Day Nine: Yoho National Park

September 4, 2016 at 12:11 AM (Uncategorized)

I’m really blasting through these. I’ve written three posts so far and reposted the prior entries with better quality pictures. Apparently when I uploaded pics during my trip they were terrible quality! Ugh wordpress.

Anyway, close to done! This day was originally planned to be my Lake Louise Everything Left To Do day. But my mom seemed like she really enjoyed Yoho National Park when she went a few years ago, and it seemed like a pretty good day trip option. It’s only about half an hour away from Lake Louise, and there are a manageable number of stops that would make the trip worth it.

First we stopped at the Spiral Tunnels, where you see tunnels built into a mountain for trains to travel through. Theoretically very cool, but from that particular viewpoint you couldn’t quite see anything.

We then continued onto Takakkaw Falls, which was a very high waterfall. Lots of visitors. You could walk straight up to it but we didn’t go all the way up close. It was a nice, easy walk from the (very full) parking lot up to the waterfall, so it was a good start to the morning.

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Then we went toward Emerald Lake but stopped in the small town of Field beforehand. I bought some tacos from a bbq place in that town, which were VERY heavy on the sauce which was a little gross. It was a nice excuse to sit outside on their picnic tables and eat our food though. We even walked around the town because the houses there were pretty cute. A great stop! One of those things you can do when you’re not short on time.

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On we went, stopping at the Natural Bridge first, which was pretty cool. Then Emerald Lake! Of all the things from her Banff trip, my mom thought this was the prettiest lake that I just had to see. I wasn’t terribly impressed to be honest. My favorite body of water this trip was Mistaya Canyon, but my favorite lake was the one below the Valley of Ten Peaks. Well, we walked all along Emerald Lake Lodge which is quite extensive. I then opted to do a full loop around Emerald Lake, despite the slight drizzle. Unfortunately, my mom’s iphone battery died before I could get to the side of the lake that wasn’t in shadow, and my camera doesn’t take pictures that well 😦

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After that, on we went back to Banff! The thing we didn’t do was Wapta Falls, which was considerably farther away though still in the park. Oh well.

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We arrived in Banff at a good time, I think around 5pm, since Lake Louise is only about half an hour from Banff. The lodging for our last night in Canada was farther from the center of Banff than our first three nights in Banff, but still less than a mile away which was the perfect amount of walking for us, since we hadn’t done much walking this day. We walked to a restaurant I had yelped, a Southern place, but once we got there, I saw that there was a Subway just across the street, and we ended up eating there. Oh well, sometimes it’s actually easier on everyone to just eat simpler food where my parents are more comfortable. Everyone’s spirits are noticeably lifted when my parents are eating sandwiches and not awkwardly sitting in a sit-down restaurant.

My dad then walked back to the hotel by himself, but not before my mom and I drilled him on how to get back because neither of us fully trusted that he had any sense of where he was. “Which hotel is it?” “What room are we?” “Do you ever cross the street?” Luckily he was in the room when we got back. My mom and I decided to walk around Banff at night which really meant just going from souvenir shop to souvenir shop. There was one market, like a gourmet market, that we went into and I bought a chocolate milk because the glass container was SOOO CUTE. I drank the milk the following morning, the first time in a long time I’ve had chocolate milk, and it was DELISH.

ONE MORE DAY!

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Day Eight: Glaciers and Icefields Parkway

September 3, 2016 at 11:41 PM (Uncategorized)

We left Jasper the next morning, and decided to walk around Jasper and get Subway for the road before leaving, as we now knew there would be very little to eat in Lake Louise and on the road back south. I’m glad we did this second Jasper walking tour, because we saw more stores than the night before, and it was nice to take more pictures with the sun out. We also stopped in a grocery store and picked up some delicious pastries. Had we known what our lodging would be this night, we probably would’ve gotten more stuff, but oh well.

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We then set off for the Edith Cavell Meadows hike. I had really debated whether or not to do this, because it was supposed to rain, and I didn’t want to be caught out in the rain while on a hike. I’m really glad I opted to do this though, because my parents seemed to love the glacier views, and it didn’t rain much, and now I feel like I won’t need to make the drive up to Jasper again if I decide to explore Banff a second time because this was my #1 place I wanted to hike in Jasper

For this hike, you do the Path of the Glacier hike, which puts you along Glacier Pond and right smack dab in front of a giant glacier. We heard ice crack and fall down which sounds like fireworks/thunder and makes you realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things. It kind of makes me want to go out to the poles and hear the ice cracking there too.

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My dad ended up turning around after we walked past the Glacier Pond because he was getting tired of the switchbacks. I’m glad he did this, and my mom and I continued onto the meadows part of the hike. My mom once again was in fear of bears, as well as the rocky footing, but she continued on and sounded very happy with her choice thereafter.

