Mini break

When I was home on maternity leave 27 years ago I became addicted to watching Coronation Street. I’d never really been keen on daytime soaps, especially American ones where everyone was super rich and super beautiful, engaged in alarmingly incestuous relationships while jet-setting here and there. Nope, the real, imperfect and working class people of Corrie Street captured my imagination and I became addicted far longer than I should have. I stopped watching sometime after Blanche died, one of my favourite curmudgeonly characters, catching it occasionally, but not knowing the younger cast, lost interest. One of the things Karen McDonald, then Steve’s wife, was always spending money he didn’t have on, was the ubiquitous mini break. In fact for poorer working class people they were always taking mini breaks hither and yon. Of course now I understand that with the multitude of people and airlines and the closeness of pretty well everywhere, a mini break was probably quite affordable.

This last weekend my daughter and I were on a mini break of our own. Here in Canada it was the Thanksgiving long weekend so I searched out a cheap (which is entirely relative in Banff) ish hotel and off we headed. It’s a bit of a trek, some 700k, but we switched out driving and made frequent stops.

One of our must stop places is Drumheller, the capital of all things dinosaur. We’ve been in and out of Drumheller hundreds of times (almost literally) but somehow took the scenic route in. This brought us into town down a different valley than the usual so, feeling cheated, we then backtracked and drove the 2-3 k out of the city so we could enter the “right” way. Things have to be done a certain way. No OCD here.

Then we stopped in Calgary at the Pacific Place mall, a one stop shopping mall for Calgary’s oriental community. But early afternoon on a Saturday was not a good idea—too many people so we grabbed a quick lunch and a few treasures and hit the road again, arriving at our hotel around 5pm. A short eye closed flop on the bed to gather our strength, and we then headed out to the hot springs. A fabulous soak surrounded by snow capped mountains smoothed over our aches and pains. We stopped at our favourite grocer for a jug of milk to wash down the cakes we picked up in Calgary and headed home for an hour of mindless tv before bed.

This was the early morning view of the mountains across from our hotel. The elk are ever present on the side of the road.

Fortified with excellent coffee for me and a white hot chocolate for my daughter from our favourite coffee shop, we split up to do some serious shopping.

I was looking for Canadiana to take to Vienna this fall and my daughter seeks out the odd and interesting–and always finding it!! We met again at our favourite grocery store to pick up items for our ritual chick-nic down by Cascade Pond. The Banff area had just been blanketed by a foot of snow a week prior, resulting in major traffic disruptions and people being stuck in their cars on the highway for 8-10 hours. It has slowly been disappearing but Cascade pond still looked quite wintery.

Tummies full of chicken and chocolate we headed off to Lake Louise. There were signs warning us that the parking lots were full but this wasn’t our first rodeo. We headed up to the Queen of the Rockies and as luck would have it, pulled into an empty parking spot. Luck favours the brave. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, all sunshine and blue skies, as we started off around the lake. It’s impossible not to take pictures constantly. The first 500 m was shoulder to shoulder tourists and selfie sticks but we persevered and broke thru the crush at the lake head, to walk almost alone, around the edge of the lake. It was a beautiful day!!

It’s 3 kilometres to the end of the lake, where the glacier melt has created a bit of a delta area. The water is ice cold and crystal clear. We wandered a bit then noticed these little brown bats swooping at the edge of the lake. We couldn’t make out if they were just drinking or catching some insects–we couldn’t see any small flies– but then I saw them, tiny little fruit fly sized flies. Odd to see the bats so active in the day but winter is coming (see what I did there, Game of Thrones fans 😜), and they have to bulk up to survive the cold.

Back to Banff and a well deserved beer and nibbles.

Another soak in the hot springs before the long drive home.

Ahhh, mini break !!!