On our way home from Alberta last week, we spent a couple of days in Banff National Park. The mornings were cool and crisp, frost covered the rooftops and made us glad we'd thrown in our gloves.
When the Canadian Pacific Railway was being built, this stopover was known as Siding 29. Three railway workers discovered mineral hot springs nearby and in 1885 about 10 square miles was set aside by the government of Canada as a reserve. The land reserve was soon increased and formed the first national park of Canada.
I am so very glad that someone had the foresight to protect these lands. The beauty is astounding. People come from all over the world to see the Canadian Rocky Mountains and towns such as Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise.
The railway magnate William Cornelius Van Horne envisioned a series of luxury hotels along the railway to entice visitors. One of these is the Banff Springs Hotel. Set in the shadow of Mount Rundle, at the meeting of the Spray and Bow Rivers, the hotel is enormous, yet dwarfed by its setting.
We spent most of our time walking and hiking, in town and in the surrounding areas, around lakes, along streams, admiring the superlative beauty of God's creation.
As a treat, we enjoyed afternoon tea in the Rundle Lodge of the Banff Springs Hotel. Our window table looked out onto truly magnificent scenery. Our waiter brought us the tea cart, from which we sniffed and chose our teas. I started with Vanilla Orchid Black tea - it was wonderful. I don't usually drink caffeine and after several cups I felt like I was vibrating, so I switched to peppermint.
Accompanying the tea was a tiered server with dainty sandwiches (smoked salmon, watercress, egg salad and ham), fresh scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam, crème brulée, and a variety of sweets. We lingered long, soaking in the view, talking, and sipping, utterly relaxed.
When we were first seated at our table, Tim looked around and said, "This must be a woman's thing to do." A few more men showed up later, accompanied by their wives or girlfriends. So I suggested that afternoon tea is something that men who love their wives are willing to do.
And so, our holiday ended, we're home again. Tomorrow it's back to work for Tim and back to the books for me. But not for long!