Friday, May 15, 2015


While our home is in New Hampshire on the East Coast of the U.S., last month we bought a small, newly built condo in Edmonton, Canada, about 2,500 miles away. Our daughter, her husband, and their four children live here.

 One day I picked a spot very near our condo building and drew four drawings, each at a ninety degree angle from the previous one. We are located in the southwest part of the city, a large area of recent development. Construction sites dominate. Our condo is behind the steel girders in this drawing. The beautiful curvy office building will have ground level retail shops. I’m certain that it will look very different around here on our next visit.

The corner of Windermere Boulevard and Windermere Road sprouts flags of housing developers. All the streets in this neighborhood start with a ‘W’. A nearby neighborhood is an ‘A’ place. Our family has formerly lived in an ‘H’ and an ‘M’.

We jokingly call it Windymere as a stiff breeze is often blowing. The original Windermere is the largest natural lake in England.

All the fences are organized by colors. Each neighborhood in the recently built area has a specific fence color. The electrical lines are underground.

Another 90° turn, and I drew a pile of Alberta soil. The middle space will have a school in a year or two.

 It is a dry climate here. The weeds are spaced out like dessert plants.

One last turn. Lots of shops are being constructed. It is hard to read the small sampling that I drew, so I will spell them out:  a Starbucks, a Subway, an animal clinic, and Superstore, a grocery chain that sells lots of other things too.

I mentioned new construction and here it is. We got a final new surface to our parking lot. From our second floor unit, I got a great view of the process.

 This drawing suddenly reminded me of a Richard Scarry book except that humans are driving the machinery, not bears.

If you don’t have proper drawing paper, use what you have.

For a complete change of scenery, drive four hours west of Edmonton to Jasper National Park in the Rocky Mountains. Jasper is Canada’s largest park at 11,228 square km or 4335 square miles. We have been there many times.

 Wow, I just learned a new term: hydrographic apex of North America. Water from the nearby Columbia Icefield Glacier flows to three different oceans from one point:  Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic.

The drawing above is the view from the front window of our rental, the top floor of a log cabin built in 1926. The town of Jasper, with 4,000 inhabitants, is surrounded by the park and its gorgeous mountains. Everyone in this small town in the broad flat valley has a spectacular view of craggy peaks. Most of the homeowners offer a part of their house on the short term rental market. You can get an idea of how common this is by looking at this map.

The peak above is named Mount Edith Cavell, at 3,363 meters or 11,033 feet. The dusting of snow emphasizes the patterns in the grey rock.

Mid May was a stunning time to be in Jasper. The valley was warm with flowers scenting the air, and the mountains were still blindingly white with snow.

I quickly sketched The Little Log House, our home for the weekend, just before we left town.

We always take the Skytram from Jasper to Whistlers Mountain to get an even better view of the several mountain ranges in the area. Jasper is the boomerang shape in the center. At an elevation of 1,062 meters or 3,484 feet, it’s located in a valley that has long provided access through the mountains and on to the Pacific coast. A major rail line runs through town carrying a seemingly endless number of shipping containers stacked two-high in specially built rail cars, no doubt coming from China or heading back that way.

I decided to narrow my drawing focus to the turquoise green lakes. Minerals cause the lovely blue green color.

Here we are at the top of Whistlers Mountain, after a ten minute ride on the Skytram. We saw about five hardy souls run off the mountain into the constant air currents—to enjoy the view of the valley while clutching onto their paragliders.

The peaks are still very snowy in mid May. In the very center is the pointy summit of Mount Robson. It is usually cloud covered. The valley is green.

Athabasca Falls are south of Jasper, just off of the Icefields Parkway. The water is such a gorgeous shade of green. And the spray makes a rainbow.

We had lunch on the bench. See the bench?

The Icefields Parkway runs for 232 km or 144 miles from Jasper to Banff. We have traveled it twice, and it’s beautiful. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do it again on this trip.

Visitors to this rocky beach near the falls pile up the jagged yellow brown rocks into vertical sculptures, often in human form. Our granddaughter built the one in the foreground.

Most Canadians call these cairns inuksuks, an Inuit (native arctic people) word. It was used as a symbol of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Our guest artist, Roxy, drawing from the window in the log cabin.

She was drawing the house next door, very close by, then the enormously high snowy mountain behind the roofline. You can the tiny knob on Whistlers Mountain that is the Skytram restaurant.