Friday 9 September 2022 – We departed the UK one month ago and we return thither in one month’s time. Our time in Jasper marks the end of Part II – the Rocky Mountains Bit – and it’s been excellent. Part I – the Rugged North West and Wildlife Bit – took three weeks, which was relatively leisurely; Part II has been more full-on.
So we declared today a rest day.
We had originally considered visiting a couple of nearby lakes or taking an easy hike, but the lure of a lazy day proved stronger. Also, we had thought to go into Jasper itself and report back to Brendan, our long-suffering travel agent in the UK, about what it was really like in Jasper (which still has no power; we’d overheard a group yesterday discussing how they were moving on from Jasper because their hotel had no heating and no hot water). That plan got scuppered by a shuttle bus which departed too early.
Since the sun was shining, we took the opportunity to walk around the (considerable) grounds of the Lodge. It’s very photogenic.
We had some other encounters:
in the Smokehouse, where they serve breakfast, a Bison’s head (making this not so much a Breakfast Bowl as a Breakfast Bison);
A statue that can’t bear weight;
next door to it, an Eagle statue;
a greedy squirrel, stuffing his face with pine nuts;
and a Loon, also called a Great Northern Diver in Europe.
Sorry about the Loon photo, but that’s the best my camera could do. Also observing it, though, was a chap called Neil who was not so much a Loon enthusiast as a Loon obsessive; he even described himself as such. We had a very pleasant chat with him about these remarkable birds. He had a very expensive-looking long lens and video setup and was pulling together a four-minute piece on some aspect of the birds. The Loon is depicted on the Canadian one-dollar coin, which is why they’re called Loonies. That knowledge will win you a pub quiz one day, see if it doesn’t.
The main objective of our stroll, though, was to see a particular group of cabins, collectively called Outlook Cabin.
The reason for our interest was that these cabins were used during one of the many visits to Canada by HM Queen Elizabeth and her retinue, because they offered peace and a degree of isolation. Apparently she liked the Park Lodge for its tranquility; in the light of the news of her death, it seemed appropriate to visit it.
And that was the extent of our activity today, resulting in a mercifully short blog entry. Reader, you can have time off for good behaviour.
Tomorrow we embark on Part III, which is largely a series of successively easterly city visits. We start with a drive to Edmonton. The only thing I knew about it was that it was where Wayne Gretsky, a world-famous ice hockey player, expounded his art, playing for the Edmonton Oilers, a team name which doesn’t somehow convey the image of a chic place. However, we’ve chatted with a couple of hotel staff who are from Edmonton, and it sounds like an interesting town with a few ITTDs. We also have a few digressions en route, so we’re back to relentless tourism after our day panting in the shade. I hope you’ll come back to read about them as we go.