Monday 26 June 1995
(continued, 3 of 4)
Sunday [25 June 1995]: Details later, but basically this is the deal. Bad coffee at the hotel in Canmore. We have to stop in Banff for real coffee. Doug gets a cinnamon roll and Anna gets a muffin. He promises her breakfast with a view at Lake Louise, so she's not too cranky, and she drives. Lake Louise is gorgeous and green, more jade-colored water. Scenery, scenery, scenery.
The lodge here is terrific. We think about how much Judy and Maria Paul would like it here. Anna does get her breakfast. Doug has lunch. We leave. People are very happy to get our parking spot. We drive.
The scenery keeps being beautiful and even more beautiful. Our eyes are full and overflowing. One tiny pinch of any corner of this would be enough to leave home for. But there are miles and miles. We drive behind the slowest-moving RV in the Canadian Rockies. [Doug: And that's saying something.] We stop and say, Oh, Ah.
We go to the Columbia Icefield and take a bus and then a big-wheeled vehicle out onto Athabasca Glacier, which is, well, a GLACIER! Geez.
As you walk on it you see that under the surface the ice is the freshest shade of green. It is cold. Doug had the foresight to bring plastic glasses from our pantry of food in the back seat of the car, and we drink cold glasses of the freshest water. There is no way to explain what this was like.
You just look here and there and say, "Look! Look!" It is too grand and we're too small and if the word awesome still meant anything it would be appropriate here. Anna says, "Remind me never to live in New York City again."
[Doug: One minor note to add to the beauty: Great castles of clouds keep pushing over, so from one moment to the next the light in the valley can be quite different. Much as you can never cross the same river twice, no two trips through this valley could ever be quite the same. Rays of light splay out through and between the clouds as if God were spotlighting the natural features he liked the best: Here, look here; no, now look here. Each detail where the light falls is wonderful; the net effect is devastating. It's easy to understand why the Indians--even the very Plains Indians who were chasing buffalo herds off cliffs a few bars of latitude below here--considered the mountains holy places, and trod here only tentatively, where it was so obvious that gods must dwell. Something like the way the Greeks considered Olympus. Remember in the Bible where God saw his creations and said they were good? Doug feels that when God walks around up here he must have a great big-ass grin on his face as he sees what he's done now.]
Heading toward Jasper, we see a startling spray of water shooting up out of the river alongside the road. We pull over and follow a side road and find ourselves above the Athabasca Falls. Tons of gushing water, rock all carved out by water, a rainbow. The light is perfect by now; it's around 7:00.
[Doug: Remember, the further north we get, the later it's staying light. By now we're quite accustomed to twilight lasting well past 10 p.m. I don't think the sun's actually been going down till nine.] We make the requisite jokes about pushing each other over the edge, etc.
We complete our drive for the day, arrive at Becker's Cabins just outside of Jasper. Who would believe this place? Wonderful little '50s-style wooden cabins, living room with fireplace, two bedrooms, a porch, a TV, no phone. [Doug: Each bedroom has a couple of little sawhorse benches in it with a little vanity, a shelf hung low on the wall with a triptych mirror hung above it, so you can sit on one of the little benches and do your makeup, or, as Doug observes, type on your computer. Anna observes that one of the functional words of this place, along with cute, seems to be "little." Anna also notices that there is extra loft storage space in the bedrooms. City habits die hard. The bedsheets are bright pumpkin orange, which is a little startling among all this mountain light, but tolerable with your eyes closed.]
And the restaurant is a gourmet restaurant, with a great view across the river. They play Enya a lot while we eat. This place is like something that Maurice (Northern Exposure) would dream up. Anna has the lamb. Doug has tuna and two martinis [Doug: They're Canadian martinis, very small, like the local coin]. Doug observes that in places where people used to travel with steamer trunks, the old British imperial colonialists set a nice high standard for travel accommodations. We've been stopping at their lodges all the way up, in Glacier and Banff and Lake Louise. Anna says maybe that's a good criterion for picking places to travel to in the future. We drive into Jasper; it is raining; we need new tapes for the drive back to Spokane. We're hoping for some Bruce and, now, a little Enya. We drive back to our cabin. Doug makes a fire; Anna turns on a depressing TV special about Frida [sp?] Kahlo.
Doug: "You come to Canada, and there's Frida Kahlo."
Anna writes in the log, to try to catch us up. Good night.
«Time magazine friends, please excuse my lapses in Timestyle. I don't know how to make itals on this machine, so there are quotes in inappropriate places. Lady with Laptop signs off.»
[Doug notes added Monday morning sitting in bed around 10 a.m. Monday after he awakens. Anna's out sitting in an Adirondack chair by the river, writing postcards. The Frida Kahlo documentary seems to be over. Avanti.]