Saturday, August 13, 2011

O Canada! part 1: The Arrival

We are on a family vacation in Alberta Canada in the Canmore/Banff region.  Here are my impressions on the day of our arrival.

  • The Calgary Airport sustained a power outage as we exit Customs.  Freakiest thing ever to have that many people standing around and it to be pitch black for a good minute.  Naturally many people reached for their cell phones to start illuminating the area around them.  The outage was due to some powerful thunderstorms.
  • Earl's Kitchen and Bar was where we had dinner on the way from Calgary to Canmore.  It was recommended as a "family" restaurant.  But the waitstaff was dressed more for Hooters/Chippendale clientele.  It was as if, as soon as the high chairs were put away, table dancing and other lewd acts would begin.  The bathroom looked like a French bourdior which I suppose sets the tone.  I felt strange having my toddler daughter in this place with all the tight short skirted, cookie cutter blonde waitresses running about.  They have one of these in Bellevue @ Lincoln Center and I wonder if it's the same atmosphere.   
  • But Earl's did serve some good soup.  It's not a fluke, Canada does make the best clam chowder ever.  Something about the brothier, smokier, bacon-enriched, seasoned chowder I've now eaten in this country twice in one year just tickles my fancy.
  • The drive from Calgary to Canmore was nothing short of magnificent.  In Seattle, we can see two awesome mountain ranges as we go about our day but these mountains and landscape are phenomenal.  There is nothing stopping the eye from seeing miles in every direction.  The rolling landscape is only interrupted by the enormous grey peaks of the Canadian Rockies.  When I can see that far unencumbered, it's like the mind opens and pays homage to the natural world.  Like a religious experience.
  • En route to the hotel, we ascended a hill and all these cars were flashing their lights at us.  It wasn't even dark yet so it didn't matter that our lights weren't on.  I commented about this and Ken told me that it means that cops with radar guns are ahead.  Sure enough as we crested the hill, there were two cops hiding behind a fence with their radar guns pointed at oncoming traffic. "How did you know that?" I asked.  "Everyone knows that," he said.  I've driven for over 2 decades and never seen it.  But this may be why I've never heard of this practice:  In Washington, high beam flashing is illegal. Washington law prohibits flashing one's high beams within 400 feet of another vehicle, including using them to signal for any reason. Under section 46.37.230 of the Revised Code of Washington, flashing one's headlights illegally may result in a $124 traffic infraction. (Wikipedia)  But isn't that nice that other Canadian motorists were looking out for us?

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