Say It Isn't So

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for a cat and a mouse.

My American Legion's Annual Children's Christmas Party. This Santa arrived on the back of a Fire Truck. As Sargeant-At-Arms it was my job to keep the children in line.

There is a trunk that we keep our Christmas decorations in. It is a large metal one that stays out in the garage until this time of year. I have been lugging this trunk around since it was given to me in 1969. It carries more than lights, bulbs and ornaments. It is loaded with memories which come to the surface as I open it up to decorate our little plastic tree. This trunk was to carry my belongings out west to the Banff Springs Hotel. I had obtained a summer job there that would last until University started again in the fall. At the time the hotel was only opened for the summer. Students came from all over Canada, first to clean it, then to open it up and help it operate smoothly. It was a grand hotel. I was a chamber maid who lived in a dorm with about 30 other chamber maids up on the 13th floor. We had our own cots and the trunk sat at the foot of mine. I worked from 8:00am to 4:00pm, five days a week, and then we each had to put in an evening shift from 6:00pm to 10:00pm one night each week.

The town of Banff sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet or so. I don't know if it was the altitude, or the attitude of being without parental supervision, but I had a tremendous amount of energy. Even after spending the day making beds, vacuuminig carpets, emptying trash, cleaning out bathtubs (some still full of water - yuck) sinks and toilets, when the evening came along I was raring to go! My best new friend, Squakinbush, was a waitress in the dining room (she got more in tips than I made in a day) and when her shift was done we would walk the mile to town. There was a folk cafe (no alcohol) that operated out of a church basement. We would go there and listen to the Dylan wannabees (both the poet and the singer). I met a guy there who was just travelling through on a summer's adventure. He and some friends were camped about 5 miles out of town on the Bow River. He invited me to visit there camp. So on my next day off they gave me a ride out there in an old GMC truck/van. The river was off the road a ways and we hiked on down there. I was treated to a barbeque lunch and some guitar and jaws harp playing. Unfortunately, it was my night to work so I had to get back to town. To my disappointment there was no offer of a ride back and of course as an independent cuss I didn't ask for one. So I commense to walking. A car passes and I think about sticking out my thumb but decide that is too dangerous because I am alone. Another car goes by and the same thoughts run through my mind. About 5 minutes after that car passes me I am confronted by an animal in the road ahead of me. It's a wolf and it is standing there in the middle of the road between me and my hotel. We stand there staring at one another like a showdown between gunfighters in the middle of town. Except I am not in my element here. I'm a city girl. Up till this moment my idea of wild life is the dirty old man whipping open his trench coat as I walk down the street. This is a whole new world! This face off lasted a few minutes when the wolf jumps back off the road and into the forest. Now I have a choice I can backtrack the short distance to the campsite in the hopes that I can find it again, or keep heading to town. I figure there is a good chance that I wouldn't find the campsite because it was off the road, so I march forward past the spot where the wolf dove into the woods. I realize that this is bear country and Yogi and Boo Boo are not of this world after all. I am extremely nervous and am now actually praying that another car would come along so I can beg a ride. I find myself a really big stick and carry this with me down the road as my eyes dart back and forth left and right. It took forever to finally get back to the hotel. Time was moving on a different plane for me on that day. I was so very pumped to boot. I found Sqaukinbush and let my adrenaline pour out on her pour little ears. Soon I was back down to earth. The next night we were heading off to town again. Back to the little Coffee house for some R and R. We have to cross a little bridge to get to that part of town and as we are doing so, a rather large gray and white dog comes charging across the bridge bounding right by us. It comes to me that that was a wolf! What I had seen the day before was actually a coyote. City girl gets an education!

This little adventure replayed through my mind as I'm decorating the tree. Trees in a forest full of bears, wolves and coyotes.


At 10:47 AM, December 19, 2005, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Well, now, coyotes can be just as dangerous. Of course, this is the summer and I'll wager the various canines are not having any issues with finding food so taking on a 100 lb biped was not worth the effort. Small blessings.

At 11:34 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Steel Turman said...

Ah yes, one of my very favorite places on the planet. Had a black bear keep everybody in the coffee shop till he left the parking lot in Banff once.

I do believe the altitude is more like 7000' though.

Great story.

BTW. That is one of the coolest hotels in the world.

At 6:47 PM, December 24, 2005, Blogger Amy Byrd said...

Great story, Mouse! As I was reading, I was thinking, reacting,.... oh, how dangerous... oh, how foolish! Oh poop! I'm just getting old! I'd have done exactly as you did. ha ha ha.... And Lord knows, I have a bunch of stories to prove it.

My mother offered to take me to Banff to that hotel once upon a time when things in my life were not too fun. I sure wish I'd taken her up on the offer.

I'd surely have let the water out of my tub. Yuk.

At 12:44 PM, December 26, 2005, Blogger Pris said...

What a neat post! I came on to say hi, too!


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