Sunday, September 10, 2017

Helping Dreams Come True

We recently had a hand in fulfilling some dreams for my Mother and my eldest sister, and boy, was it fun!  It started a long time ago, when my Mom mentioned her dream to sleep on a train that would also go through the mountains.
And so, with our planned move to Montana, it seemed the perfect time for her to climb aboard the Amtrak Empire Builder in Chicago and clickety-clack her way west to Whitefish.  It's a 31-hour journey (sleeping? check!) and the final part of the journey scoots around the southern edge of Glacier National Park (mountains? check!)  My Mom was accompanied by my eldest sister, who had dreamed of visiting the Banff/Lake Louise region of Alberta.  Isn't it wonderful that you can drive 5 hours from Whitefish to get to Banff/Lake Louise?  Check!

In the days leading up to our Canada road trip, I was monitoring fires in British Columbia and Alberta, since one of them had once already closed the highway we would take to Banff.  I can't tell you how happy I was when it began to rain close to site of the fire.  As we drove past the fire, clearly the rain was having a dampening effect.  It had been so long since we felt rain, or breathed in the earthy smell of rain - I rolled down my window!!!  The wonder of spray on the road, and puddles - I felt like a kid again.
Upper Left and Middle: Smoke rising
from fire along Highway 93
Bottom: Skies clear as we near Banff

Alberta and British Columbia provide frequent rest areas with facilities (can I make a crack about how important this is for a man with a small bladder?), and at one such stop we were also rewarded with Numa Falls.
Lower right: grooves from years of swirling water
Immediately before the Banff exit, there is an overlook that is a must.  As you can see in the picture below, you can't take a bad picture with Vermilion Lakes in the foreground and Sanson's Peak looming beyond.  That day, it didn't hurt that the clouds were clinging to the razor edge of the Peak!
As we entered Banff, my excitement kept building, because I had a secret.  My sister has always wanted to visit the Fairmont Banff Springs - we had taken it a step further and booked ourselves for afternoon tea.  I announced this as we pulled up to the "castle", and the delight on her face was ... priceless!
The Fairmont Banff Springs has been serving Afternoon Tea for over 125 years.  Guests from around the world have experienced Afternoon Tea precisely how Anna, Duchess of Bedford intended it to be when she first invited her guests for tea and scones.  Over the years, the pastry chefs have perfected scones, shortbread and other delicacies to delight the senses.
When we could tear our eyes away from the never-ending delicacies, we enjoyed this view of Stoney Squaw Mountain from the dining room.  (Don't you wonder where THAT name came from?)

After tea, we explored the hotel and I have limited myself to just a few pictures here.  Opened in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this hotel was the inspiration of Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, 19th century railway pioneer and hotel visionary, who famously quipped "If we can't export the scenery, we'll import the tourists."

So, it seemed appropriate that we should end our day in Banff with a walking tour of the town, including the scenery along the Bow River.
 That night, it was sweet dreams for us all - and this was just the FIRST day of our road trip!

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Linking to Skywatch Friday

Linking to Our World Tuesday
Our World Tuesday Graphic


  1. How wonderful that you could do this for your family members. It sounds like a dream trip because we do love trains and beautiful scenery. What a great time for all :)

  2. Oh now...those are surprises to enjoy for sure. The scenery is beautiful and that tea spread is fabulous!

  3. Oh my - what a fabulous trip - and so many surprises along the way. The scenery is fantastic and the tea looks wonderful. We took the same train, but back to Wisconsin for our 25th anniversary (number 53 is coming up the end of September) - a gift from our kids. Don had never been on a train and he was like a little kid - it was such a grand trip -there and back.

    I'm glad you got to share this wonderful trip with your family.

  4. Beautiful tour through the National Park.

  5. What an amazing first day, you all had such a fabulous time! So looking forward to the rest of the story. BTW the afternoon tea mosaic is incredible!

  6. What a gorgeous tour! Banff National Park is one of my favorite travel destinations. The scenery, the afternoon tea…, everything looks fantastic. I can imagine the shining smiles on the face of your mother, your sister as well as yours.


  7. How wonderful that you had such a grand trip with your family members. Your mother’s dream came true! The scenery is beautiful, so I had to enlarge those photos to enjoy it
    Angie, so sorry to hear that your sister lost her husband. She still must be feeling so sad.
    Death completes the circle of life, but how sad to see someone close’s soul moves on.
    Happy day to you and your family.

  8. Bucket list for sure. Glad you made your mom's dream come true.

    Worth a Thousand Words

  9. I bet your Mom is still smiling! How wonderful and for your sister, too. Gorgeous images and afternoon tea, too. I'd be in heaven ... Ha! Have a lovely week.

  10. Hello, what a nice surprise for your Mom and sister. First the train ride and then the road trip to Banff. This place has been on my bucket list for some time now. I have been to Glacier Nat'l Park and have been worried about the wildfires, I hope the rain helps put out those fires. Love the views, it is a gorgeous hotel. Thanks for sharing your trip and awesome photos. Have a happy day!

  11. A beautiful post - making dreams come true, gorgeous scenery, and a delightful tea. When I was a child watching old black and white movies from the 1940's, ridng a fancy train with a dining car and sleeping room seemed extremely fancy. Much of the old railway system is gone now but I'd love to take that western trip of yours.

  12. What a nice and vivid description of the rain … such an enjoyable read all the way through, and what joy to do nice things for those you love!

  13. It looks like you had a wonderful trip. I hope to get to Canada one day. I've never been on a long overnight train ride, so I will add that to my list! Happy travels and thank you for stopping by my blog this week.

  14. I would have no difficulty packing on a few calories there!

  15. oh my gosh, there was not one single word of this post that I didn't love -- marvelous. We took a cross-country Amtrak trip that went through Glacier pk once (I guess it was kind of a half-country ... we went from Oregon to Chicago and then back to California before coming home... enjoyed every minute of it and I can imagine how much your mom and sister loved it.

    And then high tea and a gorgeous scenic road-trip! How many fun things can you put in one post?

    And PS: you can make that crack and I will respond that it is a good thing we drive a 'fully-equipped' travel van on our road trips these days :>)

  16. We love our national parks and Banff is one of the stars. A couple of years ago we treated ourselves to tea at the Fairmont there, too. It was fabulous. The view just cannot be matched. And the food is pretty spectacular, too. I'm glad the roads weren't closed for your trip. We're hoping and praying for more rain to come and dampen this dreadful fire season.

  17. I stopped by here several years ago. The scenery is just spectacular. I'm sure you and your family had a fabulous time.


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