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After our last update we headed to Fernie, BC and camped at a really nice campground that had beautiful showers, laundry and 3 playgrounds nearby. The official travel rules in British Columbia didn’t forbid us from travelling there from another province, as long as we stayed in the same defined district, which we did. But campgrounds and other accommodation businesses are not supposed to rent out to out-of-province or out-of-district guests unless they are travelling for essential purposes. To get around this rule and keep their already struggling businesses going, business owners simply ask guests to sign a statement saying you are there for essential reasons. We could have been at the furthest point in our trip and technically on our way home which was one of the reasons listed as “essential”, so we had no problems getting in. Half the licence plates in the park were out-of-province so I don’t think anybody cared. We caught up on all our laundry and biked all over town using the nice trail system to explore every park in town. While in Fernie we played at our 12th playground of the trip and as of today we are at 16.
We put our travels on hold for a few days to go visit some family in the Calgary area and were incredibly well received. First we visited some of Danielle’s cousins who not only gave us a spot to stay for a night as well as made us dinner, but even offered to tune up all our bikes. Our bikes were very much in need of some repair so we were very grateful. After that we spent a couple of nights at a cousin on my side of the family where we received equally awesome hospitality. At both places there were children around the same age as ours so the kids had a blast getting to know and playing with their cousins. Both families we visited had plenty of animals for the kids to check out. They got to pet horses, alpacas, lots of chickens and their favorite, 4-week old kittens.
After our visits we headed to Banff and we’re again super lucky to have my cousin and his family along with the kids' new best friends join us for three additional nights.
In Banff we spent an entire day visiting the town itself. We walked over 5km and saw the Bow River falls, the playground and visited the 100+ year old Banff Springs hotel. Everyone enjoyed a beavertail for their long walk. The town of Banff is super nice, however they have the most ridiculous COVID related rule we have seen on our journey so far. The municipality mandates masks to be worn outside on any city sidewalks. So everyone has a mask around their ears but only half the people put them on. Everyone else seems to just have them there in case a bylaw officer comes around. Parks Canada manages all the parks within the town and they do not mandate outdoor masks. So you could walk on a sidewalk with very little traffic and everyone (pretending) to wear a masks and then cross the street to enter a picnic area or trail where over 50 people are enjoying the sunshine maskless. I just followed along with my mask under my chin while shaking my head at the absurdity.
After having gotten enough of the touristy side of Banff out of the way, we spent the next day at Johnston Canyon. This 4km hike follows a river of turquoise water through a canyon. The whole hike was on bridges that are somehow built on the inside of the canyon. We crossed many waterfalls and even entered some caves.
As has been the case at all the National Parks, the wildlife was abundant. Every morning we saw deer just steps away from our campsite.
After three nights of camping in the town of Banff, we drove 45 minutes to Lake Louise where we camped for one night. While we were there we visited the famous Lake Louise, but the highlight of our stay was visiting Moraine Lake. Moraine is even more beautiful than Louise but a little harder to get to as it is at an elevation of over 6000 feet. We did a short hike along the waterfront and the kids played along the shore. Because of the elevation, it was very cold and there was still lots of snow. We were not dressed for winter so we only stayed for an hour.
While at our campsite, we enjoyed more company as some more of our relatives from Alberta came for a visit. They brought us nice wine and some great beers. They shared with us plenty of advice for the rest of our trip and we had a great evening catching up.
Today, we are leaving for Jasper National Park. To get there, we are passing through the renowned Icefield Parkway. It’s only a 2.5 hour drive but there is so much to see along the way including the Columbia Icefield.
Over the next 8 days we will be visiting Jasper, Yoho, Glacier and Kootenay National Parks. All our sites are unserviced (no electricity) for this leg of the trip, so it will be a real test to see how efficient we can be on our electricity needs and how well our solar panels work out.
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