Day Trip To Jasper, Alberta

Is January not the LONGEST.MONTH.EVER?

I mean, this isn’t a bad thing. Not really when you think of the alternative. January could be OVER for me any second and then won’t I be the one wishing for another day?!

It seems I grow impatient with what is as I dream of what I WANT. February, March, April, May and June. *Note to self: plan more fun things for the longest month of the year.

I shouldn’t be bitching because the Hubs and I went to Jasper on Saturday. It’s just a few hour drive from home and it was really nice to get out of the city for a bit.

The drive was pretty and uneventful. We saw one deer and countless ravens.

We drove down the Icefields Parkway for a bit:

And these signs made me laugh. Mountains? What Mountains?! We were completely socked in and then it started to snow, sideways.

We drove up the ski hill- Marmot Basin– and were annoyed by the way people park up there. People?! You so crazy! I was seriously getting anxiety just driving through the lots. Cars parked behind cars with seemingly no regard for others, cars parked in the roadway, on snowbanks, in the driveway…it was insane. And don’t even get my man, the “parking police” started! I thought he was going to have a stroke with all the anarchy. So, just be forewarned.

Driving down from Marmot Basin

I spent a few minutes in the rock shop -Jasper Rock and Jade– where I spent half my allowance on rocks 🙂

Rose Quartz, Tiger Eye, Carnelian and a bag of rocks for Ms. Sassafras.

Lunch time! ( My second favourite time of the day!)

Jasper Brewing Company makes a mean Mule:

Pomegranate Mule

Hubs and I both had their Fried Chicken Sandwich with Fries. It’s “
buttermilk marinated chicken, slaw, hot pepper relish, pickles, sriracha mayo, sesame bun ” Sounds good, right?

It was sadly underwhelming. Now don’t get me wrong, it was put together well and the ingredients were a quality product, for sure. There were chunks of white AND dark meat in the sandwich, which I was impressed by. It was clearly made with care. Its just that it lacked flavour!

The chicken, both the flesh and the batter could have used some salt and pepper or something. The hot peppers weren’t even mildly spicy and the slaw and pickles didn’t really taste of anything but “sweet”. I was sad because thought and attention went into the thing, it just didn’t taste like anything but sweet, bready meat. The fries were good! Hot, crispy and salty. And our service was excellent. My drink had me craving more and it was a fun place. Young crowd. -We were counting the “old people” We were two of six, out of a huge room, ha ha- We’d go again. I’d just try something else.

The wind picked up and it was time to go home. Was the snow we’d met on the parkway coming into town? We didn’t stick around long enough to find out! It was a gorgeous day. Sunny and WARM! +4 degrees Celsius! Much nicer than the -13C that awaited us in the city, that’s for sure.

We stopped at a beautifully maintained outhouse at the edge of the park where I was almost blown away:

And with one last lingering glance at the beauty around us, it was back to the cold, safe and sound!

Jasper, in January was still a hoppin’ place but there were a lot of things that were closed for the season. So just check before you go. It’s still worth the trip. We saw a lot of animals, sheep and elk, although my park book tells me WOLVES are often seen on the valley floor too. I’d yet to see one but soon … soon! I’m sure of it!

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver, prize winning poet, died this past Thursday, January 17, 2019. She was 83 years old.

I adored her work. I often wondered how she got into my head and pulled out the very thing I needed to hear. The very thing that would make my heart sing. It was like she wrote poems just for me.


Makeshift Meals-Perogies and Slaw.

With apologies to purists everywhere.

This seems weird (and it really is ) but it was good. I swear it!

I had run out of leftovers, which is what I usually have for lunch, and was (and still am ) trying to stay away from DELICIOUS, saaaaaaalty, ramen noodles.

What to eat, what to eat?

I ended up dressing some broccoli slaw with Honey Poppy Seed salad dressing and used the whole mess as a bed for some cheesy perogies. It was strangely good. Had I any sour cream I would have mixed some of that up with some Dijon and slopped it on top too.

Ta Da!

Sometimes the best meals are the makeshift ones!

What is your favourite makeshift meal?

Maasai Village Sleepover

Our walk through the Maasai Village led us further afield over a narrow path to the top of a small slope. Below us was our home for the night, staying within the protective walls of our host family.

Now full. disclosure. This is something I would NEVER normally do. Had it been an advertised part of my trip I would have not booked the trip. Seriously. To me, the whole idea of visiting a village like this is not unlike a human zoo and I have a major problem with that. Also, I’m an introvert. I am hugely uncomfortable with forced interactions with humans. This whole thing wasn’t supposed to be part of our tour but it was changed at the last minute for reasons unknown to us. We decided as a group to just trust and go with the flow, which is what we did. Our last experience in a village was respectful so we were expecting (and trusting) that this one would be the same but we ALL had ethical questions running through our minds about the whole thing.

The elder whom was hosting us, introduced us to his family. One wife and five children! It was the one wife part that was unusual. In the first village the wives were surprised that we didn’t share one husband and here we were, surprised that this gent had but one wife 🙂 

We settled in with a hot drink…

And were then invited to watch them kill and process a lamb, in honour of …us. 

We’d been offered this before and politely declined this but something must have been lost in translation. A lot of us were vegetarians and the rest, very sensitive people ,  so things got tense in our little tent! But our voices were heard -kind of- and we were led up the hill out of earshot while the goat was slaughtered.

Fuck!  

