Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 14 - 3 September 2000
Lots of forest and mountains between Kamloops and Jasper. The 3rd was raining, almost all the time.  Click here to see what the weather is like today in Canada.
  Kamloops to Jasper

Vanessa This morning we had more of a relaxed start than we have had for the past few days. Even though there was a fair distance to travel today, Chris remembered the roads as being excellent and knew that we would make good time on them. Breakfast was at the same restaurant that we had dinner at last night. Again, the servings were huge and beautifully prepared. Chris had cereal, bacon and eggs and pancakes, while I had a more modest meal of an omelette, potato and toast.
  Before starting out in earnest, we drove to a place not far from the motel where we could get a good view of the town. After taking some photos, we then undertook another necessary task and bought some fuel for the car. (Petrol was cheaper here than in Vancouver and we got full service as well.)
  Our route for the day continued along the Yellowhead Highway. This is an excellent highway with two lanes going each way. The speed limit in places was 110kph and this was easily maintained as the road through the countryside had long, smooth curves and no steep grades. Deeper into the mountains, the road narrowed to a single lane each way and the speed limit dropped to 90kph. It was still a very good road.
  Much of the landscape near Kamloops is fairly dry, with agricultural farms in the valleys and cattle running on the grassy slopes dotted with stunted pines. Again, it seemed to be old glacial territory, with a river running along the flat valley floor. The valley narrowed and the slopes above them became thickly forested. Some places had evidence of forest fires.
  Just how big are moose, really? Our first stop for the day was at an information centre for the Wells Gray Park. The positioning of this centre was a little strange, as the entrance to the actual park was still about 25 miles away. The centre had all the usual tourist information for the area and expensive nik-naks for sale. Of most interest to me was a statue of a moose standing outside, near the entrance to the building. It was a very large statue - was it larger than life size or do moose really get that big?
  We made another stop a while later at a picnic area that had a pleasant view of a farm on the valley floor and the heavily wooded slopes towering above. It was typical of the area. Because we were making such good time, we were able to make a few such stops throughout the day.
  Deeper into the mountains, the valley narrowed even further. The road and a train track often ran right beside the river that wound its way between its stony banks. The trees came right down to the water's edge. The sky had been overcast all morning, but now the clouds really set in. There were all sorts of strange wisps and veils on the mountain slopes.
  2000 miles into our trip, I caught my first glimpse of a truly snow-topped mountain. Unfortunately, it was only a glimpse, as the clouds obscured the view. We stopped between Blue River and Valemount to take some photos. I have to mention that the Blue River is aptly named. The rivers and lakes in this area are a milky blue/green colour.
  Lunch was burgers at "The Great Escape" in Valemount, a pleasant town that reminded Chris of Thredbo. It was after 1.30pm by the time we got going again.
  The clouds became lower and heavier the further north we drove. Near Mt Terry Fox, I saw some "moose crossing" signs - the suggested speed for driving in this area at night is 80kph.
  We stopped for a few minutes near the mountain goat sign for Mount Robson Park. This is an extremely popular place for taking photos, as the sign is directly in front of an excellent view of Mt Robson. Hmm. An excellent view when the mountain is not totally covered in clouds, that is. Chris had been here in one of his previous trips, so we took some photos of the currently spectacular non-view to compare with the photos he had taken from the same place a few years before.
  I must say, it was a little frustrating not being able to see much of the mountains. Chris kept telling me how wonderful the view should be... I could sense that the mountains were BIG, much bigger and younger than any I had ever seen before. (The mountains at home near Brisbane are all very old and are worn nubs compared to these!) The few tantalising glimpses I got were amazing - bare rocky grey cliffs with a dusting of white snow and dark green pines. Still, I tried to make the best of it - the clouds really were interesting and often quite pretty. It was also amazing how they seemed to cut off the mountains at times with a perfectly straight line.
  One of the noteworthy man-made sights along the side of the road were some signs that warned people of how dangerous bears can be. This was definitely something I didn't see at home. The signs are written in both French and English, which added to their novelty.
  It began raining near Moose Lake. I couldn't see any moose, but there were lots of ducks. Perfect weather for them...
  It was a magnificent creature with a huge rack of antlers. About 2.50pm, at my urging, Chris suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the highway. I had seen an elk grazing at the edge of the forest near the road. We slowly backed the car up until we were directly in line with it and we managed to get some excellent photos of this magnificent beast. While we were doing so, a number of other cars also stopped behind us. There was a great deal of clicking of cameras.
  We entered Alberta around 4pm and had to pay $10 for the privilege of staying in Jasper National Park for 24 hours. We didn't mind having to pay the fee as it helped to preserve this wonderful part of the natural world. Mind you, I couldn't see much of this wonderful part of the natural world. It was raining quite solidly by now.
  Hiking and cycling are very popular.All too soon, it seemed, we arrived in Jasper, the most northern point in our entire journey. Jasper is a very "Alpine" looking town - deliberately so, as it is a major skiing centre in Winter. It is also a very popular tourist area in Summer too, as we quickly discovered - with lots of fishing, canoeing and hiking. The Tourist Information Centre was crowded. After a bit of telephoning around, Chris only just managed to book some accommodation for the night at the Tekarra Lodge, on the outskirts of town.
  Tekarra Lodge is a quaint collection of real log cabins built in a picturesque wooded spot near the confluence of two rivers. Our room was in the main Lodge building - a two storey affair with kitchen and dining area below and private rooms above. There was also a communal lounge area, complete with a fireplace. It was certainly a pleasant difference from the usual concrete-box rooms we had been staying in. (Don't get me wrong, all those other places were quite comfortable to stay in, it's just that this place had a unique "Alpine" charm to it that I had never experienced before.)
  After unloading the car, we went for our usual drive around the town and stopped to do some gift shopping before settling down for a late dinner. We decided on Chinese, remembering how nice the meals had been in San Francisco. Chris had Jumbo Shrimp in a hot sauce and I had stir fried vegies with shrimp and cashews. Both dishes were satisfactory, but nothing really special.
  Time to email just about everyone we know... After the meal, we did a quick trip back to our room at the Lodge to drop off our purchases and then we headed back into town. We had seen an Internet café and we made good use of it for about an hour. We also bought some more postcards. Back in our room, we wrote the postcards and then Chris pulled out the laptop. He was not happy about the next stage of our trip as the next driving session was to be over 10 hours long through some amazing scenery. We would like to have the time to stop and look at things along the way.
Chris When I was planning the route for our holiday, I looked for interesting places to see or to stay. I found that in Whitefish, Montana was a place called the "Duck Inn". For those not familiar with our roleplaying group, the Storm Wolves, we had a regular in-game inn the group of characters went to when in town. It was the "Duck Inn", an amusing name Vanessa thought of in the spur of the moment, not realising at the time how significant it was to become. So, when I discovered a real inn with that name on the map, I made our route to take us there.
  Unfortunately, there were several problems with doing this, including the need for a 10 hour drive from Jasper. A fishing tournament was taking place in the area, meaning accommodation could be difficult to find, especially as we weren't able to book more than a day in advance.
  As I knew the next day would need to include many stops for the scenery, I wanted to reduce the amount of driving required. I worked out that Calgary was about 6 hours away and that it had Best Western accommodation. This would allow us plenty of time for the stops.
  Also, following the next day's scenery, our next real point of interest was Yellowstone National Park, so we were really just needing to get closer to it.
Vanessa As an endnote. It rained lightly all evening and was rather cool. I bet it was snowing on the mountain tops...not that I could see them.