Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Competing with Mother Nature for "Most Beautiful in Jasper". Think I'm in the lead.

This weekend, the boy & I forayed up to Jasper, Alberta for a getaway in the Rockies. Boasting a population of merely 2,500, Jasper sits on the edge between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. It being 200 miles due northwest of Calgary translates into to a roughly five drive through what is considered one of the most beautiful highways in the world, Icefields Parkway.

I love road trips because they allow me to indulge in snacks, playlists, and naps. And boy, I had my fair share of all three. Friday morning, we hopped into our snappy little rental Ford Fiesta (very fuel efficient, and relatively kind to the environment) and began our journey up north. I'd been dreading the start a little because the forecast for that day had been a snow/rain/sleet mixture but the moment our parkade garage door opened, we were greeted with beaming sunshine and glorious blue skies. Suck on that, weatherman!

Along the way, we stopped at Columbia Icefield to check out the Athabasca Glacier. Unfortunately April isn't tourist season and a lot of the usual tours and roads were closed so we weren't able to actually step on the glacier as it's only accessible through a special route/bus tour. But we did manage to hop out and take some pictures and freeze our butts off.

Herro! I can't feel my face!

One of my favorite parts of the trip was where we stayed: a small bed & breakfast called The Glass House. Getting there was not so easy though. I'd left my notebook with its address back in my Calgary apartment and neither of us had a data plan in Canada, so we wound up knocking at what I thought was the right house for about five minutes. After a while we gave up and stood there quizzically and I gave the doorknob a turn just as a man walking his dog approached us from the sidewalk.

Embarrassing moment number one:
"Can I help you folks?'
"Umm...yeah, we're looking for a bed and breakfast called The Glass House?"
"Well it's certainly not here, cause that's my house you're knockin' on."
"...Oh. Sorry."

Embarrassing moment number two, with the same man:
"We're looking for someone named Tobi. He owns The Glass House, we think, and lives on this street."
"Yeah, I think it's short for Tobias." (at this point I'm envisioning a bespectacled man wearing denim cutoffs and covered in blue body paint)
"Last name?"
"Oh, the Fentons live over there. And Tobi's a woman."
"...Oh. Sorry."

Tobi (the woman) and the Glass House were both all sorts of lovely. Our room, the Garden Room, had a huge round wooden window that reminded me of being in a hobbit home and afforded us a beautiful view of the tree in the front yard and the quiet street beyond. It felt just like we were in a treehouse. The other rooms in the B&B seemed pretty neat, too - the enormous master Loft had a jacuzzi (but no privacy :s) and the Solarium Room a lovely, sun-filled lounge. I still liked ours the best and would recommend it for anybody who finds themselves in Jasper. After the ridiculous Airbnb Live Mission Startup/Incubator in San Francisco and now this cozy B&B experience I'm definitely putting hotels on the backburner and more open minded about exploring alternative sleeping arrangements.

The town of Jasper itself was very touristy, but we did find some good information centers, neat restaurants (LOVED Patricia's Deli. Best sandwich ever, still drooling as I think about that cranberry mayo sauce, guhh) and paid a visit to the famous Jasper the Bear, who was the subject of a much-loved Canadian comic and serves as a conveniently-named mascot for the town of Jasper. It's pretty much mandatory to take a picture with this guy and we happily obliged in the spirit of tourism.

We spent the next morning exploring some nearby fields and hiking along Maligne Canyon, which was still slippery in places, very muddy in others, and had me huffing and puffing and feeling morbidly obese in no time. But the views were worth it!

Check out that pro fob pose...I'm already converting him into an azn.

We also saw our fair share of animals in the park, which is always neat. I'd been hoping for a bear or a moose sighting but unfortunately didn't catch any glimpses of either :s Oh well. I probably would have been terrified of a real bear anyway and pissed myself silly.

I am disgusted by what it I imagine it is licking off the ground

Bambi's mother before I made her into a zesty little venison sandwich

Elky elk elk in front of trainy train trains. One on the right is sprouting antlers, how manly of it to do so.

TL; DR: my trip to Jasper was incredible. Excellent views, food, sightseeing, lodging, and opportunities for outdoor adventures. The company wasn't bad, either :) More pictures can be found here. Check out Jasper if you ever get the chance! Woo Canada!

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