Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

First Impressions

There's a song which says "I hope you feel small when you stand beside the ocean" -- well I've seen the Ocean, and I'm far more impressed by the Rockies *g*

We flew in to Calgary. First stop -- Spruce Meadows! hahaha very kewl. It was stunningly gorgeous and tons of $ evident -- but essentially deserted. The only thing I did find disappointing is that there seemed to be very little turnout space. The rings though were pretty amazing -- even the schooling ones. The international
ring I found the hill to be significantly steeper than TV makes it appear -- and the bank much smaller. Strange. Anyways, it was a really great detour and I'm super-appreciative of it given that my mum has essentially less than no interest in the whole horse thing. hahaha

After Spruce Meadows we asked Lee for directions to Banff. Lee? Lee is our andsom and incredibly patient Australian guide. Ok so it's possible I have no concrete evidence as to his looks -- that's solely extrapolated based on the incredibly sexy accent and my vivid imagination. Yes you see Lee is our GPS and has proven to know his
way around the province quite well. No, I didn't pick the name -- when I was trying to change the settings from German (a fun game, since it meant all the instructions were *also* in German) the list of languages also had the speaker's name attached.

So driving to Banff today was pretty impressive. I've seen mountains before. Been skiing in NZ, hiking in Australia and the Scottish Highlands (where the guide informed me that they didn't need to have a WHOLE mountain -- just the top part :) and lived in Vermont for a bit. But none of those experiences were like this. All of a sudden there's a GIANT stone slab, perfectly vertical, in front of you. "Thou shall not pass!" indeed. Mother Nature (or was it Gandolf? :) has spoken. How to feel completely insignificant. You can't help but think of the reactions of the first explores to approach searching for a way to the sea. No roads; no paths; only incredible wilderness and a hope and fading belief that there must be a way
through. In an area where you don't go hiking with less than six people due to the bears, you can't help but appreciate the power of it.

Reminds me of when I was in Australia, chatting with my Aussi friend Kath who was warning me about the spiders and explaining what to do if I got bit -- so of course I made some comment about that (after all, growing p here I never learned to fear - or even respect - spiders. There that could get you killed!) and her response was "I
don't understand how Canadians can come her and be worried about snakes and spiders -- you have animals that EAT people!" hahaha never forgotten that one. A quick glimpse at the world from another viewpoint. That being said, I've never had a grizzly sneak into my running shoe before either :)

So we're here. The hotel is just a hotel. Not great, not bad. Just a place to sleep. The town is entirely filled with tourists. Even the staff at the various shops all seem to be imports of the "I came for a visit and I stayed" variety. And it's easy to see how. I was definitely tempted by the ad looking for a horseback trail guide!
hahaha wouldn't be the first time I've randomly switched up my life on a spur-of-the-moment decision *g* The only thing that stopped me is that at the moment GRS is more important to me -- and that won't happen if I'm guiding in the Rockies! The town is very sports-based, which I love. And when you're in the middle of it, you could
be in any small touristy town. But then you look up. And in every direction are surrounded by postcards. It's almost surreal. The glacial blue of the river is the kind of turquoise you'd put down to an artist's wishful thinking. You look down any sidestreet and it redefines the concept of "dead-end". When Mother Nature says you
can't go that way, she means it.

So it's a good 10 deg cooler here than at home. Good for hiking and adventuring. Less good in that hte mosquitoes are out, huge, and hungry! The altitude was another minor thing that would never have occurred to me. I was getting tired faster than I should've and head-achy. N Mum kept feeling dizzy. We both seem to have adjusted now though. N I have to admit tired and headachy could well have been cause I haven't slept all week! You think? >;-P There's also these little mini-showers that sort of amuse me. It's raining across the street right now, and not here because a tiny little cloud is floating by. Be prepared for anything I guess! Anyways, I'm being
eaten alive so I'm going in.

White water rafting tomorrow! Woohoo!


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