Otherwise known as the Frozen North! Well, not really, it did snow on the trip home from the airport, but nothing could be warmer than the welcome from Tom & Mav.
Calgary looks and feels almost like Perth, it's a similar size and population (1.1 million), and far more home-like than New York. The climate is another matter. We were assured that the weather was unseasonably cold, but from a tourist perspective snow was the just the icing on the cake - visually as well as figuratively.
Tom and Mav had planned an overnight trip for us to Banff in the Rocky Mountains, and the day started clear and sunny, but as we sat down to lunch at Lake Louise Resort (table with a view of the lake & mountains beyond) the snow started to fall - and fell, and fell, and fell. We discovered later that the road we travelled had been closed for part of the afternoon due to ice and snow (46 cars slid off the icy roads), but we made it to Banff thanks to Tom, and a lovely room at The Rimrock. When we got up next morning it was -12C and icicles hung from the gutters, snow clung to the trees - it was as if someone turned on Christmas overnight. Needless to say, snowballs were thrown but not with any great enjoyment by the throwee because it was very, very COLD. We breakfasted at Banff Springs Resort, then made our way to the gondola up to Sulphur Mountain, where the mercury had made it to -20C. The view around the mountains was spectacular, and it didn't feel too bad in the sun, but the wind chill in the shade was frighteningly and shiveringly cold. We went down into the Banff township, which actually has a Christmas Store, and browsed around before heading back to Calgary. Wildlife count: several squirrels, 1 chipmunk (sooo cute), 3 elk, 2 mountain sheep, 1 coyote and a real live grizzly bear! Honest, it just ran across the road in front of us - must have missed the notice about hibernation dates. Would have loved a photo but didn't fancy getting out of the car.
Our week passed too quickly; meeting Tom & Mav's family - Chris, Greg & Stephanie, grandson Lucas - and friends; exploring Calgary and the surrounding countryside, not to mention the large white-tailed stag deer at the end of the street when we went to pick up the mail - until we woke to our last morning and a heavy snowfall overnight had blanketed the place in white. Sue couldn't let this pass, and nothing beats a walk in ankle-deep snow - for someone who hasn't seen the stuff for 25 years! (Rich was smart and stayed in the warm. None of our own clothes were competent to stand up to the cold.....it was unimaginable.) Rubbish, just a bit chilly..............
Again, we were sad to leave as Tom and Mav had been such fabulous hosts, and Rich's turn to shed a tear as we said farewell. We rugged up for the trip to the airport and the flight to Las Vegas, where we immediately peeled off as many layers of clothing as we could get away with.