Saturday, July 21, 2012

Waterton wonder

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton, AB
We'd never taken the kids to British high tea in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It's not a likely scenario anyway, unless you drive winding roads to the north end of Glacier Park and across the border ... to Waterton, Alberta, and the Prince of Wales Hotel.

What a stunning surprise! The hotel overlooks a glacier lake-filled canyon.  Girlfriends and I, Waldemar and I, and thousands of other visitors have had tea at the Prince of Wales.

The lobby of the Prince of Wales Hotel
 Oh the beauty of a sunny day! The hotel's spectacular lobby stretches from the front door to the window wall overlooking the stunning view. Teatime (1-5pm daily) is in the post-and-beam-framed lobby with its soaring ceilings and old-fashioned iron chandeliers.

The servers and attendants dress in Prince of Wales tartan kilts. "Got me a dress about a month ago," joked the foreign student who served us. It all adds to the opulent atmosphere set in the middle of the wilderness.

A table set for tea: Prince of Wales Hotel
Our server set a tea stand with three trays of goodies on the white tablecloth. We started with the bottom tray of sandwiches, moved up to freshly baked scones (currant and lemon with Devonshire cream and berry preserves), and finished with the top layer of Saskatoon berry pastries, shortbread cookies, and other sweets.

The tea fixings aren't particularly good @ $30 each, though the house now uses Forte brand instead of their own specialty blend. (The house brand, in a free gift box with our receipt in the gift store, consists of indifferent Assam and African tea sweepings, packaged in teabags.) The scones were middling and the cucumber and butter sandwiches were ok, but the egg salad swirls were great. The pastries? To someone who grew up with excellent home baking (yay, Mom!) and a plethora of exceptional German bakers in the family, they tasted disappointing. The trays were pretty, though.

Harpist at the Prince of Wales Hotel
A young harpist accompanied our repast: the setting couldn't have been more wonderful. She got a gentle Canadian hand-clap when she took a break from strumming Gaelic and folk tunes. Her music brought back fond memories of playing and teaching harp. (Great background music, boring to practice!)

Of course, the company was fantastic. What a treat to share such a beautiful occasion, a milestone of family travels more than merely a meal.

Prince of Wales Hotel: view from the
lobby tearoom
After tea, we stood on the bluff overlooking the lake, cheering on the kayakers and windsurfers far below.

To wrap up the event, we drove through the town of Waterton to see if we could spot the infamous mule deer who wander through the streets. Nope, but we saw a lot of tourists around the restaurants, boutiques, and specialty shops that line the thoroughfares. Driving out of town, we slowed for photographers snapping a brown bear strolling through the meadows about 100 feet from the asphalt. Cyclists, tourists casually leaning on their pickups, and people with open car windows - they're just a short dash away if a bear becomes irritated.

Sometimes a glimpse of beauty restores our souls more than accomplishments, financial resources, or reaching a personal goal. It's well worth the trip to visit or stay in Waterton, a Canadian National Park town. It's not as jazzy or built up as Banff. However, the experience is unique between its blend of civilization, the polite and friendly Canadian locals, and the location in God's wild nature as carved between mountain ranges.

Read more:
*God looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens. Job 28:24 

*Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” Micah 4:2a   NIV (admittedly way out of context! 

*God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20   

Moravian Prayer: Thank you for beauty. Jesus, we are overwhelmed at your concerns and resources to minister to the great needs of so many about us. Thank you for vision and grace to meet these needs. Amen.

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