We left Vancouver Tuesday morning with Moose Travel. They're a little more expensive than Greyhound, but are catered for backpackers, and do fun journeys, with stopovers and making friends and drinking. Our group was pretty small; Troy, our driver/guide, Elaine, Leah and Dylan (all from Australia), Simon from Scotland, and us. Tuesday we drove a very long way (around 600 kms). We stopped at Bridal Falls, a big cool waterfall, a town called Hope for lunch, before ending up at Shuswap Lake for the night. We kept getting to stuff that was shut for winter, but Troy took us in anyway ("The falls are closed but we'll drive straight through....there's a sign by the falls saying not to go any further, but you can just walk on straight round that...). Shuswap Lake was really pretty, although there's not much there. We walked down to the lake, and then were in the pub by 5.30, drinking and playing pool. It was a really "locals" kind of pub, but nice. We were all exhausted through, so after laughing at Dylan and Simon trying out the hot tub (it was cold) we went to bed.
Started early the next morning by going to another hostel for breakfast. The hostel rooms were in train cars, and the rest of the hostel was incredibly quirky, with armchairs that were old-fashioned hairdressing chairs, and and a landlady who cooked us amazing fruit pancakes. We kept on driving, stopping in a park for lunch (it was oddly cold here, the rest of the trip was pretty warm), visiting a natural bridge, driving into the rockies (and thus losing an hour) and finally arriving in Banff. It was dinner time by then, so we ate and then headed to the hostel pub. Where we got drunk in Canada for the first time. A very fun night though - one of the tour, Simon, is a really good singer and got up on stage to sing, and we danced and whooped a lot, chatted and drank, it was great.
The next morning, the rest of the tour carried on up to Jasper, and we had the day in Banff by ourselves before moving on to Calgary by Greyhound that evening. Man, Banff is beautiful. It looks like a model village. It's surrounded by the mountains (which were all snow-capped), and all the streets and buildings are just...perfect. There's no other way to describe it, I was just in shock all day. We wandered around, ate, and took a lot of photos. We walked up one of the hiking trails to Bow Falls, and some amazing views. It was lovely. Unfortunately, we had to leave at dinner time to catch the bus to Calgary for the last night of our Calgary.
We spent about 11 hours in Calgary, 6 of which we were asleep for. Some might say this is about the optimum time to be spent in Calgary. I don't know though - maybe it's a cool city, it's just a but underwhelming after Vancouver and the rockies. We went for dinner and went up the observation towel (Seamus and I do love a good observation tower), went back to the hostel to bed, and left at 6am the next morning to catch the bus to Pincher Creek. That was a boring drive. Everything between Calgary and Pincher Creek was just ranch-land; flat, yellow land with no people or buildings for miles. We got into Pincher Creek at 11-ish, where we were collected by Andrew, Kendra and Ashley, our new workmates at Waterton. We're now sitting in a hotel room at the park - our apartment's not ready until next week, so we're staying in a big, lovely room until then. More about Waterton soon...I'm tired...