Beyond the Border in Banff: Canadian Rockies Hikes & “RAD Garage” Visit

Odometer (Legend):  566,458

Trip Distance:  3,000 Miles Flown via WestJet

I fell in love with Alberta, Canada this past weekend.  The scenery, the food, and more than anything else, the overwhelming hospitality of the people there really swept me off my feet.  I was able to spend 4 days and 3 nights exploring the area – an idea hatched back in April that would give me the chance to reconnect with a long-time friend who lived in the area as well as see some of Canada’s most breathtaking features of the Rocky Mountains.

From the moment I landed in Calgary after my flight from Phoenix on Thursday afternoon, I was whisked away by Jeff and Lucas to Banff National Park about 90 minutes to the west.  While I snacked on snacks in the backseat of Jeff’s Mazda 3, I got a chance to learn a little about the area and enjoy the scenery along the way.  After entering the park, we made our way to a trailhead at Hector Lake.

The 40-minute hike required us to cross the a river multiple times, but I didn’t mind getting my sneakers wet because I felt like I was living in a postcard-perfect landscape.  We also made a stop at Peyto Lake, with its characteristic turquoise blue water and an upstream glacier.

My wake-up call in Calgary at Jeff’s place on Friday came as the clock struck 4:30 a.m., which was 3:30 a.m. my time.  I was a bit of a zombie as we made our way back to Banff, but when we parked at Lake Louise, my eyes lit up with the scenery:  The 127-year old “Chateau” hotel overlooks what has to be one of the most gorgeous natural wonders in the world.  We were surrounded by 360-degrees of pure perfection.

Luckily, my shoes had dried out overnight because they were about to get some pretty hardcore miles put on them.  We took the trailhead alongside the lake that started an immediate ascent – initially a moderate grade with pavement, then gravel, then becoming eventually a narrower pathway that zig-zagged its way up the mountainside.

Our destination was the Devil’s Thumb – a scenic lookout point about 3,000 vertical feet above the lake itself.  One waypoint along the path was the Lake Agnes “tea house” – a log cabin structure where they serve food and drink provisions.  From the tea house, the level of technicality grew and at some points of the hike, I scrambled on all fours to get traction and work my way up the mountainside.  The panoramic view from the top of Devil’s Thumb was 100% worth it!

We hadn’t yet burned all our energy or daylight by the time we returned back to ground level, but we recharged our batteries a bit by enjoying the view from lounge chairs before hitting up another short hike, to Silverton Falls.  Jeff introduced me to the town of Banff itself – crawling with tourists like me.  Of all the dining options, Mexican food sounded best to me so we stopped in at a saloon-themed place called Magpie and split a delicious pulled pork enchilada with some chips, salsa, and guacamole on the side.

The rest of the weekend was spent right in Calgary, where the sun didn’t peek out from behind the clouds on either Saturday or Sunday, but that was perfectly fine with me – I enjoyed the temperatures and the light drizzle.  In perfect fate, there was a “Taste of Calgary” culinary event taking place in the Eau Claire part of town so we took advantage of the chance to indulge.  The buffalo chicken poutine was to die for.

Capping off an already-incredible weekend was the chance to shake hands with someone who I’ve idolized from the automotive community for a few years now:  Rick from RAD Garage.  Rick’s detailing “theatre” made from his 2-car garage in suburban Calgary is a place of dreams for anyone who takes pride in maintaining the condition of his or her vehicle.  What started 9 years ago with the installation of a tool chest and the hanging of a few photos has transformed the space into a comprehensive mecca of detailing paradise.  Every product, every brush, every solution for every type of detailing challenge resides there.

An Adams product for every need – and then some.  My favorites were the Cars & Coffee, and the Pumpkin Spice spray.

My friend Zach was kind enough to shuttle me to Rick’s place in his 272,000-kilometer 1994 Acura Vigor GS – I felt right at home from the passenger seat.

Canadian-spec cars got heated seats, heated mirrors, and a trunk ski pass-through as standard equipment!

Rick and I had the chance to share a bit of Q&A for our respective channels and I enjoyed picking his brain a little about how his garage had evolved over the years.  Here is the video that he put together:

And here’s my version:

I enjoyed a phenomenal couple of days with the people and places of Canada.  It was enough to make me not want to come home – or at least to start thinking about making another epic road trip to our northern neighbors from behind the wheel.  Maybe I’ll be able to set something up soon.

Arriving Hector Lake

Peyto Lake

View looking upward to the canyon above Peyto Lake

Agnes Lake

Jeff showing the way as we ascended toward Devil’s Thumb

A friend pulled up my location on “Find My Friends,” and sent me a screen shot.

Making the descent

Lake Louise in the background

Fairmont Banff Springs hotel in Banff

Walking tour of Calgary with Jeff

Know what that is?  The elusive Acura 1.7 EL!  We didn’t get those in the States.

Riding to Rick’s in Zach’s Vigor

I loved the foam drawer liners in the toolboxes at Rick’s – custom fit for each tool present.

Overview of Rick’s garage

Zach’s Vigor

“French Toast Pie” (and a bag of bacon) for breakfast at Chix in the East Village of Calgary

Calgary Public Library internal architecture.  Amazing innovation!

14 Responses to “Beyond the Border in Banff: Canadian Rockies Hikes & “RAD Garage” Visit”

  1. Wow! Add Calgary to my bucket list!!

  2. This was such a Bucket List trip! I will keep it on mine for future reference. I absorb each and every detail, imagining experiencing it in person. Thanks for the great photos and recount! Jeff is the host with the most. And Rick’s garage makes me salivate. It brings me joy. I bet your brothers would appreciate it, too.

  3. The views from Banff National Park were fantastic, and the Banff Springs Hotel was fascinating – love old architecture like that! And RadGarage is simply amazing. I especially like the flooring that was installed, and having rack upon rack of cleaners for any possible automotive situation is now one of my life goals. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your latest adventure!

    • Thanks for reading and watching! This was definitely the experience of a lifetime. I wish I had an entire day or two just to explore the Banff Springs Hotel. So massive and ornate! Have a great week!

  4. I love watching Rick’s detailing videos, he’s the reason I ultimately want to have drainage in my dream garage. So jealous! The scenery in Canada is off the scales, just stunning. What are you import rules like in the US? Are you able to import cars like that rebadged 7th gen Civic? Also, that blue drink you and Jeff were having didn’t look that appealing!

    • I’m not sure on the import logistics but I know that it’s possible to get a rebadged Civic here, I’ve seen them before! Just very uncommon. Haha I’m glad you noticed the blue drink! We called that our “Lake Louise Breeze,” because it was supposed to be similar to the color of the lakes we visited in Banff. It tasted better than it looked 🙂

  5. Beautiful scenery!

  6. Absolutely stunning landscapes! It sounds like you had a great trip Tyson – what a brilliant place to visit!

  7. Great photos all around and that view from Agnes Lake is absolutely stunning! Adding to my personal bucket list as well. Rick’s garage is very impressive and I enjoyed the thorough interview you guys gave each other. That microfiber collection is insane!

    • I know! Microfiber for days! The next time we drive to Alaska (2026, if not sooner), we’ll be making a pit stop in Calgary to have Rick wash some bugs off our cars.

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