I said NO PRETZELS! – Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I remember the horrible commute I used to make every weekend when I worked down in Calgary. I hated staying there on the weekends because I didn’t know anyone and found Calgarians very unfriendly. Funny that I had to travel around the world to make friends there but now it seems I have more friends in Calgary than Edmonton. So our first stop was to see Kelly, who I met in Egypt last year and was now just settling into her new home and job. It turned out to be a Dahab reunion as Danny, the Brit we met there, was motorbiking across Canada and pulled into Hotel Kelly just days before we did.

I cant tell you the value of hanging out with other travellers once you get home. We discussed the inevitable `come down` and trying to fit back into society. They really should come up with a support group or something….I have heard from people who are still having `issues` a year later. It seems the main way of coping with this `travel withdrawl` is to begin planning your next trip. Work hard, earn enough for your next ticket and then split, asap.

Hang in there friends. As always, its just a matter of time. You have in your memory banks a special strength to draw upon than one who has never tasted the `rain in Spain`. When you have one of those long and empty days when the cube walls seem to be closing in on you, just remember the first time you successfully navigated your way through the `bad part of town` in order to find that `last` hostel bed. In the thunderstorm on a national holiday with no umbrella and nothing in your tummy except for last nights box (yes box, not bottle) of wine. You can do it man. You can do it.

The four of us ate and drank a be`ed merry for a couple days before it was adios once again. But not before we made a few shopping trips for camping supplies. Oh how I have missed warehouse shopping. Where you end up buying 10 times more than you will ever need in this lifetime because buying in bulk is a good deal. Max was especially impressed with our vast selection of vegetarian `meats`. Hamburgers, hotdogs, even meatless chicken.

Next stop was Kananaskis for Jayne and Arns wedding. The drive into the rocky mountains was magical as always but this time I felt an extra tinge of excitement. Everytime I would see wildlife or an especially impressive peak, I would glance over at Max who was trying to come up with new and creative synonyms for `amazing`. We checked into the hotel then explored the premises before taking a nap in the gigantic bed. Next we decided to take a scenic drive and ended up at a small lake. We fished a bit and made friends with all the little forest creatures.

A tubby little squirrel spent the better part of an hour sitting on my lap grabbing pretzels out of my mouth. He would chase away any `competition` seeming to claim me for his own. I was touched but then I realized by studying his fat belly that he has probably duped many a human-type into giving up their whole lunch to his cause. Then he started getting picky and spitting out the pretzels in favor of the cheese crackers. Squirrel with attitude. I swear he would even give me an exasperated impatient look when I would forget his preference.

There were birds gliding through the deep blue sky and thick puffy white clouds drifting over the highest peaks. Max commented on how green everything was and how he had never seen so many trees in his life. I pondered the mountains and agreed that although there are many steep and jagged rocky types, there are also many lush soft carpets of vegetation blanketing the bases. We didn’t talk much. We didn’t need to. I wondered when the last time I actually heard the rhythmic beat of a birds wings. It was much louder than I remember. And I think that this is a good thing.

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