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Sometimes The Destination's A Trip
From The Desk Of Drumlin S Boulder

I'm going to a conference in Vancouver that's being presented by the Canadian Association of Native Tectonics and Fractitious, Indigenous Neo Driadic Insolvents and Thinners.

Now knowing me you'd expect I went to get a better understanding of CANTFINDIT's take on what's coming at us in their field of materials and molecular makeup that might affect us here at Portable Holes Inc., and you'd be right.

But I also have some good memories of Vancouver, and one especially vivid one of tripping over a long pipe running into the waters off one of Kitsilano's public beaches. And I have visited Vancouver to see my long time friend Rob who moved out there with his Grietmus , a psychiatrist. Rob and I have known each other since grade five or six, depending on who you talk to. So I always enjoy the trip, and I think Vancouver deserves every good and bad word spoken of it.

Last summer my buddy Geldmus and I did a road trip to Vancouver from Banff in a black topped, red Thunderbird convertible. Two middle aged, beginning to bald in the one case and an almost gone in the other, half life friends, off on a Vancouver and back road trip from Calgary via golfing, poolside lazing, mountain driving, scenery gawking, midnight mountain lake swimming, and mid to nice place staying. Well first to Calgary by plane.

The flight had been largely uneventful. We only had carry on luggage, really it wasn't that much, which all fit into the overhead bin. And we both had an aisle seat 8 rows from the exit, so we were ready to bolt from across aisle seats as soon as we came to a complete stop at the terminal and the unfasten seatbelt sign flashed on. In the meantime I watched some TV and chatted across the aisle with Geldmus. I'd seen the back of seat tv screens that adjust with the tray tables and seat backs into uncomfortable positions on a KLM 777, but it was still cool to follow cross-Canada news coverage from various local stations. The traffic over the Vancouver bridges was moving well, which I, arriving a planned 4 or five days later, couldn't care less about, or could care less if you're careless in your thinking .

What meant something was that I'd cashed in points for the flight, and the ticket price in dollar points was definitely not the bargain you'd get paying cash, so that bummed me. But hey no cash out the door meant something. And Geldmus came to the rescue with his score on the black topped red Tbird. The secret he said, is book with a plan, go for the no cost upgrade, then take it from there. And keep asking, politely, and with a smile. So the drive from Calgary to Banff was splendidly new, being some 30 years since the last time, and with the top down this time. Arriving at the Banff Springs Hotel, we valet parked, checked in with the plan, expressed some disappointment with room offered, and went for a no cost upgrade, and took it from there to paying a bit more than planned for a small suite in an out building built for the Calgary Olympics. We settled and called to confirm our reservations for our golf times for the next day before heading out to lounge by the pool.

Golfing at the Banff Springs, like pool lounging there, is expensive but absolutely expansive and massively breathtaking. Our foursome was completed by a sports psychologist slash professor who (and honest, I don't make this stuff up) muttered on angrily the entire round blaming a sports injury for blown shots, and her husband , who, not willing to take on any blame, stayed pretty much out of her way. So did Geldmus and I. We were easily kept busy appreciating the geography and climate and lack of elk tracks and droppings on the course. Lots of thieving birds and chipmunks we did experience and admire to the point we even noted various individual group behaviours and local boldness and cleverness based on particular features within all this mountainous grandness around us. These groups of course kept to their flock and pack behaviour so there was a general scramble and noise for everything food and loose in our golf carts, so the sports psychologist cussing and ranting didn't harm us much. And we were looking forward to more pool lounging and Banffing more.

The next day the climate was the entertainment as we encountered sun, clouds, rain, snow and sun again on our journey from Banff to a warm late evening swim in a mountain lake halfway between Jasper and Kamloops.

We'd started the day by driving to Lake Louise, where we valet parked, saying we were going in for lunch. We went in, walked around some, took a few pictures, had some taken of us by a Japanese tourist, dipped our toes into the lake, and went inside to enjoy its view and some French Onion soup. After lunch we had the car brought around. Since we were there for a meal, we weren't charged for parking.

We gassed up in town just about by the highway junction, and we soon headed west, and then split north to Jasper. We drove through some awesome scenery, hair pin turns, and climbing and falling twists in the road as we ascended and descended through the changing weather. We passed the mighty, well once mighty now retreating, Columbia Ice fields. We saw these huge yellow, big black wheeled trucks riding all over them with tourists and their big black branded boots walking all over them, and we talked about all these scientists who were fussing all over them wondering what was happening to them. We didn't know for sure, though we had our suspicions, so we didn't stop to offer our opinions or add to the problem, and anyway we had our own problems.

 A T bird is one cramped car. We'd discussed how disappointingly small it was as we passed some different awesome scenery earlier in the day ..... two absolutely beautiful fit and fitted (but who'd never fit in)  backpacking twenty something angels hitchhiking around the park gates west of Louise, and then really noticed it when the top had to come up due to rain and later snow. But we coped like the ice fields and without the angels and cramped some and make it to Jasper.

Jasper was a disappointment. I mean it was pretty and all, but not at all what I'd imagined. Which I guess is not Jasper's fault. But it has so much more sky sitting in the middle of a large flat mountain plateaud valley than Banff with it's nestling almost cocooning mountains and Cascade and Norquay to gawk at, and Jasper Lodge was nowhere near as baronial and majestic as Banff Springs or Lake Louise. So we drove to a local bar for some two hours or so of food and drink and direction and a closer look at the map. After chatting with the bar staff and some locals, and checking the web and calling ahead, off we went a bit back south and then west through the Kicking Horse pass, then left and south again with only a slight diversion to check out a what seemed to be a small gasoline tanker just up a side road with its hood up.

We thought the guy needed our help, being in remote BC and all, but he turned out to be a pretty rugged, self sufficient, not so mad mountain Max filling his truck's gas tank from an "auxiliary" tank that completely occupied the truck's bed, and he was also checking under the hood. After a friendly discussion and agreeing a mobile gas station is what you need to cruise around back in the mountains for a few days, we drove on to a mostly empty heli-skiing resort, happy for any summer business and a deal, half way to Kamloops. We unpacked the car quickly, really, I said it wasn't much, and went off looking for a grocery store. It was about 8 pm on a Sunday night.

Contrary to our big city misconceptions, others in the sparsely populated interior of BC also need grocery stores this late on a Sunday. We loaded up with some red meat, beer and other guy foods, and returned to our cabin to get ready to make dinner. But first we got sidetracked and skinny dipped in this amazing mountain lake by the lodge, graced by a strong moon and regularly interrupting train whistles. After some swimming and floating we dried and went back to make dinner and relax with our libations and regularly interrupting train whistles. I had no problem sleeping with regularly interrupting train whistles, but Geldmus did have some trouble with my snoring and regularly interrupting train whistles.

From there we drove over a couple of days via Kamloops, the breathtaking Marble Canyon, then via Lillooet to Whistler, before finally moving on to the Wall Center Sheraton in Vancouver. We checked in around mid afternoon, again with the plan, went from the disappointment upgrade to a slightly more expensive upper floor suite facing west. Plus we asked for and scored club floor privileges..... which guaranteed breakfast with newspapers, afternoon cocktail nibbles, and a private deck overlooking downtown Vancouver and west towards the waters and Stanley Park.

Yeah, it's not only the symposium drawing me back to Vancouver. I like the city, travelling to it, and I'm looking forward to going back. So I just scored cheap Westjet seats from a travel website, and I'm booked into the Wall Center under the plan. Oh and I'll be coming in on the free shuttle in from the airport.

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