Posted by: Don Bemis | May 10, 2010

Happy Mothers’ Day, wherever she is

It’s Mothers’ Day, but Mother is incommunicado in Canada.  The kids will not be calling her today.  I called my mother via Skype (about 1/400 as expensive as an American cell phone used in Canada), and we quit talking when the traditional Skype tin-can echo garbulation began.

Garbulation is a new word.  I just invented it.  Maybe I can use it the next time Lois & I play Scrabble.  If anybody reading this happens to write dictionaries, could you toss in “garbulation” for me?  All verb tenses including “garbulateth” also would be  appreciated.  The adverbial form, “garbulatedly”, probably would not be much help, though.

We’re scheduled to leave Jasper late Monday afternoon. It’s good we got here between winter skiing and summer tourist seasons, because the prices were down a bit. We stayed in a relatively low priced, but nice motel. You could spend a lot of money in a hurry here if you were into more luxurious digs.

The town of Jasper is in the middle of Jasper National Park. Nobody owns the land under their house.  Elk droppings dot the lawns and sidewalks. When you hike the trail around town, keep your eyes open. You don’t want to step in the bear scat, and if you see a bear, scat!

Wednesday’s newspaper reported the first hiking fatality of the season. Late in the day, a woman apparently decided to take a shortcut down the snow-covered face of Whistler Mountain (not Vancouver’s Whistler, but they ski on this one too). The photo had two arrows: one where she apparently lost her footing, and another 1,600 feet down the mountain where they found her the next morning. The skid track between the arrows is visible and particularly sobering.

We rented a car and hiked quite a bit as well. What have we seen?

  • Glaciers, including one at close range.
  • Maligne Canyon, over 150 feet deep but so narrow that a 10-foot or so boulder is wedged in the top of it.
  • Lots of waterfalls.
  • Eagles, including one nesting.
  • Ravens and crows.
  • Harlequin ducks dabbling their way upstream.
  • A bull elk with velvety antlers, grazing maybe thirty feet from the car.
  • Other elk grazing in town.
  • Bighorn sheep, including one not ten feet from the car.
  • Mule deer at attention, keeping an eye on a large coyote or a small wolf (maybe a ranger can tell us which from the photos tomorrow).
  • A coyote checking out goodies along the railroad track as if it were a buffet table.
  • A wolf crossing the road. Thankfully we were walking some distance away.
  • Prairie dogs galore. Maybe they’re lost.
  • A black bear.
  • Mountains. The earth has done some ferocious cracking around here. One side of the mountain will be steep and fairly even. The other side is naked, shattered cliffs. Shale formations in town are nearly vertical.
  • Tiny, blooming campion moss in the middle of an otherwise desolate glacial moraine.

We’re not ready to leave, but I think our employers expect us back.

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