Jasper

I was in Jasper over the last few days. I arrived home yesterday. Aside from it being altogether way too much driving it was a fun trip. Here are some thoughts from it:

1. I was staying at a tiny little hostel in Jasper, the only one that’s actually in Jasper properly. The town is really nice and cozy like Canmore. Kind of what you’d expect from a nice mountain town. I found it weird that coffee shops closed so early.

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2. There was a French guy staying at my hostel for the first night I was there. After driving all the way there I was tired and wanted to wander before stuff closed so I only stayed at the hostel long enough to check in.

Later while I was sitting at a bench reading and drinking chocolate milk he ran into me and invited me to do an evening hike. I was kind of like well I’m reading and was planning to do something else tonight so I’ll have to pass. I was only traveling for a weekend and was happy to chill on my own. He’s traveling for a while and happy to make friends especially if they’re local and have a handy dandy car to get to hikes with. I felt kind of like a jerk turning him down but I don’t like to hike with others. I am very picky about which friends I will hike with ā€” not making fun of how slow I am and waiting for me while I take pictures are the main criteria and few pass. I enjoy hiking on my own.

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After getting home from some sunset photography he asked if I wanted to do a hike the next day. Since I’m a Canadian I didn’t just out and say no thanks I prefer to hike alone. Instead I said evasive and vague things. I was also tired so my introversion was running strong and my dealing with other human beings skills were not at their best. I wished I’d been in a hotel or tent by myself. Any Canadian would’ve read straight through my behavior and said no she doesn’t want to hike with me. Since he was foreign I should’ve just said no. In general I think we should just say no. Or yes. Or I’m going to the bathroom. Not oh I think I’m doing other stuff or I’m not sure yet or I might pop off the bathroom. It would have been nicer to say what I thought. In the future I will try harder to do a better job of this.

3. The bugs in Jasper were brutal. My face and back have bites on them. My arms are a storm of red bumps. Calgary has been pleasantly bug free this year.

4. When I was on one of my hikes there was a couple walking near me talking about otters. For some reason the guy was explaining the difference between marmots and otters to the girl. I interjected briefly with a fun fact about how otters have almost no body fat. I also decided that the guy was awesome and just my type. Then I thought to myself that it might be a problem if all it takes for me to like somebody is for them to talk about otters. Anyways eavesdropping on the otter vs. marmot and his scheme on how to get a pet sea otter conversation was potentially the highlight of my trip.

5. The highway from Lake Louise to Jasper is kind of questionable and totally dead. The food options suck. Saskatchewan Crossing is a large scam where you get sub par food for obscene prices. That ham and cheese sandwich was not nearly good enough. Partially because I don’t really like ham that much ā€” they had no veggie sandwiches and everything else was fast foody ā€” and partially because I could’ve bought a food truck meal for less. And those are not cheap.

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6. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take the train from Calgary to Jasper? I would have much rather done that. A ticket would’ve been cheaper than gas. When I imagine this it’s called the Rocky Mountain Express and runs Calgary-Canmore-Banff-Lake Louise-Jasper. It wouldn’t have to be high speed like all the crazy proposals and studies. I could just run on the normal rail lines. During the summer it would be booming and would take a lot of pressure off the highways and reduce the insane parking problems in the parks. I have given up on going to Lake Louise because the parking is so bad.

During the winter having a train would reduce the number of people driving in really dangerous conditions. Buses are great but they still have to keep rubber on roads. And people like trains better. Whether the preference is valid or not it’s clear in studies.

Then assuming I lived in a society with legitimate public transit I would’ve been able to take a bus to the trail heads for my three hikes. Given that they were all crazy busy and had people parked awkwardly on the side of the highway because the parking lots were full we could run a shuttle bus doing a loop of popular hikes leaving from the train stations and town centers.

Why don’t I live in this world? Why don’t we have a one or two per cent sales tax going towards this? Given that Vancouver is now extra going to be destroyed by an earthquake it makes me want to stay in Europe after my degree. In Switzerland they run buses to their parks.

7. People are terrible at driving. I may be a coward who is terrified of driving but at least I’m not a maniac. When did we as a society decide it was so okay for everyone to speed? Why does everyone act like a total psycho when you go the speed limit? When did we forget that motor vehicles on highways are large metal contraptions that at the speed limit will destroy human flesh and kill an occupant during a collision?

I’ve had conversations with friends who defend their aggressive driving and speeding during which I say would you rather hit an elk at 90km/h or 130km/h and they’re like but 90km/h is so much slower. That’s kind of the point. Every time I highway drive I lose some of my hope for this country. People act like selfish arrogant jerks and they do it all in really fast cars. The highway between Calgary and Banff is home to Albertans at their worst. I also tried to convince one of my friends that reducing speed limits to 40km/h and aiming for zero pedestrian deaths was worthwhile. They said that they don’t care because they’ll just speed anyways.

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