By KIRSTEN MUNDY, QMI Agency
For a ski hill far enough away to justify a hotel stay but close enough we could easily drive and ski in the same day, Jasper's Marmot Basin was the choice my brother and I made for a three-day getaway.
Choosing the destination was the easy part -- I started the same way I always do with a Google search for local tourism groups.
Never before has it given such a great result, as Jasper Tourism proved the perfect starting point for this adventure.
With a quick visit to their website, I had access to everything needed for a winter trip, or summer trip for that matter.
Armed with confirmation codes and plans for a hotel, skiing, tours and good eats, we hit the Icefields Parkway and our 2013 ski trip began.
Arrival in Jasper reminded us why the drive is worth it. Unlike other mountain destinations, Jasper has maintained a feeling that people actually live there.
You can even walk the main streets while maintaining your personal space. For my brother, a cook, it meant new, local food.
But back to the snow.
For the same reasons I like Jasper, I enjoyed Marmot Basin. Not too many people means no wait for a chairlift, and when you found a great run there was still powder.
As a novice skier, I was happy we chose a hill with a run of the blue or green variety from every chairlift, and an easy way to find my car.
Andrew, as a very capable skier and a lover of those scary-looking double-black-diamonds, found plenty to keep him entertained and challenged for all three days.
He even braved a walk-up run, which looked to be a 90-degree drop from where I stood, but he made it safely and said the extra effort was well worth the fresh powder.
Possibly my favourite feature is you can ski to each parking lot, so no matter where you left your car, you can get back quickly. We didn't once trek through rows and rows of trucks in ski boots before going home.
After the first day on the slopes, the recently renovated Best Western Jasper Inn and Suites was the perfect ending point for our sore muscles.
It well exceeded my expectations -- clean and comfy with a great many other benefits.
The steam room deserves the most credit, soothing muscles that kept me alive on the mountain for days two and three. Without it, my beloved brother might have left me on the hill after hours of complaining about sore legs.
I even had energy to really enjoy our second adventure.
When travelling I try to do something I've never done before, and walking up the empty riverbed of the Athabasca while 4C water springs out -- forming breathtaking waterfalls -- certainly qualified. The tour run by Maligne Adventures is offered three times daily, so we opted for the ski-friendly 6 p.m. option.
You know you have it right when the locals bring visiting friends to the same spot.
And onto the eats.
You can't travel with a cook and expect to just show up and eat. You have to talk about the food, and all the Jasper eateries we tried were worth positive feedback.
Looking for authentic Jasper cuisine meant the family-owned Papa George's restaurant had to be tried. It has been in operation since 1925 and with good cause. The food was amazing, and is also available at the De'd Dog Pub, as the two share a kitchen. It satisfied my craving for chicken wings, and even had the necessary lemon pepper seasoning.
It was impossible to ignore Oprah's advice, so we tried the now famous Bear's Paw Bakery raspberry-and-white-chocolate scones. She was right, as Oprah often is, they were worthy a return trip to get a few for the ride home.
Writers love synonyms, and Evil Dave's Grill was utopia for me with a very malevolent menu. The highlight was the El Diablo, a chef's creation with so much chicken, beans, rice, corn and spicy sauce I had to make room in the hotel fridge for leftovers.
Andrew is also a bit of a beer connoisseur, so Jasper Brewing Company was a must. The tour is quick since the brewing portion of the downtown location is three small rooms in the basement, but a lot of info is packed into that tiny space.
Did you know there are hundreds of kinds of barley, hops, and both brewed in any one of the different ways possible makes for the end result that has won the eight-year- old company many awards?
I certainly didn't, but I enjoyed the chance to sip on the results of Brew Master Dave's hard work.
Sadly, our trip was almost over, but not before a stop at the Jasper Mountain Wellness Spa for massages.
After three days on the slopes, they found each and every muscle that was aching, and gloriously soothed them back to health.
This story was posted on Mon, March 11, 2013
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