Into the gingerbread village

Date: 9 January 2018

Location: Bed with an over-affectionate golden retriever, Jasper, Alberta.

“I’ll be up to tuck you in in a few minutes.”

That’s my mum, of course. I’m staying at her house in remote, pristine Jasper, Alberta. It’s so remote, and so very subject to the mercurial Canadian weather, that it’s taken us (Lady Lovelylocks and I) 46 hours of travel to get here from London.

First, my flight was cancelled due to storms in Calgary. Then, when I negotiated my way onto Lady Lovelylocks’s earlier flight via Toronto (cue scrambling to get to Gatwick an hour earlier than planned) that flight was delayed because the plane had been unable to leave Calgary. Those storms, determined to get me. Badly delayed, w proceed to miss three connecting flights from Toronto to Calgary and subsequently miss the last bus out of Calgary to Banff for the night so, having dined on airport closing-time Tim Horton’s scraps, hole up in an airport hotel around 1am and pass out like two rocks. The following morning we take the morning bus destined to go Calgary – Banff – Jasper, taking around 5 hours. All goes well for the first two hours to Banff. There, we discover that the infamous Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, is closed for avalanche control and that we need to go back to Calgary (rapidly becoming my least favourite place on the planet) and then up to Edmonton and then into Jasper. The drive will take another 7 hours. In the end it takes almost 9 hours because of icy conditions, dooming us to a total of 11 hours in the bus. We collapse into mum’s house in snowy Jasper as quivering, grateful messes.

When we wake, it’s all worth it.

Jasper is a tiny town of around 5,000 people and this morning it’s blanketed in twelves inches of snow. I’m wrapt. Even as a seasoned snow cynic. For Lady Lovelylocks — who has never been to North America before, never skied outside Australia, has been following people around in airports to marvel at their Canadian accents — this must seem like a fairytale.

We proceed to have a truly charmed day. It’s a bluebird powder day on the mountain, and skiing with the CEO of the resort means that everything else from high performance rentals to a table for lunch to an amazing staff discount in the shop to the most attentive of instructors just appear, as if by magic. We ski until our very unconditioned Aussie-turned-Londonder legs tremble and then come home for a nap and a home-cooked dinner with friends of mum and her husband (aforementioned CEO). The friends are, of course on this sort of charmed day, wonderful company — almost as wonderful as mum’s maple pecan pie.

And now, sleep-like-rock time again.



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