OMG could my mother snore any louder? Unlike the first night where we all slept soundly, the second night proved to be a disaster for all of us. Mom was snoring loud enough to wake the dead, I was yelling at her to shut up/roll over, and poor Betty was caught in between the two of us. At one point, I ended up trying to sleep in the car (no luck) and Mom wound up on the bathroom floor with the door closed. We were a cranky lot when the sun rose on Day 3. It was cold and cloudy out; not the lovely sunny day we'd had the day before. It was so chilly out, I had to wear gloves.
This was our best food day of the trip. I know; its not how you usually measure the success of an outing but with the exception of a so-so breakfast, our day was a big hit with all of us. I'll talk more about the munchies as the day progresses. First up though, horseback riding! We headed up to the Jasper Riding Stables in the rain. At least we wouldn't be sweating. We'd brought rain ponchos and bug spray though just in case as Mom had booked us a three hour ride. That's a long time to be wet and at the mercy of the mosquitos. Betty's ridden horses for a long time now so this was old hat for her. Mom and I on the other hand were, shall we say, a bit apprehensive. Betty hopped on her horse, Bert while Mom gingerly crawled onto Artie. Me? I got this beautiful boy, Alamo.
Now, I thought they originally called him Elmo and had to apologize to him after the first few minutes for calling him the wrong name. Poor fella. They put me right behind our guide as I was super nervous. I'm not afraid of horses in general; I'm just worrisome about trying to control such a large animal from on its back. See, animals have free will and a mind of their own and frankly, that scares the bejeebus out of me. Turns out, there was little to be afraid of. After the first uphill and then slightly steep downhill, I was riding like I was a rodeo pro (ok, maybe not quite like that!).
Mel, our main guide (we had two) was fantastic. Keeping everyone together, chatting to calm us down, and being extremely patient with us noobs. Unfortunately, my knees and Mom's butt had had enough by the two hour mark so we decided to head back to the barn with our other guide (Analise?) while Betty and the one other rider stayed with Mel to complete the last hour. Unfortunately, the other lady's horse, Apache, wasn't having any of that and as we walked off, he bolted and trotted up to the front of the line. Any effort to separate him from our three horses and stay with the other two caused him to get excited and anxious so we all ended up returning together. Other than that, and an incident with a deer which I was sure was going to result in Alamo taking off like a horse on fire, things went smoothly. I highly recommend Jasper Riding Stables if you want to go for a ride while in the park. The views we had were incredible. Just make sure you're not deathly afraid of heights; there were a few nail biting moments along a particularly steep valley.
Good luck to Mel who's off to school in the fall to study equine massage therapy. Yes, apparently that's real.
Onto the food. It was Betty's day to chose where to eat and she settled on Something Else Steak House for lunch. We were all so glad she did. Mom and I each had an absolutely delicious cheeseburger that tasted just like homemade. Mmmmmm. The Greek salad I had on the side could have had a little bit more oregano and other spices but it was loaded with feta so I can't complain. Everything on the menu looked good and we were all happy (and full!).
Since we were all sore following the morning's ride, we chose to take a trip up to the Miette Hot Springs for a soak. Now, I have to admit that, like the Jasper Tramway, I wasn't all that keen on going to the springs. I would have rather gone for a hike which we hadn't done much of at all but I was "enjoying the journey" as Betty kept telling us all to do so I packed my swimsuit and towel, and hopped in the car. Again, so very glad I did. The ride there was about 45 minutes I think but its gorgeous. Once you leave the highway, the road winds back and forth so you have to slow down, allowing you to really enjoy the views. Our first stop along the way was at Punchbowl Falls, a small waterfall a few minutes off the highway.
Nature is incredible, no?
Next up, we pulled into a viewing area to check out the Ashlar Ridge and Capitol Mountain. Takes your breath away, it does. And makes you feel very insignificant.
The hot springs were great - relaxing, soothing on the muscles, time to wind down. And all in shadows of the mountains. We even had goats greet us in the parking lot! The cold pool that you're supposed to dunk in every 20 minutes? FREEZING. Combine that with a chilly wind coming down off the mountains and it certainly will toughen you up. Or give you a heart attack; I'm not sure which. If you go to Jasper, definitely visit the springs but save until the end of your vacation.
Back into town, all we could think of was a nap and dinner. We'd all agreed to Italian earlier so we ended up at Cassio's Restaurant. Wow. As with most North American restaurants, I doubt it was truly authentic but it was the perfect meal to end our short stay in the mountains. Absolutely, incredibly, delicious. I woke up on the next morning craving the fettuccine alfredo I'd had the night before. You simply MUST eat there. And, I think we met the only waiter in town who was born and bred right there in Jasper.
After we rolled ourselves back to the car, we headed home for one last night. Fingers crossed, we all get some sleep!
You can view all the photos from my vacation HERE.
You can view all the photos from my vacation HERE.