As we made our way from Medicine Hat ("The Gas City", in case I need to remind you...) to Calgary, I realized that the mistaken impression I'd had about the Saskatchewan landscape actually applied to eastern Alberta. Not that it was desolate and boring, mind you, it was still quite beautiful, but there were much more of the flat-plain-and-acres-and-acres-of-grainfields surroundings. Dotted, of course, with those big wells that always reminded me of the bobbing birds we used to love at the science shop when we were kids -- or maybe drinking horses.
We were in the land of lots of internet reception, so I THOUGHT I'd get a bunch of PR work done in the morning. Fate laughed with a mighty hardee-har-har-har, though, as my laptop was crashing every three minutes -- more often if I held my mouth funny. This poor old clunker seems to be on its last legs... may we all have a moment of silence, as we picture it surviving the next five weeks without darkscreening or being flung off a mountain.
I did a "verify disk" check, and all sorts of red letters scrolled their way across the screening -- basically saying, in layman's terms, that the hard drive was seriously messed up, and I'd better say some prayers or throw it off the closest cliff.
I went for the prayer route, and shut 'er down.
But the cell phone was working, fortunately, and we did manage to snag a new gig on the 14th (or perhaps 15th) in Enderby. Yippee!
Back to the scenery.
As we neared Calgary, the road gradually got a bit hillier, and we realized that those low-lying clouds off in the distance were actually mountains.
Yes, I realize that I was going on and on yesterday about how gorgeous the Prairies were. But mountains just tug at my soul. Mountains are the reason why, in our February BC tour, Don and I were THIS close to dumping everything and moving to Victoria. We may need an intervention this time. Or maybe Sandra should find us a real estate agent. Because when mountains meet water, we're kind of uncontrollable. It's like our Wonder Twin powers have gone completely over to the Wild Magic and there's nothing we can do except try and figure out how to move all our friends there with us. Whether they want to join us or not.
With the mountains still tantalizingly in the distance, we stopped in Calgary for a light lunch, and to find an electronics store -- we needed a FireWire cable to back up the essentials from my laptop on to Don's, just in case I could no longer resist the urge to throw it out the window. (Hey, I'm a fire sign, a Saggitarius with Saggitarius rising, a Temple Dog and a Queen of Wands -- I know the possibilities, and it's best to be prepared.)
Mission accomplished, I took over the driving, so Don could have a quick cat-nap before we got to the base of the Rockies. Of course, he spent most of the cat-nap just staring at the mountains, but he did get about 15 minutes of sleep in, before a ginormous pot-hole relieved me of the decision of whether to wake him up to enter the range, or let him get a bit more sleep.
We were, indeed, at the entrance to the Rockies. Don took a bunch of pictures for his brother (they lived in Calgary as little kids, and Bruce said he really misses the Rockies, and to say "hi" to them from him), but of course no photo could do them justice.
We drove most of the day with a travelling circus or fair or something -- lots of trucks with "Whack-a-Mole" and "Cotton Candy" signs, plus parts of amusement houses. Beautiful scenery, whack-a-mole, beautiful scenery, ferris wheel, beautiful scenery, clowns... I just love the way life juxtaposes things sometimes. :-)
We gawked our way through Canmore to Banff, and... oops, must have missed that turn at Albequerqe, found ourselves in the line-up to enter Banff National Park, for a slightly hefty fee (considering we didn't have time to stop). Sheepishly, we told the man at the gate that we must have been looking at mountains and not reading the signs, because we wanted to go through along the highway. He smiled and asked us where we were headed, we told him, and he waved us through. I wonder how many times that happens to them each day?
Banff National Park is a true national treasure -- and we didn't even need to get off the highway to see it. They've built a bunch of overpasses for the wildlife, matching the surrounding terrain, so they aren't afraid to walk over the highway -- in a way that won't endanger their lives. I wish we had these in Ontario!!! The construction crews were busy at work making a few new ones, I presume where they'd had accidents before. It was a gorgeous day, so there were tons of cyclists along the trails, as well as one crazy horseback rider who decided to gallop across the 4-lane highway just as we were passing -- thank you, sir, for the adrenaline rush.
Despite the warning signs along our route the rest of the day, we had no encounters with grizzlies, rams, deer, moose, elk, or even a squirrel. The front bumper, however, continues to exhibit signs of insect carnage.
We made it to Salmon Arm easily in time for normal people's dinner time -- could have kept driving, but... why bother? Found a motel with a ground floor room available (way too much gear to lug up stairs!), and a pub next door that gave motel guests a dinner discount. Yay us! The laptop was temporarily behaving properly, so I got a few things done that really had to get done, and then we headed next door for dinner.
The restaurant probably sat 30 people, and had 11 televisions, 1 Keno screen and an electronic poker game. But it wasn't as noisy as you might think, and the menu looked tasty, so what the heck. The waiter was very nice and friendly, but she apparently was never taught the difference between a pint of beer and a bottle. Nevermind, the bottles were already open, we took them. She had to clarify our orders three times (trust me, they weren't complicated), and left us with our bottled beer to wonder what adventure might be in store when she brought out the plates. She did quite well, although as she put Don's plate of Jambalaya down, she realized there was no chicken, so went out back to ask the chef to cook some -- which came out about two minutes later... kind of makes you wonder... We decided to order a beer that didn't come in bottled form, so settled on "The Backhand of God", a local brew, kind of like a nice coffee porter. Plus the name just makes you smile. :-)
Then back to the room for some computer surgery. I transferred the crucial files onto Don's computer, then ran Disk Warrior on mine (Don was smart enough to bring the CD, just in case!). Success! It was able to repair the hard drive. Although I'm still getting pages and pages of permissions errors, even when I haven't done anything with it. But -- and I realize I'm saying this with my outside voice -- it hasn't frozen or crashed in over 12 hours, so we're making progress.
Completely exhausted, WE crashed into bed, and Don was snoring before he hit the pillow. That's OK, it helped to drown out the train that ran behind the hotel all night. :-)
Slowly getting there,