A Travellerspoint blog


Healthcare in Banff and Canmore, Grotto Canyon trail

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We have tested the healthcare system in Canada (at least a very specific part of it). If you are travelling with small kids you might find this information useful. Our smallest became one year old during our travel and we spend the next months travelling. He needed vaccinations, some at the first time and some repeating earlier received vaccines. So we started to phone the healthcare providers in Calgary. It was an automated system and very difficult to get information without the local SSN. In Cochrane we went to a Public Health Center and in person it was working out fine. I talked to a very kind doctor who said that they have no empty appointment slots in the next two weeks but they could do the vaccination. We did not plan to stay so long in the area but she advised that in Banff there might be more free slots. So after arriving to Banff we went to the Community Healthcare Center and talked to the very kind receptionist if it was possible to get the required shots for our son. They had to make a few phone calls to get approval for the out-of-country patient but a day later we got a positive phone call with an appointment booked for the next day.

Then we went again at the agreed time and the very kind nurse did all the routine examinations, checked the height, weight and mood of our son and gave him three vaccines in line with his earlier vaccine records. We were very happy and grateful that this step was possible despite our travels far away from home.

We planned a shorter hike for the afternoon but finally it was an exceptionally nice walk at the Grotto Canyon near Canmore. The canyon was much less crowded than our previously visited places and we had to walk in a riverbed which was rocky and sometimes steep. On the sides there were huge rock walls and the width was once tighter and then wider as we walked.


We passed a nice waterfall which had little water flowing at the time of our visit, it might be very different at springtime when s now melts or during winter when it freezes.


Then we arrived to an Inikshuk Garden with plenty of smaller and larger rock towers. Inukshuks are manmade stone landmarks built by the Inuit, Iñupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.


Afterwards we arrived to a cave a bit higher up on a steep hill and there we had our sandwiches and turned back to complete our way back to our car in the magnificent canyon. Perfect weather and perfect landscape made our son and us quickly forget the pain of the vaccination.

Posted by divatmotoros 13:21 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Banff Cave and Basin National Historic Site

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Today we wanted to have a less demanding day. We had a good breakfast, filled our freshwater tank and moved site, it was quickly noon. We saw a Parks Canada ranger with an airsoft gun walking past our trailer and she was checking every corner. First I thought they have a team building event for employees but then I ruled that out as the campsite is still full of tourists. Then we asked her and she said that a few minutes ago a black bear passed our trailer and they are looking for that. Until now I thought the campsite is just overly cautious but I have to admit bears are really near now. They even enter campsites. As the berries have limited supply this year bears are searching food everywhere before the cold weather arrives.

Then we realised we need laundry so we packed everything (except the detergent...:) ) and drove to the town center. The laundry had good wifi and we walked a bit to get an icecream.


After the clothes were nice and clean we visited the Cave and Basin National Historic Site just 10 mins from the center of Banff.


It has a relatively small cave but it was the first of the National Parks and even the aboriginal people used its sulfurus hot water for healing.
We enjoyed the short movie and the exhibition and the favourite was the giant Jenga from used cardbox.


After the exhibition we took the lower boardwalk, watched the scenery and some fish and birds.


Just before leaving I wanted to take a good shot of the Canadian flag and the mountains. I did not realise there was a moose just under the flag pole. It was slowly moving and eating grass, then almost entered the exhibition which was closed by then, so he (or rather she?) decided to wander off.


In the evening we had a good shrimp-pasta with some California wine and therefore I installed our new licence plate in good mood. It has the Canadian flag and says: "Bear crossing".


Posted by divatmotoros 02:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Cascade Falls and Two Jack Lake

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It was a warm and sunny day so we opted for a shorter (but steep) hike and an afternoon at a lakeside enjoying the kayak. We have already passed by Cascade Falls already several times which is huge from the distance. There is a steep climb to it, just about 700m long but it elevates 155m.


On the higher end you can refresh yourself with tge ice cold water and enjoy the view far far into the distance.


Exactly what we have done until we were too hot on the sunshine.


On our descent we have met a couple with two kids and they were originally from Gyula, Hungary (already born in Canada). After a quick chat we said goodbye in Hungarian (Sziasztok, jó utat!) and drove to Two Jack Lake. Enroute we have stopped at a boat control station as the 48 hours dry time has not passed yet since our unfogattable Lake Louise kayaking. If needed there you can hot-wash the boat before entering a new lake. The inspector decided we don't have to wash the kayak as it was clean and dry so they issued a permit.


Echo is a real city dog and he prefers sitting on a bench instead if the rocks and stones.


