First, courtesy of Google Maps, let's take a look at the overall picture of where we were:
We flew into Calgary, and took a motorcoach to Banff. Banff doesn't show on this map, but if you follow the highway west out of Calgary, Banff is at the first intersection, right in the middle of the big green splotch. We spent two nights in Banff, then took the train, basically following the line of the highway, to Kamloops, where we spent the night. Then we took the train into Vancouver, spent two nights there, and flew home.
So on Thursday, we got up early, packed, and drove to the airport. On the way, I played John Denver's "Rocky Mountain Suite (Cold Nights In Canada)." It seemed like a fitting way to kick off the trip. If I'd thought of it, I also would have played Gordon Lightfoot's "Alberta Bound."
Anyway, we flew to Seattle, where we had barely enough time to change flights. And of course, the flight to Calgary left from a gate clear across the terminal from where we came in. But we made it okay, and soon we were getting off the plane in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And right away, I realized that we weren't in Kansas anymore... or in any of the other 49 states, either...
What? No Spanish?
We got a quick bite at a Tim Horton's restaurant in the airport (a popular Canadian restaurant chain), and got on the bus for Banff. Along the way, we passed through such towns as Morley, Seebe, Kananaskis, Exshaw, Dead Man's Flats, and Canmore. And finally, the bus let us off at the hotel.
And again courtesy of Google, here's a map of Banff (the red dot shows the approximate location of the hotel).
As you can see, Banff (w) is very small. It's a charming little town, and the winter snow and Christmas lights made it even more so. It's located in the middle of Banff National Park (w) , the oldest National Park in Canada, and it's primary industry is tourism.
It was late when we got to the hotel, so we just got checked in, had a late night room service snack (a paté and cheese plate - how decadent is that?), and went to bed. Here's a picture of our room:
Our hotel room
Not a very good picture, I'm afraid. I was amused to notice that in the drawer, right next to the ever-present Gideon Bible, was a copy of The Teachings of Buddha, placed by the Society to Promote Buddhism. I thought, "What, no Koran?"
I should mention that, on the ride from Calgary to Banff, even though it was dark, there was a bright moon, nearly full. So as we began to climb from the plains up into the Rockies, I could see the mountains. Dimly, of course, but they were there. And as I began to get a dim preview of their grandeur, I thought that the view in the morning would be breathtaking.