Today was our first full day with the BBC crew, and because of last night’s late finish, we had a lie-in until 9.00, then met them at 10:30 at the Parks Visitor Centre in the middle of town. They’d already been busy, and had completed an interview with a park ranger on the state of the fires, and had mused around town. They’d also arranged support from the Jasper Town Tourist Office, and we had Casey the Intern with us for the day as well – a veritable caravan working our way around town. The first bit was the worst – sitting in front of the Visitor Centre, being interviewed. It was made worse by people standing behind the camera, to stare at what was going on. There are times when being the centre of attention is definitely a very bad thing. Then we had to walk across the green to the centre, with our packs on, being filmed from in front. Then again from the side. Then from behind. And then close up, with the lens inches from our face. And then we had to go and check out the latest fire situation – on camera. The poor girl behind the information desk got no warning (“Its better that way…”), and had the camera shoved inches from her face too.
All of this took a measly two hours, and by the end of it we were all mental wrecks. Emily got tired about half way through, and just walked off and sat on the grass (which is where Patron Saint Patsy came in, wandering off with her and bird spotting on the grass).
Then we saw Jasper the Bear over the green – he was heading to the railway station for the launch of a new train service to the coast. And off we went, gate crashing the train launch, and the girls taking every opportunity to cuddle Jasper (not, of course, a real bear, but a guy in a suit – apparently well known in this area!).
We also found chocolate cake and coffee, so all the children and grown ups were very happy. And we met the train manager, and the General Manager of the five star resort in town, who invited us up for a swim later! But everywhere we were, so was Mat with his camera, Steve with Doodles, and somewhere in the background, Patsy “fixing”.
Then suddenly we were late for item 2 – a trip up the Jasper Tramway (actually a cable car) to the top of the mountain. We had a mad dash across town to the cable car, which had been specifically reserved for us at 1:20, and rushed straight inside (phew, only had to do that once because they’d already held it up for us!). Then up the mountain. As we climbed the temperature dropped, and the views became more magnificent. Within 7 minutes we were over 2,500M above the town, looking down on the roads, railways and lakes. It was weird, standing in a cable car, looking out at the view, knowing that Mat was behind us, beside us, (and in front of us if we weren’t pressed against the glass), trying to film what we were seeing, our expressions, and anything we might say. And above our heads, or below our chins, sat Doodles (our name for the furry boom mic), capturing everything. We now know what a claustrophobic experience it is (and at this point we’ve started wondering why we agreed to this!).
Anyway, at the top of the mountain, we hopped around the rocks, enjoying the air (Jasper in the valley was a bit hazy from the smoke of 2 nearby fires), and trying to forget that everything was being filmed. Mat occasionally asked questions, or got us to rock-hop in a particular place/direction, which made it a bit strange. But we were at the top of a mountain, and we’d got there for free. So I suppose we couldn’t complain!
And then it got better – the PR lady for the tramway had reserved us tables in their restaurant (burgers etc but with the most amazing view for any restaurant!). We sat at the front of the restaurant, surrounded by glass, with a huge drop below our feet and relaxed (Mat was eating his lunch, so no camera moments!). And then an ordeal – out onto the observation deck to be quizzed about what we were doing and why, and what all our friends thought etc etc. It was a nightmare, because you have to answer instantly, even though everybody else will have lots of time to analyse what you say. Its at times like this you can’t help thinking about the fact that 5 million people will see this, and if you say something dumb, your friends – at least – will spot it.
While we were doing this (Sarah and I) we had to amuse the girls somehow. Which is where the three PR ladies scored top marks – we got the nail varnish out of the packs, that we’d bought yesterday, and the girls got their toe nails varnished in the restaurant (still looking over the amazing view). They were chuffed to bits, and I bet it’s the first time that the PR team have done that in order to promote the Rockies! A brilliant moment for everybody.
Then we had to rush down the mountain for item 3 – to whizz across town in a minibus with a tour guide and see Maligne Canyon. The original plan was to see the canyon, and then head out to Maligne Lake, but unfortunately a fire had broken out the day before, and the lake was off limits. The canyon was okay, but the girls were quickly bored, so we walked, filmed and headed back to town (Murray, if you’re reading this, it was not to do with your guiding – it was just the end of a long day).
So we left the crew behind, with an arrangement to see them later for dinner, and jumped in the car with our swimming gear to head to the Fairmont Jasper Lodge Hotel (5* happiness).
When we got there, the General Manager Jan had already briefed his assistant Manager, Ralph, who greeted us, gave us a quick tour and took us down to the pool. All of the staff had also been warned that we were coming too, so they settled us in, gave us towels, and offered us complimentary sandwiches and drinks for us and the girls. This has got to be the upside of having a camera shoved in your face at every opportunity! It was fantastic hospitality, and after a while the girls were offered ice creams and more drinks. We were treated like royalty, and everybody was very chatty and seemed to know us. It was a contrast to ten years ago, when we’d sneak into an hotel in India/Thailand/Malaysia to use the pool, often for a few dollars a day, but we’d have to take our own drinks, because we couldn’t afford the hotel prices. This might seem like a small thing to you, but its these kinds of things that make us all human again after a days travel!