Location: Boston Pizza, Canmore, Canada (map)
I woke up fluffy-headed and groggy, none too enthusiastic about breakfast, but I knew that what I needed more than anything was some good greasy breakfast food. I shambled down to the dining room of the hotel, where I had a 10% off coupon. Plus, I didn’t have to go out into the daylight to reach it. The dining room was overrun with little old ladies (well, they weren’t all little) wearing vests that identified them as belonging to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. An odd fraternity, I thought, with no men evidence. I assume they had stashed their husbands elsewhere. The women were getting ready to go into a meeting of some sort, so they had all had breakfast at the same time. I don’t think the hotel was ready for that kind of rush. They were doing their best to keep up, but there was just no way they could.
I sat and read the menu about fourteen times, wishing I had brought my book or my laptop down with me. Finally I ordered two eggs over easy and hash browns and toast. $4 Canadian, less the whopping 40 cents off for the coupon. “No meat?” the waitress asked, surprised. Breakfast without any meat? Who was this strange man? After not too long my food came (sunny side up but firm whites, with just a few crunchy bits around the edges – not bad at all) and I managed to eat most of it.
Back in the room I puttered around for a bit. I managed to find an AOL 800 number that (for a fee) allowed me to check email and look at the comments on this site. Finally I schlepped my stuff out to the car. It was my first day driving without a bright sun to cook me. The sky was gray, but with texture, like a bowl of gray popcorn overhead. Rain in the future? With the car loaded, it takes a few minutes to go from top-down to top-up, and the computer equipment probably didn’t like getting wet. I put the top down and piled all the stuff in.
After one wrong turn I headed north, toward the jagged mountains that stretched across the horizon, the teeth of a giant table saw cutting the world asunder, the teeth trimmed in white. The gloom did not mar the drive. At Radium Hot Springs I turned right and headed into the <I’ll put the name here after I look it up> national park. That was a good choice. As soon as I paid my entrance fee I found myself passing through a deep cut in the rock, and when I came out the other side there were big-horn sheep grazing by the road. One of them had big horns indeed. I drove up a valley between two rows of mountains. The road was in good condition and an easy drive. All along they way there were signs that read “Avalanche Zone. Do not stop.” as well as the usual animal crossing signs, which seemed to indicate that there were certain areas reserved for deer to cross, others for big-horn sheep, elk, and moose.
Canada is a bilingual country, so all the signs were in both French and English. I found the translations for place names to be funny. “Dog Lake” became “Lac Dog”. I had to wonder why, if they translated the word lake, why they didn’t also translate dog? Lac Dog. There was also “Somethingorother Glacier” Which translated to “Glacier Somethingorother”
There was also ample evidence that there had been a very big wildfire in the area not too long ago. It was another relatively dry winter up here, so there’s probably more of that to come.
Originally I had thought to stay in Banff, famed for it’s mountain splendor. I drove into town and looked around for a bit, and I’m sure I could have found broadband Internet there, but the whole place was a little too cute for my taste. Modern rustic taken to extreme. It looked expensive as well. Back onto the highway for me, heading east toward Calgary. I’m glad I decided to stop in Canmore. It’s still nice, but not in a prefabricated Disney MountainLand sort of way. The first hotel didn’t have broadband access (“We’re putting it in soon”) but the very helpful girl at the counter called around until she found a place that did. (Note to self: email best western and commend her – whatever her name was.) So here I am, Web-enabled with only a few annoying hiccups.
At the desk as I was checking in, I asked where would be a good place to watch the game that night. No need to say which game. He recommended Boston Pizza, which surprised me, but it was a good choice. I got there not long before the game started. The restaurant has a bar area with a big-screen TV. The room was full, but there was one empty stool at the bar, just waiting for me. I settled in and wished I had something red to wear, surrounded as I was by Flames jerseys. The room cheered when The Star Spangled Banner played, and the whole room sang along to O, Canada. There was a cheer as the team came out onto the ice, and an extra loud cheer for the goalie. There were as many women as men in the room, and they all knew their hockey. I have never watched a hockey game in a bar while surrounded with such enthusiasm. It was infectious. I was a Flames fan, through and through. (The woman sitting next to me at the bar asked me if I was a Flames fan, and I answered quite truthfully, “Of course! Hockey belongs in Canada. What do they know about Hockey in Florida?” I did admit that I had not always been a Flames fan, but she forgave me that.)
To finish so I can hit the road, the game was great fun, but the Flames lost in the second overtime. CBC coverage of the game was very good, better than American coverage. They don’t have to explain as much. they just make comments like, “That was stupid. That kind of trick doesn’t work here!” I don’t think the restaurant was getting very good service, the waitresses were all standing at the entrance to the lounge, watching the game. A whole row of pretty hockey fans. Who could ask for more?
Here’s the view from my hotel room this morning: