Well, I arrived in Jasper a couple of days ago and was going to find a campground, but there was a lovely little hotel listed in this Alberta accommodation booklet I have and I just HAD to stay there. It was right in the middle of Jasper, too. I rode past the place innumerable times before finally spotting it, typical of me when trying to find something. It is a very nice hotel and has a lovely view from all sections.
For those of you who don’t know anything about Jasper, it’s in the Canadian Rockies and part of the Jasper National Park which is, of course, Very Big. Everything in Canada is Very Big, except the food, which is thankfully served in normal-sized portions, unlike their southern neighbours. Jasper is joined to a town called Banff, further to the south, by a road called the Icefields Parkway. Sounds a bit coolish, as in cold, doesn’t it? It’s not, the weather has been great. At the commencement of the national park, some way before I got to Jasper, I came to boom gates and park rangers. All vehicles have to stop and pay a fee for entering the park. I got a two day pass for $20, worth every cent too. This place is beyond beautiful.
Got all my gear into the hotel and made a beeline for the tramway. This is an enclosed chairlift thing which ascends one of the nearby mountains and from which there are spectacular views. I’d been talking to a couple of blokes the day before, in Edson, who approached me to chat about the bike and my trip. When I told them I was heading for Jasper, they said I absolutely have to take the tramway to the top of the mountain. So I jumped on the bike and took the 3-4 km trip up to where the tramway starts:
The tram cars hold about 9-12 people. It is a very small, enclosed space. The trip up the mountain takes about 10 minutes or so, maybe more. I was so busy clicking I didn’t really notice the time. Here are some views on the way up:
For the entirety of the journey upwards an annoying child serenaded us with his incessant and high-pitched whine, drowning out the very interesting commentary. His parents, in a vain quest for some peace and quiet, promised him pizza for supper if only he’d shut the heck up for two seconds. It didn’t work, and he continued to bellow. I saw the megabrat later in the evening. He got his pizza, along with his just desserts:
The view from the top goes forever. I love these mountains; any mountains really. Coming from a country which is quite flat, to see mountains so high there is still snow on top in the summer is really something else. Fair dinkum, this country has everything! I think I must be turning into a Canadophile. Here are some photos from the top, and overlooking Jasper:
After the tram ride, it was time for a walk around Jasper. I try to do this in most places; it helps get a feel for the place and thus helps when later writing the blog. There are a lot of young people here from all over the world, including Australia, who come over on a working visa for 12 months or so to work in the tourist places in Jasper. Here’s Jasper. I could stay here forever:
Jasper is such a beautiful spot, so naturally there are lots of tourists. Many of them travel here in RVs. You’ll remember these RVs, the ones that own the Top of the World Highway. They also own Jasper, and it is here they gather, I think, to copulate, because they’re everywhere…
They ARE copulating! I was right. This one has babies on the back:
All that was yesterday. Today started off with the mundane but necessary, that of finding a laundromat and getting my stinky-poo clothes clean and dry. That done, it was time for a hike up one of the nearby hills. Aussies would call this a mountain, but here, in the midst of Alp-like peaks, it’s only a hill. It was a good 2-3 hour walk. I enjoyed every minute.
Tomorrow is Canada Day. I have been tempted to stay here yet another night and join in the Jasper celebrations, which include a traditional pancake breakfast, parades, and fireworks at night. However, I reckon I will keep going and head south down the Icefields Parkway to a town called Canmore. There will be Canada Day celebrations there too, and I can lodge at a $20 campground and enjoy them just as well.
And anyway, what does it matter where I spend Canada Day? I’m in Canada. Any place is good.