We come to you this week from of all places Vancouver, British Columbia. We started our most recent trek in Calgary, Alberta. This is one of those “Bucket” trips that we are on a mission to complete. It is part plane, train, ferry and car all rolled into one. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Our final destination will be SanFrancisco and some dear friends who are heavily into sailboat racing. I hope they will still be reveling in Oracle’s stunning comeback. Champagne anyone?
The people of Calgary and so far Vancouver seem somewhat withdrawn. They avoid eye contact and don’t really smile. You can imagine these poor people bobbing and weaving to escape the wide grin of TTG as he roars towards the local Starbucks. Even worse when he comes out loaded with the darkest roast they sell. But upon engaging these wonderful Canucks they open up and are truly delightful.
The Banff and Lake Louise area is full of contradictions. We have lived in the Colorado Rockies for years but the Canadian Rockies are so different. We travelled on a thing called the Ice Fields Parkway which connects to the Columbia Glacier and beyond to Jasper. The sheer rock faces and incredible landslide and avalanche chutes bring to bear all the forces of nature. Their massiveness and beauty proves once again what a poor imitator man is. I think of the grandiose cathedrals of Europe and they don’t hold a candle(no play on words) to these monuments. Yes you do feel God and say a prayer. The wind and stillness of the land provide the organ music. I would love all of you to see and hear it.
The glitz and glitter of the Fairmount Hotel at Lake Louise seemed loud and garish. As you walk the arcades there are stalls like the bazaars of Instanbul. There is a middle eastern woman selling artifacts and fossils to put on your curio shelf at $3,000 a clip. Bulgari watches or diamond necklaces to bring home as a souvenir. A little mink muffler or and alligator bag to warm you up on a chilly mountain day? You actually wonder if some of these dudes and dudettes even go outside. That’s okay I will have my puny $5 ice cream cone and go to my room to get on the internet at $15 per day. I get it but then again I don’t.
The Trans Canada highway is just that, going from the Maritimes to Vancouver. Beautiful road and so simple. No bawdy billboards and the speed limit seems unnecessary. They actually have built intricate landscaped overpasses for wild life to traverse the habitat. There is this incredible feeling of peace but beyond that man and nature figuring out how to make it all work. Government shutdowns and blovating politicians seem so far away. They should come here to get their act together.
Before getting on the train we chatted with a mountie. Dudley Do Right he was and Little Nell could not be far off. He was a delightful fellow who had retired but suited up from time to time to send people westward and pose for the incessant Asian picture taking. He was a zoologist by trade before entering her majesty’s service and to this he returned. He was studying the ways of bears. Black, brown and grizzly to be exact. He simply stated that we should not view ourselves as the dominant species but just an essential part of the order of nature. Instead of sucking up the earth’s resources how about using what we need and leaving some for all. What the hell is this guy thinking?
It took us two days and an overnight stop in Kamloops,BC to cover the 850 miles to the Pacific. It didn’t seem long enough. You get to think, which of course I love, but you also get to know people at a leisurely pace. There was a fellow from Australia who had undergone open heart surgery 10 weeks earlier. His daughter, a surgeon in Perth was right by his side. Two senior Aussie sisters (not nuns) were a stitch and by day two they were my fall girls. You see I became the unofficial emcee of the bus and beyond. I know you are shocked. I would comment on their drinking or dancing on tables to the delight of all. The dining car din grew louder as people dropped their guard.Departing we all vowed to stay in touch but you knew that wouldn’t happened. At least the thought was there.
The true irony was my book of choice for the trip. “This Town”, which I have mentioned before is the chronicle of excess and self aggrandizement in our fair capitol of DC. The fawning and self gratification seems even more absurd after seeing these panoramas and life so simple. These little people on the plains and valleys are actually the big people. They have learned the true meaning of life. They don’t all agree but they respect one another. They don’t judge by the size of your Rolodex and Rolex but what you have in your heart.
The train could probably hold 600-700 people in good style. I really think we ought to book it and send the boys and girls who are our elected representatives off on a trip to nowhere. They can’t get off until they agree. That’d fix ’em.
Ted The Great
Sockeye Salmon spawn and are most prolific in the Adams River. The girls find their way back by sense of smell and different amounts of chemicals in different parts of the river. They disperse 4,000 eggs in the rocky bed and wait for the boys. 2000 eggs survive and become adults of a sort that travel downriver after 6 months to a year of training. They then change in the brackish water from freshwater to saltwater fish and travel the oceans from Alaska to Japan and Hawaii for anywhere from 1 to 5 years. Then they sojourn back to the starting place and it all starts over again. Only 2 of the original 4,000 make the round trip. The returning school numbers 2 million in a bad year and 10 million in a good one. After spawning the male and females die and provide food for ospreys, bears and the like. Amazing but true.
When on the bus in Kamloops I asked the driver where he was going next. He said he was driving US military personnel to Anchorage. They had flown into a Canadian AFB in town. After getting them up north they would board a flight to Nome Alaska. He would then take the bus on a weeklong ferry ride back to Vancouver staying in a superior cabin with booze and food. He said the cost of him living in the lap of luxury at the expense of the US Government was $20,0000. You mean we couldn’t have done this a little more direct and cost efficient way? And this my friends is why sequestration makes appearances by the Blue Angels and Marine bands etc. at public events impossible for lack of funding. Aaaaargh!
Sorry to go so long but Eh?