Tell me about Calgary & the Rockies (part two)

Following up from this thread
My plans so far for two weeks in Alberta, much of it working around other people’s plans:
28th-31st July: Calgary. The suggestions from the previous thread are helpful, as is the possibility of making it to the Dopefest.

Sunday 31st: drive to Lake Louise, camping there for a couple of nights as a base, then heading further up the Icefields Parkway.

Thursday 4th August: - drive back to Canmore. From here through to the Sunday has been pre-planned by other family members :wink:

Sunday 7th - Thursday 11th: I’m deliberately keeping my plans open here, as after the big family get-together, anything could happen. But should nothing specific transpire, I’ll probably base myself around Kanaskis Country.
Any comments on these plans would be welcome!
A few questions…

  • Banff’s online campsite reservation system isn’t up and running yet - but I’m guessing that the Sunday afternoon should be quiet enough, making it reasonable time to turn up and get a place?

  • Given the limited amount of time on the road, I’m not sure how much ground to try and cover, such as whether to aim to get as far as Jasper. Any suggestions?

  • Could you please make up your minds about what it’s like to drive in Calgary! :stuck_out_tongue:

Calgary has outgrown its roads. I wouldn’t compare it to the traffic around here (Baltimore/DC) but it is pretty bad for Calgary.

Don’t rely on showing up and getting a place. Get a reservation, or you might be stuck.

Lake Louise: When you go into the townsite and turn left, you’ll drive by a giant log ‘cabin’. It’s staff quarters. I lived there for two summers and never had so much illicit fun in my life. I worked at the Post Hotel, which is the other side of the main road.

Yes, definitely get a reservation for the camping.
It’s very busy in the summer, and with all the flooding and bear problems there may be a few areas still closed.

As for driving in Calgary…we’ve got a lot of construction on the go so things are a little more frustrating than usual. Just remember that people tend to turn wide corners, rarely signal and speed like demons on the Deerfoot.

Are you in for both Doper dinners (Thursday and Saturday)? How about Tractor Boy - does he have anything to do with you? Hm, that didn’t come out quite right - I mean, are you travelling with Tractor Boy? And where did I get the idea that you are?

No idea. If I am, it’ll be for the Saturday (there’s a few hours jetlag to deal with :wink: )

Who what huh? Who’s Tractor Boy? You’ve lost me completely!
How do I go about reservations for camp sites in Banff? This site doesn’t seem to be much help, suggesting that I’m a year too early…

solitary bump

I will probably have an unpopular view, but I hated Calgary. I lived there for 3 years when I was going to school and I found people * in general* to be very snotty and ignorant or else trying desperately to fit into a stereotype. I loved it for 6 months until I found most everyone to be a fake and then I hated it. YMMV.

That said, the Canadian Rockies are some of the most beautiful natural terrain I have even seen in my life. Kananaskis country in particular, it’s a little less accessible to the general public (especially if you go up some of the 4wd only camping trails) and is totally awe-inspiring. I could almost believe in an Og. Again, YMMV.

Don’t listen to him. He’s from Lethbridge :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

Ya know what’s even worse than the fact that I’m from Lethbridge? I was born in Saskatchewan!

Anyways, Edmonton’s where it’s at.

Despite Dr. Peter Venkman’s admonition never to cross the streams:

Another current Banffy-Jaspery thread

Eh, we all were. It’s a little known fact that all Canadians were, in fact, born in Saskatchewan.

Not me. But, my mom was.

I just can’t let this go. I grew up in montreal. I lived 3 years in a small semi-rural Ontario town (Belleville). I lived 5 years in Ottawa, and travelled so often to Toronto on business these past 13 years I feel I can say I know the people there as well as if I have lived there. When we moved to Calgary 5 years ago, I worried about what kind of red-neck French hating cultural wasteland I was getting myself into. Over the past 5 years, I have grown not only fond, but to admire the people that live here. For a number of reasons:

  1. They are genuinely kind, and extraordinarily helpfull to perfect strangers. When my best man Dan moved here, on his first day going to work, a perfect stranger got off the bus with him and walked him to the building where his office was. The stranger sacrificed a good 30 minutes of his time, and had to get back on the bus afterwards. All Dan had dones was asked him at which stop he should get off. Last night, at 9:45 pm in the parking lot of the local lumber store, a couple who had just both finished an 11 hour day of work in retail & construction took one look at the load of plywood, lumber and trellis sheets we were proposing to tie to the roof of our Passat, and offered to drive it to our house in their beat-up pick-up. We explained that this was actually going to two separate houses. No matter. they helped load and unload. They did not even accept my invitation to Dairy Queen afterwards. We shook their hands, and they just left after dropping off all the material. This would never happen in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or Vancouver. Yes people here are friendly. Yes they greet and talk to strangers. But by their deeds they show that they are not phonies in they honest goodness.

