F 1 D 0 -- 02 08 22 at 11 40 Mountain Time Tourist Towns. These are places which seem to exist only for those visiting. Passing Through. I'm writing from Banff now, and was in Jasper a couple of days ago. These places are very different, but you may have some trouble telling them apart by my writing. Both are in the National Park system here. I'll try to share the routine. You drive out of Edmonton, and about an hour later, you see signs. "Park Entrance ahead. 50kmh. Prepare to stop." It looked like we were approaching a small toll booth, with room for three people to stop cars. They had the obligatory traffic signals: Green Arrow means someone inside is there to take your cash. Flashing something to coax you to stop, and not simply pass him by. The man inside was wearing a beige long sleeve shirt, and a green tie. The shirt had 2/3 of a Canadian Flag on it. Our stop no longer felt like toll bridge, but a border crossing. "Welcome to Jasper National Park. How long will you be staying?" Yikes! It really *is* like a border crossing. Ann thinks, and figures we'll be here until yesterday at 4pm. He says "Okay, that will be 24.00 please. Affix this to the window, driver's side." It has huge letters, so it can be read from a long way. We drive in, and see these introductory signs. One looks like a white Elk, and has the word ATTENTION across it. There is so much truth in that. We saw a small herd of maybe eight mountain goats or sheep or something just Prior to entering the gates. They looked so worried. Some kind of bulldozer was pushing earth around on their side of the street, so the animals were on the roadway, licking the water from shallow puddles. Cars and trucks would rush past the gates, only to slow down again, and avoide the deer/sheep/goats whatever. I've taken pictures, but I'm still not certain what they are. Er, were. I've not seen an Elk yet. They are also called Wapiti. Signs in Banff are in all of the official languages (Chinese, Japanese, English, French and a few more). They warn people that these are angry animals. They show a sign of the Elk attacking. Not the petting zoo cutie I was expecting. Myra, our hostess here, was upset that these Elk had come into her backyard, and left waste behind, and ate up some of her plants. Mean or not, I want to see one. Ann has been watching out for bear the same way. There are Many Many signs telling people to avoid bear. "Consider NOT stopping" advises the guide to the park. In spite of that, all of the gift stores have figurines of bears. Pictures of bears. Stuffed bear toys. Big bears. Small bears. Funny bear cards. Blank bear greetings. Bears. Many Many. Here is a big number > all of the gift stores How many gift stores do you suppose there are in Banff? I suspect between 100 and 200. Every hotel lobby. Every other store. The restaruants sell gifts. The mountain hiking stores sell them. On the edge of town, there is a book store. It sold gifts, but didn't have the traffic of customers that the Real gift stores have. It had a pleasant book store feeling to it. Occasional stools for reading. Lots of wooden shelves with new and recommended selections. At some point I should describe the books I evaluated yesterday. We ate at Earls, a chain restaurant, on arrival here. There was another one in Edmonton. The menus looked similar, but the food was different. Imagine a road house with table cloths. Last night we dined at the Banff Centre. This place used to be a residence for artists and artistes who came for weeks or months to get away from daily life and work their magic, hoping to find some here. Someone decided that there was money in converting the food-and-residence to a hotel. So now their humble beginnings are nearly pushed aside. There was talk of keeping people who were dressed in their work clothes out of the beautiful new 1,000,000.00 dining room. That proposal was rejected, but still it makes you wonder. We arrived 30 minutes before the end of the dining period, at 7pm. The entrees were nice. Chicken breast in Cream Sauce. Veal en jus. Spinach pie vegetarian. The desserts were amazing too. Home made pecan ice cream. Blueberry pie, carrot cake, ______ crumble (all untested by me). I did try the cheese cake, the ice cream, and the sliced fruit. Eat there. But don't be late. They were cleaning up everything, including the sweet table at 731pm. We'd see students rushing to the men in white mushroom caps, taking final servings of things before it was all gone. "Sorry about that. We have a busy function in the next room, and they've asked us to clean this up right away." I heard a bit of that function. (Man stands up at microphone. People applaud) "Oh! If it is that easy to impress you, then this should be a wonderful night for all of you." (laughter) "We have a few contests coming up. I hope you have all retained your half of the ticket, as they should be good for some prizes. Also, I hear one of you will be singing for us, acapella or without music very soon. We have lots of fun in store for you tonight..." Yes. I'm sure. That's all I know.