This is one of my favorite shots of the hike but I do kind of wish I had tried a few more shots. I was perched on a pile of rocks and I kept thinking to myself “I’m not actually certain what this pile of rocks is sitting on and whether it will cave and fall down into the giant glacier pond below…” so I chickened out and got back on the trail pretty quickly.

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We got back to the end and surprisingly, my dad said he had just gotten to the same spot not very long ago. He had taken his time on his walk back and did a little more exploration near the parking lot which my mom and I didn’t do. Again, I’m kind of relieved that we could all go to the same place, and occasionally go off in separate directions but still do our own thing happily.

With that, we continued on back to Lake Louise. This was essentially the “let’s do everything we didn’t have a chance to do!” drive back. Selfishly, I planned things so that we could skip certain hikes closer to Lake Louise, because there’d be more of a chance of me doing those if I came back again. We stopped at Athabasca Falls, which is a much bigger tourist spot than I expected. Though it was all white tourists, not Asians, I think because this was a farther destination than most Asian tours go to.

It was very pretty, but my main memory of this place was unfortunately being caught behind an European tourist who smoked and if you know me I am filled with RAGE whenever anyone near me smokes. I made a not very subtle move of burrowing my face into my jacket sleeve to breathe.

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We had just about reached the end of the Athabasca Falls area (there is a main area everyone stops at but you can continue on and explore more) when it started pouring. Bummer, I think my family would’ve spent another 45 minutes just taking pictures if it weren’t for the rain. I missed what would’ve been an amazing shot of a couple drenched in water and taking wedding photos.

Then we continued on … the rain stopped … and we stopped at Sunwapta Falls, which was nice but very hard to capture on camera. The only thing I tried but could never find was the the Weeping Wall. See here for a listing of attractions http://icefieldsparkway.com/highlights/points-of-interest

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We did a random stop at Big Bend, which I really liked. I asked a guy to take a picture for our family, then offered to take one of his group which he said yes to and then the three of them took a hilariously gangster wannabe pose, but they were doing it in complete seriousness.

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Because of our late start from Jasper, it was dark and raining when I ended in Lake Louise, which was a little stressful. It also dipped down to 6 degrees celsius while we were driving in the dark, which was crazy and also terrifying because I was picturing us getting into an accident and getting stuck outside in 6 degree weather. WE MADE IT THOUGH!

I had booked one night in Lake Louise Inn, which my mom kept marveling that I had the foresight to book in Lake Louise and not in Banff, which would have been quite a bit farther. The inn gave us a free upgrade upon arrival, from a 2 bedroom to a condo loft! My dad was thrilled and thought this was incredibly luxurious. I personally thought it the loft was a little dingy feeling, but it was still nice. SOOO many beds! We laid out our whole spread of food on the living room table and made a dinner out of a packet of ramen and our bread. I feel like whenever my parents can make tea to go with a meal, everyone is much happier.

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Another very restful night here. I had the whole top floor to myself; my parents took a downstairs bedroom.

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Day Seven: Maligne Canyon

September 2, 2016 at 11:34 PM (Uncategorized)

Oh lord it’s October 8th, more than a month since this actual vacation day happened, and I still have four days of this Canadian trip to blog about!!! I can’t say I remember much of this vacation anymore… I can probably jog my memory.

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We started out the day eating breakfast (aka our collected food throughout the trip) in our hotel room. I actually really enjoy the fact that our family can happily do this, because it is kind of a drag to have to look for restaurants for every meal. Sometimes it’s relieving to know I could sit in a hotel room while my mom prepares all the assorted food (Costco cinnamon bread… apples…) and my dad will heat water for tea and we can sit in the comfort of our hotel room. Also on the plus side, since this was a business conferencey kind of hotel, we had a very long desk to eat off of. On the down side, our windows faced into the hotel and overlooked the dining area in the center of the hotel. Since the lodge is only so many floors up, we had to keep the curtains closed. And I knew people could look straight into our rooms if we stood too close to the windows because I could see into others.

The plus side of staying here is that we were almost immediately on our way for our day trip to Maligne Lake & Canyon. The Canyon part comes first. There are essentially six bridges throughout the Maligne Canyon, of varying amazingness. You can start at either end but the one furthest from Jasper has a big restaurant and souvenir shop, so I started there. We went pretty far, but my parents turned back before reaching the final sixth bridge because it got super muddy. I had on my hiking boots, so I chose to continue on. Again, listening to my podcasts, though I can’t remember now what I was listening to at the time. I know on my way back I listened to another Bowery Brothers podcast on the Chrysler Building…

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Anyway, I’d say Maligne Canyon was another great spot. I thought the full hike was worth it, but if short on time, the first three bridges are the most stunning. You can do a loop trail, which I did. It was nice to have walked along two different trails, but the trail back was SUPER boring because you weren’t near water at all and the views weren’t terribly impressive.

