Wednesday, July 17, 2013


(Friends:  I have been trying to reply to some of your comments but the replies are not publishing.  This Blog program is getting 'glitchier' by the minute.  What did we do before computers?  Probably swear a lot less. )   

The gently meandering Bow River had become a much larger and more threatening body of water by the time I rolled into the little town of Banff.

I parked behind the hospital--one of my favorite 'go-to' places to boondock for the night.  This rather scraggly looking neighbor was making short shrift of their flower beds.  She must have been hungry because it was pouring rain.

Unknowingly, I had parked less than 1/2 block from the Bow River and the next morning I found lots of signs blocking the streets leading to the river.

The river's edge, where bike paths, picnic areas and walking trails are found, was now inundated with water--and it was still raining.

People with houses along the river were starting to sandbag their properties, and the library where I spent the day was talking about evacuating.

On the second day I moved to higher ground and, in a parking lot behind the main street, I joined a half dozen other RVs also waiting out the weather.

The downtown McDonald's was one of the best I have ever seen.  First they had free wi-fi but they also had TVs everywhere to track the storm and they had a fireplace! Unfortunately, the french fries were the same--but the oatmeal is good.

On the third day the grocery stores began to run out of food and water.  And we got word that there had been some terrible rock and mud slides on the Trans Canada Highway.  Canmore was completely cut off from us in the north and from Calgary in the south!

The locals were saying, "There have never been rains like this in memory."  "The river has never been this huge."

On the fourth day the electricity went off.  That meant all cash registers, ATMs, gas pumps, computers and even WiFi went down. That was the darkest, quietest night I can ever remember--except for the rain.

It was now less than a week before Ron was due to arrive and it did not look promising.  The word from Canmore was that the town was flooded (as was Calgary), the water system was compromised, they had no electricity and they were cut off in all directions.

Water had reached the front doors in some of the homes in Banff but, so far, no home had flooded. I was out of cash and the ATMs weren't working.  Ordinarily that is not a problem--I have enough food in this RV to feed Sigh Me and myself through any catastrophe. But I needed change to do laundry and we were out of drinking water.

On the fifth day the electricity came back on and some food trucks started arriving from the north. Gasoline was rationed but there wasn't anyplace to drive to anyway. I stocked up on water and did the laundry.

While waiting I explored the roads around the city and got a bird's eye view of the river.  (Dean, here are some of the hoodoos you like.)

The hotel in the heart of Banff stands out from the trees around it.  The setting with the mountains all around it make Banff as beautiful as any little Austrian village.

I should have explored this old hotel.  Lake Louise and Banff have two of the most spectacular hotels, built at the turn of the last century as tourist destinations for passengers traveling on the new cross-country trains.

Banff is charming and certainly not a bad place to get stranded.

I discovered their hot springs, located only 5 minutes up the hill from downtown.

For $6 per day I got a hot shower, an all-afternoon soak in their mineral baths and a couple of hours of nap and book reading.  Boy, waiting out this storm is sure rough. But I forced myself to visit this pool every other day.

We were starting to get blow-by-blow reports on the work the highway crews were doing to get the roads open to Canmore.

 On the 6th day one lane was opened from Calgary.  Yeah! Now Ron could get to Canmore from Calgary.  I had an email message from him stating the Brennand's condo was high up on the side of the mountain and there was no chance of flooding. That was a relief.

On the 7th day the critters came out to play--and I went to the movie.  I had two choices (new movies were held up in Calgary)--World War Z or Superman.  I opted for Superman--no, I don't recommend it.

The TV stations were saying that this was an "Unprecedented storm--one for the centuries".

On the eighth day buses were traversing over one lane of highway between Canmore and Banff--but for locals only.  Workers were being recruited to help with the clean-up and I considered it--it would be one way to get into Canmore.  

But, on the morning of the 9th day the road was opened to everyone--and I got into line to make the trip. Ron was due the next afternoon just in time for  Canada Day (Canada's 4th of July) on the first day of July.
All the effort that went into opening the TransCanada Highway was primarily for two reasons..First, because Canmore had planned a big Canada Day celebration and they were determined that it would take place.  And secondly, The Calgary Stampede was due to start just 4 days after Canada Day.  There is no bigger attraction for Alberta, Canada than the Stampede--and the northern entrance to the city was vital.

 More critters came out to play.  As I drove away from town a wolf crossed the road in front of me.  Of course, I did not have the camera handy.

The 30 mile trip to Canmore was slow, there were signs of many slides that had been cleared from the road.

But the weather was crystal clear and perfect.

I will have to come back with Ron so he can see the town.


  1. Stranded in Banff....Stranded in Banff.....if I keep saying it....maybe it will make sense....Stranded in Banff....Stranded in Banff....


  2. Actually, Wow...the Bow river was not near that size summer before last.....a river for sure,but not even near that. We missed the hot springs at Banff, after that artic ride to top of sulpher or copper mountain, could have used one. Thanks for pics of hoodoos, they do peak my interest....certainly some stuff to see around Banff. ....thanks for the journey once again....


  3. You sure don't stay home twiddling your thumbs!
    Sorry about the problem with comments. It is better, but I know several commenters can't get through.
    I hope your Canada Day went well. And that you did not get run over in the Calgary Stampede.

  4. Hattie..Some day I will take a vacation and just stay home and twiddle my thumbs.
    Dean..Yes, such agony to be stranded in Banff. But I survived by hopping from one cafe or coffee house to another, sipping lattes, visiting with the locals and talking about the storm. I had to forego much shopping due to a temporary lack of funds and space to store anything else, but I consider that to be a real plus. Funny, but the constant storm clouds did not diminish the incredible beauty of the town.