Gatwick Airport, UK
Chapter Two - The Canadian Adventure.
An auspicious start to my 56th birthday with the 6.15am shuttle from Copthorne Hotel to The South terminal of Gatwick airport. Just us and our 138kg of luggage, courtesy of the Option plus upgrade (£15) with Air Transat. They accept our four large hold bags, Chris's bike and a large bag of camping equipment without a murmur, and don't even make fuss about the kilogramme of French cheese that we are exporting!
The pleasantries continue with priority boarding, two bottles of prosecco and a general air of friendly hospitality! After the laughter and tears of 'The Lady in the Van' and 'Eddie the Eagle' we emerge into Calgary airport in a very cheerful state of mind.
We wheel our ridiculous caravan of luggage to the 'immediate' pick up zone and Chris arrives in his van looking very happy indeed.
There is nothing 'immediate' about our loading of luggage into the back of the van, but eventually the mission is accomplished, Bill squeezes in between the bags and boxes and we are off!
First stop is the supermarket for provisions. With no fridge and limited space we do some careful meal planning, mainly revolving around scrambled eggs, tinned salmon, wraps, shredded cabbage and mayonnaise. And nuts.
Next stop is the fabulous MEC outdoor store (Cotswold Outdoor on steroids!) and stock up more essentials - bear spray, bear spray holster, book about how to avoid bear attacks .... And some running poles!
Then, after bagging a camping pitch at Bow River camp site, we drive on into Canmore to decant some of the stuff to a friends house (bike, climbing ropes, crampons and ice axes.
We had planned a walk for the latter part of the afternoon but a rain shower put paid to that idea and so instead, Bill has s quick power nap in the van whilst Chris and I go to the 7pm 'Refresh and Rejuvenate ' yoga class! Turns out to. E an excellent choice as this dispels any feeling of jet lag as we take our seats at our 8.45pm (4.45am uk time!) table at the Crazy Weed restaurant. This is a thoroughly excellent establishment with friendly staff and superb food - curried carrot and coconut soup, smokey aubergine mezze, pork belly with water melon, followed by Atlantic cod, short rib of beef and prawn trevette. We are just finishing dessert when the jet lag finally strikes and somehow we struggle back to our camp site. There are no facilities other than a composting toilet and a cold water tap, so Chris miraculously converts his van into a double bed with duvet and pillows, we tumble in and fall asleep in moments.