I found my parents pretty quickly after that, and we decided to eat lunch in our car. I went and bought a wrap from the restaurant though. The guy serving me was SOOO nice. I at first said I wanted a tuna sandwich, then as he was preparing the bread, I went “actually can I change my mind and get the wrap?” and he was like “of course!” He was very nice and subtle and definitely knew I chose to get the wrap because I’d get way more value out of it, because he said “I’ll make you a GIANT wrap! The wrap is better than a sandwich” and proceeded to make me a wrap that puts Chipotle burritos to shame. I was delighted to bring it back to my parents, who were all like WOOWWW!

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After that, I drove onto Maligne Lake. This was quite a drive, and I thought I had missed it because it seemed a lot farther than the directions said. I probably wasn’t paying attention to the odometer though, because we eventually got there. All the postcards you see of Maligne Lake include Spirit Island, but you can’t see Spirit Island unless you pay to get on a boat. We opted out of this, and ended up just walking around the lake. It was pretty, though maybe not the most impressive on our trip. But it was flat, easy, and probably a nice change from the intense hikes I sometimes surprise my parents with.

Oh yes, the drive to the lake is very pretty, one of my favorites because the fall foliage reached here earlier than Icefields Parkway. There was one particularly gorgeous shot of the changing colors, but I couldn’t get it because I was driving.

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We drove back to Jasper, got a pretty great shot of a moose, and then went for dinner. We decided to park and walk around Jasper, which meant about an hour of my mom stopping in EVERY. SINGLE. SOUVENIR SHOP. We finally got to Subway, my parents’ favorite food destination. I opted to get my elk meatloaf from the Jasper Brewing Co we had gone to the night before, and then we drove back to the hotel to eat it. Another delicious meal.

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Day Six: Icefields Parkway

September 1, 2016 at 10:26 PM (Uncategorized)

So I did five of ten days of vacation blogging … which is pretty much an F for effort. HA. The thing I hate about wordpress is, since six years ago when I first started using this site and now, they’ve added a lot of features and I never had the time to figure it out, and now when I post pictures, they’re completely unproportional to my site! Nothing here seems intuitive to me. I don’t have the time to make this visually appealing though, as I barely have time to even post. Maybe ONE DAY.

Anyway, the sixth day involved getting up, leaving Lake Louise and headed toward Jasper along the 93N aka the Icefields Parkway. There are a ton of stops along the way, as well as hikes. The weather also seems to be generally colder and rainier as we go up north, which was the case almost immediately once we set off. What had been beautiful blue skies quickly turned into grey rainy clouds, as if we had stepped through a portal.

Some hikes I wanted to do but did not get to do included Bow Glacier Falls and the Helen Lake/Crowfoot Glacier. We stopped briefly at the Num Ti Jah lodge, but it was pretty much pouring at this point and none of us had proper rain gear, though my parents really shouldn’t be out in the rain regardless of rain gear.

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I drove to Peyto Lake, where there was a short walk to view the Bow Valley/Peyto Lake, and it was still pouring, but at this point I was like, let’s just stop and sit because the weather report said it’d stop raining in about half an hour. So we just sat in the car … and sure enough the rain slowly let up. My mom and I decided to go out, now in the sprinkling rain (my dad refused), and it was just a ten minute walk up to the viewpoint and once we got up there, no more rain! By the time we came back down, my dad had gotten out of the car (though he still wasn’t interested in looking at the viewpoint), and after yet another bathroom break, we set off, now with considerably better weather than an hour before.

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The next major stop was Mistaya Canyon, which might be one of my favorite stops the entire trip. It’s a very narrow but deep canyon, with very interesting ridges along the side. I walked down to the edge (I’m not quittteee sure if you’re supposed to or not, but I don’t remember any railing preventing us from walking out).

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We stopped to do a picnic lunch at a place called the Saskatchewan Crossing which is where … I think people walked along the river back in the day to traverse the lands. Very few people stopped at this spot, so it was wonderfully peaceful to look out and imagine old fur traders walking below.

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A nearby stop, named the Crossing, is one of the few places to get gas along the parkway, though we didn’t need any. It was a huge rest stop looking area, and it was kind of nice to have real bathrooms even though all the bathrooms at all the stops in the park were so clean.

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The main hike of the day was Parker Ridge, which is described as “easy” but has a lot of switchbacks. It had amazing views, though admittedly it’s kind of the same view the entire time. I didn’t think the summit would have anything interesting, but a family we passed said it was well worth it. WRONG. Haha, my parents decided to head back down after reaching the top of the first half, and I told them I’d continue onto the summit just to look out. I remember listening to my Bowery Brothers podcast, it was an episode on the Times Building. We had been told the summit would be an amazing view of the glacier nearby but it wasn’t an amazing view … or maybe I just am not particularly interested in looking at a glacier? The fun thing was that I ended up catching up to my parents on my way back, which is kind of fun to be able to have my own alone time while hiking, but still be on the same schedule.

