Monday, July 26, 2004

Oh, Canada...

Perhaps that should be "Ow! Canada!" My legs feel like I've been hiking for three straight days. Wait a minute...

I leave here tomorrow. So far I've hiked up a mountain and a half, soaked my feet in a very cold river and my body in very hot springs, eaten Alberta beef and drunk the local beer, and had interesting talks on neurology and computing with high-tech artist types.

Quick highlights:
The view from the top of Tunnel Mountain after Joey and Magda and I hiked it after a huge lunch my first day here.

The feeling that Myocardial Infarction Was Imminent during that hike. (4,600 feet is a bit different, oxygen-wise, than sea level.) Joey tried to distract me by asking questions about how, exactly, the body manufactures red blood cells.

Seeing a deer trying to cadge a treat from a diner at the outdoor cafe at the Centre.

The sound of Bow Falls and the feel of the Bow River on very hot, very achy feet. Going in more than ankle-deep means you really feel the current.

The Grumpy Texan Scale for hikes: A score of 1 means it's flat, shady, and free of mosquitoes, with a bar 200 metres away. A score of 10 means it's the hike that Joey and Magda and I took the second day I was here--at the end of that one, I was gasping and sobbing for breath, saying, "Guys, I am NOT HAVING FUN!"

Helping Joey buy hiking boots. "Don't you have anything more...fashionable?"

Jhave mentioning casually that the Northern Lights two nights ago weren't as good as they normally are. (I missed them, dammit.)

The discovery that a size 10 in Canada is larger than a size 10 in the States.  Given that Tommy's Pub in downtown Banff has the best onion rings I have ever eaten (skip the elk burger, but definitely get the onion rings), this is a good thing.

Vincent's birthday drink last night, when Joey, Magda, Sue, Jhave, Vincent and I all sat on the roof of Lloyd and drank various adult beverages. At one point I tipped my head straight back and decided that they grow more stars here than they do anywhere else I've ever been.

If it weren't for the cat...

I would be here for another week. It's that good. So far this vacation has had everything: good food, cool nights, interesting conversations with attractive people, and great shopping (Christmas is pretty much done now). Joey and Magda and I are a two-thirds Polish Three Stooges: when we arrived at the halfway point at Tunnel Mountain, they looked out over the cliffs and river and Joey said, "Oh! It's so beautiful I will kill myself!" That is apparently some sort of Polish Inside Cultural Joke.

I have to decide today if I need another piece of luggage to haul home all the presents I bought. At some point, I'll go into Banff, but for now it's time for another cup of coffee.

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