A recent weekend in Jasper refreshed my spirit and reminded me how pleasant it is to meet new people and hear their story. I like to share my friends by introducing them to each other, and I also like to share stories of dedication and inspiration.
Having an outgoing nature, it is easy for me to talk to strangers and quickly find out what we have in common. While having a nice dinner in downtown Jasper, my friends and I met these four ladies who were also having dinner. We found out they were in town to enjoy a spa day away from the Big City lights of Edmonton. On the Sunday before our trip home, we ran into them again, and enjoyed a longer chat. It turns out that these four friends are nurses, close since nursing school: one of them works in research at the UofA Hospital, one works as an OT (occupational therapist) at the Glenrose. Of course, I briefly shared our daughter Michelle Salt’s incredible journey of recovery and how I have a new, profound respect for people working in Health Care, in particular RTs (respiratory therapists) who helped Michelle while she was on life support for seven days at the Foothills Hospital, and the OTs who helped her while she was in a Calgary rehab hospital for five months. So I take this opportunity to salute the men and women who make our health care in Alberta one of the best in the world!
One of my traveling companions confirmed that this was a favorite destination for her husband and three daughters, for decades! I have no problem believing that for many Alberta couples, individuals and families, Jasper holds magical memories! I also have those as I spent my honeymoon in Canmore and Banff, twenty-seven years ago.
While chatting with the owners of the Jasper Brewing Co, a popular pub, eatery and micro-brewery, I once again felt that passion that many people seem to feel towards the mountains, a passion that sometimes diverts them from another destiny: for example, Brett Ireland, now a Calgary resident, spoke of the “Jasper Trap”: he cites his mother who came here for a two-week holiday and is still here, 36 years later! Nephew of popular Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland, Brett is a congenial and proud Jasper native (like Alex and their other partner) who described for us their success story, and made us want to return to this fun pub on our next visit to Jasper!
At the lovely Fiddle River Seafood restaurant, our server was another great Jasper ambassador: between serving our amazing meals and other patrons, Lonni Keetl kindly subjected herself to our eager questions about her apparent fitness, admitting to an Olympic stint as a teenager, how she is now a passionate mountain cyclist, downhill skier and a faithful gym visitor: she talked with pride of her father Tony Keetl, a well-known, retired Parks Warden, and an über-talented carving artist. I will follow up on this name, and hope to find some visual information on his art on the web!
While finishing our meal at the Fiddle River, we met these two CN wives, Jasper residents and long-time friends, Mary Koleman and Johanne Prevost who were fun and hospitable. With their husbands out of town, they were out for a fine meal and a catch-up visit, but did not hesitate to spend part of their evening entertaining these three eager tourists and introduce us to a few locals at the Ded’Dog in the Astoria Hotel. We enjoyed our chats and our late night walk in Downtown Jasper in the midst of a sudden snowfall. Facebook will help us get better acquainted!
Needing a couple of answers on Jasper, I called the Municipality of Jasper (its legal name!) and had a nice chat with Peter the CAO, a native of Belfast Ireland, and although he is a new resident, it was obvious that he’s caught the “Jasper bug”: he knew a lot of the local businesses, and tourist aspects of his town. He pointed out that their website is jasper-alberta.com and that their Tourism entity’s link can be found on that website.
At my return, a quick chat with Devon’s Mayor Anita Fisher got me an invite to discover that town’s 14 Km of unpaved trails, and a promise that I would feel like being in the mountains when I go. The recent 2nd Annual Blizzard Bike Race of Saturday February 23rd had fifty participants, some coming from Jasper! The new “fat bikes” category was popular (bikes with extra-large tires), and I plan on attending it next year!
Stay in touch, Friends! You’ll find me at email@example.com. Be safe and enjoy the rest of our Alberta winter!
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