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As I’m writing this, I kind of can’t believe how much we fit in a single day! We continued onto the next main stop which is the Icefields Center. Here you can pay to go out onto a glacier via a special glacier traversing bus. You get out and walk around and collect glacier water. It is quite expensive for what sounds like a bus that goes out on what will just look like snow, so I declined. In any case, we arrived so late that we wouldn’t have caught a tour anyway. We still walked around the center and took SO many pictures regardless. There was a little more mist in the air and even a rainbow, but visibility of the glaciers was poor. We stopped here a few days later on the way back, and the sky was much clearer that time.

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I don’t think we stopped after that again, and it was actually another 1+ hour to our hotel so I was eager to get to our hotel before it got very dark. VERY few cars on the road at this point. We were staying in Jasper, which was a much bigger town than Lake Louise though I don’t think as big as Banff. Jasper is essentially just a very long drag of town and our hotel was the very last one. I really liked our hotel, though I think it might have been the most expensive. It was the Sawridge Inn at Jasper and seemed to primarily serve as a business conference center. It had hands down the best amenities I’ve ever had from a hotel, meaning their shampoo and conditioner smelled great and their soap was great. Also, it had the best internet I experienced on the trip.

That night we went to eat at a place called Jasper Brewing Company, and the food was AMAZINGGGG. We shared the following (SO DELICIOUS): Toasted Reuben Sandwich, Fried Chicken Sandwich, Classic Burger, with fries, sweet potato fries and a really amazing salad that had much fresher ingredients than I had expected. I also saw an elk meatloaf on the menu which I was tempted to try. We were so stuffed that I was really bummed that my parents were not willing to extend their bellies to try their Apple & Berry Crisp (the menu description is “Vanilla bean ice cream, Rye Whiskey Sauce”). Doesn’t that sound intriguing?! Other things on their menu: Kale Spaghetti, Seared Beetroot & Quinoa Burger, Elk Carpaccio.

We walked briefly around the street, but it was bitterly cold so we got back to our car and drove the one mile back to the hotel… and I think I finally had my first full, restful night of the trip. SUCH COMFORTABLE BEDS! My parents had at this point decided that I would sleep in my own bed and they would share (usually I share with my mom) and I remember being very annoyed about something so I did it this first night. And we all slept so well that this sleeping arrangement continued throughout the trip and worked VERY WELL for all of us.

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Day Five: Lake Louise

August 31, 2016 at 8:04 AM (Uncategorized)

I’m currently in our Jasper lodging and this is the second of three posts I need to make to catch up to current day. Currently my parents are doing a small breakfast in the hotel room since there was no free breakfast included in our Jasper lodging. (Recap: I last left off blogging from Lake Louise, where we stayed two nights, before heading up to Jasper). I had done my lodging search with one criteria: FREE HOT TUB. Now it turns out that I need to add FREE BREAKFAST as well for my parents for maximal parent happiness.

So two mornings ago, we had our breakfast at our Lake Louise lodging which was decent though very carb heavy. They had a waffle station, where I made two waffles before they ran out of mix and I ran out of patience. Then we set off pretty early for Lake Louise, like possibly 9am? The place we stayed at, Mountaineer Lodge, was very convenient to Lake Louise and it was right across the street from what I initially thought was a small collection of shops and turned out to be the main village.

We got early enough to the Lake Louise parking lot (which is really the Fairmont Chateau parking lot) to have our pick of parking in the second half of the lot. We walked around the main Lake Louise area first, then did the hike to the Lake Agnes teahouse. It includes a stop at Mirror Lake…

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Which sadly looked like it had visibly receded in water level. AHHH GLOBAL WARMING!!!

Once we arrived to the Lake Agnes teahouse, we sat and had a lovely pot of tea and some assorted pastries that the teahouse offered.

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NOT. If you believed that, you don’t know my parents at all. We ate our carried meal of cinnamon raisin bread, bananas and water. 7 CAD for a pot of tea?!?! 4 CAD FOR A COOKIE?!?!? NEVER!

If I were alone I would’ve wanted to do the continued hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers where there is a second teahouse. It would’ve made for a very long day, but maybe next time…

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I did do the Big Beehive hike though, which is super steep. My mom started it with me and turned back because she could tell it was going to be an exposed hike and did not want to be in sun. So then I had the pleasure of listening to my Planet Money podcasts and was VERY HAPPY. I reached the top, and got this shot which might be the most precarious I’ve felt taking a picture because it was a steep drop down from where I was stooping and my legs were feeling pretty weak. But here I am…

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I made it down slowly and carefully, found my parents waiting in the shade, then we decided my parents would start the descent back to the Fairmont and I would do the Little Beehive before doing the return back on my own. The Little Beehive looked out over the Fairmont Chateau and the Bow Valley. Views were better at the Big Beehive but it was considerably easier to hike the Little Beehive. My main memory is delight in listening through a ton of Planet Money podcasts.

