Anniversary Trip: Cave & Basin National Historic Site

Hi, remember me?  I know, it's been a while!  It has been a busy summer filled with lots of good and bad.  Eep(!), and now it's Fall!!  Holy cow, where has the time gone?!  I haven't been taking many pictures lately (not that I don't have a couple thousand backlogged all the way to last December that I still need to edit), I've been either too busy, not feeling well, or living more in the moment and forgetting my camera.  Or just too lazy!  But of all the photos I still have to edit the ones from our anniversary trip to Canada are at the top of the list, and I'm happy to say that after 4+ months of no editing, I've finally started chipping away at them!

This was our first anniversary trip as married folks, but our 7th(!) anniversary together!  When we were trying to figure out where we wanted to go for this trip we were a little spastic in our planning.  First, we were going to the UK.  Antoine has never been and what's not to like?  Then we changed our minds again...we were going to the West Coast: San Fran, Big Sur & Yosemite.  Then we changed our minds again...we were going to the Banff area!  To be fair, we did start planning as soon as we got back from our wedding/honeymoon, because that's what we do...dream about where we want to go and then start planning like we're leaving in the following month.  Anyway, we finally landed on Canada: Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Yoho National Park.  The Banff area has been on my traveling wishlist for a long time now and once I showed Antoine pictures of the area and told him we would probably see bears he was totally on board.

We flew into Calgary, AB and then drove a little over an hour to the city of Banff.  We spent our first two nights in Banff before heading several hours north to the Jasper area, but more on that later.  The city of Banff is kind of touristy and kitschy, but in a fun way.  And it's in the middle of the park so it's a convenient home-base for exploring the park.  We started off our first official morning in Banff with a visit to the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, just on the edge of town.  Though, by my mistake, we got there an hour before they actually we walked around and explored the area for a bit.
The Historic site is part of a cluster of hot springs, and was used at a bathhouse/swimming pool until the mid-90s.  This is now the visitor center and museum and the access tunnel to the cave.

This is the ridiculously pretty view from the visitor's center.

From the visitor's center you can take wooden stairs up to the higher hot springs and woods or down to the marsh and valley.  We opted to go up first.

A vent down into the cave.

One of the weird, sulphur-y hot springs that creates this strange frothy, fungus stuff.

Then, since the visitor center still wasn't open and I was panicked about going too far into the woods by ourselves and encountering a bear, we headed down toward the marshy area and the valley...
There was this nice trail running just above the marsh that for some reason made me a little less panicked about bears...but only a little!
These pretty little flowers were everywhere.  After a little research I found out they are Calypso orchids, also known as Fairy Slipper orchids!

Finally the visitor center opened, so we immediately headed to the cave...
It's not very big, but still it's pretty cool! 

I'm sorry, I could resist posting this ridiculous photo from the museum....doesn't the guy on the left look like Mario Lopez!?!?

After the cave we explored the center a bit more.  Next to this crazy, blue pool we talked with one of the site's employees for a bit about the area and about our travel plans.  He was super helpful and promised that we would see bears once we headed up to Jasper...which thrilled Antoine and terrified me!

Alrighty, so that's the first peek into our anniversary trip...literally just the first couple hours of it.  Yes, this is going to take forever, but I'm hopeful that I can get everything blogged before our next anniversary!  Maybe.  I'm definitely not going to make that promise...but fingers crossed.  Have a great Friday everyone and a great weekend!  We're going pumpkin picking, which is my most favorite day of the year!  It's going to be magical!

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