"You know," I say to Michelle as she dries her hair,"I can now understand the expression, I could get used to this." We're not just in Banff, but at Banff's Rimrock Resort Hotel. Just recently built, the 346-room accommodation clings to the side of Sulphur Mountain and towers over the valley and surrounding mountains at 5,200 feet.
It's a stone's throw from the Upper Hot Springs and the Banff Gondola, but at this moment I am delighted to be exactly where I am: in my hotel room, feet up, tucked into a wing-back chair, sipping port, wrapped in a thick white bathrobe, gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows at a sun that is performing a veil dance over the Bow Valley with the misty clouds that hang between Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain.
We've cycled 300 kilometres between Jasper and Banff and done without showers, hot water, and electricity for roughly six days, and this guilty pleasure doesn't feel very guilty.
Today's ride was short and bittersweet. The white-barked, yellow-leaved aspens marked our route along the Bow Valley Parkway like guide lights, and they seemed to glow and shimmer more intensely the closer we got to Banff ~ and the end of the cycling portion of the trip.
Except for one rainy, snowy day; three steep hills; and a couple of really windy valleys; we'd enjoyed a perfect cycling journey on ~ whodda thunk it? ~ folding bikes. I sip a few fingers of port, pull out my new dress out of my pannier, and give it an awkward iron. We are to be civilized again.
Up at the Primrose dining room, we would toast our achievement in champagne Bellinis, then good red wine. I'd slip a morsel of perfectly seasoned Alberta beef into my mouth ("It's saltimbocca," I'd tell the chef who visits our table), then follow it with a fork-full of burnt-onion mashed potato.
Tomorrow the Rocky Mountaineer would carry us slowly back home to Vancouver. We'd be fussed over and I would probably get misty-eyed over the beauty of our green rivers and yellow mountains. But tonight it's all about the white of terry towel, cloud veils, and soft sheets. Home will have to wait for another 72 hours. View photos.