Got back, found my parents, and took some pictures around the Fairmont Chateau which is where all these hikes start from and where the main parking lot is and where every tour bus stops. Then headed back to our hotel! I was able to get two tiny little wraps from the nearby restaurant which we had for dinner. I must repeat, food options in Lake Louise are SPARSE. My mom and I also got to walk around the village; the best part is the visitor’s center and you can do a walk around the Bow River. The thing is you can tell there is a lot less water running in the river, I’m not sure if it’s just the time of year or if it’s GLOBAL WARMING!!!

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Next day, drive up to Jasper!

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Day Four: Bow Valley Parkway & Moraine Lake

August 30, 2016 at 8:00 AM (Uncategorized)

Ok I’m a few days behind because the internet at the last place in Lake Louise was not very good so it was difficult enough to send pictures from my mom’s phone to myself; I didn’t even want to bother trying to post to wordpress when I had to wait for something as simple as google maps to load.

With my parents on this trip, I did not spend very much time (ok basically none) looking up where to eat. If it were a vacation with friends or a solo trip, I definitely would’ve already yelped and bookmarked my favorite spots and the THRILLIST’S TOP TEN MUST EATS by now. When my parents are happiest buying bread from costco and eating it every day, I have to lower the bar quite a bit. The downfall for this was that Lake Louise ended up being a much smaller town than I anticipated. There’s a map that our hotel gave us and while at first it looks like a “best hits” of Lake Louise, I later realized every location in that town had been given a point on that map. Strangely enough, the gas station ended up having the best deal in terms of food for value: a surprisingly fresh tasting deli sandwich! We bought two.

Anyway, “today” we left our Banff lodging and headed to Lake Louise. We had our last breakfast at the place (goodbye, delicious eggs, sausage, yogurt, multi-grain toast and tiny cups of OJ!). Then I took the 1A Bow Valley Parkway which is like the Redwood Freeway in that it runs parallel to another more efficient freeway but is much more scenic and therefore much slower. With my parents, it was VERY SLOW. We were stopping at every possible stop, even if I was like “I’ve never heard of this in my research…”

We did the Castle Cliffs viewpoint (meh)

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We did Storm Mountain which overlooked a railway and the Bow River (pretty cool but I don’t know how we spent thirty minutes here when every picture we took looked exactly like this)

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We did Silverton Falls, a very short 1+ mile hike up to a pretty, three-tiered (I’m not using real topology terminology) waterfall that overlooked forest and mountain (worth it!). We encountered zero people on the trail though, and my mom was very paranoid that we’d run into bears.

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We then stopped at Baker’s Creek, BOTH SIDES of the freeway. The first side was really just a bathroom, and the less pretty end of the creek. Of course we still spent several minutes walking around there regardless of its lack of any actual scenic spot. The second side was a very pretty lodge with a restaurant, with the creek running beside it. We did a picnic by the creek of leftover chicken wings and our precious Costco cinnamon raisin bread.

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We did other things that aren’t even on the listing of Bow Valley Parkway attractions! This forty minute drive ended up taking us about four hours to complete. Go us.

We arrived at the lodge only to find out that check-in was actually at FOUR not TWO as I had thought. I decided to go to Moraine Lake, even though the receptionist said the parking lot was full. It was full, but it only took like ten minutes to get in, as they were doing a one car out one car in policy. You then drive another 11km (look at me talking in KM now) to get to the actual parking lot from the highway exit.

We took a ton of pictures of Moraine Lake which sits underneath the Valley of Ten Peaks…

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Then did the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail which was fantastic. Water is such an interesting blue!

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Then my mom and I did the the Rock Pile trail and Consolation Lake trail. The Rock Pile trail is just climbing a bunch of steps to get to the top of … a pile of rocks.

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The Consolation Lake trail had a bear advisory and we ended up joining another pair who was about to head back until they saw us walking. They happened to be two young Chinese people who had moved from China to Canada and my mom talked to the woman the whole way. I initially assumed they were two recent college graduates and it turned out they have a 2 year old son and own two houses in Canada. They were a pretty perfect pair to end up hiking with.

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We ended up hiking for about four hours and headed to the lodge to check-in. The plus is there is a free breakfast and hot tub here, my parents’ favorite thing. For anyone who plans to visit Lake Louise, my biggest advice is to bring enough food for meals without relying on eating out in town … because options are very sparse!

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Day Three: Sunshine Meadows

August 29, 2016 at 10:17 PM (Uncategorized)

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My days consist of taking my parents on long ass hikes, and my nights consist of sitting in the hot tub (I can only handle about fifteen minutes before I feel uncomfortably warm) and then two hours of sifting through all of the photos I took on my mom’s iPhone and sending them to myself and her iPad. For some reason, her iPhone and iPad aren’t synced to the same Apple account. Even worse, she doesn’t have the same apps on the devices, and she has wechat on her phone and Line on her iPad. So to get her pics and send them back to her iPad, I have to send it to myself via wechat, then individually save all the pics because the app is idiotic like that, then resend it to her via Line. The point of this paragraph was, at 7pm tonight I was ready to blog but at 10pm now, I’m SICK OF LOOKING AT A SCREEN.

