We finally have neighbors after 8 months. One young couple are from Kenya and have a 6 month old baby girl. The other couple has an 18 month old boy and are from Pakistan. We give them cookies and they have invited us in. Both men have good jobs here and the mothers stay home with their babies. They all speak English.
We love Canada, we love the people. Canadians are calm, peaceful, laid back. They protect their privacy. They love hockey passionately. They love their Canadian football league. But the day of the Gray Cup, equivalent to the Superbowl, the stands were empty. It seems Canadians like to watch from the privacy of their family rooms, where it is warm, the announcer will tell them everything, they can see it all close up, with instant reruns, and scream and yell to their hearts content. And eat cheaper food than at the stadium.
Of course, the Superbowl was also viewed that way. Distance was a factor. And Canadians had a few ways they could watch. There were three English-language channels and one French-language broadcast. If they watched any of the English broadcasts on CTV, they would get Canadian substitute advertising. So to get the American ads, they could watch Fox Cable TV, or some people could stream, but it would only be CTV. Then there are those who record and watch it later. The lives of Canadians in northern Alberta are complicated and our next blog will be about them.
Our weather is improving. The first week in February was back in the deep freeze. We had temperatures at -27 F feels like -42. Two weeks later we were above freezing, 37F in the day and things melted. But, it froze at night, and then we were slipping around on sheets of ice. The last week of February was single digits. We went to Jasper National Park. Being a little farther south, it was a little warmer. It was a long P-day. We brought our snow shoes to Canada with us so we could use them. Alas, this has been an unusual winter in the Peace Country. We haven't had much snow. The area usually gets most of the snow after Christmas. We could see that is not going to happen this year. We decided to go to Jasper National Park and snowshoe there, now. We won't be here after Christmas in 2017.
We ate lunch in Grande Cache at the Ridge. The meals are always good. Going out of Grande Cache the lake is frozen, (everything is frozen) and we saw all the little fishing shacks on the lake. We fought a kind of icy road on the way down.
We got to Jasper in the early afternoon. We entered the park and had about an hour drive to the town of Jasper. There isn't much snow here. The mountains are amazing. There will be snow as we travel back into the mountains.
The wind was blowing the snow on the ice. It looks like open water, but it wasn't.
All these mountains were formed "recently" because they are angular and sharp and haven't had time to wear down into smooth edges.
This train was on a side track. We saw it come into town while we were there. But a freight train came in before it.
This is snow blowing around this mountain.
That is a jagged edge at the top of this mountain ridge. The wind was really blowing hard.
The mountains have so much character which shows up well with the snow making a contrast.
The eye makes a better picture than a camera. It was amazing.
It was also so fun to see wildlife on the way to Jasper. We saw two bald eagles between Grande Cache and The turnoff to Jasper NP.
We saw Rocky Mountain sheep that we didn't anticipate seeing. We saw them in three different groups along about 40 miles.
It was fun watching these families.
When we got into Jasper we drove around the few streets and went into a huge apartment complex. There were about 20 groups of apartments. Each group had a huge parking area for bikes. Except for tourists people ride bikes or walk.
This is downtown near the train station.
The train yard was a popular place. These elk just moved aside to accommodate two freight trains, an oil train and a large passenger train. Nothing phased them.
This is a restored Lutheran church building in Jasper.
OK, Robyn always notices roofers.
We saw all the town and shopped at a lot of touristy stores and normal stores. We left while it was still light so we could get out of the park and still have visibility.
There were mule deer grazing right by the highway a little way out of town. We saw four white tail deer on the hillside among trees, but they were impossible to get a picture that you could really see them.
This river has open water because the river dropped so the ice cracked. You can see the ledge at the edge of the water, and the cracks in the middle.
This is the skating oval on the lake by Jasper Lodge.
A game of ice hockey in the middle of the skating oval at Jasper Lodge.
These guys were just waiting for us to take their picture when we came back the next morning.
This bull elk was with the group in the picture below.
We drove up to the tram that was closed. The view must be breathtaking at the top.
This is the road to Maligne Lake. The road was like this the whole way, about 30 miles. So we are going to have snow after all.
We had lunch, in the car at this picturesque spot. The Red Chairs are in the National Parks in Canada. There are 7 sets in quiet, scenic locations in Jasper. We couldn't easily get to this one. There were big drifts and icy areas. We should have gotten the gear out and hiked over there, but we were trying to beat a storm we could see starting to brew in the distance.
As we neared our destination, Maligne Lake, it started to snow.
The snow stopped, but no sun came out. Bruce is doing a yo yo trick in the parking lot before we head into the woods. Robyn is just ready to go.
When we got back to the parking lot we met a couple from the train yesterday. They had rented a car and driven to Maligne Lake. They asked us where they should go to see some of the sights. They were from Wales and were not prepared to hike. We directed them to the lake. They went for a short look, then followed us back to town, about an hour drive.
We went to a great place for dinner, on the second floor of a building overlooking the edge of town and had a great view. Our waitress was one of the locals who had showed us where the trail started. We had a great visit about the day and about Jasper.
The sun had gone down when we were through eating. It was cloudy but there was a break in the clouds. We drove out of town where we would be in darkness and waited for it to be dark enough to see the night sky. Jasper is an area of night sky preserve. We were not disappointed. We saw a very clear picture of stars and milky way in part of the sky. It was awe inspiring. Neither one of us has seen such a sky in a long time. The only problem in sticking around to see the sky, was traveling very dark roads for an hour back to Hinton. We've been there done that with animals running into our car in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. We were nervous but fine. We were watched over by a loving Heavenly Father and made it back with car and passengers all in one piece.
Our trip was such a nice one. We saw the sheep, elk and deer. We saw one coyote, and a squirrel, but no caribou, or moose. Even on our ride back to Grande Prairie through Grande Cache, we didn't see any caribou. There are a few other places in Canada we might see caribou. We saw lots of enjoyable, beautiful scenery. We are so glad we got on this little get-away. This is such a beautiful earth that's been created for us. We felt at peace. We felt loved by a Heavenly Father who knows who we are, and cares about us. He is aware of the things that make us happy. We love our Heavenly Father very much. Bruce and I love each other very much. As we serve this mission, serve our brothers and sisters in Canada, and help to continue the missionary work of our Father's great plan, I grow fonder, closer and more in love with Bruce every day. This has been a good way, at least for me, to adjust to retirement. We love our children and grandchildren. We are both glad we get to talk to them and keep up with their activities.
We appreciate all our many blessings and love all of you.
Robyn, Mom, Grandma, and sister Brown