Exploring Banff, Canada Idaho and Montana
Just about every other year we plan to take a bigger and longer family vacation. We save for months and plan for months (love planning!) and when that final day comes to get on the road (or on the plane) it is so satisfying and exciting. Going to Banff, Canada was a trip we were ecstatic to take because we are in awe of God’s creation!
This years trip was a road trip that we decided to use our toy hauler for camping. We don’t have any “toys” (got rid of my quad and hubby’s motorcycle a while ago) but we still find our camper so helpful in saving money and exploring the country.
This was our first international trip and there was a bit of anxiety due to crossing borders and not knowing whether we were going to get stopped or not. The border crossing also made it hard to bring food for our travels which we always do. However, it all worked out and weren’t even stopped. You never know if it’s going to happen so you have to plan as if it will. That meant documentation of ALL items packed in all vehicles and that we could not bring meat or fruits and veggies into the country! A Paleo eaters nightmare. Like I said, it all worked out though. In another post I plan to share with you places we ate as well as grocery stores we shopped at that made it all work Paleo style. I also came home feeling good with no reaction and that was very encouraging!
Fun Vacation Facts!
- 10 days of vacation
- Visited two states (Idaho and Montana) and two Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Alberta) where the astounding and glorious Canadian Rockies are located.
- Approximately 2700 miles driven
- Over 50 hours of drive time
- Filled up for gas 17 times! (Actually Steve and I think it is closer to 20 times – we might be missing some receipts.)
- Heard “Are we there yet?” approximately 392 times
- Learned what Loonies and Toonies were.
- Accidentally booked our Canadian campsite one hour and forty five minutes away from our destination of Banff! Duh!
- Had a ton of fun going to Silverwood Theme park and visiting Boulder Beach water park too.
- Saw a little girl hit her head and go unconscious at a hot springs we were visiting. So sad and scary. She ended up to be ok though.
- Our 5 year old jumped off the diving board for the first time and loved it. One time he jumped at the wrong time and landed on another kids face. It was SO scary! All were ok though.
- Played our animal road trip game with points and winners. Here were the final counts:
- Daddy (4) Big Horn Sheep, (4 and also a separate herd) Deer, (1) Moose = Winner with 755 points!
- Mommy (7) Big Horn Sheep, (1) Deer = 355 Points
- Corbin (4) Big Horn Sheep, (2) Deer = 210 Points
- Cody (1) Big Horn Sheep, (2) Deer = 60 Points
- Daddy had the advantage since he drove the WHOLE time. He was making sure not to hit any animals! We were dying to see some mountain goats and a bear but it didn’t happen. Owell!
- Canada is VERY expensive. Even though our dollar goes further there everything costs more. It’s crazy. We don’t know how they live up there.
- Had one parking space stolen from us, on our Ice fields road trip day, that almost caused a major fight. I was proud of how my Hubby handled it. I would have freaked out! He’s such a good example.
- Discovered that I hate ants even more when they are in our trailer! Thankfully our favorite peppermint essential oil got rid of them!
- Speaking of essential oils, I have to say after we pulled into our last campsite at 12:00am and were setting up not realizing there were thousands of mosquitoes everywhere and that they were coming into our trailer, that our favorite Therapeutic Grade Outdoor Essential Oil blend did the trick. It killed the ones that were inside AND kept them from biting us! Also, the whole time we were camping at this infested site none of us were bitten at all because we kept spraying our homemade spray on us! Yay! Love, Love, Love, our non-toxic essential oils!
- I finished two books (Touching Other With Your Words by Chuck Swindoll and The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson) and several magazines too!
- We ended our trip by seeing our friend’s brand new precious little girl that was only born hours before we got there! It was a wonderful endcap to seeing some magnificent parts of God’s creation.
Here are some of our favorite photos from the trip.
They tried to get me on the spinning rides but I knew I would lose my lunch if I went. Steve was a trooper though. We love Silverwood. You buy one ticket and it gets you in to the theme park and their water park. I could only go on a few quick rides in the water park so I didn’t start our vacation off with a toxic dose of chlorine.
