Good Morning Canada… 

  An abandoned coal mine, two waterfalls and an Emerald Lake… check, check and check. Now I was heading towards Lake Minnewanka, which was about 5 minutes from the Bankhead mine. It is the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies (13 miles long and 466 ft deep).

     I was surprised and thrilled when I caught my 1st glimpse of the blue blue water. I craned my neck and stared out the window, completely missing my turn.

There Goes Lake Minnewanka

     “Oh for criminis sake…there it is…and there it goes.” I looked back where I should have turned.

Lake Minnewanka bridge

      The gps was spotty and I was forced onto a long crowded bridge and over on a drive along the lake. I could then circle back around past Bankhead again and around the same way I had come in, which took about 20 minutes. As I came up near the area where the turn was, somehow I missed it again.

     “Carol, Carol, Carol..let’s get it together.” I laughed in disbelief.

A Little Two Jack and Johnson On the Side

     Fortunately, there were some side of the road turn-offs for Two Jack Lake and Johnson lake and different vantage points along the way. This time through I took advantage and stopped at a few, being that I was becoming a recent expert at navigating this loop.
    A couple of trails were dotted along the route and I stopped at one to take a short hike. I was only about 5 minutes into walking when an excitedly chattering family was coming towards me from further up the trail. 
     “You might want to turn around.” The bearded man did a circle motion with his index finger. “We just saw a momma bear and her cub not far from the trail. We are trying to get a phone signal to call it in.”
     The parks in the area require you to report bear sightings to keep hikers safe in the woods. 
     “Oh holy moly, thanks for the heads up.”

An Encounter In the Woods

     I turned on my flip flop heels and began to flap-flap back down to the car. I was a little jumpy from the bear news to start and when I heard rustling from the woods on my side I nearly jumped out of my skin. When I turned to locate the source of the sound, I saw I was face to face with a deer. The deer froze and so did I. We stood about 10ft from each other just blinking and staring. I felt such a thrill being so close to this beautiful creature in nature. 
The deer and I
     After several quiet seconds, the deer turned and slowly stepped into the woods and out of sight. 
     I remembered I was on my way out due to the bear sighting and quickly resumed my route back to the car, grateful I had stopped and happy to have shared that moment with the deer.

Look Kids…Lake Minnewanka

    I was back on the loop past Bankhead and crept slowly along, determined to turn in this time.
    The third time was a charm and I made it safely into the parking zone.
    There was a large picnic and recreation area with a trail along the lake. I got out and headed into the cool air towards the trailhead. It was sunny and the weather was beautiful, maybe 65°F and I felt happy to be out and hiking.

A Little History Lesson

Lake Minnewanka
    The Stoney Nakoda First Nations people had first called this lake Minn-waki or Lake of the Spirits. People had lived along the shores of Lake Minnewanka as far back as 13,000 years ago. 
     More recently, a resort was built along the shores of the lake in 1886. When a dam was built in 1941, the area flooded with water and the resort was submerged. The underwater resort ruins are a popular location for scuba diving.

The Path With the Million Dollar View

Lake Minnewanka path
      But, I’m a walker, not a diver…so I followed the dirt and rocky path along the shore. It started off mostly flat but there were a few small hills and narrow areas to traverse. This lake was larger than the others I had seen. A few boats zoomed across the surface. Lake Minnewanka is the only lake in the area that allows motorized vehicles.
Lake Minnewanka
     I flip flopped over a few fallen branches and across bulky tree roots. It was difficult not to just take continuous photos of the blue blue water as I walked. The snow capped mountains seemed almost fake and superimposed.
     A couple miles in, I came to the Stewart Canyon bridge. Standing on the bridge, I could see the cascading river rushing into the lake. 
     It was after 5 pm so I headed back over the bridge and down the wooded trail back to the car. 

A Hoodoo? What’s a Hoodoo?

     I grabbed a handful of pringles and headed about a 20 minute drive towards the Hoodoo Trail. A hoodoo is a not just a fun word to say, but a tall thin rock formation with a stone cap created from erosion. 
    The hoodoos weren’t standing in waiting at the start of the trail, so I followed the gravelly path to find them. I was surrounded by evergreens and views of Mt. Rundle. The Bow River snaked around in the valley below. As I rounded a bend, I caught little glimpses of the towering white spires through the pines.
     I got a little pep in my step and moved a little quicker up the hill to get a better vantage point. I stopped at an overlook with a panorama of the valley and the hoodoos below. There was a bench so I sat in it and marveled at the view in front of me. After soaking in the moment for a bit, I headed back to the car.
Hoodoo Trail and Bow River

A Little Pizza and Porter

    It was about a 30 minute drive to the Creekside Villa in Canmore where I was staying. I checked in and took a little walk down the street to The Iron Goat Pub and Grill.
     I sat at the bar and ordered a pizza and a porter, chatting with a woman who was traveling with her teenage children. We shared the pizza and photos of our adventures in Canada.

How Toothpaste Almost Ruined the Night

     When I got back to the hotel, I sat by the window and watched the sun set over the mountains. As I was getting ready for bed, I realized I had forgotten the toothpaste and comb I had bought in the car. (Someone (me) had forgotten those items at the lodge the previous night and I had to buy replacements.)
     I grabbed my key, ran down the steps, through the dark, quiet lobby and out into the night. After grabbing what I needed, I zipped back up the steps to my room. I tried the key but it didn’t work. I tried again and stared at it as it dawned on me that was not the key to the room.
     Images of the room key laying on the dresser flashed through my head.

Look at Me…Professional Locksmith

     “Shoot…Wrong key.” I briefly attempted using a card to jimmy the lock.
     “How on earth? It looks so easy on tv.” I jiggled the card in the crack of the door a few more times without any luck.
    I headed back to the lobby. The lights were off and there was no attendant at the desk. There was however, an old time rotary courtesy phone. Next to the phone was a number to call after hours for service.
     “Sweet,” I thought. ” I really liked that room and was hoping I didn’t have to sleep in the car tonight.”

Put Out the Bat Signal…I Need Help

     I dialed the number and waited. After several rings, I got a machine. My stomach sunk and I eyeballed the lobby couch as the message played.
     “Yes, hello,” I began. “I’m staying with you guys tonight at the Creekside Villa. I seem to have locked myself out of my room and was hoping you could help. If you get this message, I’ll be the one lurking in the lobby. Thank you.”
     I hung up and considered my options. “Should I get a different hotel? I already paid for this one…and I like it here. And my purse and my stuff are in the room.”
     I went upstairs and feebly tried the door again, weighing the comfort and awkwardness factors of the lobby couch vs the car. 

The Laundry Saved the Day

     On my way back down the stairs, I saw a man emerge from the door behind the lobby desk, carrying towels and unlocking a closet area. I quickly ran over and explained the situation, thankful that he was just finishing up the laundry. 
Room at Creekside Villa
     The nice man let me back in my room with the spare key. I brushed my teeth and counted my blessings. I was thankful for all of the beauty I had seen that day and super thankful to be able to sleep in the big comfy bed and not in the car. 

Have you ever had a vacation mishap? Share in the comments…

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