Well, our vacation has come and gone much faster than planned.
We arrived in Calgary on Saturday with no incident except a slightly-delayed flight, and began the 2+ hours’ drive to Lake Louise. We were all very hungry, and the Trans-Canada Highway had no rest stops or anything like that for a long way, until the town of Canmore, where we stopped and had “Canadian McDonald’s.” I didn’t think it would be too different from US McDonald’s, but they had waffle fries (which the excited Alex got) and a burger with a hash brown patty on it (which he also got). Re-fueled, we drove the final hour to the chateau.
The setting is beautiful. The lake is surrounded by mountains, and everything was snowy and delightful. (The temperature was -28C that day!) We checked into our 7th-floor Fairmont Gold room and basically went to sleep, because it was late and we’d crossed time zones.
A strange thing happened to me over this vacation. Whenever we were in the room, or in other areas of the 7th floor, I felt a tightness around my chest, and my heart thumped dramatically. Not fast, just really hard! I was quite worried but Chris listened to it and said it sounded good and strong. So I tried to ignore it. We wondered whether this might be due to altitude sickness but the feeling went away when we were on the ground floor, and it didn’t seem like there was enough drop in altitude to account for that. Lake Louise is, however, 1750m (5742 feet) above sea level…and Redmond is a whopping 13m (43 feet) above sea level! So there was definitely a difference.
Anyway, on our first morning we got up and went on the Johnston Canyon ice hike. I was kind of misled on this. The descriptions say “walk on suspended catwalks across Johnston Canyon” but really they were fenced pathways going up and down the side of a mountain, and I got really winded (and this very likely was due to altitude sickness). Our guide was a super hiker type of guy and kept pushing everyone to go pretty fast, too. Alex complained of his feet hurting, so after we reached the Lower Falls, he and I turned back and waited in the parking lot. Chris soldiered on to the top (another .5 mile) and came back (he said the Upper Falls looked just like the Lower Falls so we didn’t miss much). He saw a fox. This fox and some deer on the side of the highway are the only wildlife we saw during the whole trip.
Our guide went on to say that snowshoeing (which we had planned for Monday) would be even tougher to do. So we cancelled it! That day we spent walking around the lake on the ice, until we noticed the “Thin Ice” signs, at which point we scurried back to the hotel! We also cancelled the dogsledding (planned as a Chris-Alex joint venture) because they recommended ski goggles, which we did not have and did not want to buy. That was a Wednesday activity.
Tuesday we drove to Banff, which is the closest town to Lake Louise, and walked around in the snow, shopped a bit (I bought a qiviut hat because my fake fur hat was very loose and kept sliding around my head), and had lunch at a pub.
But I continued to suffer this weird heart thing. Each night I had difficulty falling asleep because it made me so nervous. Last night (Tuesday night) I asked Chris whether we should cut the vacation short; he didn’t think it was serious enough to do that, because this was only affecting me on the 7th floor.
And then this morning he woke up with a sore throat and said “I’ve changed my mind about going home early!” We scrambled to get new flights, reschedule the shuttle, cancel the remaining cat care, and got to Calgary Airport with 6 hours to spare. Flew home on a propeller plane (a Bombardier Q400) and got back here around 8PM. I suppose we will never know what was wrong with me. It stopped as soon as we got in the car to drive back to Calgary.