The kids enjoyed kayaking with us in turns and they played with the little guy on the shore, a groundhog. It had a huge castle with over ten exit holes and was appearing in a different one each time the kids went too close.


On our drive back to the campsite we have seen several deers, three of them crossing the road just in front of us.

Posted by divatmotoros 12:10 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

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After the climb to Tunnel Mountain yesterday we wanted to do shorter and easier hikes today. We started the morning in Johnston Canyon just 20 minutes from our campsite which has two sections. The lower falls is accessible on a narrow but well built walkway. The upper falls is a more challenging hike with some stairs and steeper inclines. How do we know? We use the Alltrails app which is a good way to filter trails based on distance from your base, length and elevation profile.


The Canyon way quite crowded but very interesting to see and our kids enjoyed a lot. Echo was less excited with the big depth next to us and the noise of the water flowing downwards but he kept walking with us regardless. Afterwards we decided to give a try to the beautiful lakes of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Parking is almost impossible at these locations during the day. We red about hikers going there at 2-3am in the morning to enjoy sunrise and the parking lots filling up by 3am. So it is a gamble during the day and there is no place to wait for an empty spot. If the parking lot is full you need to keep driving, turn around and leave. You can take a prebooked shuttle which fills up weeks ahead too but that was not an option for us with the trolley and the dog. So we took a chance. On our way we stopped at the iconic Morant's Curve (google it for beautiful train photos, we had no luck with an oncoming train but the scenery was still beautiful).


It was 2pm when we got to Lake Louise and it was a dense row of cars heading to the lakes. First intersection: Moraine Lake. A big flashing sign said: "Parking Full" so we kept driving towards Lake Louise. After about 10kms we reached the parking of Lake Louise and everyone in front of us was sent back. Except the car right in front of us and then us. We were waved into the parking lot by the attendandts and right after us it was closed again. YES! Got lucky, it seems that two cars left just at the right time to let us in!

We stopped the car and decided to take the kayak with us too so I unmounted it from the roof. It is free to use your own equipment at these lakes but there are very strict rules to prevent contamination of lakes. You need to clean and dry your boat and leave 48 hours drytime between lakes. Next to the lakeside there is a box and you need to fill a form and drop it into the box. We did so and we launched the kayak into the water. The views are stunning and the mobile photography (or my limited skills) still can not nearly express the beauty of this place.


All of us had a go on the water except Akos and Echo but they were playing peacefully on the shore until we enjoyed the lake It had an unreal turquise blue color and very cold water but our retina was hardly believing what we saw. Lake Louise is at an altitude of 1600m and has a max depth of 70 meters. Why so blue? Fine rock dust, produced by massive glaciers rubbing against bedrock, stays suspended in the water, reflecting light and creating the turquoise colours. The color is changing and the climate change has an impact on it too!


It was time to head back home so we started our drive and when passing by the intersection to Moraine Lake the car in front of us started to signal to turn towards the lake despite the road blocks. The attendant at the closure opened the gate and let them turn in, so we tried as well and we were let in too! It was about 5:30pm and we got lucky the second time so we drove up to Moraine Lake and had a quick look at it. I now undestand those who get up at 1am and spend the rest of the morning in their cars waiting for sunrise.


The evening was a bit busy after getting back to the campsite. We had to empty our black and grey tanks and fill our freshwater tank what took about an hour altogether (packing, slide in, attach to car, drive 5 mins to dump station, dump, drive back, detach, level, slide out, smile!)
We can not be more grateful to our friends for lending us the kayak, it was an unforgettable day!

Posted by divatmotoros 13:03 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Banff and Tunnel Mountain

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We have arrived to one of the most awaited section of our trip: the Rockies and specifically Banff. Not as if we are much into crowded, touristic places but we have a special bond with mountains. Our favourite trips in the past were the ones in Austria into the Alps, we even spent an unforgettable Christmas there. So we were very excited! All the campsites were fully booked months ago in the area but we managed to get sites for 6 days in Tunnel Mountain, Banff with one small compromise: after the first two days we had to move to another site within the camp for every other night.


As we came from Cochrane (not too far away) we got to the campsite at 1pm. We have seen a large elk on our way and the weather was nice to us: it was raining during our drive and we even passed through a large storm with heavy rain but right after our arrival it stopped raining. So the setup of the trailer was a dry excersise this time. After setting up the camper we went to a teaser drive to a lookout at Surprise Corner Viewpoint overlooking the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the scenic bend of the Bow River.


After the lookout we drove uphill to Mt Norquay Lookout and on our first scenic stop we bumped into a wedding photo session. It nicely complemented the beautiful scenery.


