It was as if the city was contagious with relaxation and I got the bug.
While in Jasper I lived life like a normal person and didn’t feel like a tourist. I did laundry, watched Walking Dead on my iPad, drank at the local brewery, and nursed hangovers while staring at the mountains (come to find out, mountain air actually does get rid of headaches).
My first day in Jasper being “laundry day” probably set the pace for the rest of my stay in Jasper. Doing laundry is a monotonous, slow-paced obligation of life and the only thing that made it interesting while being on the road is that it required me to visit a laundromat. The resulting feeling was that of me being a college student again and perhaps questioning my choice of clothing (upon hanging some clothes to air dry they appear to be the wardrobe of a stripper).
You’d be amazed how many compliments on my pants I get while hiking on the trail. One fellow hiker said, “I like your leopard tights; you’ll scare off the bears!” Yeah, maybe if bears fear strippers…
Jasper is a sleepy, slow-moving town on a completely different pace from its neighbor city, Banff. The timing for relaxation couldn’t have been better because I was beginning to feel the tiring effects of road life. Pouring cups and cups of coffee into my system in order to stay awake on long car rides has taken its toll. I welcomed the opportunity to chill at the local brewery and enjoy a tasty Blueberry Vanilla Ale (or two or three…).
Even the drive from Banff to Jasper was a slowing experience. While Google Maps told me it was about 3.5 hours from point to point, it actually took me closer to 7 hours because of the abundant sights to see along the way. Driving the Icefields Parkway is a tourist attraction in and of itself because of the close proximity of the road to mountains, lakes, and glaciers.
The wildlife was abundant on that drive, too. At several points along the route I had to stop for herds of mountain goat to slowly mosey off the road for me to pass. There was something so soothing about sitting in my idling car, watching animals that had zero awareness of the rules of the road. They would look to one another, then look at me in this nonplussed way that almost made me think they knew they were holding me up, but didn’t care.
The only thing about Jasper that made me feel like a tourist was, well Jasper. The mountains are on top of you there and you need simply look out the window to admire them. It was clear Mother Nature is Queen in Jasper when I heard the elk bellowing out their calls while I lay in bed at night. While driving to a hike I saw a herd of elk grazing on the side of the road. Like several other tourists, I pulled over to roll down my window and sneak a peak of them from the safety of my vehicle.
While there I also experienced an early arctic front and bundled up from the low temperatures in the negatives. Being my first time experiencing that level of coldness I learned a lot about layering up and listening to my body when it’s telling me when my fingers or ears are cold. I have to admit I’m having mixed feelings about leaving the mountains. Hiking in the 30-degree weather was a first experience for me and while I’ve come a long way to acclimate to the cold weather I’m looking forward to the warmer temperatures of Canada’s wine country – Okanagan Valley. But I’ve developed a love for the mountains and even in my now, chilled state know I’ll have a longing for them when I leave.