Jun 1, 2008

Day 2 - Vancouver to Jasper (Part 2)

What a stunning start to Day 2 of our North America journey!

I woke up just before 6AM, and what a long sleep I had on a train although it was on and off. The Comfort Class seat (aka Economy Class) is fairly comfy to say the least. It is like a First Class size seat for a little Jap Geezer like myself.

My girlfriend and I managed to get the last seats of the first breakfast service, and it was such a yummy Canadian breakfast! Before our trip, I was a bit wary of how expensive meals could be on a train, but this concern turned out to be false. VIA Rail serves very good food that is priced reasonably, with friendly customer service makes it even better.

We climbed back into the panorama room for a bit of morning view, and the mountain side of British Columbia and Alberta is stunning! We were delighted to get a pretty view of the Mount Robson from the panorama view, and I was immediately forced into my normal duty - taking lots of photos. We also saw some beautiful lakes, including Moose Lake, along the rail on the way up to Jasper.

After seeing just trees and mountains for hours, it felt kinda strange to see "a normal town" or "where people live" in Jasper after all. Jasper is a small but very pretty town, and it is just magic to have such a pretty town surrounded by just mountains, trees, and lakes.

We went straight to Athabasca Hotel, the first hotel of our trip, straightaway. I was not surprised to see our room was not quite ready as it was still just after 11AM. But after having a bit of a break, I was very impressed to see that the guys at this hotel made our room ready by noon so that we can have shower and all that. Very courteous and friendly staff too.

Because we didn't have much time before joining our Maligne lake tour, we grabbed a hot dog from a corner shop run by a Korean couple, who has been living in Canada for over 30 years and is very friendly. As I said 'Kamsahamnida (thanks)', they gave me a friendly response back in Korean.

My girlfriend and I were worried if the weather would hold up, but the weather turned out to be OK. Even better, the Maligne Lake tour with Jasper Adventure Centre turned out to be a lot more exciting than we'd imagined. In fact, it was amazing.

Immediately after we started driving to our first destination, we saw White-tail Deer. They are very cute! Then we arrived at Maligne Canyon, where we saw some pretty waterfalls and interesting signs of natural habitats. This was followed by a short stop at the "disappearing" Medicine lake. Until joining the tour, I was not sure why the lake is nicknamed 'disappearing', but Chuck (our guide) told us that it is because the lake will be empty after September/October time. I also learned that one of the reasons that the water colour is green or emerald because the water comes from gracier.

As we reached our final destination Maligne Lake, we were surprised and pleased to see the majority of the lake already melted. Maligne Lake, the biggest lake in the Canadian Rockies, presents such a spectacular panoramic view. In one corner of the lake, which has a beautiful green colour water, we saw quite an amount of trouts swimming.

As I was feeling fairly satisfied with our first tour, Chuck says 'there is something over there'. Yes, there are Bighorn Sheep!! Bighorn Sheep is one of the things that I was hoping to see while in Alberta, so you can imagine how excited I was. It has to be said though that there were some idiots who got out of their car to take photos, which is illegal in the National Park. We can't do things against the law especially against natural habitats, so we ended up taking tons of photos from inside our van. Phew... that was exciting, then shortly after we started driving back, Chuck says 'oh this time it might be bear.' What?! It wasn't bear. But it was Moose!! Although it was from a distance, we could tell it is a huge animal! Again, we also saw some muppets who managed to get our of their car again, but I was more focused on taking photos. If that's not enough, then Elk next!! This is incredible... We managed to bump into some of the amazing wildlife in such a short space of time... Chuck says he hasn't seen Moose for the last month and a half, so we know we are very lucky today.

Chuck is such an amazing tour guide who seems to have enjoyed a fair amount of time working in tourism industry. He can talk so much about things in and around Jasper, wildlife, environmental issues and so on. We said goodbye to him at the end of the tour as he gained my huge respect.

My girlfriend and I were starving after the tour as we only had a share of a hot dog for lunch. We went to Villa Caruso Steakhouse where we enjoyed our fine Alberta beef stake with a glass of Merlot.

What a fine day we had!


Christina said...

Hey Mas, sounds like you are having a great time on your trip so far! Looking forward to reading about your adventures over the next month. Will you eventually start refering to Teruko by her name instead of 'my girlfriend'? ;-)

Wotadiamondgeezer said...

Hi, Lovely!

Sorry it has been a while!

Teruko and I can't believe our dream tour of North America is now over! We had an excellent trip though!

Looking forward to catching up when you return from your trip!