Jasper in the clouds

Disappointingly our trip to Jasper wasn’t our best day.  We had originally hoped to park the RV near Jasper and then use the car to drive around the area.  As I said earlier this didn’t work because we ended up here on the Labour Day long weekend and everything had been sold out for a month or more.  We parked in a friendly campground an hour east of Jasper and took the car in.  The town is very touristy of course, but also very lovely.  We wandered around, bought lunch and some jewelry (notice how I snuck that in).   For the first time in a month it started to rain while we were out during the day.  We knew that our perfect record had to change at some point, but why Jasper?

We had wanted to take the Sky Tram up to Whistler’s peak (no this isn’t BC).  I wasn’t keen because of the weather and just wanted to find a nice café to sit in and have my cappuccino.  Mike was sure it would blow over and since he was driving he won.  The tram could certainly take design lessons from the really nice cable car for Table Mountain in Cape Town.  This one squeezed thirty people into one little box that was so small everyone had to take their backpacks off their backs or the 30 folks wouldn’t fit in – seriously.  There were about 15 loops in the ceiling to hang on to and none of them were designed for five foot tall individuals.  It didn’t really matter as it was too crammed to fall down.  As we were exiting we were told it would be a good hour wait in line to get back down as there were 300 people already waiting.  That didn’t put me in a better mood.

We got off at the top and could see a walk that supposedly would take about one half hour up the mountain to the peak with a gorgeous 360 degree view.  As we were looking at this track the clouds came in again and all of a sudden everything half way up the track completely disappeared into the clouds.  We met a couple just coming down who said it had been snowing at the top and was treacherous coming down.  This was before all the clouds rolled in.  We decided to sit in the restaurant and wait for the gorgeous views that we knew were out there to reappear.  After eating we found out that the tram had now stopped running due to high winds.  I overheard one waitress saying that she had been stuck in the restaurant until after midnight one night.  At this point we are standing next to a table looking out the window at nothing but white.

The restaurant was packed, every step on the stairs was taken for seats.  Mike and I saw a couple get up from their table for some unknown reason and we quickly grabbed the chairs.  A second later another couple tried for the same chairs.  Since the woman was obviously pregnant and with a little one we gave her one of the two chairs (the child had a high chair).  Mike and I spent the next hour or two taking turns with one chair.  We were probably only up top for a few hours but it felt like a lot longer.  The clouds blew away for a few minutes in one direction so Mike got a few photos in the cold wind.  You can see the town of Jasper at the bottom of the picture above.  Eventually we got down to the bottom, tired, cold, out some money, all without having seen a thing.

Right now we are back on the Icefields Parkway going through Jasper, this time with the RV and continuing south.   Before we left the town of Hinton today we went for a walk on their Beaver Boardwalk.  If anyone is ever in this area they have built a lovely boardwalk over the wetlands and have gravel paths through the forest.  It was really nice.  If you have small children with you they will need to be on a short leash.  The boardwalk has no sides and isn’t very wide and there is water on both sides.

Between Jasper and Banff there is nowhere to camp with RV services (water, electricity, sewer). About halfway between the towns is the Columbia Icefield.  The visitor’s centre there has a parking lot where you are officially allowed to park your RV overnight but you have to be self-contained which we are for a night or two.  We were told that it is the most beautiful parking lot in the world as you are staring straight out at a glacier.  We will spend one or two nights there before we move on to Lake Louise and Banff.  I am thinking now that in addition to missing Edmonton we will probably miss Calgary as well.  Having to go to Slave Lake set us on a path further west than we anticipated and Mike would like to see a town in the Rockies where he worked almost 45 years ago.

My concern right now is how well the RV will do on this parkway.  Apparently it goes to a height of 6,800 feet or 2,100 m.  We have a Ford V10 engine pulling the RV and a Lincoln.  Luckily our sign “Be patient, pushing a large load” is in the Lincoln’s back window.  I don’t expect to get up some of these inclines very quickly.  Wish us luck.  As soon as I get somewhere with cell phone reception again I will post this on the web.  I have heard that cell service is really terrible in the park other than in Jasper and Banff.

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