Each week, I’ll update you on my one year trip. I’ve decided to leave everything behind and spend real time with the people that matter the most in my life: my wife and three children. This is my story, I hope it will inspire you to create yours.
Date: from July 3rd to July 11th
Miles on the road so far: 4,154
States/Province traveled through: Alberta
I’m writing this article while I’m finishing up my visit in Jasper and heading toward Banff. For the first time, we decided to stay 4 nights at the same place. We heard lots of good things about Jasper and this is one of the reasons we decided to do this. But you will only read about the marvels we found in Jasper at the end of this chronicle ;-).
Day #24 1st meeting with a reader!
Leaving the Indian campsite wasn’t too hard. The dump was flooding before we could even use it and I just wanted to leave this place after 3 days. The good thing is that I was able to work properly, get some important stuff done and get back to my writing schedule. To be honest, I thought working on the road was going to be easier. We haven’t stopped much since the beginning of our trip and it’s starting to weigh on everyone. I feel somewhat we all need a break, but I’m not sure how we can make this happen.
My wife and I have talked about this issue for the past few days. The fact that we had to “rush our way” towards Yellowstone got everyone trying to catch their breath. The other thing we find difficult is how late the sun goes down. On one hand, it’s amazing as you can do things until 10pm and the sun is still shining. The bad side is that our children rarely go to sleep before 10pm leaving us little time to achieve tasks such as working or finding out where we will be sleeping next. Now we are heading back to Alberta and it almost feels like home!
Today was a special day as I was going to meet my first reader on the road. His name is Michael. He was kind enough to suggest a stop at the Waterton Park (the Canadian portion of the Glacier State Park). While we couldn’t hike the Glacier, the small hike in Waterton was great. We could admire a very nice view from there:
On our way back, we decided to stop by the small village and work a little. We enjoyed having easy WiFi access in a lovely village:
Honestly, I would have stayed 3 days here instead of the Glacier if I had known! Hahaha! Later on, we hit the road to Lethbridge in order to meet Michael and his wife. I was a bit nervous to meet with a “stranger” that knows more about me than I know of him! It was a very smooth encounter while my wife had to practice her English a little bit more :-). It was nice to enjoy a beer and chat for a while. It felt like a pause during a big day! We slept in front of his house and left the next morning for the Dinosaur Park.
Day #25-26-27 Feeling Like Home in… Wainwright !?!
We got to the Dinosaur National Park a little bit before noon. I was surprised to see how Alberta’s badlands were similar to South Dakota’s. It was very nice to be able to walk through them on small trails. We could climb small mountains and it felt like we were on the top of the world in our pictures:
I was really looking forward to seeing the fossils found in the Dinosaur park and so were my two boys. Imagine our disappointment when we found out there were only 2 little cages of glass showing a few pieces of dinosaurs.. That’s it! They call it the Dinosaur Park because there were dozens and dozens of fossils, but they are all gone! All that is left are small trails you walk in the hopes of finding more… which doesn’t happen! It’s a good thing it was free and it was on our way to Wainwright because there was really nothing to see there! I’ll save you the trip and give you the fossils right here:
There you go! You will not have to go to Alberta’s badlands (I could only imagine how people camping there were disappointed, I couldn’t picture myself spending a one week of vacation hardly earned and wasted it with 2 fossils hahaha!!!).
Then, we hit the road to get to Wainwright. Why the heck would we waste our precious gasoline (that we are now paying double the price than in the U.S.!) to go to Wainwright? Be honest, how many of you knew where this city was before reading my blog? I drove for 300 km, mostly in secondary roads (one was in construction and I felt like doing trails again with my RV!) to get to this small city in the middle of nowhere, 2 hours east of Edmonton. The reason why we wanted to go there is that my sister-in-law has a friend who lives there and she was kind enough to welcome us on her land. Just look at where we stayed for 3 days:
It’s funny that I really enjoyed these 3 days as we didn’t do much. We simply lived a normal life, mostly chilling by the valley. Catherine, our host, was super sweet and was coming by our RV each evening after her day of work. We thanked her with a good dinner with beef ribs and sausages and ended the evening with marshmallows on the fire.
