Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Project B.S.E. Week Four - Thursday

Today we joined the Mormon History Association for their guided tour of Banff and Lake Louise. It was a pricey tour, but somehow when I was signing up for this trip it didn't occur to me that if a bus could get to Banff from Calgary, so could our car, and for a heck of a lot cheaper. However, we were both pretty tired of driving and the one thing our car didn't have was 40 random strangers talking about Mormon history. So the tour was a good choice...for me, anyway.

One point I should mention about this tour. Ryan and I were the last people to arrive at the bus in the morning (my fault, or maybe I should blame Facebook for being so darn interesting...okay, okay, my fault) so when we got on the bus it was full and the only open seats were in the back. As we worked our way past I realized that we were the youngest people on the bus by a good 15-20 years. It was...uncomfortable. Not that there is anything wrong with hanging out with people my parents' age, but I felt conspicuously different and I really do not like that feeling. I prefer some social camouflage, a little bit of wallflowerness and not the shining spotlight of uniqueness. They were all very, very nice people and made me feel included the whole weekend, but I felt a little out of place. And that first walk down the long, long aisle to the back of the bus took forever.

The drive to Banff was an hour and a half, but it went quickly with the bus driver's narration. Have I mentioned how much I love random trivia? I so want to be a tour guide when I grow up. The bus driver would just ramble about the different things that he saw out the window, so we learned about the summer uses of the Olympic ski jumps, the construction of the Trans-Canadian Highway, animal rights in national parks, etc. It was more interesting than I'm making it sound.

We got to Banff and took a gondola ride to a vantage point that overlooks the town. It was pretty. These are the views from the observation deck.

Standing on the observation deck and taking these pictures, I felt a soft fuzzy feeling on my right foot. I looked down and saw a chipmunk running away and all of the other tourists staring at my feet. Even though the offending chipmunk was long gone, I still jumped when I realized that the chipmunk, three seconds ago, had actually been touching my skin. Blargh. I like my nature encounters to take place at arm's length, or better yet, on tv.
We got an official tour guide in Banff, and he explained that the red trees you see are trees that have been attacked by some kind of insect. There is no way to detect the bugs' presence until the tree turns red, and by then the tree is already dead. Kind of takes the fun out of a colorful-tree-spotting experience.

After the gondola ride, we went into town for lunch at a restaurant. We sat next to a man and his son - the son was in his 50's, my guess, and the dad maybe 70's? The dad had written several books and articles for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and the son was, I think, on the MHA board but not a Mormon scholar. They were interesting to talk to, although here is the absolute most hilarious thing about the entire MHA trip: the son, after chatting with me about my research and scholarly interests, turns to Ryan and asks, "So what do you do?" Ryan replies with, "I'm an animator." The guy looked blankly at Ryan for several seconds, clearly racking his brain to come up with something, anything to talk to an animator about, came up empty-handed, and turned back to me. This has literally never happened before in our entire marriage. You say the word "animator" and your conversation immediately revolves around Hollywood, movie stars, cartoons, etc. The stay-at-home mother generally has very little to contribute to a conversation like this, and never is able to trump "animator" with "homemaker." It's never bothered me before, but to see the tables turned was fascinating and, I'm not ashamed to admit, it was a little heady. *I* was the one people wanted to talk to, who had a tiny little bit of something interesting to contribute to the conversation. It was an interesting role-reversal.

We snuck out of lunch before dessert was served so that we had twenty minutes to walk around the town.
But I didn't want to be completely dessert-free so we stopped at a place that claimed to have the world's best ice cream. I would challenge that title, but it wasn't too shabby. I had a scoop of Cowie-Wowie and Ooey-Mooey. I have no recollection of what was in the ice cream except for mini-reese's cups, but those names are quite awesome.
Then we loaded back in the bus and drove to Lake Louise. Banff was pretty but in a Park City kind of way - touristy, upscale, removed from actual nature (except for the rogue chipmunk) but still pretty. Lake Louise was prettier and you could pretend that it wasn't touristy when you were facing the mountains and the lake.

I said to Ryan, this is how Darcey would pose if she were here. And it is true, that girl knows how to pose.
I've got some buck-teeth action going on. Maybe someone wants to photoshop that for me?
We walked around the lake a ways and took this picture of the hotel. It's gorgeous. I preferred Lake Louise, not only for the increased prettiness but also because we had lots of leisure time to walk around and take in the sights. It was relaxing and did I mention pretty?
The whole place, Banff and Lake Louise, reminded me of Switzerland - the mountains, the icy blue color of the water, the crisp air, the Cadbury chocolate in the gift shops.  The drive home was uneventful, although the bus driver had much less to say when reviewing the same scenery from the way up. Ryan and I shared my earbuds and listened to an episode of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and enjoyed not driving. I made the mistake of going to the bathroom while the bus was going down a windy, bumpy road--turns out that the lights in the bathroom only go on while the driver is accelerating.  So while taking care of business, the lights kept going on and off and at one point while trying to pull up my pants I went crashing into the side of the bathroom and almost fell over completely. I left the bathroom laughing; Ryan said he could hear me crashing around in there. Lesson for the day: Go before you leave.

1 comment:

rachel said...

That is kind of funny about them not knowing how to talk to an animator. I feel that way all the time - with a doctor by my side, I am always the less interesting one. I get the smile and nod, and then they move back to Jeff. :)