How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


Rocky Mountaineer: An Unexpected Bonanza

Time to leave this little piece of heaven. The sun leaned low and bright, too hot to wait outside for the arrival of our bus. Some people wore jackets. Why? (unless they ran out of space in their bags—a longshot?). I’m usually the lone chicken in the crowd who complains I’m cold.

The short bus arrived (also called a minibus). Mary and I, and one other female boarded. Goodbye, sensational Lake Louise; goodbye spectacular mountains. No, we weren’t done with them yet. They followed us all the way to Banff, the young lady’s stop.

Talk about luck. The original plan had been a direct transport from Lake Louise to Calgary airport. This stop was a huge bonus and not just a passing one. Banff is tiny—population under 250— about a third of the way to Calgary from Lake Louise. The driver dropped the woman off in front of her apartment. Yeah, I know. Imagine that. He had business to attend to, something about a package, and parked behind a mini-mall on the main street. He’d be back in about an hour. We had a crowded Tim Horton’s at our disposal, a gift shop, a large sitting area, a few businesses, and a substantial ladies’ washroom.

I’d heard stories of the mind-blowing mountains here and we aimed to explore. When would an opportunity like this come again? Brilliant and majestic mountains surrounded Kamloops, too, but these seemed closer.

Someone announced we were leaving. From nowhere, a handful of passengers boarded behind us, a few from the large sitting area inside the strip mall. The mountains disappeared into the horizon one by one. Once we passed the exit for Kananaski, I noticed how the landscape flattened into the level, unexciting fields, and grassland, less interesting landscape I’m used to. I’ll be the first one to confess I felt something had been snatched away from me—something that left a hole.

The traffic increased but no real congestion. As we grew closer, a couple signs for the airport popped up.

The airport was easy to maneuver, unlike the one in Toronto. I no longer remembered lunch or even breakfast. We disposed of our luggage and proceeded to check out the food situation such as it is in airports.

We had time to kill. The sun burned hot through the glass wall of windows in the waiting area. I huffed and puffed till I turned my chair around. It was heavy. Another passenger decided to redecorate as well. Though my iPad held a dense library of books, I wasn’t up to screen reading. If need be, there would be time enough on the plane. A snooze sounded enticing but not yet.

~ * ~

Next on October 26th – Rocky Mountaineer: What Now?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Rocky Mountaineer: Gobsmacking Spaces

We called it a day after the late dinner around 9:00 pm. Ugh. I don’t like eating this late.

As always, I expected Mary’s suitcase to explode on mere eye contact. I had valuable space in mine; Mary negotiated I help her downsize her bulging case. How could I refuse? Five or ten pounds ended up in my luggage. What are sisters for?

What is it about travelling that I can’t wait to hit the breakfast buffet? I always overeat when on vacation. You’d think I’d be stuffed to the gills and push back. Maybe I was, but I figured might as well enjoy being served as opposed to serving, while the opportunity presented itself.

After breakfast, refreshed and fed, we explored what we could of Lake Louise and the Fairmont. This would be our only chance as our stay was only for one night. The proximity of the magnificent mountains so close to the hotel had me gobsmacked. How else can I explain my experience? I’ve seen pictures over time, but being there was another matter. Imagine a half-frozen lake, snow on the ground, mountains as a backdrop and dressed in jeans and tees, minus a jacket. The date: May 20, 2017. It boggles the mind. The day provided warm sunshine and balmy weather.

I have too many pictures to present here. These few might give you a taste of my giddy experience. First the famous Fairmont:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Breathtaking surroundings and heavenly backdrop to the Fairmont:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We enjoyed a last lunch after checking out. Nervous the luggage might be forgotten in the room and miss the bus, we first wandered to the registration desk and were directed to the area for the bus and luggage wicket. I relaxed when I saw our bags had indeed been transferred from our room. The fellow tagging our luggage laughed out loud when he saw me watch him eagle-eyed.

