Two and a half months before the arrival of our first baby, my husband and I find ourselves working constantly, with little time or energy left for one another at the end of the day. It's not exactly the idyllic home life I want to welcome our baby into.
Realizing we need a serious escape—a "babymoon" before our lives change forever—Kirk and I are drawn to the mountains, glaciers, and alpine lakes of Jasper, Alberta, Canada's big sky country north of Montana. We start off in Edmonton, gateway to the Canadian Rockies, with a luxurious stay at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.
Everything about this trip, I decide, is going to be about pampering ourselves. When we check into "the Mac," Kirk is content to lounge around with the remote control while I head down to the spa for a massage. With each stroke and knead, I exhale the daily grind of my life. Today there are no phones ringing, no emails, deadlines, appointments, commutes, meals to prepare, or household chores. As the masseuse works my tired back muscles, the baby shifts in my belly, an odd massaging from within to remind me what this trip is all about. Back in our room, we hang the privacy sign on the door and stay in bed all morning, because we can.
When we set out for Jasper the next day, the radio loses reception, compelling us to long overdue conversation. Three hours later, snow-capped mountain peaks rise up along both sides of the road, dotted with wild elk and a lone coyote. We crack our windows, breathing in the cool, crisp air, a reverent silence descending on our chatter, making me realize we all have this peaceful place within, but nature has a way of getting us there faster.
We soon arrive at Jasper Park Lodge, a legendary spot in the Canadian Rockies and our home for the next three days. The lodge got its start in 1915 as the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway made its way west and the urban elite sought health and respite in the mountains. Celebrities from Marilyn Monroe to John Travolta have been guests at the lodge, perhaps seeking the same serenity as we. Sighing in unison at the scent of a log fire, we smile at the cool air on our faces. Having left behind 90-degree days and stifling humidity in Philadelphia, my pregnant body suddenly feels "normal" again.
In a lakefront suite overlooking Lac Beauvert—French, for "beautiful green"—we ooh and aah over the luxurious marble bath, Jacuzzi bathtub, and our own fireplace. The clouds settle over the mountains and a heavy mist descends on the lake, creating a feeling of damp and cold that gives us all the more reason to snuggle in front of the fire and not feel guilty about it. My crampy back signals an afternoon rest, preceded by a warm bath. As the jets pelt my skin, I imagine baby taking comfort in the moment.
Late in the day, the clouds disperse, sunlight revealing the emerald waters of Lac Beauvert. Inspired, we take the 2.2-mile hike slowly around the lake, watching the water change color from different angles. This is the most I've walked in weeks and it feels good, but my body lets me know my limits. Back at the lodge, we cozy up in the Emerald Lounge, sampling steaming sweet potato soup and tiger prawn salad, followed by tuna steak and rainbow trout entrees.