Canada Trip Day 3 and 4

by Jonah

We’re heading north on the Alaskan Highway (or the “Scenic Route to Alaska,” as the sign pointing to it said, as if there’s another one?). There’s nothing but spindly evergreens on either side of the road in various stages of being timbered. I imagine this is what driving across Siberia is like, except with not as wide shoulders. To our left snow covered peaks occasionally peak out from behind the green hills we’re driving through.

We slept in somewhat the day before, the Black Diamond Hotel being a lot quieter in the morning than the night before. We were in room number 1, which makes me think we were the only guests. It was far quieter than the Econolodge with the room doors that all automatically slammed shut with a tremendous smack. The fog had followed us to Alberta, though not as thick. Fortunately, by the time we got to the mountains it lifted, and it was a beautiful day.

Inside Banff National Park we drove up to Lake Louise, which was, of course, covered in a thick layer of snow and, judging from the people in the parking lot, a popular destination for cross country skiing. We got gas, since that was the last place we could until we got to Jasper, and then took a detour to Emerald Lake, which also seemed to be a popular cross country skiing location. There was a shop there that alternately rented skis and canoes. A sign advised that, if a strong wind blew you to the opposite side of the lake, to just tie up your canoe and walk the trail back. Another sign displayed the area that was prone to avalanche.

We just stopped in a town called Grande Cache that is surprisingly large for being so far from anything else. Its two main industries seem to be logging (or “Forest Products”) and a correctional “service,” which we stumbled upon looking for a car wash. We did find one, but it had quite a line of giant pick ups. There’s also a coal mine right next to a power plant.

From Emerald Lake, we headed back to the highway that wound between two mountain ranges between Lake Louise and Jasper. That highway is one of the most beautiful in the world, I think, lined on either side by peak after jagged snow covered peak. Berck said, “I didn’t expect it to be as pretty as this.” I’d checked the road conditions that morning, and it said the first half was red and the second half was yellow. Indeed, a lot of road had a strip of road colored slush in the middle of road, sometimes extending over into our lane. This required quite a bit of concentration to navigate. We saw several glaciers (which are a lot more impressive in the winter surrounded by snow than the summer surrounded by dirt). You can tell they’re glaciers because there is green poking out from under the snow. I took 197 pictures. March is apparently a good time to travel on this road. We were passed by a giant pick up that thought driving 70 in the slush was too slow, and we passed a sedan (twice), and that’s all the traffic that was traveling northbound that we saw.

We got to Jasper around 5 and were tired and hungry since we hadn’t eaten that day. So we stopped at the visitor center and got some information and then drove to several motels and asked how much each was. Satisfied we’d found the cheapest in town ($112 including tax) we unpacked in a comfortable room with a king sized bed at the Maligne Lodge. Unfortunately, our room was beneath a staircase with kids yelling and running up and down it constantly. We checked reviews for places to eat in town and decided on Lou Lou’s Pizzeria (and burgers and espresso and breakfast and internet cafe) and ordered poutine and a pizza and two draught beers, which turned out to be a very palatable IPA. Our bellies full, we wondered around all of Jasper’s city centre looking for a brewery. When we found it, a Londoner, who we mistook for an Aussie (she claimed to have picked up a twang while she was down under), served us some tasty nitrogen red ale and stout and asked us lots of questions. She is “an instructor on the hill” who works a second job as a waitress. When we said we were from Colorado, she asked if that was near Tahoe.

Back in our room, we found the spots were the wireless was best (for Berck was it was perched on top of the television cabinet). By around 10:30 the kids had finally stopped running loudly up and down the stairs, and I had a good night’s sleep, except when Berck was pulling the covers off me (yes, even in a king sized bed).

We’re in Fort Nelson now, as far north as either of us has ever been in this hemisphere. We’re staying at the second cheapest motel in town and had dinner at Dan’s Neighbourhood Pub. The drive north along the Alaska Highway is astonishingly boring. So far the roads have been clear, and we haven’t seen any cops, so we’ve made very good time. We even got to see a very small herd of caribou digging through the snow on the side of the road.

One Response to “Canada Trip Day 3 and 4”

  1. noe Says:

    this makes me happy.

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