We have been staying safely at home since mid-March now and we are looking forward to venturing out safely. In Ontario many people look forward to visiting Ontario’s near north on vacation, or for regular weekend cottage visits. Restrictions on people visiting their own summer cottages were lifted in time for the May long weekend, and yesterday, the we heard that short term rentals in Ontario, including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums will be allowed to resume operations starting today (June 5) at 12:01 a.m.
Our reservation (made pre-pandemic) is now a go for the boys’ fishing trip, but we have moved it earlier a week, as our middle son wants to return to Alberta to resume his sports training program ASAP. Alberta and many of the other provinces are opening up restaurants and personal care services ahead of Ontario which (along with Quebec) have a much higher infection rate than the other provinces.
In pre-pandemic times, we regularly visited beautiful Calgary Alberta. If we have time, we generally day-trip to Banff National Park. Sometimes we just drive up and down the park, looking for wildlife. During our last visit in the wintertime, we were looking for an activity that we hadn’t tried before. We weren’t there to ski or snowboard – just visiting. The bears were hibernating, and there was definitely no rafting or swimming. My husband booked us on a helicopter ride!
I am posting about this today, because we just received an email from Alpine Adventures that they have been given permission to re-open June 19th.
“We’re thrilled to announce the reopening of our Canmore base with regular daily service! Safety is the top priority of all operations at Alpine Helicopters and we are taking the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. There will be a few changes to our operations that you will observe during your experience with us:1 – Masks will be worn by guests and staff in all Alpine facilities and during all flights. If you do not have a mask Alpine will provide you with one.2 – Facilities will be reduced to a capacity of 15 people indoors and social distancing practices will be in place.3 – Upon arrival you will be asked to wash your hands, put on your mask and read and sign a COVID-19 operational compliance document before proceeding to the check in desk.Questions? Email us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 403-678-4802.”
We booked our trip over the phone – for 3 people – ourselves and our son. They offer different lengths of trips, and we went for the 12 minute “Three Sisters Peak” tour. There were longer trips available, but I was honestly terrified, so that’s as long as my husband could talk me into going for. (In the 1980s I worked for a Helicopter landing device defence contractor. I had heard far too many stories about Helicopter landings and accidents…….).
The trip was $150Cdn per person – and for 3 of us $450Cdn. We actually had booked the flight 3 times, but received a call on 2 occasions that the weather did not permit flights that day. We were FINE with that! We called before we left for Banff (on the appointed day), and drove up to the town of Canmore. The facility was neat, tidy and organized. We received instructions about what to do on the flight, what to expect and how to get on the helicopter.
I’m still curious as to why we need to duck getting into a helicopter if the propellors are 8 or 9 feet off the ground? Well apparently, blades can droop if the helicopter is starting or stopping – so definitely duck!
My husband and I sat facing each other (I may have been gripping his hands too tightly), with another couple seated next to us. Our son got to sit with the pilot in the front. We all wore headsets so that we could hear each other and the pilot and speak, and were properly buckled in.
We took flight smoothly, the pilot was pleasant and chatted during the entire tour, giving us a good overview of the helicopter and the mountains and town below us. We flew over Canmore, flew through the 3 Sisters mountains, and he entertained us with a “swoop” close to the mountainsides. The scenery and flight were spectacular. Our pilot even found us a herd of elk on the ground below – that we looked for later in the day after our tour.
We landed safely and I can say that we had a wonderful time. It was only a 12 minute ride – but seemed much longer to me. I would say that this was the perfect length of trip for my husband and I! Alpine Helicopters also offers 25, 30 and 45 minute tours – offering more views of glaciers and mountains. 12 minutes for us, gave us a wonderful experience, but we back safely on the ground able to de-stress, and my husband’s crushed hands eventually recovered.
It’s exciting and encouraging that travel activities are beginning to re-open across Canada, so I wanted to share an adventure to inspire anyone that may be considering visiting Alberta in the future, once the inter-provincial, and international travel restrictions are removed.