Unlike yesterday’s post, this one isn’t about the beach. In fact, it’s pretty much as opposite as it gets from the beach.
Pat and I fell in love with a place called Jasper in the middle of Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. After spending a week hiking in the area, we started fantasizing about living there. We figured before we got too far with this fantasy, we should go back in the winter.
We had flown in and out of Edmonton the first time, so we thought we’d try flying in and out of Calgary this time and return to Calgary a few days before our return home so we could spend New Year’s Even there.
This was the second time we decided to travel over Christmas. It was the first time we went somewhere where it was -15 Fahrenheit (-26 Celsius) for the high during our whole trip. (We loved it anyway.)
By the way, if you are considering going to Jasper, I recommend flying into Calgary if it’s summer, but flying into Edmonton if it’s winter. The drive up Icefields Parkway is beautiful in the summer, but it’s down right terrifying in the winter. I suppose one might intuitively know that driving up a highway called “Icefields Parkway” in the middle of December could be a bad idea.
We, however, having been there in the summer to see the glaciers, assumed the name referred to the glaciers rather than the actual road. The Toyota Camry we rented faired far better than one might expect, but we really should have been driving with chains. It was supposed to be a 5 1/2 drive. We were about 3 hours late getting to Jasper.
The drive back to Calgary went much better–there hadn’t been any fresh snowfall for days and we left in the morning, driving in daylight.
After spending 9 days in the snow and ice, we thought it would be nice to return to the city, thinking it would be warmer between being further South, at lower elevation, and being made of heat-holding materials.
It’s quite possible it was actually colder in Calgary.
I think it was the wind tunnel effect of all the office buildings, but it might have been psychological. It’s hard to notice that you’re cold when you’re surrounded by incredible mountains.
We made it to the local bird sanctuary for a little bird watching in spite of the cold and a lack of binoculars. I even managed to get a few shots. I was fascinated by the Magpie nests at the sanctuary–they looked like multi-story condominiums.
I struggled to identify what kind of large bird of prey I got a shot of. At the time, I assumed it was a hawk. When I reviewed the photos again tonight, I suspect it’s actually a second year bald eagle, but will have to confirm. I remember thinking it was extremely large for a hawk, though, so it would make sense.