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

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."

"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.