Fall Foliage Through Domes
Fall Foliage Through Domes
Saturday October 1, 2011
Jasper, Alberta

A Wet Day with an Awful Morning Bus Tour and Great Afternoon Rail Fanning
Home<TripLogs<Fall Foliage Through Domes<A Rainy Day in Jasper

Our day in Jasper started off with my alarm not ringing because I had accidentally selected "none" for the sound effect on my iPhone. I awoke at 8:30 to a cloudy rainy day and we had a 9:10 tour in Jasper National Park. I rushed downstairs hungry and realized the cheapest breakfast in the hotel was the $9 continental with cereal and muffins. I'm not a fan of hotels that don't have included breakfasts. The hostess luckily brought me a box that I filled with muffins for my grandmother and enough room for snacks and didn't charge me extra.

At 9:05 we were met by a tour bus and didn't leave until 9:20 waiting for the last couple to finally show up, recognizing some from the Rocky Mountaineer from yesterday. From the beginning I immediately hated the tour. Our guide told far too silly jokes and all I wanted to do was hike around even in the rain and find solitude. The first stop was the Jasper Park Lodge, the fancy Fairmont hotel where most of our car on the train was staying. It was a neat, trying to look rustic place, that I was happy to see but not stay in. Too hard to get to town without a car. I spent the time going for a walk around the lake, the Mountains fogged in.
jpl1 jpl2 jpl3

Next stop was an overlook of the Athabasca River before we briefly got on the bus again to go to see the Athabasca Falls themselves.
athabasca_falls1 athabasca_falls2 athabasca_falls3 athabasca_falls4

Then we went back through town and up to Pyramid Lake for a very short walk out to an island in the middle of it.
pyramid_lake1 pyramid_lake2

Then the coach took us back through town and I almost lost it as we spent 15 minutes driving around so the driver could point out the local restaurants, 3 churches and the school. I prefer learning about things on my own while walking. We finally got of at 12:45 and ended up at a Smitty's, which I won't end up at again. Too add insult to injury to all of us, our train from yesterday was clearly visible in the rail yard arriving at some point during the night; at 6:00am this morning I later found out.
/jasper_trains3 /jasper_trains6

After lunch I realized why Jasper is a wonderful mountain railway town. The first stop I made was the neat historic train station home to two VIA Rail Canada (their Amtrak equivalent) routes that run triweekly, the Skeena and Canadian. They would be passing through town in one direction that very afternoon and early evening. It is also home to two Rocky Mountaineer trains, the only weekly in summer Rainforest to Goldrush Route that I have now ridden most of, and the Journey Through the Clouds train, running three times per week, taking the same route as the Canadian, that I have no desire to ride for that reason. I also chatted with the Rocky Mountaineer station manager about the delay, mostly to make a complaint that we should have been kept better informed and how we found out about the buses by seeing them from the windows of the train, not an announcement. He told me the train was due in on time at 6:45 tonight so I could photograph it. I also bought a panorama picture of the Rocky Mountaineer going through the famous Spiral Tunnels, something I'm very excited about but worried it will be during breakfast. I'll have to walk away and explain to our breakfast mates why. I walked back discovering a wonderful trail that follows the train tracks for photos.
/jasper3 /jasper18 /jasper33

Planning to return to the station around 5:00pm to photograph the departure of the Canadian I walked back to the hotel room and typed the post concerning our massive delays on the Rainforest to Gold Rush Route on my now dead computer that has turned into a heavy non-functional brick until we return to Vancouver.

Instead 5:00 came sooner than I thought. I hadn't changed the clock on my computer from Pacific Time (it seems to normally do that automatically) so I thought I had an extra hour. I dashed down in the drizzle passing and photographing VIAs extremely impressive 20 plus car Canadian that looks like a streamliner from another era complete with three different dome 'skyline' cars plus the Parc car, a bullet lounge at the end of the train offering a similar but enclosed experience to the Rocky Mountaineer. It's a train I have to ride and close to travel 'express' deals make sleeper cars affordable so hopefully I will have the chance to sometime soon. It left, me photographing it, right at 5:30 on time.
/jasper14 /jasper19 /jasper30

I then met up with Robert, other railfan, who was photographing the train. He was up for just three days from LA, flying to Vancouver yesterday and taking the Canadian today to ride the Skeena which offers similar two-day daylight service to the Rocky Mountaineer up to Prince Rupert via Prince George for just over a hundred not thousands of dollars, complete in the off season (there is a fancier service in summer like GoldLeaf including meals), with access to the Parc Car at the end of the train for that view down the tracks and a genuine dome. It would also take me on all of the trackage we missed yesterday. Had I been traveling alone I might have abandoned all my other plans and just gone.

Chatting, we returned to the station for warmth and found out that the Rocky Mountaineer was due in around 6:30-6:45 and when I asked "What about VIA due in then too?" the RM employee said "They have another one today?" At the same time, VIA said it was running two hours late so there would be no station platform conflict.

We dashed back to a grade crossing just west of the station to photograph the arrival of the Rocky Mountaineer's Journey Through the Clouds train which arrived shortly thereafter, going slowly, stopping for the conductor to leave the cab to throw the switch into the station.
/jasper_trains13 /jasper_trains17 /jasper_trains23

I could have spent all evening chatting about trains with Robert but we parted ways so I could go meet up with my grandmother for dinner at the one Japanese Restaurant in town that surprisingly turned out to be excellent.

Walking home was another adventure. I told my grandmother to walk herself, wanting to see the rail yard and noticed the 4 car: a locomotive, baggage car, two coaches, and the Parc car Skeena had arrived. They had also attached our sick train from yesterday to the front of the just arrived Journey Through the Clouds train now with an impressive four locomotives but two generator cars separate from each other. We have an 8:10 tour bus down to Lake Louise tomorrow morning but I'll be up early to get photos of the easy to view yard before we leave.

The day ended with a bit of a scary moment and our second encounter of the trip with a large wild animal, also again in a town. It was a herum of elk, about 60 feet ahead of us in the road, when I caught up to my grandmother, the distance you should stay back is 150 feet with us and some other tourists walking a block out of our way to go around them getting annoyed at people just 10 feet away taking pictures of them outside their hotel, realizing just their big their antlers are on our return to the Sawridge Inn, our hotel. There is reason to be scared, a friend of mine got his car totaled by one and it is also mating season so the mails are particularly aggressive because each male must defend his harem.

Read On: Driving the Icefields Parkway: A Disorgonized Day onto Lake Louise

Home<TripLogs<Fall Foliage Through Domes<A Rainy Day in Jasper
Fall Foilage Through Domes

Last Updated: 8 November, 2011
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