Friday, August 08, 2003

Jenn is My Co-Pilot part 1
I worked half a day Friday, then drove back home to pick up the belter. I phoned ahead to the Travelodge in Salmon Arm (where we’d be staying) to make sure that it hadn’t gone up in flames yet. It hadn’t. We left about 1:30.

I had to wonder about the fires, though, because driving up the Coquilhalla we could see this huge plume of smoke over the mountains. It wasn’t wispy smoke either. It was solid, like a column of volcanic ash. I wondered if we’d have to dodge burning embers, and crash, thrill-show style, through curtains of flame when we reached Kamloops. We didn’t. The fires were really close, though. We saw one or two hillsides burning beyond the city.

The smoke followed us all the way out of the city towards Sorrento, blocking out the sun nuclear winter-style. Although it was only late afternoon, the sky got very dark and the landscape took on a red hue. You could stare directly at the sun. I made the belter take some pictures.

The sky cleared during the drive to Salmon Arm. We checked into the Travelodge around 7:00 then headed into town for dinner. The belter wanted somewhere dark, and the HPB (“Something Pub/Bistro”) was the place. They had Keno, pull tabs, 800 TVs (Speedvision was within eyeshot) and a wicked satellite radio station, on which I heard “Matte Kudasai” by King Crimson, followed by “Dust in the Wind.” The belter rolled her eyes as I considered moving to the Arm.

After dinner we picked up tomorrow’s breakfast at Tim Horton’s, then went back to the Travelodge where the belter had a swim while I explored the 50-channel universe in our room.

We left Salmon Arm at 8:30 on Saturday morning. Our destination was Calgary, where I’d drop the belter off at Elise and Rob’s place, and I’d continue to Edmonton. We did what sightseeing we could from the car, and I made some notes on where to stop on the way back. Jenn saw some bighorn sheep on the descent out of Golden. I only made out one sheep bum in the rearview mirror. That’s a piece of road you have to devote your whole attention to. We stopped at the Spiral Tunnels after Rogers Pass and waited to see if a train would come through. No luck. When a tour bus pulled up and started unloading, we retreated back to the car.

After the turnoff to Lake Louise in Banff National Park, the forest fire smoke got really bad again, bad enough that we had to roll up the windows and turn off the fan.

We got to Rob and Elise’s about quarter to 4. They weren’t home, but they turned up soon enough, back from dragon boat races at the reservoir. We hung out for a bit and checked out their new house. Ah, Albertan friends and their exotic home-owning ways.

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