Sunday, 21 August 2016

Day 5: Whyte's Museum, Cave and Basin, Cascade Gardens

Well, the crack-of-noon club made a surprising 11:00 am exit from the campground. So early!

I chose to drive into town as the boys were not excited about biking the 1.5 km up hill on the way back if we had cycled into town.  Dominic was Johnny on the Spot this morning alerting me to convenient road side parking that had no time limit.  We are off to a great start today.

We ambled a few blocks into town and located the Visitor's Centre. Since we had googled everything we were in and out in a jiffy but did stop to take a picture of a map of downtown. Dominic decided he wanted his skateboard so he scurried back to the truck.  Once reunited we traveled south down Banff Avenue toward the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Turns out that admission is free with a yearly park pass.  Ours was in the truck; however, I still had the receipt in my wallet which was good enough for free admission.

Our next stop was the Cascade Gardens found on the grounds of the Parks Canada Administration office built in 1935.  This was a perfect place to stop for lunch overlooking Banff Avenue.

We crossed the bridge back into town and spent some time at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.  This is part gallery and part museum.  It took me a while but I finally clued in that all those paintings by Peter Whyte may just be the reason this was called Whyte Museum.  Definitely in holiday mode. . .

On our stroll back down main street we did our one tacky tourist shop to get a magnet for the fridge and then collected some milkshakes at McDonald's.  I know, McDonald's in a National Park seems so wrong; however, when the line for the 'good' ice cream shop is 30 minutes long - this was a win.

Now we are relaxing back at the trailer in the late afternoon thankful for the shade trees lining our site.

Tomorrow:  The Calgary Zoo.

Our 1.5 km stroll to the Cave and Basin included a nice section of trail running parallel to the road. 

From Parks Canada:  " The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada commemorates the birthplace of Canada's National Park system, which began here in 1885. Naturally occurring, warm mineral springs can be found inside the cave, and outside in an emerald coloured basin."

Visitors can walk through the tunnel (at the right above) and walk a short distance through the cave to the mineral pool.  There was a very heavy sulphur smell so Dominic exited rather quickly.

Difficult to see in this picture, there is a pool at the bottom and a dome-like cave structure with an opening high up above. 

Above the tunnel were indoor and outdoor displays highlighting early exploration in the area and how the National Parks came to be. 

I would not have made a very good explorer. . . 

We caught the last day of a temporary exhibit from Parks Canada highlighting some of the National Parks in northern Canada. Here they had a selection of pelts from various wildlife that are found in those northern regions. 

Parks Canada Administration building c. 1935. The Cascade Gardens are on the ground of this building. We paused for our sandwich lunch on the front steps of the main entrance. It was shady and provided a really stunning view of the town of Banff.  Best patio ever. 

The Cascade Gardens make a delightful stop.  They are free and lightly visited. You have to go around behind the administration building. Easily accessible from town by foot. Just head over the Bow River bridge and you are there. 

Looking west over the Bow River bridge as we walk to the Whyte Museum.

Alex enjoyed the newspaper editorial cartoon collection on Parks Canada topics over the years. 

This one was particularly memorable as we just came from the Cave and Basin and wondered the same thing!

You never know when your skateboard will come in handy in a museum, eh?!

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