Today has been a bit of a strange day. I hardly looked out of the car window on the 5 hour journey from Edmonton to Jasper. Partly because the weather was so closed in, with snow drifting down and blotting out any views, but also because I have become accustomed to driving here in Canada.
I asked for the radio to be put on to 97.3FM as we left Edmonton, K-97 radio staion, classic rock kicked in and I spent the first hour or so chuntering to myself when the DJ put on a good record. There was AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Eagles and The Who to name a few. Good to see that proper music is still alive and kicking out here amongst the Country and Western masses.
Once we had entered Jasper National Park, the atmosphere changed. The others in the car started to get more animated as more interesting things came into view. Caribou, big horn sheep and mountains were seen and gave topics for discussion. Jasper itself is a smallish ski resort in the winter (we have just missed the season despite the snow still being here), and a camping, hiking and outdoor sports centre during the short summers (next Tuesday). The Rocky mountain tourist trains all seem to stop here to disgorge hordes of tourists, who pop into the gift shops, grab a bite to eat in the local restaurants, before heading back to their train for the onward journey to banff or other destinations.
On arrival at the Beckers lodge we were told not to wander around on our own because bears had been on site the night before, and at this time of year they haven’t long come out of hibernation and are very very hungry and have young to feed. Local advice is, if you meet a bear, and have to run, make sure you’re not the slowest.
At dinner we talked about what lay ahead of us, the ice fields, waterfalls, lakes and mountains of Banff. I don’t think the others have realised how cold the mountains can be, and they didn’t pack the right clothing. I have brought my goretex boots, salopettes and walking jacket, plus several layers to wear and hat and gloves. It’s going to be brutal on the ice fields me thinks, but I am prepared.
This will be followed by the road out West towards Vancouver where we are going to meet up with Don and do some boys stuff (shooting and fishing). I am particularly interested in what Vancouver might be like. I imagine it will have a similar feel to it that Auckland does..plenty of watersports, a cosmopolitan city with great scenery. Most people who I have spoken to rave about Vancouver, and I am looking forward to seeing it myself.
So far, the Canadian people have been very hospitable, keen to please, but most of all easy going and pleasant to deal with. I am warming to them. Too often when you go on holiday, the locals put up a front, or are just plain rude to tourists and see them as an inconvenience. The Canadians seem to be genuinely nice people, always willing to help, chatty, and happy in their work. I would put them in the same category as the Kiwi’s, Thai people and Turkish. The nations that I find put up a barrier or are not very happy when it comes to dealing with tourists are the French and Americans, which is a shame really because both of those nations have fantastic countries with superb infrastructure and geography. Perhaps they don’t realise what they’ve got and are just caught up in their own little rat races. I can’t tar all of the French or Americans with the same brush as I do have some good friends from each nation, but they tend to be people who have been to the UK and sampled a bit of the way we socialise and then look back at their own with a different eye. Of course the Brits are perfect aren’t they..?? ;o)