Friday, July 06, 2018

Canada By Rail: Jasper National Park

We pulled into Jasper station on a rainy late Saturday afternoon. We’d been checking the weather reports for a while now and knew that the weather was not going to cooperate. We rented a car and drove to Becker’s Chalets. Becker’s rooms are cabins built along the Athabasca river. The Wife and I honeymooned here twenty-one years ago.

An early morning view of the Athabasca river.
After checking in to our cozy riverside cabin we returned to town and walked along the main street looking for something to eat. Most of main street is lined by the railroad on one side and touristy shops and restaurants on the other. We ended up at the D’ed Dog Bar & Grill.

We returned to Becker’s and had a relaxing evening in front of our gas fireplace trying to plan around the weather forecast.
Canada Day Clown.

Sunday was July first, Canada Day. We decided to skip the pancake breakfast and instead slept in and ate a late brunch at a diner style restaurant. The forecast had today being the only dry day of our stay in Jasper but the forecast was not correct. Soon, after we finished brunch and we made our way to a spot along the main street to watch the Canada Day parade, it began to rain. Umbrellas came out and people filled any covered space they could find. Fortunately for everyone the rain stopped right when the parade was scheduled to start.

The parade was a simple, small town affair. A few clowns, local social/business organizations, and first responders all waving and throwing candy to all the small kids in the front row. The Wife got a kick out of the small kids in front of us jumping up and down and chasing candy.

After the parade we drove south to Athabasca Falls. I took pictures until the drizzle turned to rain. We returned to Becker’s where the Wife sat by the river outside our cabin to read her book until the drizzle forced her inside.

Monday was the day of the deluge. We took a wildlife tour which was in a bus so the rain didn’t hurt. We wildlife was surprisingly scarce. It was cold (just over 40°F) which the wildlife likes but the rain seemed to keep it undercover. We did see coyotes (with cubs), a couple black bears, some eagles, and some deer.

The tour ended just before lunchtime so we went to a restaurant recommended by the wildlife tour driver (he kept saying “right on”). The Raven Bistro was excellent! Great food.

Monday evening, despite the continuing rain, we went on a walking tour of historic Jasper. Our guide pointed out the older buildings of the town and discussed the history of Jasper the town and Jasper the park. She would have pointed out the different mountains surrounding Jasper but few of the mountains were visible through the low rain clouds. It rained all day Monday.

Why did the bear cross the road?
On Tuesday we checked out of our room. Due to booking issues we would have to move to another room (the exact same thing happened on our honeymoon). We drove south to the Athabasca glacier and the Columbia icefield. We’d done the glacier and ice field on our honeymoon so we concentrated on the new. We ate a really good buffet lunch, watched a short film about the glacier, and we walked out on the Skywalk. The Skywalk was new for us. It was a glass floored ‘bridge’ that curved out over the valley. When I first heard of it I thought it would be on the side of a mountain or something. Instead it was along the road that follows the Athabasca river. Nevertheless the views from the Skywalk were amazing (despite the continuing drizzle). The Wife was slow to walk around it - she said it made her queasy.  While I liked the skywalk, I have to say it's a bit cheesy.
The Glacier Skywalk.

Wednesday (the fourth of July) was our last day in Jasper. We slept it, checked out and went to town for lunch. We really didn’t have any plans for the day so we returned the rental car, checked our bags early at the train station, and waited for the train to arrive ... for several hours.

The Athabasca Glacier.
I’ve been trying to cut sugar and carbs from my diet lately and I discovered that waiting is the killer of good habits. While I waited for the train I fell off the wagon indulging in ice cream, banana bread, and a blueberry muffin.

Pictures can be found in my 2018-06 Canada by Rail Google Photos album.

Onward to Winnipeg.

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