Afterwards we still felt ready for a short walk. So we drove to the free public parking at the bus station in Banff and walked along the river. Echo got unusually excited at one point and after about 50 meters of struggling with the dog we have noticed the reason for his odd excitement: two deers approaching. They were walking literally on the pathway and they were staring at Echo but not afraid at all, even walking closer and closer to us. What a welcome!


In the evening it got cold (being 10 C and I know, most locals still walked in t-shirts and flip-flops but we needed 3 layers AND the raincoat to save us from freezing.) The heater in the trailer was on for the night.


The next day we started around 10:30 and walked straight from the campsite towards Tunnel Mountain. First we took the trail running paralell the Tunnel Mountain Road then turned left to Tunnel Mountain Drive and after about 2 kms we arrived to the trail leading to the summit. It was about 2 kms from here uphill with an elevation of 222m (from 1470 to 1692m) but the kids did all right. I was carrying Akos and Zsuzsa was carrying an equally heavy backpack with raincoats, water and sandwiches. The view was getting better and better and at the top it was very very beautiful. You can see the whole of Banff and the Bow river several times all different directions.


These pictures are far from the real beauty your eyes can see.


After hiking back to our camper we had a good rest and late lunch (hot dogs). Then we drove to Lake Minnewanka (15 mins from the campsite). The day use area was quite full of people and at least 3-4 photosessions were running in paralell. Echo got quite excited again but we haven't spotted any wildlife, we assume they come to the area to pick up picknick leftovers in the evenings and their smell was too interesting for our dog.


The evening campfire was closing off our day full of adventure.


Posted by divatmotoros 11:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Bow Riversedge campground, Cochrane

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We stopped for 3 nights at Cochrane before we headed to Banff.


The nice riverside campground was a good spot for relaxing, running (2nd time in August, not a very intense training programme...) and dog walking. There were lots of dogs on the off-leash riverside. We met two ridgebacks with a local lady and there was another old ridgeback in the campsite so hard to tell it is a rare breed! (No photos of the other ridgies unfortunately).


The kids enjoyed their scooters on the paved roads of the campsite and we did a large stockup at Costco.


I also had to replace our kitchen faucet as it started to leak heavily at the bottom of it. Despite the measuring I bought a faucet which was 2 cms too high so had to go back to the shop and replace to a smaller unit. Finally it worked out fine, another update to the maintenance post.
We made a nice steak and using open fire we cooked traditional eggplant cream. Yummie!!


Next stop is Banff!!

Posted by divatmotoros 10:48 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Drumheller Dinos at Badland

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Before we left the beautiful offgrid weekend at Burnstick Lake with the help of my friend we changed the old spare wheel of our trailer to the newly bought tire. After installing the wheel we noticed an unusual movement so I decided to have it checked. I called two RV services without luck as they were booked ahead until 2-3 weeks. The third option was Bucars RV where they assured they can check and if needed fix our bearings. The bearings needed a repack and greasing anyway so we dropped of the trailer and decided to drive to Drumheller for a day trip.

The Drumheller portion of the Red Deer River valley, often referred to as Dinosaur Valley, has an approximate width of 2 kilometres and an approximate length of 28 kilometres. It is called badland, which are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded. Arriving to the valley is almost an extraterrestrial experience. You are driving on a "normal" countryside road with sunflowers and wheat on the sides when suddenly you arrive to a deep and wide valley where it looks like the earth cracked wide open.


Then we drove to the Tourist Information booth which is a giant dinosaurus. Quite possibly the largest in the world... :)


With our limited time on hand (we had to get back to pick up the trailer between 17:00 and 18:00) we decided to check the Royal Tyrell Museum. Although our kids are not much into dinos they enjoyed the dino skeletons and fossils. The museum is definetely worth visiting and you can easily spend even more days in Drumheller and its area. The views are also stunning with clearly visible geological layers.


On the streets of Drumheller we have seen several other dinos.


Then it was time to go and we got back to Bucars just on time to pick up the trailer (another update to the maintenance post). In the evening we were pampered by a real Hungarian "húsleves" by our friends, Évi and Gyuri. They are so caring and great hosts offering us all kinds of help. Gyuri even offered to lend me his kayak for our next leg: Banff and the Rockies!


We have received lots of maps and good advise from Évi, a big box of Hungarian books for Ábel (half of which is already read by him). We also agreed to spend another weekend together around Jasper so really exciting times ahead!

Posted by divatmotoros 02:08 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Calgary Downtown and Sam Livingstone Fish Hatchery

Bow Habitat Station

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Today was rainy and the forecast promised a few hours free of rain midday so we looked for an indoor activity. We picked a small aquarium next to the Bow River in East Calgary and visited the Sam Livingstone Fish Hatchery and Bow Habitat Station.


