Jasper, Canada

The “kids” and I are hanging out by the picnic table in the cool but pleasant evening at Wabasso campground, surrounded by lots of evergreens, many of them charred, bearing the aftermath of the recent forest fires. Right now, the fire potential is low, so we are in the clear to warm up by a bonfire tonight.

Earlier in the day, we left Banff and drove up and through some impressive mountains toward Jasper. Lexi (our RV) was complaining as she pulled Jane (our towed) up the hill and the brakes got a bit hot downhill, so we decided to unhitch Jane for part of the trip. On our way we had to watch out for cars suddenly slowing down and occasionally stopping in the middle of the highway to watch/photograph bears feeding in the woods alongside the road. I’m all for catching a good pic of wildlife BUT, people, pull over and get out of the way; do NOT stop dead in the highway and start backing up!!; do NOT dilly-dally across the highway on foot disregarding traffic. Please, don’t be that tourist! Besides, it’s not safe to get close to the bears, and chances are your picture will not be National Geographic worthy….

The drive through the mountains was spectacular, even if partially soaked by rain. After each bend, a more magnificent view appeared, the immensity of the Rockies putting things in a different perspective. We drove by a long line of people waiting to tour the glaciers and yet another waiting to walk on the glass catwalk arching above the glacier, Columbia Icefield Skywalk. We drove past a field of boulders and rocks, spotting their source up the steep and precarious mountain side.

When we finally arrived in Jasper, we took a “linner” (lunch + dinner) break. For some reason, I thought that Jasper would be larger, but it turned out to be a cute little mountain town, offering plenty of touristy gift shops and eateries. It provided a parking lot for RVs, just as we pulled into town and across a railway.

We parked and walked around town until we found a burger place (not sure why I was craving one, since I almost never eat burgers). We savored our food at a picnic bench near Jasper’s art gallery and cultural center, and then headed back to our RV.

We were getting ready to navigate to a Wal-Mart parking lot an hour or so away, in the town of Hinton. As we were waiting for a train to pass (word to the wise: there are many trains coming throughout the day and they are SLOW and LONG), David double-checked our Jasper campground reservations. It turned out that we could check in that day instead of the next, as we originally thought. Yay! The downside was that the place came with no hookups, which meant, we would still be basically boondocking but just in a prettier setting.

Poor David is tinkering with the batteries now, not really liking when one of them shows as dead even though we haven’t used it that much. It’s possible that the battery meter is faulty…. A possibly unrelated issue is the fridge is not working although we have enough propane. He’ll check on that next…. RVing is a constant learning process. But I’m glad David can figure out things of that nature. While I typed all this, he actually fixed whatever was not working (apparently, there was a loose connection causing the confusing signals and the alarm to come on), and now he’s stoking a beautiful fire in the metal pit at our site. I wish I had the pretty fuzzy blankie I eyed at some of the shops in Banff but I didn’t feel like paying $50 for something not made locally :-/. Besides, I promised myself I would be better about not buying stuff, having just been through the process of purging stuff from the house (sigh)….

On the (absolutely beautiful, even when rainy) drive from Banff to Jasper, planning thoughts wanted to creep in my head, about orchestrating a trip abroad to visit family, while still juggling our housing and pets arrangements. I wondered if we should sell the house or try to keep it rented past the one year. David pointed out that we’ve only been on the road a couple of weeks and that I didn’t need to start planning now for a year later, knowing that there are still many unknowns waiting for us throughout our travel. Point taken. Plans postponed. Deep breath. And… oh, my, a giant stone wall jutting from the road displays a magnificent glacier, while a tapestry of white, violet, orange, and yellow flowers spread at its base, a sweet contrast to the austerity of the rocky mountain, the joy and hope of life at the base of the scary structure. A large smile spreads across my face. Life’s good.

Mountains-and-flowers-Jasper-Canada

Our second day in Jasper was divided between “house” projects and going into town. We walked up and down the main street, taking a coffee and pastry break at the Bear’s Paw Bakery on our way to the Visitors’ Center. We picked up a map of the area, then replenished some groceries. Another good fire warmed the cool evening, and we truly relaxed, happy just to be.

On our third and final day in Jasper, rain came in early and didn’t stop for hours. After running the RV to the dump station and replenishing our fresh water tank, we settled back in our spot. Since generator hours were limited between 8 am – 9:30 am and 5 pm – 7 pm, we relied on our buddy, the Gas Buddy portable propane heater to keep us toasty. But what are rainy days for, if not for catching up on sleep, reading, and writing….

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