While we usually have the idea that we don’t want to go back to a place when there are so many other places on our bucket list, this year is going to be a little different.
Our first scheduled getaway will be later this summer. We are going to return for the third summer in a row to the Canadian Rockies. We just fell in love with the place a couple summers ago when we went for a few days as a last minute add-on to a work trip Dave had. Late summer is the perfect time for us to get away from the blistering Texas heat and humidity, and refresh our spirits in the grandeur of Alberta. Work-wise, it’s usually pretty manageable as it seems like most of the world takes a little break at the end of the summer right along with us.
Our first year, we had just a few days and were so fortunate to find an available place to stay in the charming town of Jasper. Last year, we branched out a bit, took a full week, and explored Banff and environs, Lake Louise, a little bit of Yoho National Park, and more Jasper. Before we’d even left last year, Dave and I knew we wanted to come back again. Which is good, because we figured out where we wanted to stay (and even which rooms!) while we were still there, and booked them shortly after.
This part of the world books up quickly, so we’ve learned from experience to ask in the various places what is the earliest we can make reservations. I mark that date on the calendar, and then go online with all the fervor of a couple of teenaged nieces of mine trying to secure tickets for a Ruel concert.
Haven’t heard of Ruel yet? Neither had I, but I asked them who was the latest heartthrob so I would have a current analogy! For the record, others are Lauv and Lewis Capaldi, Harry Styles – by himself – and Ed Sheeran is still hanging in there at the ripe old age of 29.
At any rate, the flights, hotels and rental car are all booked. I’m excited because as I did my research, I found out we can use some American Express points for one of the stays, which is great because THAT one was going to be The Big Splurge! We also decided after last year’s stop for a night in Calgary on our way back to the airport that we’ll skip that and take a full day to meander back down the Icefields Parkway, and stay at the Calgary Airport Marriott, which is built right into the airport. As we schlepped past that last year after getting up too early and navigating the route and car rental return in a rush before getting through customs, we both looked at each other and said “next year!” at exactly the same time.
The Rockies are a very popular summer destination for a reason. If you want to go, commit early and at least get hotels booked. Two of the three hotels we have reserved booked up months ago for the week we want to come. I’m all about being spontaneous and all, but there are some tradeoffs you have to make when you don’t think ahead – hotel location and price are two of them. We will be able to walk out our room door and be where we want to start the day. That’s important to us, so we can make the most of seeing new places and still enjoy old favorites without being stuck behind tour buses and campers trying to get to the prime sunrise spots.
Knowing that the important bits are covered, we can zone in on a few more details like any hikes or spots we’ve missed or didn’t get to enjoy because of crowds or weather, and get a general idea of what will be the main thing each day. We know there are a couple of restaurants we’ll want to book in advance, but we also know there are plenty of options around so we don’t have to do much more than that. And, since we don’t need to be stressed about flights or where to stay, that leaves plenty of room for finding some “off the beaten path” spots that could turn into our new favorite memories.
And THAT helps me be comfortable spending more time to research the other major trip this year – a return to the launch of the Vendee Globe on the western coast of France, a little Bordeaux, and then our new discovery of all of the delights of Basque country along the France/Spain border!