Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 12 (Aug 10) – a tearful goodbye and a few wild animals

We left the West Edmonton Mall behind us this morning and headed west. This marks the official start of the journey home. And it was a hard goodbye for the kids. Both had really gotten into a routine at the mall. Waterpark in the morning, rides after dinner, etc. A day in the car wasn't high on their list of thing to do. “Can we just stay one more day?”
On our way out of town we picked up another GyPSy guide for the drive and around Jasper National Park. Their wasn’t quite as much narrative from the guide on the drive up as we had experienced in Banff, it was all still fun information, relevant to our location or what was coming up. And it became all the more helpful once we actually got into Jasper.
a little rain on the way to Jasper
Park gates
GyPSy has a Jasper park logo on it once we entered the park.
Somewhere around here we picked up a stowaway. We are now calling it a grass hopper, although I previously declared it a cricket (this shows how little I know about insects). So a few miles down the road from a brief bathroom stop I glanced down at the map on our gps and saw this little guy, just perched on the frame of the map. I want to say I was all cool and collected but that took me a few seconds. Then I removed the mug bought earlier today from a box and caught the little guy. Lucky for us (and him) the box had a nice window so I knew I had him. We made another short stop to return him to his home. Put the mug back in its box for safe keeping and moved on. (Exhale.... well, that was exciting)
as close as I could get through the window on my mug box
his temporary home on our dashboard, until we released him again
We checked into the Tonquin Inn for the night and moved our stuff in. Our room has two twin beds and a queen which is super. The kids had bunks at the Mall but neither of them really likes the top bunk so two beds on solid ground is a plus :) Since it was almost dinner when we arrived we headed into town to find some eats. Our original plan, Coco's Cafe looked to have wonderful food, but not enough seating for us. We could have taken the food to go, but we ate lunch on the road and really wanted the whole restaurant package. So we moved on and ate at Smitty's, which seems to be a Canadian chain – coffee shop style restaurant. We all found good food and then wandered the town a bit.
But we didn't want to waste the little time we have in Jasper so after once around the block we loaded back into the car. GyPSy had some things to show us.

We headed out to Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake, with a short peak at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge.
As we expected the GyPSy had lots of great information along the way as well as suggestions for stops and viewpoints.
And much to our surprise we saw some wildlife. We think our luck had more to do with the time of day than anything else. But we saw a deer in an empty overlook parking lot.

Then down the road a bit we saw a black bear mama and her two cubs!

So, I am going to rant a little..... stay in your cars, people! Maybe it's because we have the GyPSy guide reminding us often what to do around bears or maybe it's because I read the paperwork the ranger gave us when we came into the park, but I don't get the dozen or so people standing in the road trying to get a closer look/picture. NUTS! The park asks that you don't stop when you see a bear. The more cars and people they get used to the more likely they are to be killed by a car. Anyway – we were forced to stop since there were about 5 cars parked in the road (from each direction) to see the bear. I popped the moonroof and took my pictures from there. And giggled a bit when the mama bear started moving quickly toward the people and had them running for their cars. Mama bear... need I say more. She wasn't going after anyone, but come on people. Ok, I am done now.
a safe distance :)
nutty people
We also saw some big horn sheep.....

....yes that is a woman sitting on the ground next to them. Sigh (insert eye roll, apparently she didn't hear my previous rant).
The canyon turned out to be a bit more of a hike than we wanted, since it was already evening, we wanted to get to the lake and back into town before dark. Plus the mosquitos were out in force.
So we pushed on. We stopped at Medicine Lake for a few pictures before going on to Maligne Lake.

Because of the hour all the other things in the area were closed, boat rides and rentals etc. Which made for a really quiet visit. Our stay was short but beautiful. The kids were struggling to hold on to good attitudes at this point so we headed to the room and then to bed.
almost there
we made it

Tomorrow is our longest drive of the trip, so a good night's sleep would be a good idea for all.

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