There are two stories in the building and at the lower there are several aquariums with the different fish of Alberta. Even our one year old kid was very happy and cheered loudly the slowly moving fish. Abels favourite was the huge fish with buttons and we learnt together the inner and outer parts of fish in English.


Then on the upper level there are lots of interesting displays of how water could be saved and many interactive exhibits about the environment protection and the animals of Alberta. We could even see the large tanks with 7 months old trouts which are raised at the hatchery. Later they will be transported by large tankers to lakes.


After visiting the hatchery we went outside and the rain stopped so we had a nice picnic lunch. Afterwards we walked on the pathways to the river where we found a nicely built rowing section with fast currents.


Several people trained there in kayaks and even surfing was possible on a large standing wave. While we were freezing in long sleeves locals wete sitting IN the water, which was quite cold. Abel was checking the neighbouring wildlife.


We drve to downtown to have a feel of Calgary which seems the most vibrant city of Canada for now. Lots of people moving in, businesses growing and in general you can feel the energy. St Johns was the opposite in feelings, although we liked it but that city seemed mote in a downward trend.

We have seen the bull in front of the Stock Exchange building.


Then we visited the huge human head called The Wonderland Sculpture in front of the highridr building The Bow.


Posted by divatmotoros 10:39 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Burnstick Lake - Toyhauler weekend

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We do not need any better amusement park than a toyhauler and our trailer parked far away from civilisation in the forest, good friends, good food and good mood! It was all happening last weekend when we followed the recommendation of our long friends from Budapest now linving and camping in Canada. We agreed to meet at their favourite place at Burnstick Lake and I was very excited to see them again. We arrived a bit earlier and there were wild horses on the agreed spot in the forest. See them behind Echo:


Later those walked away peacefully and we heard a lot of wolfs howling in the distance later in the evening. They took their huge dog with them and the two dogs were playing almost all time of the weekend. They enjoyed it a lot and Echo was sleeping for two days after the weekend!


It was also more than 8 years that I was last riding a motorbike so the quad he took seemed like a good compromise. It was surprisingly hard to keep that beast on the trail especially when the trail was inclined to the side or was muddy. I was ending once sideways in a big puddle and had to struggle backwards for minutes to get back on track. Much harder than it seems on rough roads! My friends 14 years old daugter was speeding and sliding with the squad like a superstar, I was not able to master it during this weekend. I still had a lot of fun! I also tried the dirtbikes (a smaller one and a large KTM as well) and that was scary as hell too! I was always riding on concrete before so doing 60-70 kmh on a dirt road was frightening! These bikes are capable of much more than I did and it was also proven by my friend and his 12 year old son who was zig-zagging on the dirt roads with the smaller (but very powerful) dirtbike.


In the evenings we cooked traditional Canadian (BBQ) and Hungarian food (lecsó) and listened to our joint favourite music (hungarian alternative bands like Kispál és a Borz, Quimby and Császári Pillanatművek)


The weather was nice to us and we used the kayaks and floaties as well, not only the kids enjoyed the real summer activities. The lake was also surprisingly pleasant, not too cold.


Posted by divatmotoros 04:12 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Springhill RV Park&Storage - BBQ and car maintenance

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After the fantastic (and mosqiuto-less which is a wonder in itself in Canada!) Cypress Hills we finally got close to Calgary to see our old and new friends! First of all a family from Hungary who I met more than ten years ago, when we both were avid motorbikers. He had the big Honda Varadero and I was riding a Honda VFR800, good fun times! Now we finally meet again as they moved to Calgary several years ago. The other meeting was agreed during this trip as the editors of the Hungarian podcast "Kanadabanda" interviewed me earlier. We agreed to meet once in Calgary so it was time for that meeting as well!

So we decided to first meet at our trailer in the Springhill RV Park and make a nice BBQ, we had chicken, pork and stake on the menu. Everyone brought something and we and our kids were all spoiled with welcome gifts! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


After the BBQ it was also time to do some maintenance work on the car which seemed easier in a large town like Calgary. I checked two car repair shops, one of them was Canadian Tire and the other one a Midas. Both are big chains but somewhat more affordable than a Ford dealership. The spark plugs and the oil/filter was replaced and I updated the technical/maintenance post with this work.

Ready to roll to a nice offgrid camping weekend with our biker friends who took a toyhauler loaded with bikes, quad and kayaks! See you at Burnstick Lake!

Posted by divatmotoros 04:27 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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