So today we started off our morning with our included hotel breakfast, SO DELICIOUS! I’m super bummed I didn’t get this place for our last night. I checked with reception and it’d be $100 more than what I currently have booked. Sooooo oh well. We then set off for Sunshine Meadows, only a 20 minute drive from Banff. It felt a little ghost-town like. Its main function is for skiing in the winter and in the summer it has a popular hike through its alpine lakes and meadows. Well, I don’t know if this is considered popular in the summer because there were SO FEW PEOPLE. Actually I take that back. We were constantly surrounded by people at the first half of the hike, but by the second half we barely saw anyone and walking around the shuttle area felt very desolate.

I initially wanted to save $29 and not buy a shuttle pass and instead, walk the 5km to the trailhead. I’m VERY glad I didn’t because the road looked terribly dusty, unshaded, boring, and VERY UPHILL. So, money well spent.

The hike was BEAUTIFUL. I’m bummed that we didn’t get to see the wildflowers in full bloom, because I could tell most of them had dried up by this time of the year. Still, we hit up Rock Isle Island…

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Then the Grizzly-Larix Lakes Loop…

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Then continued onto the Standish Viewpoint, which was a 1mi out and back to reach a wooden platform structure that let you see the valleys and lakes and distant mountain ridges…

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Then finished off the rest of the Sunshine Meadows hike, where I got some amazing blue sky photos.

IMG_3141.JPG We only saw a few little mammals. Our shuttle driver said there are bears roaming around and they do find elk/sheep carcasses so they’re out there! But luckily nothing crossed our paths. It seems odd to me that in US, I feel like the idea of bears is like “HOLY FUCK YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IF YOU COME ACROSS ONE” whereas here it’s very like “just make sure you make noise and let them know you’re around.”

We took the shuttle back to the main parking area and we got our leftovers from last night and ate it in front of the giant Sunshine Meadows gondola/cafe/shop area. I guess snowfall forces people to build things to last, because all the buildings looked like giant REI recent constructions.

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Tomorrow is Lake Louise! I’m honestly exhausted from this trip. I’m clearly very unfit and in all my photos all I can notice is my GIANT BELLY!!! But I’m not exhausted from just the hiking. Part of me wishes I were doing this vacay SOLO. So it could just be me and my podcasts…it’s not very relaxing when I have to put up with my mom and dad annoyed at one another or my mom constantly needing to pee or my dad being unable to walk downhill…

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Day Two: Johnston Canyon & Tunnel Mountain

August 29, 2016 at 7:20 AM (Uncategorized)

I knocked out early last night but am going to attempt to draft a post while my parents get ready for breakfast. Despite the fact that I have had two terrible nights of sleep, I still really like the lodge we’re staying at and kind of want to see if they have more available nights for the last leg of our trip.

The hotel breakfasts here are pretty good – I wonder what a disappointment it is for travelers who come to US and go to the free breakfasts and it’s like … cereal, toast and bruised apples. Here there was eggs, sausages, bacon, yogurt, granola, lots of bread, cereal, fruit… My parents stuffed themselves and then we set off!

My first trip was a twenty-five minute drive to Johnston Canyon. Unlike most canyons I’ve been to, it was not hot, unshaded and dusty. Instead of walking on the rim of the canyon, they built a catwalk so you can walk along the canyon wall, which provides a lot of shade and puts you right by water and greenery. The waterfalls weren’t terribly amazing. But the canyon was!

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My mom loves any shaded hike with a lot of greenery so she was pretty thrilled. My dad turned around after a decent amount of walking. We had already hit the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls, the first two destinations on the out and back hike, but my mom and I wanted to complete the rest of the hike and see the Inkpots. However, my mom ended up needing to use the restroom and since the hike was so populated, she couldn’t just go off trail and go behind a tree. She says she didn’t want someone with a camera to capture her and then everyone would judge her and say “Look at that Asian lady, Asians are so disgusting!” So we turned around not much after my dad turned around. I think we hit the best spots anyway.

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On the way back to our hotel, there was an amazing viewpoint just off the freeway. Great expansive views!

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Then we headed straight to Tunnel Mountain which has been billed to me as an easy, very popular hike in Banff. I should’ve interpreted “a trail of switchbacks” as difficult for my parents though, so it’s my own fault. I felt kind of bad for my dad, but he ended up making it all the way to the top and it was a rewarding view. I wonder what he thought that night, after our first day of hiking. Like “oh god what have I gotten into.” My parents did very well though!

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Then we did dinner at a pizza place and ordered WAY too much food; we had two pizzas, chicken wings and garlic bread. We have an entire pizza leftover and some of the garlic bread and half the chicken wings. Well now we have our lunch prepared! I left the pizza outside on the balcony so that it wouldn’t stink up the room. Luckily it doesn’t look like any animals got into it, though I’m not sure if it iced up in the night.

