The train trip from Portland up to Vancouver on the Amtrak Cascades was serene and beautiful. We skirted the Puget Sound, which was full of little islands and span bridges, and absolutely mirror flat.
There was a small hiccup in Seattle due to a mudslide that had happened a few days earlier, so they piled us onto buses and shipped us north to Everett where we re-boarded the train. The mudslide had been 15 metres deep and 200 metres wide and claimed about 30 lives. Very sad indeed and a reminder of the fragility of life and landscape.
Got into Vancouver around 11.30pm and checked into the quirky (but cheap) Hotel Patricia. I thought I had walked back into the 1950’s. Basic but adorable. A precious 5 hours sleep then up again to get to the airport for a flight to Calgary where Samantha and her friend Tom were picking me up. As I waited in the baggage claim area my tummy was squirming – I was SO looking forward to seeing my daughter Sam. She appeared, grinning widely, and we had one of those cliched running-towards-each-other-in-a-field-of-daisies kinds of airport reunions. Too funny!
Lots of catching up on the drive to Banff followed by lunch at Nourish Bistro where I had my first ‘Caesar’ which is basically a Bloody Mary made with Clamato (yes, clam + tomato) juice and a garnish of pickled olives, chorizo sausage and asparagus. Whoa! This was followed up with a share Nachos made from 24 different ingredients (we counted them). I was then installed into the swanky Fox Lodge that Sam had scored as her ‘comp’ room through a cool Staff reward scheme. Nice one Sammy!
We toured Sam’s digs at the staff accommodation share house and visited a friend of Sam’s. Then it was time to eat again – and EAT we did! Sam, Sarah and I emerged from the Balkan Greek restaurant absolutely stuffed with delicious food and wine and staggered back to Sam’s house. Here we found her roommate Astrid in situ and we made a plan to visit the hot tub at The Fox, which was fashioned into a cave – very cool concept, very hot tub! Eventually, tired and wrinkled, Sam and I retired to our room for a well earned sleep.We had a lazy start the next day, but managed to get organized for a day of skiing (thanks to Astrid who supplied boots, skis and ski outfit). We took the bus to Sunshine Village and the gondola to the top of the mountain. I haven’t skied for 29 years – I hoped it was just like riding a bike.
And it was! After practicing my snow plough turns for a bit I was off and racing, going way too fast for my own good but staying upright and making lots of happy noises. We did the ‘Strawberry’ run a couple of times, then headed up to ‘Wawa’ chairlift where I worked my way up from the blue run to the black run and took on a few jumps. Sammy did some stunning GoPro style stunt filming of me in action (available on request).It was great to finally see Sam snowboarding. She was very relaxed and confident and thrilled to be in a position to snowboard everyday for the entire season.
Towards the end of the day we decided to go up a notch to the Green run off the ‘Angel’ chairlift. It was super icy and it wasn’t long before I took a tumble and whacked my knee. The compression tights I was wearing kept the swelling at bay for the last thrilling run down the mountain to the village but later on, the bruising made its presence felt. Ouch! Hobble to the hotel ice machine. Ahhhhhgh
We checked into a new hotel – The Red Carpet Inn – where a fabulous double suite awaited us, and then darling Sammy took me out for dinner at ‘The Maple Leaf’ restaurant where she had her beloved Crab Legs and Caesar, and I had some delicious Wild BC Salmon (British Columbia) with prawns. So nice to be offered some wholesome and creative food that was outside the standard North American fair. Absolutely delicious!