Have you ever wanted to truly get away from it all? No cell phone? No Internet? No TV?
A trip to the Canadian Rockies might be just what the doctor ordered.
My daughter, Heather, and I took a trip in June. We set off for what was, at least for us, uncharted territory.
It was a great getaway for the two of us to celebrate her graduation ... four nights in someof Canada’s, if not the world’s, most magnificent territory.
We flew out of IAH directly to Calgary, home of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. From there we rented a car and headed for the mountains.
Our first destination, Moraine Lake Lodge, is about 125 miles (or 200 km as the cars there read) from Calgary. The drive was fantastic. The Trans Canada Highway is great, and drivers courteous but, best of all, the scenery cannot be surpassed. Picture majestic mountains, elk, bears, fast-moving streams and more fresh air than these Houston lungs have ever experienced.
Moraine Lake Lodge is located\ within Banff National Park. When we arrived at the lodge, we were warmly greeted at the front desk, which is unlike any front desk I have seen before. You walk into a charming lodge, complete with crackling fire, and a nice person is there to help you immediately. The relaxation begins as soon as you enter the doors.
We were shown to our room and it had the best view I could ever imagine. Turquoise Moraine Lake nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks and adorned by lovely “Christmas” trees. The beds were so comfortable that I had no trouble falling asleep... unusual for me in a new place. So what’s there to do? Well, you can’t use your cell phone or Blackberry, because the place is too remote but, trust me, you won’t miss them. There are hiking trails for the avid hiker and also for those just starting out. You can mountain bike, rock climb, canoe and more. Also nearby are horseback riding, white-water rafting, air tours, glacier walks, caving and more.
The darling town of Banff is just minutes away, with dining and shopping galore. If you were to see Santa and Mrs. Claus on the street, you would not be surprised – it truly looks like “Christmastown.”
We did some shopping there and Heather found the perfect “hoodie”... Oh joy! We also did some hiking (not the tough kind) and canoed out over the placid, glacier-fed waters Moraine Lake. I know that neither of us ever forget it. The beauty and unspoiled serenity were breathtaking.
The lodge also has a gourmet dining room and a deli for simpler meals or a boxed lunch to bring along on a hike. If you like great food, wine and service, you will not be disappointed.
Many visitors are couples celebrating an anniversary or newlyweds. It’s the perfect setting for couples, or a group of friends, but I must say that I would not have traded my companion for anyone else. My daughter loved the setting so much that her panic over the inability to phone or text only lasted a few minutes.
The rooms don’t have phones or TVs, but you can use the phone or the dial-up Internet in the hallway ... if you must.
There are 18 cabins, six Wenkchemna rooms (a newer wing) and eight lodge rooms (where we stayed) at Moraine Lake Lodge. All rooms have a phenomenal view of the lake and mountains, a balcony, and most have wood-burning fireplaces.
Alas, all too soon it was time to move on to our next destination. We got back in the car and drove into Yoho National Park to Cathedral Mountain Lodge. It’s only about 16 miles – still remote and still spectacular. The word “Yoho” is a Cree Indian expression of astonishment or awe – very fitting.
Lodging at Cathedral is all cabins. Gorgeous, wooden weekend homes alongside the Kicking Horse River. You might think they would be rustic, but perhaps only a bit in appearance. Everything was carefully planned from the cozy bedding to the comfy chairs and love seat by the fireplace to the firewood and kindling right in your cabin. The bathrooms are really nice, with all of the amenities one might expect in a five-star hotel, and the shower head was to die for.
Cathedral gets its name from the incredible mountain that reigns from behind the lodge – shaped, of course, like a massive cathedral.
The activities are the same at Cathedral as at Moraine. Fantastic hiking opportunities, and also eating opportunities. We enjoyed the food particularly well after our 26 km hike up to Takakkaw Falls. There’s kind of a long story behind that hike but, suffice it to say, we almost died – OK, just kidding, but let me just say that two people have never been happier to see a rental car. We hiked up there because the road was closed due toan avalanche earlier in the season. It was worth the trek. You can see the spiral tunnels that were built in
1909 to slow the descent of trains coming down the mountain.
Oh, and since you will be so near Lake Louise, you must go. Heather and I also took a hike around there the day we shopped in Banff. It’s simply amazing and has some awesome rock climbing. I really could not tell you which place was my favorite because both places that we stayed were so fantastic. You just really have to go and see for yourself.
Both locations are open from around late May/early June to early October. The rest of the year they are basically snowed in. To make a reservation atTo make a reservation at Cathedral Mountain Lodge,visit www.cathedralmountain.com or call 1-866-619-6442. ForMoraine Lake Lodge, visit www.morainelake.com or call 1-877-522-2777.So, make your reservations,and tell them Patsy sent you.