  2. As my visiting Mom commented, Calgarians have an extra-ordinary respect for children. Children here are cherished, and involved in daily life, not an inconvenience. Woe betide the drivers who do not respect the 30 KPH limit in park and school zones; even if they escape the regularly enforced draconian penalties, other drivers will not hesitate to call them to order. Grocery stores and other stores have reserved parking spots for parents with small children. Malls have indoor playgrounds and beatifully appointed nursing/breaseeding suites, complete with microwave, glider-rockers. The local science center has over 30% of it’s floorspace devoted to kids from 2 to 6.

  3. Calgarians get it done. There is a can-do spirit that is pervasive to people who work and live here. When you suggest an improvement at work, or in your neighborhood, the reaction is generally along the lines of “Well, we’ll have to figure out how to overcome some problems, but let’s do it.” In Ontario, the reaction is more often “We don’t have the budget. / It’s agains the rules”. Don’t even get me started about Quebec and union rules and collective agreements…

These folks are very centered around their family and close freinds, and you have to earn admission to native Calgarian’s inner circle. But seeing how the rest of Canada compares, I can kind of understand why.

Now, regarding trave advice.

You must drive highway 93 between Banf and Jasper, it is the most extraordinarily beautiful and breathtaking bit of road i have ever travelled. You can do it in 5 hours, but allow a whole day, for the times you will want to stop and admire the scenery. Nothing but mountains, turquoise lakes, and valleys.

Anything you can buy in Banff is available, in greater selection, and much cheaper in Calgary.

The Calgary zoo is pretty good, better than many zoos.

Calgary drivers, compared to Montreal and Toronto, are docile sheep who dawdle in the left lane. Compared to Calgary drivers 20 years ago, or small town Alberta drivers, they are maniacs. The right lane will be the fastest about 70% of the time. Calgary cops start giving out tickets at 10 Kph over the limit, not 17 like Ontario or Quebec, but the limits are higher on most roads. School zones are no longer in effect until labour day, but watch your but and do go down to 30 in the park zones. 6 demerits and $450 fines are not to be taken lightly.

Email me with your preferences if you want restaurant recommendations.

I have to run now. Helping a neighbour tile his kitchen floor.

When it comes to Calgary, I say “the mountains are nice”.

Oh, sure, there are a few other perks, such as a semi-useful public transportation system, a superb set of bike trails, and a decent zoo, but overall, Edmonton’s more fun. There’s always some sort of festival of music or art or food in Edmonton. Here, we get . . .

The Stampede. I could live quite happily without ever seeing a hay-bale or hearing a “yee-haw” again. My favourite part of the Stampede is the ending, because then it’s over for another year.

My anecdotes regarding the friendliness of the people are less flattering than trupa’s.

Anyway, the mountains. Photographs of the local scenery (among other things) can be found here. Trailheads for all the hikes are within 90 minutes of driving from downtown Calgary, either in Bragg Creek at the foot of the mountains or in the mountains proper. If you get the chance, go to Rawson Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It’s some of the nicest real estate you’ll ever meet.

Hey GMan, I’ve visited Calgary and the Banff area a few times from the UK, and I just wanted to caution against putting the boot down on the highways. The general community speed of the highway seemed to be fairly inline with the legislated speed limit, its a long way from the M6 IOW. Fortunately, the drive up to Banff is so spectacular that speeding is the last thing you’ll want to do.

I hired a car there a few months after I passed my test in the UK, and found driving to be nae bother. Even did the obligatory driving up a downtown street on the wrong side of the road without repercussion.

I did the Rawson Lake hike once, and it was incredible. Pretty much uphill all the way there, and you go from summer at the bottom to snow still in places at the top, but the lake at the top, so incredibly quiet, and the air so clean…it was like being in another world. I definitely second that recommendation.

{Slightly off-topic}Hey, trupa and The Tooth, you haven’t responded in my Calgary Dopefest thread regarding dinner on Thursday, July 28. Can we entice you with promises of peanut satay?

trupa, thanks so much. That’s what I love about Calgary, everything in your post.