Follow by Email

Friday, December 27, 2013

Oh, Canada! Jasper, Glacier-Walking (in heels), and Banff- you had us at "caribou"!

And now... back to our Canada Road Trip! We left Prince George, on Highway 16, heading for Jasper, but first we had to stop for pix with Mr. PG   the mascot of Prince George, who was:constructed in 1960 as a symbol of the importance of the forest industry to Prince George:
Dan with PG Man...
Elisse with PG Man...










Ha!
The drive on Highway 16 to Jasper is an Amazingly beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains... If you are only going to One Thing in Canada, this drive is THE thing to do...





Stops along the way:
"coffee in, coffee out", and feeding crows...

Feeding the crows...

A "Wildlife Overpgass" on the highway! Cool!





 

We stopped in McBride for lunch and had the loveliest surprise- a truly gourmet lunch at Morel's! We walked in expecting a diner, and were greeted with gourmet-level homemade food, excellent wine, a charming ambiance, and lovely service! What a gem! We popped in again at the McBride Heritage Railway Station before getting back on the road...

McBride Heritage Train Staion





We arrived in Jasper in the evening, hunting through the AAA guidebook (our Travel Bible) for a hotel with an electric hook-up, as all the stops on our way home will have to be at hotels or motels that have electric hook-ups for our freezer full of moose meat! Our first stop was at an AAA-recommended hotel whose clerk not only told me that we couldn't use their hotel’s electric hook-up because it would constitute “illegal camping”(?!), but called their sister hotel so we couldn't stay there, either, and then started to call the Tourism Information Office to REALLY screw us! (Why are         a-holes like this in the hospitality business?!) I told her we were immediately leaving the Park- Jasper is in the middle of Jasper National Park which you have to pay a pretty penny to enter-  and stormed out the door. Within 5 minutes we'd found a nice motel at the other end of town which had an electric hook-up for us and made us welcome. We then put on our Dinner Duds and had a lovely dinner at Embers: a "Pemmican” Canadian Indian appetizer of bison, made with cranberries, blueberries, herbs, and pistachios, served with green onion Frybread, followed by butter-tender blue-rare Alberta elk tenderloin (me), and lemon and herb marinated Alberta quail (Dan), with excellent (as always) Canadian wines! We LOVE how Canada promotes their own (truly excellent) foods and wines! We found Embers via a recommendation from the nice and very knowledgeable clerk at the Jasper Park Liquor & Beverage Co. on Connaught Drive (the main drag), which specializes in Canadian Wines; I Had to buy us 3 bottles to take home- somehow we'll find a place for them in our packed-like-a-drum truck... :-) We finally did a little souvenir shopping, and I got us a funny moose wine holder and some Canadian maple butter...
Railfanning at the Jasper Train Station...

Is it Milk Duds or Moose Poo??????


Stopping to feed the horses along the way...
Stopping to feed the horses along the way...

First snow!!!!!!

Delicious appetizer at Embers:
Pemmican, Frybread, & Canadian wine















The next morning we had breakfast with a view of the Rockies at Papa Georgesand then headed for Banff, which entails an Amazingly beautiful drive along the Icefield Parkway. The Parkway bills itself as "the most spectacular journey in the world", and it truly lives up to its moniker! Unlike on our drive down, 2 weeks previous, the glaciers were now topped with snow, and even more beautiful! The Rockies are utterly magnificent- almost unreal in their crisp, picture-postcard-perfect beauty, and the snow-capped mountains make everywhere you look seem like a stage-set out of a production of Heidi... you keep expecting to hear yodeling. LOL
Seriously: If you're only going to do one thing in Canada, this is the drive to do! 
Dinner at Embers: Alberta Elk & Quail...









We stopped mid-way at the Icefield Center for "coffee in-coffee out", and I talked Dan into taking the bus tour out to the Columbia Icefields, so we could walk on the Glacier- basically so I could say I did- in heels!  :-) The trip took 1.5 hours, with about half an hour to walk around out on the Glacier, and it was very interesting as well as fun, and we we highly recommend it! There are, of course, longer treks, that would have been wonderful to be able to do, and seeing all the beautiful lodges along the Icefield Parkway with their magnificent views of the mountains and lakes made us both So wish that we had another week to spend so we could have stopped and stayed along the way... I would have LOVED to be able to do watercolors of the amazing landscapes as the light changed hour by hour...
The  Columbia Icefields Glacier!

Elisse on the Glacier- in heels, of course!


Oh, Canada!

The Happy Couple on the Glacier!


On the road again...

Banff is a lovely resort town that's bigger than Jasper- more like Vail, I suppose- and I again wished we'd had a few more days (and a few thousand dollars) to really get to know and enjoy it! We did a little window shopping, and then had a delicious and fun wild game hot-stone fondue dinner at The Grizzly House: they had us at the “caribou” sign! 





Elisse with our Grizzly House wild game fondue!

Dan at the Grizzly House doing hot stone fondue!
A landmark since 1967, it's now a casual-chic foodie restaurant that still tries to retains much of its 60s' vibe: When I asked the waiter if they had WiFi, he said "this the '60s- WiFi hasn't been invented yet!" We had Wild elk and buffalo sausage, served with Saskatoon berries, Dijon mustard, an onion-bacon sauce, cornichons, cocktail onions and bread, for an appetizer, followed by our two wild game platters, which we cooked on a hot stone with seasoned butter: caribou, elk, boar, buffalo, venison, and Alberta beef, along with great Canadian wines! Then Dan and I shared a coffee with Maple Cream & Rum, after which we waddled back to the hotel - the overpriced Maligne Lodgeand spent a pleasant evening drinking more BC wine in the bar! The only downer was the supremely self-righteous, arrogant, and preachy anti-smoking bartender, who literally tried to pick a fight with us, insisting- erroneously- that it is “totally illegal throughout Canada” for a hotel to have a smoking guest room, and demanding (who died and made you King?! LOL) we tell him the name of the smoking hotels we stayed in so he could "report them to the authorities"! Again: are a-holes like this born or created? And how the hell do they wind up in the hospitality business?! (And yes, we tipped, because we're idiots, but we certainly didn't knock ourselves out). We had our Continental Breakfast in the hotel dining room in the morning, and noticed the lovely outdoor patio right outside... which we were about to enjoy, until we saw the sign on the door stating “smoking is not permitted on the patio”; naturally the lovely patio was totally empty. Again: why do a-holes like this go into the hospitality business?! Speaking as someone who has been in hospitality management for the last 11 years, (and who has spent the better part of the last 30 years living in hotels on business), the WHOLE POINT of being in the hospitality business is to be HOSPITABLE- to make ALL your guests feel welcome. AND to make money. And if their lovely outdoor patio had been smoker-friendly we would have stayed longer and ordered more. And had their bar been smoker-friendly we easily would have spent more than twice what we did. As it was, we spent as little as possible and got out of there as fast as we could. To pay money to be made to feel like a criminal or a second-class guest- and get preached at- is not our cup of tea.

Before leaving Banff in the morning, we took in a fine exhibition of old and new railroad art at the Whyte Museum"Picturing the Canadian Pacific Railway," showcasing work inspired by the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline, which went from Calgary to Craigellachie. (This is why I pick up all the little Tourist Magazines along the way... and how our truck developed a carpet 8" thick of layered tourist magazines...)
And the we got on the road for Calgary...

No comments: