Monday 26 June 1995
(continued, 3 of 3--wherein the journal actually begins talking about Monday)
1:41 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, after getting up and getting our collective act together
Anna had a horrific dream last night in which she had agreed to teach a summer course and she wasn't prepared for it. She was so happy to wake up and find herself in a log cabin in the mountains.
Fashion note for Monday: Doug is wearing one of his new sweaters. Actually it's a woolen vest. Stylish. The earth tones are good for him.
We are about to drive into Jasper and go for a hike.
1:26 a.m. EDT ([1,]002.7 miles)
It's 1:26 a.m. in New York City, and it's still light out here, the last of what people in the 19th century called the gloaming. We have gone slightly over 1,000 miles now, although actually it's probably a little less than that, because some of those miles were driven in kilometers, which makes the whole thing a little confusing to calculate. Metric, or "Canadian" as we sometimes call it, is a big influence up here. For instance, if you buy fudge up in Jasper (as one might), you have to work out not only how many dollars it is per kilo and how much that's equal to per pound (as if it mattered), but also how many real dollars that is (and how many of those dollars you'll get back in the GST, which is another funny part of the conversion, kind of like the extra 32 degrees you always have left over after you're done converting a metric temperature to real degrees). Or if a mountain is 3,395 meters high, how tall would that be in the U.S.? When we were at Lake Louise, someone told us it would take five hours to get here, but it turned out he was measuring that in Canadian, not American. So you have to be careful.
1:44 a.m. EDT As Doug stirs the logs in the fireplace, Anna turns to our log to record the most recent events of our travels.
Interesting thing noticed while we sat out in the Adirondack chairs near our cabin: a lot of the larger cabins have small butcher-block-type tables set out in their yards--perfect size for dealing 3-Card Monte, which is what they must be used for. We left our chairs and our view of the rushing Athabasca River (is this a grade 3 or grade 5 rafting river? This is one of our ongoing debates with each other) because all the light would soon be out of the sky (after 11 p.m.) and according to our To Do list we still had to build a fire in our fireplace.
Late lunch today. Hamburgers and hot dogs, fries and poutines (don't ask) at A&W. This was one of our healthier eating days: big chocolate chip cookie to round off our healthful lunch. [Doug: Poutines, ah, poutines. We are thinking of bringing some of these on the road with us tomorrow, in case the muffler falls off and we need some quick-congealing glue to reattach it. If you came to the U.S. and found nachos and potato skins, wanted to take them home but didn't want to seem too American--Canadians are into these discreet differentiations--but wanted something just as good anyway, you might have invented poutines. It starts with French fries--or, as they call them here, fries Québécoises--and then you add gravy and mozzarella cheese, to beef up the fat content of the fries. Imagine these served with fast-food style gravy on them instead of real gravy. Mmmm. Imagine them with fast-food mozzarella on them instead of real cheese. Mmmm. Imagine a quarter-pound of that sitting in your stomach for the next 500 miles down the road. Well, thank goodness we had already planned a hike after lunch.]
More of a healthy eating day: After an invigorating 9K (5.4-mile) hike we had cones of ice cream whipped up with fresh blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Then Doug was curious about this one particular shop where homemade fudge was sold. Many, many varieties of fudge, and we sampled as many as we could. Then we actually bought some, saying "This will be good tomorrow in the car." Then we stepped outside the shop and ate the fudge immediately. Anna expressed some concern about her growing habit of binging without purging. Throughout dinner she moaned about having eaten so much fudge. And yet she ate. Dinner at our Northern Exposure-inspired gourmet restaurant in the woods. Doug had the lambchops tonight. Anna had the British Columbia salmon, which she devoured quickly while Doug chatted up the waitress. (Doug has left behind him a trail of blushing waitresses and shopgirls.) Again, for dessert the crême brulée with black cherries. A pot of tea, an Amaretto.
[Doug: The waitresses blush because they want the tip. It's even more fun on the nights when Anna's paying, because then you get to see the look on their face as they realize their whole charming act has been wasted and in fact will probably cost them--most of them tend to assume Anna is Doug's wife. This one blushed quite willingly, in fact came back several times to offer to blush again, but we were busy talking, so she had to wait till we were out of thunderously boring stories about Doug's old radio days before we could invite her back to do her whole blushing routine. She came back and offered a menu of topics, ranging from Aussie talk (she was from there) to the near religious experience she had on the mountain when she came here, which was what inspired her to stay. We followed some of her conversational leads, probed with a few of our own, let her blush a few more times, paid the check and left. Oh, and yes, of course she was married. Not that it makes a difference in ability to blush, apparently.]
The hike was the highlight of the day. Anna had waited for this. On the side of a pond we saw a large area where beavers had chewed and chewed until they felled a bunch of trees.
On the edge of the water, beaver dams. On the trail, all kinds of wildflowers. While we walked, we talked about Marlon Brando. Doug filled Anna in on the Brando famly scandals. Without weekly access to People, Anna's no longer so sharp on current events. Fortunately, Doug brought several People and Entertainment Weekly magazines with him. Earlier in the trip we had discussed the Julia Roberts-Lyle Lovett marriage and divorce. Anna was impressed with Doug's insight into these matters. We also agreed that Meryl Streep's acting is similar to Faulkner's writing: highly accomplished and impressive, but tiring to watch or to read.
With this I'll end for tonight. The fire is burning. Most of the postcards have been written. Our work is almost done.