly wide, it was just a bit umm, high.
The falls were beautiful and worth the effort involved in getting there, even with the slightly scary road. It was definitely getting chilly though so I was glad I'd got my gloves in my pocket. A certain some one had packed his so had to suffer cold hands. Yes, I know I'm being smug.
Takkakaw, by the way, translates as "It is magnificent", which I think is most apt. This waterfall is 254m and is one of the highest in Canada. You could hear it even before you got out of the car. We couldn't agree whether it sounded more like one of those huge freight trains or a plane, but it was definitely loud. And magnificent. It was certainly a Yoho moment.
We were about 20 mins behind schedule now so we got on the road and headed for Calgary. Along the way we stopped at a pull in to tidy up the back seat. We had the remains of our picnic that needed to be disposed of and we just needed to make sure that everything was ready to just be lifted out of the car when we got to the drop off point at Alamo.
It took us longer than expected to get to the airport as there was a huge detour but we'd got the car dropped off, and were through security by 8pm. Calgary airport was very easy to navigate at that time of the evening. No queues anywhere. It seems to be a fairly small airport but it's nicely laid out and was nice and efficient.
The flight left just a couple of minutes late but got in early. It was fine. Nice and quiet but it was the coldest plane that I've ever been on. I was freezing. Heathrow T5 was fine again. We had to get off via steps and be coached to the terminal but apparently that's quicker. We had no queue at passport control and just had to wait fifteen minutes for our luggage to appear.
Purple Parking are brilliant. We phoned them as instructed once we were landside and were told to go to bus stop 17 when we were ready. We went straight there - it's just over the road from arrivals - and there was a chap waiting. We were loaded straight onto the bus with one other couple and we were off. He dropped us right next to our car, gave us our keys and after loading our cases, we were on our way. That's the second time we've used them, the first being at Manchester airport, and we've been very impressed both times. The security looks excellent and the customer service is great too. I'll definitely use them again 'cause you just don't want to be hanging around after a long flight like that one.
We made a pitstop at the services to get coffee and a bacon butty, which we split. We picked up a few groceries to tide us over until we can get to the supermarket tomorrow as there was an M&S there. Pricey, but we knew we wouldn't want to go shopping today.
Coming down the motorway there was a lightning show followed by heavy rain. Lovely.
And now I'm curled up on the sofa, while the house is warming up. There's a mountain of post to be gone through. There's unpacking to be done and three weeks worth of laundry. I don't care. I'm much too tired for any of that so I'm relaxing with my laptop. I may read my book for a while later and when Stephen emerges from his nap, I'm going to suggest a Dr. Who marathon to catch up. Oh yeah.
These overnight flights wear you out, especially with such a long time difference. I have a very confused body clock so I'm going to call that a fine excuse to spend the rest of the weekend doing very little. Back to work on Monday, and that'll be time enough to get cracking again.
I have had the most fabulous holiday. The two years of planning paid off. I had tips and advice from lots of different people, all of which were put to good use. And despite thinking I knew what the Rockies were going to be like, I really had no idea. They were so much more. I'm now completely smitten and I'd go back in a heartbeat.