The kids enjoyed feeding horses and even shoveling their poop (let me tell you that 3 horses make a lot of work for my 3 cowboys!). It was fun to connect with Catherine and enjoy this marvelous place.
Day #28 West Edmonton Mall
When I published my itinerary, some of you had doubts about us visiting Edmonton. Why would we visit this city anyway? The answer is quite simple: to buy peace ;-). We are asking our children to follow us in this crazy adventure and we also ask them to go on lots of hikes visiting landscapes through National Parks. For children of their ages, a mountain doesn’t always look as fun as going to the park. Spending a day at the WEM Waterpark sounded like a very good idea to keep them interested in our trip. And you can tell it worked:
After this great day in Edmonton, we were super happy to stay at a Walmart in Spruce Grove, not too far from Edmonton. Bummer! They don’t accept campers anymore. Some brilliant overnight campers thought it was a good idea to drop off their trash in the parking to thank Walmart for the hospitality. After a series of unfortunate events, the Walmart is not welcoming campers anymore… Nice! I’m now down for a 3 hours drive before we hit the next Walmart. The good news is that we will be closer to Jasper the next morning ;-).
We started our day with lots of amazement! Jasper National Park is phenomenal! I enjoyed simply driving across emerald lakes wrapped by gigantic mountains. The more you drive into the park, the more you feel like you are entering another world where the king is not human. Nature is surrounding us with its beauty and by its strength. Since we had the chance to get to Jasper early, we did many things. The first one was to take the Jasper Sky Tram. Honestly, while the view was great on top of the mountain, I would have skipped that (especially for the price of $105 for 5 tickets!). But I have to live & learn and this is a mistake I will not make again. The thing is that to get on the top of this mountain, it was a hike of 7km (one way). There is no way I could have done it with my 3 kids! At least, we were able to do the last 1,5km on the top of the mountain for a short hike!
Later on, we decided to explore the small village of Jasper:
It is quite a feeling to have the Rockies hiding behind each building, each house. I have never felt this small!
For the first two nights, we had to sleep in a parking lot since all the campgrounds were full. This led us to explore a nice place to cook our pasta and we finally had dinner on Beauvert lake:
The next morning, we went for a great hike on the Sulpher Skyline. It was the highest hike we had done so far in terms of elevation. You can see the view from the summit:
It was astounding to admire the Rockies all around us. We felt like we were on the top of the world! We had lunch (always be cautious of chipmunks, they are eager to share your lunch!) on the top and to take a moment to hear the silence. We were among the first hikers of the day to reach the summit, it was calm and the mountain offered some kind of comfort. The best part about this hike is that there are natural sources of hot water. They made pools that look like a small spa and it is open to families :-). We then relaxed in waters at 40 degrees celsius and admire the mountain we just hiked.
Then, we had ran into a small surprise. You know, the things you don’t expect during traveling but bring you special images in your mind. While we were going back to our campground, we noticed several people walking on a river. It was a large, majestic river going through 2 mountains. But the level of water was minimal. Therefore, we could walk right in the middle of the river and not even have water up to our knees:
It was a nice break on an already successful day!
We spent our third day exploring Lac Maligne and its canyon. To be honest, I wasn’t much impressed by the lake (pictures of this lake are amazing but they are all taken while it’s bright and sunny). We currently have nice weather but the sun is hidden behind clouds most of the time. However, the Canyon was amazing! We learned about all factors contributing to digging the canyon. We even learned that the Maligne Canyon was once an underground river that crumbled and created a canyon. The view on the river was just amazing:
The rest of the day was quite relaxing while we had to do the “travelers boring stuff”. This includes the following items:
- Fill the fuel tank
- Fill the propane tank
- Empty the other tanks
- Do your laundry (and walk across Jasper village with two huge bags full of clothes)
- Forget your fuel cap at the gas station and realize that someone really took it and left (now I have duck tape over my fuel entry… love it!)
We spent our last full day in Jasper in our RV. For the first time since we left, it is a 100% rainy day. We all agreed to skip the bike ride we had planned and do school and work instead. I obviously wouldn’t take several days like this in a row, but since it’s our first day in the RV since we left, I actually enjoyed it! For once, I can work all I want and nobody is waiting for me ;-).
Later on today, I will go to Jasper to buy another fuel cap… hopefully it will work out!