Whilst on the hill, we stood around listening to the sounds of the cows and lucky goats. Every herd has a different bell so that each community member can tell by sound, who’s livestock belong to whom! I thought that was interesting and clever. The animals were like music 🙂


Once the coast was clear, so to speak, we were invited to come back and visit a lady who had just had a baby. Our guide suggested this to us and we actually refused at first because…. holy crap! She JUST had a baby. That felt so intrusive! The opposite of what we were going for. Elijah pressed and pressed then went and asked her because we would not go without her permission, and having gotten it, he led us to her home.

We ended up having to crouch and turn sideways to get into the new mum’s boma. That’s how narrow the passageway was. It was jet black inside and smoky as fuck. I started to panic and withdrew from the line of ladies all holding hands. They went in without me. They later said they couldn’t see much because they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces. And this Maasai woman had had her baby in there! Wow. Much respect.

While they were in the boma, I was surrounded by a huge group of kids. Another lady had decided to stay back so I wasn’t alone, and she was not having a time. A large group of kids can be very overwhelming. I was grateful for her company, because what happened next was really upsetting for BOTH of us.

In my past life I was a special needs teacher. I’m comfortable around kids, large groups of kids so I just put on my teacher hat and went to work. It was all great fun! The kids were full of laughs and then they started asking us for stuff, which we didn’t have- nor would have given anyway- Then, they got grabby. Going so far as to poke around in our pockets looking for treats and when it was clear there was nothing for them, they became angry and the whole mood changed.

We turned to one another and with a nod, walked away. The change was so quick and it was made very clear that tourist visits were having a negative effect on those kids. We were doing harm. However unintentional, our visit to their home was doing harm. The exact thing we feared. 

Our evening was spent with the rest of ladies talking about ethics and impact, how begging culture begets dependency, in between learning how meat is roasted over an open fire and a song and dance performance, where I am proud to say I have been told I have a beautiful singing voice, ha ha.  

We tried to enjoy our evening but found we just couldn’t. The whole thing felt wrong. Where else was the negative impact of tourism being felt? How else were we harming? 

I believe strongly in ethical, sustainable tourism that empowers and improves the lives of locals. I do. And I really feel its not up to me to decide what that looks like. Or what is right and what is wrong, for other people who invite people into their lives so graciously. So I’m really conflicted about all of this. I just know that I have to live by my moral compass and its screaming at me about the whole thing. Even months later.

I hear some changes have been made to the tour so as to have less of an impact, and that’s really positive. Time will tell. The whole experience was an eye opener.

We woke up the next morning and took our leave, feeling humbled by the generosity of the people who’d hosted us and eager to start our next adventure. 


Monday Ramble-Hexes, Eating, Cats.

Happy Monday! I just adore Mondays. A new day, a fresh start, alone time after being with the Hubs all weekend. Mondays are the day we step into the unknown again. I love that.

On a blog I follow I read about a journal jar. This is a jar into which you place a weekly summary, written on an index card, of your week. How cool is that?! I usually forget my life past June by the time a new year comes around, so I’m thinking I’ll do this! I keep a journal but its filled with feeeeelings and emoootions, not the day to day stuff. The day to day stuff is important too. That’s where life really happens!

These are the things making me laugh these days:

Ha Ha Ha! This cartoon makes me think about my son in law. He’s been teasing me about my natural Yule decorations so I’ve been giving him the gears. I’ve told him I’m a WITCH and I’ve put a HEX on him. Nothing major, just a series of small minor inconveniences would befall him until I took it off. We all laughed and it was silly and fun. I teased him again on his birthday and told him I’d take the hex off, as my gift to him. More laughs, more silliness. Until the other day when I “threatened” him with another hex and he freaked out and begged me not to. It seems he really did have a series of minor inconveniences and he seriously, truly, actually, believed it was my pretend hex that did it. I told him that stuff doesn’t ACTUALLY work but he insisted and now I HAVE THE POWER! Muhaahaahaa! Silly boy.

Are you sick of diet culture yet? It’s been nothing but endless talk about weight loss , “keto diet ” and “clean eating” in my world. Ugh! I had chocolate banana bread for breakfast this morning and I feel fine.

As someone who’s 1. human 2. imperfect. 3. not very mindful 4. sometimes has the dumb, I really appreciate this sentiment! I just have bad luck when I think. That works for me!

I’ve noticed life and interacting with the humans is becoming increasingly difficult since quitting my job. All those weird little quirks I’ve kept tucked away are making an appearance again. It’s like my brain doesn’t switch from private Lael to public Lael, fast enough. Like its forgotten how! It makes for some funny interactions! Maybe I should get out more, keep my humaning skills sharp, ha.

How are your people skills? Do you need human interaction to keep them sharp or are you naturally gifted?

May your week bring you nothing but joy!

Love and squishy hugs.

GoodReads Challenge:2019

Goodreads.com -for those who don’t know- is a site/community for readers. It’s kind of a simplified version of Facebook for books!

I use it to keep track of my reading and connect with my like minded friends. There are groups and contests and all sort of neat things to do on the site. My favourite activity is the Reading Challenge! Every year, readers from all over sign up to challenge themselves to READ MORE BOOKS!

Last year, because I was feeling so poorly, mentally, I “challenged” myself to read 12 books. I had just started to recover and while I was finally able to focus on a book long enough to finish, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with a huge number. I figured I’d at least read my Book Club book, so 12 was a doable number!

Well. I outdid myself. I beat my challenge by 800%! I read 97 books! Woot Woot!

So now to challenge myself! The Hubs suggested I try and read 200 books… yeah, I think that’s crazy talk! I settled on 125 books in 2019. That seems doable AND challenging. So far I’ve got 4 books in, with 2 on the go. Not too shabby!

Are you on Goodreads? Are you taking part in the challenge? Wanna be Goodreads friends?