Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writer's retreat

Guess where I am today! Here's a hint...

 a golden larch. And another hint...

the view from the terrace. And one more...

give up?

I'm at the Banff Springs Hotel, and it's raining.
But please don't think that I'm complaining!

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd get to this place, other than to drive past it. But my husband is attending the Banff Venture Capital Conference, and since our girls are pretty much self-sufficient, I asked if I could come along for the ride. (Last November, I went with him to a different event at Chateau Lake Louise). It only costs me ten dollars a night to occupy the other half of his very expensive room here, I've brought along snacks and sandwich fixings from home, and I'm enjoying a lovely little writer's retreat. Lee will be busy at his conference until 9 p.m. at least, so my aim today is to stay put and explore a few options for publishing a book I've written, to catch up on emails that have been sitting in my inbox for a while, to take a swim at the lovely pool in the fitness centre, and maybe later tonight I'll watch To Kill A Mockingbird, which I borrowed from the library. So it's me and Eva Cassidy's Songbird Album in a little hotel room where I'm enjoying some writing and research time. Tomorrow it's not supposed to be so rainy, so I'll catch a bus into Banff after we check out of our room at eleven, and snoop around until Lee finishes at 6ish.

Before I get seriously into my day's work, I want to show you Banff Springs from my perspective. It feels a little funny walking around this Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous place. I'm reminded of western wealth in comparison to the poverty of the developing world. We shouldn't be living like this when Somalia is so hungry, right? Or when the guys who probably showed up at SSVP this morning have no place to call home. But I'll do my best to support those situations, and be aware of my reactions as I move through this building. I made my housekeeping guy happy by making my own bed, at least.

Is there anyone rich or famous staying here right now? I probably wouldn't know them if they bit me on the nose! I ran into a lady on the elevator who is a "Gold Club" person, and asked her if it was fun to have a gold card that takes her to the exclusive fifth floor accomodations. She giggled and said that her friend found a deal online; otherwise she'd never stay at a place like Banff Springs. I giggled with her and told her that you know you don't really belong to a place when just its carpets amaze you!

This is just the hallway.

The ones by the elevators are really something.

Here's the reception area/lobby.

I got lost a few times taking these pictures.
There are two mezzannines, and their hallways have a definite castle feel.

The old stonework is amazing to me. How many masons built this place?

Above is the view from one of my little windows.
Of course, there are dozens of fancy little shoppes for wealthy people to enjoy,

but I've decided that the pool will be a better place to hang out,
once my eyes get tired of this laptop screen.

I got pretty wet taking the outdoor shots of this place, and can't imagine how the guests going for a trailride on the horses I saw will manage to enjoy themselves unless they brought head-to-toe slickers. I'll give that a definite pass, and enjoy my little writer's retreat.

I wonder if Sir William Cornelius Van Horne could have imagined someone like me staying in this posh place. He was instrumental in the development of Banff, and his statue sits in the roundabout outside the hotel. Its base quotes him: "Since we can't export the scenery, we shall have to import the tourists."

Today, I'm really lucky to be an import, even though the scenery is lost in the rainclouds.

8 p.m., the same day

So I discovered, when I went for a swim, that the reason I had the indoor pool all to myself was because the outdoor pool is warm. Not hotspring water, but warm and lovely for floating. After a few laps and a little dip, I ironed my shirt and did like my dad told me -- I pretended I belonged at Banff Springs (though I couldn't help myself -- had to take a few more carpet pictures). I went to the Bow Valley Grill and had a wonderful dinner -- a glass of "Sacred Hill" shiraz-cabernet, goat feta and tomato salad, and Saltspring mussels with Chorizo sausage in a marvelous tomato sauce. I just love gourmet food. But the best part of the day came when I put on my coat and ran outside to see those mountains, and found beauty I didn't know existed so close to this big hotel. God's decorations are the best of all!

See the golden poplars in the background? Yes, God outdoes fancy carpets!


  1. Oh wow! I'm stunned at all the beauty! But yeah, I like the outdoor stuff the best:)
    I'm loving your descriptions and photos and the fact that you are there and enjoying yourself so thoroughly. What fun!

  2. It was lots of fun! But I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. Oh well.


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