Cody giving me a wildflower he picked. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we’re not supposed to pick them.
In Canada, we stayed in Radium Hot Springs. Had we not stayed there we would not have seen any Big Horn Sheep. They would always greet us in the morning when we were on our way out!
One of my favorite towns in Canada was Banff. There were lots of great stores and eateries. I even found a chocolate shop that had Gluten Free White Chocolate Haystacks (made with coconut). I felt so happy I was able to indulge. The backdrop of the gorgeous Canadian Rockies was breathtaking as we were walking around downtown.
One day we decided to stay in the town of Radium Hot Springs rather than drive to Banff and surrounding areas. It was a nice break and we thoroughly enjoyed the local hot springs. Any chance I get I love to find hot springs since chlorine and my body don’t mix very well. This one had a hot pool for relaxation and a cooler pool (86 degrees) with slides and a diving board. The facilities were really nice and we felt like Jello when we left.
Cody going off the diving board for the first time. He’s so brave at 5!
We love games and our favorite is Settlers of Catan. We brought it along and played it one night at our Radium campsite after we got home from the daily road trip. Steve won of course! See that blue bottle? That is the bottle filled with our handy dandy non-toxic bug repellent essential oil mixture. I will blog about that soon. It was a life saver!
Cave and Basin Tour in Banff, Canada
Road Trip to the Columbia Icefields
We decided to drive four more hours in addition to our normal 1.45 a day to go see the Columbia Icefields and glaciers at Jasper National Park. Whoah, talk about feeling small. These glaciers were humongous and overbearing. They were pretty though! We sit in humility and awe at our Creator and His power and might. Even though it was more driving it was fun because we were able to stop and get out a lot to look at many different glaciers, lakes and waterfalls. It was on this day we visited one of my most favorite places – Peyto Lake at Bow Summit. Here are some of our favorite photos from that day trip.
Bow Lake with Bow Glacier
Look at that amazing reflection and my handsome hubby! Actually, no don’t look at Him, he’s only for me 🙂
Part of the Columbia Icefield. It is the largest mass of ice in the Canadian Rockies. It feeds 100 glaciers and the water flows into three different oceans – Pacific, Atlantic and Artic. Pretty cool! You’ll see more of this glacier in the following photos.
At Peyto Lake at Bow Summit.
Peyto Lake just like a painting!
Columbia Icefield – Athabasca Glacier. Look below at the the photo for scale.
Of Course we couldn’t miss Lake Louise and Lake Moraine
Lake Louise was absolutely NUTS with tourists. This is peak season and the flocked here. I was looking forward to this place the most but it turned out not to be my absolute favorite. Crowds and me don’t get along. It was enjoyable though and we did walk around one half of the whole lake and back. It was pretty but not as magnificent as my expectations (from photos) made it to be. Don’t get me wrong though, it was still breathtaking. I would go again though and if I did I would want to kayak.
The famous Fairmont Hotel at Lake Louise . It’s only $500 a night! Ha!
Went we got to the end of the lake we saw people rock climbing up the cliff. Ahhh! No thanks! So not my thing but I am in awe of people who do it. They must have no fear. Do you see the people in the picture?
THIS was my favorite lake – Lake Moraine. I have never seen any water as aqua as this was. The glacier melt turns the rocks into a flour like substance that literally turns the water that color. Depending on the time of the day it will be more green or more blue. Breathtaking!
These ground squirrels were everywhere and they were so friendly, even if you didn’t have something to eat. We wanted to pet them but didn’t want to get bit!
This was Black Sandy Campground in Montana near Helena. It was nice to be on the lake but as I said earlier the mosquitoes were terrible. We really didn’t do a whole lot in Montana except go and look at the capitol. We really went there to see our friend. It was a double blessing to see her AND get to meet her sweet little newborn.
Stay tuned for a post about what we ate and where as well as recipes for our bug repellent!
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.