25-27 July Banff to Calgary – animals?

25 July

Due to the limited number of ways to spend money, we decided that the best activity was to have a bit of a wander up one of the hills. The one which looked most promising, the locals called Sulphur Mountain. We could go up on a gondola, or we could save the $20 (Canadian), and walk up you could catch the gondola down for free (1 guess it uses less electricity that way). The cheap way seemed to be the perfect option. Especially as I had been told that you could hurt yourself on that ground if those cables snapped, and preferred my ground close to my feet and not accelerating towards me at 9m per second per second. Odd I know.

It was quite a nice little walk & the way up killed 1 1/2 hours quite nicely. Brenda did not feel that is was such a fun way to spend an hour or so, but found enough energy to tell me how much she hated me & to refuse to turn around and go back down. I blame my being out of breath on the altitude (Banff is high), and that the climbing more hills to become acclimatised to the altitude approach was working a little slower than expected.

On the way up we met a mountain goat, which was obviously fitter than Brenda, as it wasn’t asking to be carried. But it was coming down. Maybe it caught the gondola up & walked down. It was a friendly goat though, walking right up and sniffing my hand looking for food. I suspect that it had been fed by tourists before. That or it was an above average bear .

But we made it to the top, which was full of tourists who had obviously taken the $20 poorer route, because they didn’t collapse into a small heap at the top. But the view was nice (partially because I wasn’t having to drive through it). Although I can’t imagine why a Coke should cost $3 at the top of the hill & $1 in town just down there. Still the same stuff isn’t it? 1 decided to buy two in town shortly.

So then Brenda convinced me that the gondola was the best route down. So we sat in the gondola looking down at the ground and the path we walked up (ok there is some artistic licence there, but staggered just seems a little alcoholic ), more tourists walking ( in the same manner as us) up. At this point the other guy in the gondola said “I can’t believe that people actually walk up there”. When Brenda said that we did he looked kindof funny, like he was locked in a small fibreglass box suspended 50m above the ground with two head cases, and all of a sudden started acting like he didn’t mean to offend.

But the thing that touched me most today was the email I got from two close friends Matt & Sarah commenting about the silence on the email front, and hoping that 1 had been eaten by a bear. Thanks guys.

So, having run out of ways we couldn’t spend out money, we drove on to Calgary.

26 July

A day where not a lot happened, other than me slaving in front of a computer writing this stuff for you. In between going in to Calgary & having a wander around that is.

27 July

Another day bumming around Calgary .The money machine was being uncooperative, but I figured it was just having a bad day or something. We then wandered off to another museum to look at some coins. I offered to just drive myself there, but Brenda weighed up the options of me driving her car through Calgary to a destination I had a vague idea of the location of, or being dragged through another museum. She didn’t have to think too hard. But this time, while I looked at a nice display of coins, Brenda decided that she could absorb this sort of thing by osmosis (she probably learnt this from her students), found a chair & went to sleep.

On Thursday nights in summer the Calgary Zoo has something they call Jazzoo. You pay your money and they have a band at the zoo as well as the animals. There was some Irish band there when we went, so I am not sure where they get the Jazz part of Jazzoo, but then again, why would you let details like accuracy get in the way of a catchy marketing line.

It was good that the band was there, because most of the animals were hiding. It is possible that they had gone to sleep, but implausible given the amount of noise & number of people wandering around, more likely is that they had wandered off to listen to the music as well.

However I feel that the most likely explanation is that zoo management had discovered that people don’t expect to be able to see all of the animals all of the time. This means that rather than admitting that a cage is empty because one of it’s former occupants went crazy, killed all of it’s cellmates & therefore had to be destroyed, it is more profitable to leave the signs for the Mountain gorrillas, Dragus regis & dodo in the cages. Not only does your zoo look more impressive, but people will actually spend longer at a cage where they cannot see the animal, waiting for it to appear, than one which they can clearly see the animal sleeping in a corner. “Oh look, a lion sleeping in the corner, that’s nice, whats next”. And the more time people spend at the zoo, the greater the overpriced icecream and drinks revenue. The savings on food did obviously not need to be explained to zoo management, but the increased revenue from people returning again to “see the gorilla which must have been asleep the last time we visited” came as quite a surprise even to the most imaginative marketing people.