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Day One: Banff

August 27, 2016 at 11:06 PM (Uncategorized)

I’m going to try to make an effort to resurrect my real-time blog posts when I’m on vacation … because I actually kind of enjoy writing them and posting pics in a non-Instagram format! I am remembering why I failed to do this the last few vacations though … it’s 11:49pm and I’m EXHAUSTED and probably need to wake up pretty early tomorrow and why am I writing about my day again? Oh yes, posterity’s sake.

My flight to Calgary departed SFO at 8:45am. I was super nervous about the idea of relying on Uber to take me to the airport at 6am on a Saturday morning. I ended up going to bed VERY LATE like 12:30am and woke up several times during the night. I kept checking Uber to see if there were cars in my neighborhood, which there were even at like 3am. Naturally, I started hitting my deep REM cycle and my alarm rang at 5:30am.

My Uber came within 6 minutes. To which I say, YAY UBER! I mean, I don’t know why I thought a taxi would be any more reliable. Having to rely on a taxi to take me to the airport used to fill me with great anxiety as well.

Nothing eventful at SFO. The plane to Calgary was tiny, like, tinier than even Southwest planes, though not the smallest plane I’ve ever been on (that would be some tiny Alaskan Airlines flight I took to Portland). Nothing eventful at Calgary either. I waited for my parents’ flight to get in, went to get the rental car, was VERY delighted that they had an available Nissan Altima and requested that model, and got a GPS which I’m super thankful I paid an extra $56 for. I don’t know why I ever thought I’d be able to survive without a GPS.

The first stop was … COSTCO. Which was truly a delight! My parents LOVED eating at the food court for lunch, like it was the best thing that could have ever been planned. We bought some fruits, jerky and the softest cinnamon raisin bread I’ve ever eaten, I got some cool chocolate bars I have never seen in America … and ninety minutes later we finally set off for Banff.

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Meal for champions

Bummers of the day:
1) I never called the Canadian National Park office as I intended to, and now I kind of regret it because I assumed I could use my AAA card for a discount at any location but the ranger told me I would’ve had to do it at a certain location. The discount alone would’ve made up for like … 1/3 of the AAA membership cost. LE SIGH
2) I forgot to pack/stupidly refused to pack and now heavily regret it: Vitamin B, waterproof pants, an umbrella, an auxiliary cable…3) I forgot to bring my basil and mint plants into the house so they’re definitely going to be dead when I return.

Driving on Canadian highways feels very slow. Once we passed into Banff National Park territory, a thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere and just started pouring. Which is a major bummer because I had assumed it would be sunny this whole time!!! Turns out my family was pretty unprepared for rain.

The first place we’re in is booked for three nights and the room is a delight. One queen bed and two single beds! Separated by the bathroom which is awesome. There is a really cool outdoor hot tub area. My mom, unfortunately, caught a glimpse of an older male guest who thought naked hot tubbing was a thing around here. I kept incredulously doubting that someone would be naked and she kept going “NO. I SAW HIS PRIVATE PARTS.” Hilariously, we went to the receptionist to confirm that naked hot tubbing really is not a thing in Canada and she was so horrified to hear that this had happened. She went “Oh my god!!!!!! It must be a European!

Our dinner here was a little sad, though delicious and relaxing. It consisted of our Costco lunch leftovers, a package of something we picked up at Safeway called hot Alaskan pollack which I describe as a spicy fish nugget.  After dinner, all three of us went to the outdoor hot tub and had the whole place to ourselves. I kind of feel like there is NO ONE in this lodge but I also tried looking at rooms after I had already booked in order to price compare and it said it was unavailable! I guess everyone is quiet as a mouse.

Otherwise, my plan was to drive to Vermillion Lakes and do a quick walk around. My plan was foiled though because we got a ridiculously great spot in the parking lot and none of us really wanted to move the car and have to find parking again at night/in the rain. So instead, we started walking through town, ducking into souvenir shops because it was POURING. It finally let up a little though. I wanted to do the Fenland Trail which is supposed to be SUPER EASY but we were easily put off by a giant puddle obstacle and the fact that it just so happened to start pouring again when we reached the trailhead. We ended up just wandering alongside Bow River which delighted my parents even though I felt kind of bummed that my agenda had not worked out as planned. Oh well. NOW IT’S TIME FOR BED.

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Banff’s road sides have this cool design on the back

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Podcasts

June 28, 2016 at 11:28 AM (Uncategorized)

There was a time when I could only remember what day of the week it was after I thought about what show I was going to watch that night.This was before the time of Hulu/Netflix/DVR, so my life was pretty strictly tied to an show’s scheduled air date. If I was going to watch 7th Heaven that night, that meant it was a Monday. If I was going to watch Buffy and Angel, that meant it was a Tuesday. Wednesday was Dawson’s Creek, Thursday was Survivor. (It appears I’m still living in the 90s). Now, I have a new way of knowing what day of the week it is. Podcasts.

Monday: NPR Politics. Tuesday: Savage Lovecast. Wednesday: Fernando and Greg. Thursday: The Read.

