Canada: The Alien Next Door – Day Two – Edmonton ->Jasper
Baggage out by 7:30 AM – What kind of vacation is this? We board the bus after a breakfast of respectable scrambled eggs and hotel fruit and mini croissants with authentic Canadian bitter marmalade, washed down by a flood of commentary from the indefagitable conversationalists at our shared table. No shrinking violets in this group!
A bus, no matter how well equipped and well-upholstered, is still a bus, and a bathroom break is still required. Not even a Stanford brochure could make the loo at Entwhistl’s lone Esso station a four-star experience. Well, maybe the INSIDE one, but the line was long, so we were directed to the outside auxiliary.
Problem: no window and no lightbulb. Not even the guys could see where to aim. Happily, in my day pack was a souvenir key ring from a months- earlier trade show with a miniature flashlight. We passed this gem around – my former employer EMC got value for its money with this marketing tool!
Lunch at Epson – at the intersection of 4th and 51st streets. Yeah, right. A total population of about 8000 people means that about 45 of those 51 streets are merely a gleam in a developer’s eye. A three course meal at the Mountain Pizza and Steak House, then back on the bus all woozy from too much food and not enough exercise. Busing through the anorexic evergreen forest with equally anorexic birch trees crowding together – so much more vertical-looking than the robust pines and aspens of the lower Sierras! Down timber combines with melted snow rotting into mulch across the rolling tundra. The Rockies are a low-lying cloud layer in front of us.
Then five minutes down the road we spot a giant – antlered elk on our side of the road, calmly grazing. More photos. Our guide is agog: “Never have I seen so much wildlife in such a short stretch. “ Fine with us!
On a clear day, I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to spend time than Jasper Lodge. In addition to the breath-taking natural setting, there is a large central lodge with lots of comfy chair groupings in which to sit and admire the wonderful view across Lac Beauvert toward the mountains. Lots of satellite cabins. Overflowing baskets of petunias and geraniums hanging from every lamppost and over every door. Blue sky, clouds rising and disappearing, mountains reflected in the glassy, forest-rimmed lake. Of the places we visit on this trip, none will invite us back more strontly.
Amenities of our tour include: A 5PM lecture on Glacial Geology by Scott Burns, the official Professor. Drinks both spiritous and not on the deck. Dinner of salmon with lentils and asparagus and a monologue on Canadian politics by Barry the Tour Guide. We escaped to quiet of our cabin. Happily, we have another whole day at this bucolic refuge.