Just a few plagues telling visitors interesting facts:

With time to kill, I grabbed a comfy chair in the lobby and proceeded to finish my book. Can I share a secret? I’d borrowed a book from the cruise ship library but hadn’t finished it. No way can I leave a book without knowing the ending. My plan—a good one, I thought—was to leave it in the Fairmont Hotel lobby with a note to please return to the ship. With so many tours parading back and forth, I felt confident some good soul proceeding to the Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska Cruise tour would find the book, smile, and do the good deed. I wish I knew about the book’s journey.

An arm’s length from where I finished reading, I noticed a group mill around with garment bags slung over their shoulders. They disappeared and returned dressed in traditional costumes (I assume) for picture taking. I wanted to ask questions but did not wish to intrude. It wasn’t clear whether they were English conversant and I didn’t want to put anyone on the spot. Of course, Mary and I took advantage of this colourful photo opportunity. Curious, I looked around but could not discern a specific photographer for them.

Next on October 19th – Rocky Mountaineer: An Unexpected Bonanza

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Rocky Mountaineer: Winding Up and Winding Down

The room stuffy, we soon learned it had no air-conditioning. An overhead fan would have to do. But would it?

Mary decided to check out the pool before dinner. It was already close to 7:00 pm and I was adamant about not eating after 8:00. She planned to shower at the poor after a quick dip and promised to return by the time I got out of the shower.

Just my luck, nothing is simple when I expect it will be. I turned the shower lever but it wouldn’t budge. This way and that, I tugged. No luck. I was afraid to break something and walked away to have a think, then tried again. Nothing. The clock was ticking and I had to be ready when Mary returned. Swallowing my pride, I called the Front Desk for help.

It was pleasant, yet unnerving, to have someone call me by my surname, someone I hadn’t met or been introduced to. The young man on the line had a wonderful smile in his voice. I pictured brilliant, white teeth behind the smile. He promised to send someone up momentarily. Really? The hotel had 550 rooms. I did not expect to receive service momentarily in such a large hotel, but 10 to 15 minutes later, a maintenance guy knocked on the door. It might have been longer, but I was still impressed. One flick of the wrist and water gushed, the pressure amazing.

Duh. Who doesn’t know how to turn on a shower? Confused, I gaped and sputtered.” How’d you do that?”

He didn’t treat me like the idiot I felt. “Sometimes the seals are tight.”

Really? Why is it I had no trouble turning the shower back on after he left? Why weren’t the seals tight then?

I checked the time. Forget washing my hair. I changed and plugged in the curling iron instead. Mary returned. Already 8:00 pm, I was past ready to eat.

We wandered down to the lobby to check out a good place to ear. Unlike the Sheraton in Vancouver, we could eat at any of the seven restaurants in the hotel, only one of which accepted reservations up to seven days ahead.

We studied a menu in a glass case on the wall in the lobby. An attentive young man inquired if he might be of assistance and led us to a restaurant with a 30-minute wait. He pointed to another one at which he worked and had just finished his shift, positive he’d get us in. He did. We could not thank him enough for going over and above, especially at the end of his workday. I wished him a wonderful life and received the sweetest smile ever.

The service staff consisted of young women, a couple from Ontario. Our waitress originated in London, Ontario where my sister lives. What a small world.

Yikes, the prices on the menu. Glad we were not paying out-of-pocket, though we actually paid for our meals when we booked the trip. I chose the salmon. Mary inquired in such detail about the lobster Mac and Cheese, the waitress brought it instead of the salmon she later decided on. Our flatbread arrived but I thought it puny for the price. A throat-soothing tall glass of icy beer followed. Yum.

The waitress apologized and insisted on getting the changed order for Mary. She swept the dish off the table. Her fault, she said. Mary’s meal arrived in much less time than our original order.

Next on October 12th – Rocky Mountaineer: Gobsmacking Spaces

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles