Tuesday, November 18, 2003
The Rockies Rock!
When we got to Jasper, we decided to rent a car. It such a beautiful little town, it reminds Alan of Aviemore in Scotland, and I can sort of see it, but Jasper is MUCH cooler. The weather was nice and sunny and the mountains were unreal. Our hostel was odd-going up the long road at night, surrounded by trees, tended to make us think of "the Shining", and Alan managed to quite spook us with his "redrum" one evening... The hostel had several resident dogs, all very cute, who we periodically threw sticks for. Some of the hostel's other creatures were stranger--the staff all had a lot of facial hair, and as we were stuck in a large coed dorm, it tended to smell of farts all the time. We had some tame games of chess, and a highly adversarial game of scrabble. I won, of course ;)
Our first big adventure was the drive to Lake Louise. We had to leave early, so if the weather turned bad, we'd have time to get back before they closed the highway. It was an amazing trip. Alan and Jenni making mating calls (sounded more like burps to me!), my nostril doing a Darth Vader impersonation, Alan eating some spiritual bagels (okay, this is odd I know, but essentially Alan got all "the mountains and scenery move me" after spending the whole trip mocking Jenni and I for overly emotional sentiments about polar bears and many other things. He blamed it on something funny in the bagels).
Within five minutes on the road we saw some elk. It was sunrise, so the mountains were all framed by pink sky. Very beautiful. Alan jokes that the animals are all animitronics that the park rangers activate whenever tourists drive by... There were such amazing views I guess we all felt it was too good to be true. We're calling the photos from this part of the trip the "back to nature" photos, since there are many of animal arses!
We went to Athabasca Falls, saw some bighorn sheep licking salt off the road, saw the Sumwampta Falls. Alan and Jenni did an impersonation of fat people, inspired by the incredibly inaccurate signs on the time it takes to walk the trails - we finished in at least half the time on each trail. We drove past the Columbia Icefields, but it's the wrong time of year to get to go on them. Then we hit Lake Louise... And found it frozen. Okay, so we were incredibly stupid to not have thought of this, but we were expecting that amazing turquoise water. Anyway, then we meet this very, very odd woman, who is there celebrating her wedding anniversary, since she had been there for her honeymoon. The odd thing is, her husband was too busy at work to go with her!!! It was weird.
On the way back, we saw a weeping wall (ice on rock really), some white tailed deer, coyotes (or it's arse, to be more precise), and some spooky ravens who wouldn't fly away when we came very close to them. Saw Runaway Jury at the cinema in town that night.
The next day we drove out to Jasper Park Lodge and saw more deer, elk, coyotes. We may even have some decent, non-arse photos from that day! We heard woodpeckers and saw a chipmunk. My bird obsession from the summer in Scotland is gone, but the animal spotting continues!!! Medicine Lake was pretty, but when we stopped there and used the mini tripod to take timed photos, Jenni's camera ended up in the snow! It's ok though.
So, there we were, driving up towards Maligne Lake and we see some bighorn rams. We stop the car, staying inside like good little tourists, and take a photo out the window, while the rams start licking salt off the side of our rental car. When we attempt to move on, one ram gets ready to, well, ram us. Jenni hit the gas, and the car was safe. I, however, got a nice bump on the head (bumped it off the back window).
We went tourist shopping. After about 10 shops with all the same stuff in it we were all getting a bit tired, when I decided to try on a t-shirt in the shop and nearly broke this eagle thingy. Let me tell you, smashing was all that ugly thing was good for. Sadly it is still in one piece, waiting for an American tourist with a dodgy sense of style to come along...
On our drive back to the hostel, we noticed a girl walking along the side of the road and offered her a ride the rest of the way-it would be one long walk to that hostel from town. Turns out she had hitched up from Lake Louise by herself. We earlier in the trip had met another girl who hitched around Alaska by herself. This is all made concerning by the fact that there was a reward for info poster in the Jasper train station for a girl who had gone missing, last seen hitching from Port Rupert. Spent that evening sending Emily a puzzle postcard, which I am sure she will greatly appreciate ;)
Finally we went to a lake that wasn't frozen-Patricia Lake, so we have those cool photos were the mountains reflect in the water (can you tell I love our photos?!?)
Pyramid Lake had a walk on an island that was supposed to last 20 minutes... They must think all the tourists are stupidly out of shape because it maybe took us 10. It wasn't frozen though! Yay water! Then we went to the Jasper Museum, very interesting, and did a Maligne Canyon tour.
So, here is where we wasted money, cause we did not need a tour guide for that trail. Granted, we didn't have the rental car anymore, but our tour companions were a hoot. They were all British, and ranged in age from 30-60. And damn, were they slow and unstable. One woman, I kid you not, said she wouldn't have done a walk like that when she was 20, let alone 60, and this was not a difficult trail IN THE LEAST!
Our last day we went and got dressed up in RCMP uniforms (for free!) and took photos. Then we just hung around, waiting for yet another late train. Alan and Jenni got their knickers in a knot over a display in the train station that said England, when it should have said Britain, which passed the time nicely.
We got on that train, and that was pretty much the end of our trip. My friend Jenny and her mum picked us up at the station and managed to get our mountain of luggage to the hostel in one trip. Then she fed us bagels and showed us around.
On our first day in Vancouver, we all managed to secure apartments! Yay, us. The job search has taken longer, but Alan and I are now employed, though I don't start till Friday.