Jasper, Alberta

Jasper has certainly put its best foot forward for us. We have met friendly locals who happily recommend restaurants, bike trails and hikes to us. The weather has been outstanding - warm sunny days. While Jasper National Park's winter RV campground could use some updating at least it is open, provides electricity and has a very clean bath house.

If I was going to move to Canada, I would look at making Jasper my home - at least during the non-tourist season. We have seen Jasper during tourist season and during non-tourist season and loved it both times. Non-tourist season is much much quieter and less crowded. Many of the really touristy places are closed, locals are friendlier, and parking is easier to find during non-tourist season. Plus there are not the bus loads of tourist.

This trip we discovered a place we did not find when we were here in August. Pyramid Lake and Patrica Lake are as beautiful that any of the touristy lakes we visited before. The are located very close to town and have trails from town to them. We happened to find them looking at a map one of the locals gave us. Canada National Parks have a program where they put red chairs in beautiful spots in the parks. We found red chairs on a trail that overlooks Pyramid Lake.

On a mountain bike ride, Mary and I decided to split at one intersection - she was going one direction I was going another. A couple of miles down the trail Mary discovered that the route she chose was closed because of bear activity so she decided to follow the route I took. The route I took was around a lake and I passed an oriental woman who told me she saw a bear and was so scared (she had headphones in and was looking at her phone when I approached her). I suggested that she sing or make noise to let the bear know where she was because the bear did not want to see her anymore that she wanted to see the bear. I biked on. Within a mile, I saw people with rifles looking around and I assumed they were looking for a bear - I kept ridding. By the time Mary got to this area, the rangers had arrived with their rifles and would not let her pass through. A ranger told Mary he did not think the bear sighting was real, but they had to do their job. Eventually Mary was allowed to ride on. Based on the ranger's opinion and my conversation with the woman who "saw the bear," I tend to agree with the ranger. A person who has seen a bear is not going to be walking through the woods with their headphones on and looking at their phone screen.

Mary says some of the bike trails here remind her of the rocky and rooty bike trails in North Carolina. The trails in Jasper have much nicer ridge views of beautiful lakes and rivers than what she sees in North Carolina and the added benefit of red chairs for resting in beautiful places.

Canada has more rental RVs than anywhere we have ever been. In the Banff and Jasper RV campgrounds over half of the RVs were rental RVs. While we see rental RVs in the United States, we do not see near as many as we have seen in Canada. We have made some observations about people who rent RVs vs people who own RVs. The people in rented RV are generally very loud. Rental RVs seem to have a lot of people in a very small living space. People in rental RVs do not observe basic campground etiquette - not walking through other people's sites, not choosing sites right next to someone if sites are close together and there are other options of equal quality available, being quiet, etc. Perhaps companies who rent RVs should provide info on camping etiquette.

Living in an RV means there is not enough space to have an unlimited supply of clothing (although Mary certainly tries). As much as we hated to stop playing, laundry had to be done on our last day in Jasper. It could be a while before we find another laundromat and I am about out of clean underwear. I'm sure Mary has enough for at least two more months, but the laundry basket is overflowing and it must be done!