Canada Day in Banff National Park

Our fair country has been around for 137 years, now, and it doesn’t look a day over 100 — we’ve still got all the problems we did back in ’67.

Alex and I had a fairly action-packed day. We started off with a jaunt over to Booster Juice to get ourselves a snack to get the day started. Why there? Well, a smoothie goes over pretty well right before you do a run.

Yes, run. (If you have missed a few of these, either by living under a rock or scanning them like I know some of you do, I have taken to running for exercise.) This was for the P.A.R.T.Y. program, run through Foothills Hospital. It means “Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth”. (Yeah, it should be P.A.R.R.T.Y., but then it could be construed to sound like the mating cry of a frat house member.)

Simply put, it’s a “scared-straight” method. Take a bunch of teens, and run them through the trauma bay at the hospital. Show them what’ll happen if they drink and drive. Show them the injuries, the equipment that would be used, and the procedures they’d have to go through. Some of them get sick, at least one almost always faints. I don’t know if it always gets the point across, but I’m sure that the program must reduce the number of teens injured in DUI accidents.

The race is to raise awareness and money for the program. Fees are $35, which includes the administration of the race, t-shirts, food (though that might be donated), with the rest going to the program. It’s a 5 km walk/run or a 10 km run, depending on what you want to do. We did the 5 km version. We weren’t exactly the fastest ones out there.

We were beaten by a one-legged man and a woman carrying two babies.

(Okay, yes, we walked. It was more for helping the program.)

Following the “race”, we headed out of town to Banff (Bamf!). The day was starting off to be beautiful, and we hoped it would stay that way long enough for us to enjoy the weather. For the most part, it was great! Right until we passed the 1X interchange near Exshaw. That was when we hit traffic.

Lots of traffic.

About 90 minutes of traffic.

Ninety minutes that would normally take about 10 minutes in regular traffic conditions.

Why was it so bad? They’re doing bridge reconstruction on the Trans-Canada Highway not far from Deadman’s Flats. The highway is reduced to two lanes and a speed limit of 50 km/h. Normally, this doesn’t affect traffic too much. But this is a long weekend (well, it is for some people), which means that most of Calgary goes into the mountains.

Would it really have hurt whatever level of government agency that is responsible for this project to put up signs warning of heavy traffic, and suggest alternate routes like the 1A? Y’know, I’m thinking that maybe the government might want to think about that for the next long weekend that comes up (or possibly every weekend, now that the weather is outstanding) so people can avoid that kind of traffic. (That would be a subtle hint for any of you government-types listening out there.)

Arriving at the east-end Banff off-ramp, we turned north instead of south, and went to Lake Minnewanka. I’d only been there once before, during some very nice weather. Yesterday, sadly, wasn’t great. Clouds had rolled in as we had started to leave Calgary, and had splashed rain on us at Canmore. We would be rained on several times yet before the day was through, and usually while we were outside, away from the car.

We walked past the boat launch at the south end of Minnewanka, and up to a rocky shoreline. There, we found a place on the “beach” to just look around at the beauty of the area. It drizzled a little, not enough to chase us away.

From there, we drove over to Lake Johnson, where we had the chance to wander a bit in the forest. A plethora of mosquitoes eventually chased us back out, and we headed into Banff (Bamf!) townsite.

For the first time since I can’t remember when, we couldn’t get a parking spot in the free lot. Yes, I know it was Canada Day, but even the last time, we got parking there. We ended up circling the side streets before finding a nice spot, and headed for a late lunch/early dinner at Bruno’s Diner.

When we exited, we found that Banff Ave. had effectively been closed down. It was a parade, of all things! I’d never seen a Canada Day parade before, so it was a bit novel. Even more so that it was in a small town, meaning it was going to be a small one. Still, there was room for the Shiners (a necessity at any parade), a couple of floats (including one for the Calgary Stampede, which starts next Friday), two or three marching bands, a fire truck, a Snocoach from the Columbia Icefields, and the 10th Brigade pipe and drum band.

Parade over, we walked down more side streets until we found our way to the Bow River, where we sat for a while, eating our Turtles fudge. That’s about when the rain hit again. We took cover under some conifers, waiting for the rain to pass enough that we could walk back to Banff Ave. without getting soaked.

We took the opportunity to into a couple of stores and view wares for sale. Alex bought a rather nice toe ring, and I bought a book called “Why I Hate Canadians”, by Will Ferguson. (It’s a rather interesting book about a Canadian returning home after several years abroad. He goes after the sacred cows and reminds us that while we think we’re the best thing since sliced bread, we’re not as special as we think we are.) Alex read it aloud to me as we drove back to Calgary.

And as should be done by every Canadian who can, we went to see fireworks last night. The best show in town is at Canada Olympic Park. We didn’t opt to go all the way out there, since the traffic back would be simply ridiculous. So we opted to hike up the side of Nose Hill to get a good view. In theory, it was a splendid idea. In reality, well…

Nose Hill is a great place for a hike. During the day. At night, it’s difficult to see, so you run risk tripping over large rocks. Also, you have deliriously stupid teenagers who feel the need to shriek like idiots the whole time (I swear I got 40 years older last night), nearly drowning out the faint booms of pyrotechnics exploding several kilometres away.

And then there’s the mosquitoes. With all the rain we’ve been having, there’s a lot of ’em this year.

All in all, it was a wonderful Canada Day. And a busy one. Sadly, I had to come in to work today (not having the foresight to take it off), so was a little out of it for most of the day. Next year, though, I’m going to enjoy it more, and make a nice, long weekend out of it.

With Alex, of course.