After a memorable month in Calgary, we traveled further north to Edmonton. We had another AirBNB apartment booked, this time close to the city center.
The apartment building and the apartment itself was really nice. It was fully equipped and even had a nice little gym inside the building that nobody utilized, but me most days. We also had covered parking, which saved our Volvo from a second hellacious hail storm within a month. The first one we ran into in Calgary and again, we were extremely fortunate to have a garage attached to our house.
Edmonton is an interesting city in the sense of varying degrees of disproportionate wealth. On one side it has the most expensive farmer’s market I have ever been to – and that includes visiting half of Europe. On the other side it has a large population of homeless people and a fair share of decrepit buildings.
There are streets downtown that we were kindly advised not to venture to. Edmonton is known for one of the largest malls in North America. We went and it was an experience, but I wouldn’t make a trip to Edmonton just for that.
I think Edmonton is a great home base for everything that is around the city, not necessarily in the city itself. Sure, there are museums and a cute Italian/International neighborhood called ‘Little Italy’ that is just wonderful to visit and stock-up on groceries.
To me, personally, the best part about spending a whole month in Edmonton were our day or weekend trips.
We visited Jasper, which I absolutely fell in love with and would recommend one hundred percent. Jasper is quite the drive from Edmonton – over 3 hours by car – so we stayed the night in the town of Hinton just outside the park.
There is another amazing and little visited and known Provincial Park (like State Parks here in the U.S.), called The William A. Switzer Provincial Park. The place is absolutely stunning and offers camping as well.
We spent two days in Jasper and I feel like it wasn’t enough. I could spend a whole week or two and not get bored. There is just so much natural beauty everywhere you go. Also, the amount of wildlife we saw was unreal. Mountain goats, elks, wolves, and bald eagles everywhere. We did not see a bear, but I am not sad about missing on that particular encounter.
We also visited Elk Island National Park, where, I’ve been told, you could spot a moose or two. No moose sightings here, but there were elk and bison everywhere, which was a fantastic surprise. To see this gentle giants just chilling in the middle of the road or munching on grass in the shade of a tree was truly spectacular.
side note: I have not seen a single moose anywhere on my travels YET!, but I am still hoping. If you have tips (other than to wake up at 3 a.m. just to see them before the sunrise), let me know!! The one below is stuffed and displayed in Edmonton Museum.
Our last weekend trip was to the northeast region of Alberta, to a town called Lac La Biche in the Lakeland Provincial area. Dana wanted to fish, but the whole lake was covered with blooming algae, so nothing came of his fishing hopes and dreams. The whole town was overrun by seagulls, with thousands of birds covering pretty much any empty field, park and green surface in the area.
We decided to drive out to Lakeland, but that soon proved to be a futile exercise in trying to find a paved road. The further away from the town we got, the more we ran into uneven dirt roads. We soon gave up and spend the day around the town itself, which isn’t much.
Overall, Edmonton was an interesting mix of beautiful nature and scenery, expensive food and just so, so town and city life.
It was in Jasper NP and William Switzer Provincial Park where we realized that we would like to travel a little differently. Yes, we do like towns – but mostly just to visit. Our true passion and where we feel most at home is in nature and around water. It was here, where it hit us that having an RV and not having to rely on hotels (which were all booked inside Jasper at this time), would be a great thing for us.
photo: courtesy of CanAm RV London, Ontario
When we returned to Edmonton, we hopped on a phone and made a reservation for car specialists based in London, Ontario, who are pros on installing custom made RV rigs for smaller cars to pull heavier loads. As we already knew, we wanted our Volvo XC70 to be able to pull an Airstream trailer, this was the one and only choice in rigs for us.
For a comprehensive and detailed guide to Edmonton and the local area, click here.