Summer in the Mountains in January

If it weren’t for the snow on the mountains, you’d think it was summer in Jasper. Michael and I went out there this weekend fully expecting to be able to skate, snowshoe and cross-country ski. Michael managed to skate on little Lake Mildred, but stopped when water burbled up, the ice cracked, and a loud deep resonate whomp could be heard when the ice sheet dropped. My Michael, who is used to groomed rinks in the city, was off the ice like a shot. Other skaters kept on their merry way, oblivious or fearless to the danger.

The land surrounding the lodge was a mix of yellow and green grass, kept short by grazing elk. The sun was hot, and we had the windows open in our hut. In the town of Jasper, we had our coffee outside on the platform at Trains and Lattes, our favourite little coffee shop/train stuff store.  Even the golf course, which I was certain would be perfect for skiing, was snowless. If the clubhouse were open, we could have easily hit some balls, and if the patio at the lodge wasn’t torn up to smithereens, we could have had our lunches outdoors as well.

Our first night dinner was in the Moose’s Nook. Beef was the catch of the day, and we both enjoyed eating a beef tenderloin the size and shape of a tennis ball. Our wine was a delicious shiraz/cabernet but heck if I can remember the name (this is where I fail as a foodie).

Before dinner, we sat in the lounge off the lobby. Normally, we are there in the summer and sit outside on the patio overlooking Lac Beauvert, but this visit we were stuck inside, on a warm day, in front of a blazing fire in a fireplace that is the size of our apartment. What we were delighted to experience, which we have never experienced before at this place, or anywhere for that matter, is warm nuts! If it were cold outside, they would have even been that much more welcome. We had to word our question to the waiter very carefully about how he kept the nuts warm.

Although our food bill far exceeded our room costs, it really didn’t amount to anything breath-takingly spectactular. The aforementioned beef, a vegetable linguine, a luke-warm “coast-to-coast” seafood chowder were good, but unremarkable. Breakfast, however, was remarkable and indulgent. We ordered in both mornings. Michael had eggs with bacon both mornings, and we were both surprised and worried about our arteries with the SIX SLICES OF BACON served with his breakfast. SIX! But at $25 a pop, something about it should shock the socks off us, and the amount of bacon certainly did. And it was delicious. The first morning I decided to be dainty and went for a yogurt-granola parfait. It was good, but doesn’t even come close to the similar thing sold at Sunterra Market back home. The second morning, I risked my arteries for the full breakfast, and again, we both got SIX SLICES OF BACON… EACH!!! (And Sandra, before you send me a scolding e-mail about my salt consumption, I say I know! I know! I know!).

The highlight for me after dinner Saturday, was a walk in the dark, with a perfectly clear night sky to star gaze. The focus in Jasper, to me, isn’t really about the food, but is about being outside, enjoying the majesty of the mountains, the smell of the air, walking and dodging elk poo, seeing stars you can’t see in the city for the light pollution, and then having a cozy night in, snuggled up in the cabin, taking turns reading Great Expectations aloud to one another. Yes, we weirded ourselves out too by reading aloud to one another, but we swore we wouldn’t turn on the telly, bring our computers, etc., so other than staring at one another, or having “meaningful conversation”, decided to read. And after the weirdness subsided, it turned out to be a brilliant and memorable thing to do.

All good things must come to an end, so here I am connected again to my FB friends and e-mail, and Michael is in front of the telly shouting out his two-bits worth at the Golden Globe award recipients.

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