24 July

Still disappointed by my bear experience, we drove on to Banff, through more lovely scenic mountains, which looked disappointingly similar to all of the other lovely scenic mountains & tended to

[Ed. -At this point either Pat found a bear, and it was not of the local vegetarian type -or he wandered off and forgot to finish the sentence. ..we shall await with baited breath, the next exciting installment!]

Do you really think that I am the sort of person who would just wander off and forget that they were in the middle of something? No. A bear came for me. A big one. And I had no carrots. Why would I be carrying carrots? Luckily, after some effort I managed to convince the bear that a drink (which I was carrying), would be even better than carrots, and we departed friends.

This does however lead to an interesting observation. The Canadian parks service people have all of these signs around telling people not to leave food lying about outside, because that not only attracts the bears, but trains them that there is food in campgrounds and therefore a good place to hang out. Logical. Likewise the signs saying ‘don’t feed the bears’, which has led to the development of very clever disguises by some bears ( although not your average bear of course).

However the same signs also say that if you are actually chased by a bear, the best thing to do is to drop something (like your backpack, not the person you are travelling with). It seems that the idea of this is not that you can run faster without it, although I suspect that that would be a likely result. No, the bear will investigate the pack. And upon investigating it, it will discover that there is food inside, so it was a worthwhile exercise. Now what does that train the bears to do? Any bear on reading the signs, can see that if it wants to be fed, the best bet upon stumbling across a tourist is not to sit there and look cute (unless wearing a clever disguise), but to run at the tourist, so they drop their backpack. And if they aren’t carrying one, well the signs also point out that bears can run faster than tourists, so as long as they are willing to flag the vegetarianism for a day, they will be fed either way. Good work forests service. At least things are slightly safer than the US, where they tell me it is a constitutional right to arm bears.

So, having got rid of the bear, we drove on to Banff, through more lovely scenic mountains, which looked disappointingly similar to all of the other lovely scenic mountains & tended to drag on some. This wasn’t helped by Brenda telling me to slow down whenever I managed to get them nice and blurry .Which considering the effort I needed to go to to do this in the Blazer is pretty inconsiderate.

But eventually we arrived in Banff. Banff is, as I knew, a resort town, a cosy spot nestled among the mountains with lots of ski fields around. This means lots of tourists. From this I imagined Queenstown, where upon discovering that they already have two of every imaginable way to separate tourists from their money, have gone out and invented new ones. These include, but are certainly not limited to building bridges for the sole purpose of having people throw themselves off.

But Banff is not like this. We called in to the visitor information service to determine where we could obtain the maximum amount. of adrenaline for the minimum amount. of cash. There was skiing of course. but being the middle of summer. that was kindof out. There was rafting. But unfortunately somebody once told Brenda that you could drown in water when it was in that rare liquid state. so she prefers it in its solid form. and even more strangely to ski on rather than cool her drink. These Canadians can be odd, but that knocked the rafting out.

Other than that you could go mountain biking. hiking. fishing or shopping in anyone of the many fine stores supplying a wide range of quality Canadian souvenirs. which were often priced in Yen for your convenience. So it seems that in Banff in summer there was little to separate the non-souvenir buying tourist from their dollar. Which was in many ways a godsend. as I was spending NZ dollars which had continued its plummet. It was still odd though. despite the lack of things to do, tourists still flocked here. Maybe it. was the scenery.