Christmas in July

Since I got started on our Jasper/Calgary trip yesterday, I started going through the photos from the rest of that trip.  Perhaps because it’s been so hot and muggy these days, I felt a little like having Christmas in July.  I don’t mean one of those silly secret santa things people do in July.  I mean snow, cold, air that reminds you you’re alive every time you take a breath.  So, I dug out some photos from Jasper on Christmas Day 2009.

Jasper has an interesting tradition on Christmas Day.  All the locals (and tourists) go to Lac Beauvert by the Jasper Park Lodge and ice skate.  I suppose it only makes sense that Canadians would have a community skating event on Christmas Day.  But they don’t just skate on a bumpy old lake.  They get out a zamboni and clear a wide path all the way around the lake–a single lap is at least 1 KM.  It seemed more like many miles to me having not skated in many years, but 1 KM sounds more reasonable.  They also clear 2 areas to standard sized hockey rinks and a 3rd area for figure skating.  The figure skating area is usually empty.

We didn’t bring ice skates with us nor did we plan to skate while we were there.  We didn’t know there was any skating in Jasper until we got to know a guy who had moved there from France.  We met him by renting downhill and cross country skis from him several days in a row.  He suggested that we planned to skate on Christmas Day, told us where to rent skates, to make sure to get them the day before, and promised he would be there.  He was a very nice man.

We found the place to rent skates on Christmas Eve.  When I asked for figure skates, they tried to talk me out of them.  I assured them I could handle a toe pick.  When Pat asked for figure skates, they did talk him out of them.  Apparently real men don’t wear figure skates in Canada (or maybe anywhere?).

We headed over to the Jasper Park Lodge in time for a Christmas lunch.  We sat in a restaurant in the huge, open lobby area and looked out the enormous windows thinking we should have stayed there.  Then, we bundled up and headed out to the lake to skate.

Complete with hot chocolate and a bonfire with people toasting marshmallows for s’mores, it would have been a lovely lake scene even without the surrounding Canadian Rockies.  Throw in the Rockies and the families with dogs running beside them and children in running buggies as they skated around the lake, and it became unbelievably beautiful.  It was Normal Rockwell in the Rockies, Canadian style.

And there was the guy we met renting skis, playing hockey with his friends.

I can’t imagine a better way to spend Christmas Day (well, camping in the Everglades was pretty close competition).