Back in Canada

Right now Shawn and I are in the “town site” of Waterton National Park in Alberta! Shawn’s blog has a day-by-day rundown (or will, when the entry posts) so I’m going to stick with some smaller observations:

A stiff headwind can be a blessing when you’re biking through places heavily infested with mosquitoes. But too strong of a headwind, and riding a bicycle is a form of torture, as you feel exhausted and slow. And even going downhill is hard if the wind is bad enough, as a strong gust can try and knock you off your bike.

I wear multiple layers of SPF 30. I still get a splotchy tan on my arms and pink cheeks and nose. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about getting older: when my arms get tan, they don’t evenly brown, they get…splotchy. I know I’m the only one who notices, but …hmph.

The form of DEET we currently own is scented with something related to lilies. I know this because, just like Easter Lilies, it’s giving me a nasty sore throat (it’s like swallowing acid). But given a choice between that and being bitten by mosquitoes…

Speaking of bugs. On our ride the day before yesterday, as we came into Alberta, Shawn and I were both surrounded by clouds of flies! Either they don’t bite or the DEET was working, but it was enough to drive us a bit crazy. I eventually pushed my helmet mirror out of view because it was so distracting to just see my own personal swarm of flies.

I knew it would be hard to be almost-vegan in some places, but yikes. I’m developing a new appreciation for Nutter Butters and wafer cookies. Waterton has a few places I can eat, but they’re so expensive!

Columbian Ground Squirrels: so adorable.

Magpies: loud.

Thunderstorms: we’ve had two (one in the middle of the night) and with the view of the mountains and plains and the clouds and the lightning and the way the thunder echoed was just amazing. I love thunderstorms and we get so few in Portland. *sigh*

Our tent: is a problem. We have a secondhand REI Quarterdome, and we’ve loved it! So much room! We each have our own door and vestibule! So easy to put up! But….the zippers of the doors have become progressively worse over the last couple of weeks, and now we only go in and out of one side because I can get it to close slightly more easily–which isn’t saying much. They catch and don’t zip, or zip but don’t actually close. Which wouldn’t be so terrible if it weren’t for all the mosquitoes. We’re a few days away from Calgary at this point, where we plan to get a new tent from MEC, who has very reasonably priced tents that have good reviews.

Lastly!! Despite any whining I do here, I want to say: we’ve been seeing some of the most gorgeous stuff recently. We did a short hike yesterday that gave us the most amazing views, for instance. Just spectacular.

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