Day 1 Seattle to Penticton
The morning started early. It looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day here in Seattle. Our first rest stop is planned for Bob's Burgers and Brew in Birch Bay. We met Dean's brother, sister and the kids for breakfast. It was great to see them, it's been almost a year since we've seen each other and the kids have grown so much. Here's a family photo.
From there we headed northwest to the border at Sumas, a very tiny border crossing with no wait. We rode the border East for 2-3 miles before heading Northeast to Hwy 1 and the Canadian and U.S. roads ran side-by-side.
We had roughly a 4 hour drive to Penticton, British Columbia. 328 miles from home with more and more winding, twisting roads the closer we got. Penticton is a resort town which is situated at the far south end of Okanagon Lake. The lake is enormous. It takes over and hour to drive top to bottom and it's pretty wide as well. It's a gorgeous day here. We checked in to our hotel, then after a quick Google search we headed in the direction of wine and food. The area is full of wineries and reminded us of the Lake Chelan, WA area with its varied colored rock, brownish-red dirt and scrubby brush.
The first stop was Hillside Winery and Bistro. We had a tasty late lunch and had a marvelous glass of Gamay Noir. So good we bought a couple bottles. The second stop was Red Rooster winery. They had a deeee-licious Gewvertriminer and Viogner. The reds were OK to blech. The ice wine was a tastey-sweet finish.
Day 2 Penticton to Lake Louise
This drive started out great. The scenery was amazing ... then the traffic lights along and two-lane, "trans-Canada" highway got tedious. 489 miles of tedious. We hit lots of slow traffic and even sat in a construction backup, on a national holiday no-less, for at least an hour. Do I seem annoyed? We were. The weather also turned to gray and rain. A six-hour ride turned into 8 and we were sooooo ready to get out of the car when we finally arrived at our destination, cranky, hungry and stiff. From here it gets much better. Days 2 & 3 are our splurge days and we stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
The second we stepped out of the car things got better. We were already checked in and the bell man had our room keys and took care of the luggage. The bell men are all dressed like Swiss Mountain Guides from the late 1800's, hats and all. We only went through the lobby to get to the elevator. Loved that. The Chateau has some fun shops and several places to eat, all with different menus. The food has been quite fantastic. We ate at the pub our first evening because everything was reserved until 9 pm. The breakfast buffet had a marvelous selection and everything was tasty. Dean particulary loved the pineapple fritter (donut doough around a pineapple slice and deep fried).
Below is Victoria Glacier sitting above Lake Louise.
Day 3 Lake Louise & Banff
Lake Louise sits inside Banff National Park. Both Lake Louise and Banff are winter sport destinations. We had hoped the weather would cooperate better today, but alas it rained heavily most of the day and is slowly starting to clear as we head into early evening. We inteneded to take the gondola to the top of the mountain today to see the Lake and the continental divide and the clouds just got in the way. Instead, we headed 40 minutes east to Banff for some retail therapy. Worth the drive. Banff is an adorable town situated between several peaks. There are clear German and Swiss influences in the town. Sorry, not photos. It rained like mad while we where there. We caught glimpses of the spectacular beauty of the Canadian Rockies today, yet no lasting impressions.
After getting back to the Chateau we went to the dining room for high tea around 2 pm. They knew we had just celebrated an anniversary and treated us to a glass of a one of the best champagnes we've ever tasted. They told us only 2 places in all of Alberta have the priviledge to serve it, so of course we had to try it. We had a lovely seat in the window overlooking the lake. The finger sandwiches and the scones with deveonshire cream were our favorites. Tonight for dinner we'll have dinner in the Poppy Brassierie. It will be a difficult deciding what to eat.
Some interesting observations and things we've learned:
- I found a cat toy in my luggage on the morning of day 2. Dude spent the morning we left playing in my luggage and must have packed a mouse for me to play with while I was gone. We miss them.
- The chateau is full of foreign guests. We've heard so many accents from all over Europe and Asia.
- Much of the wait and shop staff are Australians. We learned it's easy for them to get work visa's and its a great way for them to see the world while working. We're deducing work visa's are easier for folks who are part of the commonwealth nations.
- Everything about the Chateau is elegant. The lobby, the rooms, the restaurants, and even the different types of music playing throughout the resort spaces. I would love to have a bathroom decorated like the one in our room ... have you ever admitted that about a hotel bathroom?
- The reservation I made has apparently put me a "gold" status with the Fairmont. We are staying on the "gold member only" floor which has a private concierge service and lounge. Priviledge does have it's perks, and we like them.
- The glaciers grind the rock beneath them into a fine powder, Meltwaters wash this powder into the lake. The resulting silty water absorbs all colors of the incoming light, except the turquoise and vivid blue that reflects back ... the color of the lake we see.
We head to Jasper, Alberta tomorrow. The weather is supposed to start clearing so we're hoping to do the gondola ride here at Lake Louise before we leave. The weather should be better by Thursday ... we have another gondola ride to the high peaks of Glacier National park planned for that day.