The joy of podcasts is that they keep me from nodding off in my cubicle. The difficulty with podcasts is that I can’t just listen to them anywhere or at anytime. I can’t listen to any on the train, because I inevitably miss crucial parts and will quickly lose interest (I never made it past episode 4 of Serial because I unsuccessfully attempted to listen to it while standing on the caltrain platform). My favorite times to listen are at work, if I’m doing something mindless, or if I’m driving or cleaning the house.

Here are my favorites/recommendations:

1) Savage Lovecast
My FAVORITE one. I’m not exactly sure what google search caused me to stumble upon Dan Savage, but I unabashedly love EVERYTHING he says. This is a podcast where people call in with questions, typically relationship/sex stuff, and he responds. He starts each podcast with a political rant and ends with caller responses to prior episodes. I would say I agree with 99% of his opinions, and he has made me think differently about the way things should be, in relationships and in life. I don’t have to be very focused on the podcast to follow it, which is great. His political rants keep me up to date on current issues, callers questions fulfill my desire for smut, and his responses make me feel like I’m maturing as a person. As a sidenote, I am weirdly obsessed with his husband’s Instagram; his husband seems to be a stay at home dad/swimsuit model and posts the most hypnotizing shirtless pictures of himself.

Episode Suggestion: Occasionally he has themed episodes but usually the questions in each episode are pretty diverse so you could listen to any of them and get a good idea of what he talks about. Episode 488‘s opener is a pretty good summary of his views on normality/kink though.

2) NPR Politics Podcast
I did not expect to like this one because I don’t particularly care about politics but this podcast does a REALLY good job of piquing my interest. They have a weekly episode and if something important happens, a quick take episode, where a group of NPR correspondents get together and talk about US politics. My favorite correspondants are Ron Elving and Nina Totenberg who have such great voices for podcasts. The podcast does a great job of summarizing what happened, why it happened, and what the future impacts might be. This involves a higher level of listening commitment, but it’s a nice variation from my usual political consumption (ie. Samantha Bee and John Oliver).

Episode Suggestion: Inside HBO’s Confirmation: When NPR Broke the Anita Hill Story

3) Planet Money
This NPR podcast explores pretty much everything and anything with an economic perspective. You end up learning about a lot of little random things, which I love. They’re relatively short, but do require some amount of listening attention, so I end up either not listening to any or listening to four at a time. I’ve found that this is my favorite podcast to exercise to, because the intervals are perfect and the podcast is tightly edited.

Episode Suggestion: 417 Lance Armstrong and the Business of Doping

4) The Read
This podcast is by two friends who comment on black culture and it’s consistently one of the top downloaded podcasts on iTunes. This one takes zero attention to follow, but I admittedly do not know what/who they’re talking about 30% of the time. I do not agree with the majority of their advice, but I think they’re funny, they bring high energy and it’s just very easy to listen to, no matter what I’m doing at the moment.

Episode Suggestion: Best Of on 1/1/2015

5) Fernando & Greg Sideshow
This is just two Bay Area DJs talking about random shit, with their friend Heklina and Jason, their producer. I love this one because for the most part, it takes zero attention to follow this podcast, so I can listen to this while doing anything, and they are the most sexually explicit of my podcasts (in a different way from Dan Savage) so it feels gossipy.

6) What’s the Point
This podcast is similar to Planet Money, in that they focus on a topic each time, but this has a data slant. The episodes are slightly longer than Planet Money though, so more in depth though I think Planet Money just covers a LOT of ground in a short time, whereas What’s the Point is more conversational, between the host and their interviewee. They cover very interesting and relevant topics.

Episode Suggestion: A Privacy Mea Culpa

Things other people like but I don’t:

– Ted Talks: I just CANNOT get into these. The descriptions tend to be more interesting than the podcast itself. I just lose interest too quickly, usually even before the one minute mark.

– This American Life: In theory, I can understand why people would like to listen to this, and I really did try to like this. I listened to at least thirty, thinking the entire time that I was the problem. Each time I’d finish a podcast and think, well … I didn’t really care about any of those three stories! Eventually when you have forty episodes built up in your queue and you have no interest in listening to any of them, it’s time to unsubscribe.

– Unqualified with Anna Faris: I liked Anna Faris and I liked Chris Pratt, not obsessively, but enough to be willing to watch their interviews on youtube if they were ever on a media circuit. But listening to Dan Savage has spoiled me because now if I don’t agree with someone’s relationship advice, I cringe SOOO hard. And I listened to one episode where Chris Evans was on and I cringed SOOOOOO hard at Anna Faris’ advice and Chris Pratt’s reactions and then I felt disgusted in MYSELF because I actually agreed with fratboy idiot CHRIS EVANS and it was just such a gross experience to find myself on the side of Evans vs. Pratt and Faris that I never listened to this again. I think this is an instance of celebrities needing to set up a higher boundary between themselves and fans.

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